Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“Life may not be exactly pleasant, but it is at least not dull. Heave yourself into Hell today, and you may miss, tomorrow or next day, another Scopes trial, or another War to End War, or perchance a rich and buxom widow with all her first husband's clothes. There are always more Hardings hatching. I advocate hanging on as long as possible.”     H. L. Mencken

March 14, 2011

Quote Of The Day — MS-DOS Causes Improper Foreclosures

by Brad Warbiany

HuffPo is writing on a new Fed report that of 500 foreclosures they investigated, they couldn’t find a single one where the borrower was not significantly delinquent on payments. Thus, the Fed declared that no improper foreclosures occurred.

This doesn’t matter to those who think bankers are raping angels in their spare time, and who want to see the bankers riddled with papercuts and dropped in a vat of lemon juice. They want to stop foreclosures by any means necessary, and anything that casts doubt on the “paper trail” [as quite a lot of doubt already legitimately exists] looks good to them.

But this is a bit too far:

Citing Wednesday’s briefing, Rangan said the Fed review found numerous flaws in banks’ procedures and internal mortgage operations, and that the Fed’s bank examiners directed the firms to fix those problems.

One firm was found to be using Microsoft DOS, an outdated computer operating system, to handle home mortgages, Rangan said.

Oh no, DOS! Because Windows has just a strong track record of reliability, right?

As I’ve said before, I’m an engineer. I’ve spent a good portion of my career working with customers in the “embedded/industrial” market space. I’m talking about computer equipment that goes on oil rigs, locomotives, industrial control [assembly line] PC’s, etc. For most of these companies, things have to be nearing “outdated” to be well-understood enough to be trusted for the types of tasks they need to complete. And yes, some of those folks are still using DOS, though most have moved on to other RTOS products. Only where a major user interface is needed do we see people using an OS such as Windows, and even then they use a specific embedded version of Windows XP that allows more control over what is and is not included in the final package.

My dad always used to say, when talking about the fast pace of technology progression, that “a computer will never do *less* than it did when you bought it.” I.e. if you need something new that newer technology offers [including performance enhancement, of course], it might be time to upgrade. But it’s pointless to do so simply for its own sake, because something newer exists. Hearing that a bank is still using DOS doesn’t bother me at all, because they have a known, tested, proven system. It does exactly the same thing today that it did when it was purchased and installed. And as long as it meets the bank’s needs, there wouldn’t be any reason to upgrade.

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7 Comments

  1. Do payment calculations and balance due dates work out differently depending on which OS you use?

    Just wondering…

    Comment by Not Sure — March 15, 2011 @ 6:53 pm
  2. Not Sure,

    I can’t quite tell if you’re joking or not… So if you’re *not* joking, the answer is no. Calculations are not dependent on the OS, they’re dependent on the mortgage software running on that OS. This is where stability is good, because introducing new software generally introduces new bugs that need to be found and removed.

    Comment by Brad Warbiany — March 15, 2011 @ 8:34 pm
  3. It *was* a joke- sorry. Sarcasm doesn’t necessarily come across clearly online, does it?

    Comment by Not Sure — March 15, 2011 @ 9:04 pm
  4. Heh… I usually have a good internet sarcasm meter, but you dead-panned that line so well that I honestly couldn’t tell.

    Well done :-)

    Comment by Brad Warbiany — March 16, 2011 @ 9:27 am
  5. Brad:

    Calculations are not dependent on the OS, they’re dependent on the mortgage software running on that OS. This is where stability is good, because introducing new software generally introduces new bugs that need to be found and removed.

    This comment made me think of this fascinating article I read in the March 2011 issue of Popular Mechanics entitled “Down in the Hole” (I tried to find the online verson of the article but no dice) about the maintainence of America’s nuclear ICBMs. One of the things mentioned in the article is that these facilities complete with the hardware and software have been in operation since JFK was president (ex: they are still using 9″ floppy discs). Much of the hardware is quite antiquated yet durable. Over time they have been upgrading but when they mix the new technology with the old, that’s when they tend to have problems.

    Comment by Stephen Littau — March 16, 2011 @ 8:05 pm
  6. Operating systems: no. Mortgage software: yes. And sometimes, processor: yes.

    Anyone remember the Pentium division debacle?

    I remember that one generated a joke using an even-older Star Trek reference:
    “I am Pentium of Borg. Division is futile. You will be approximated.”

    Comment by Akston — March 16, 2011 @ 8:35 pm
  7. Akston,

    I do remember that…

    ” 4 / 2 = 1.999999999876 [for extremely large values of 2]”

    Stephen,

    I’ve spent a good portion of my career dealing with similar issues (not with ICBM’s to my knowledge, as if I’d ever be granted the clearance to be told such things!) The entire defense industry basically takes long enough to design in a new product that by the time you have it ready for mass production, it’s obsolete by commercial standards. The issue is that they spend ***SO*** much time designing the system and qualifying everything, that any change means they pretty much have to retest much of all of what they’ve done so far. Managing this is a major issue. They don’t care if it’s DOS, because they tested the *shit* out of it when they built the system, so they would rather keep an “obsolete” system running than try to re-test a whole new OS.

    Comment by Brad Warbiany — March 18, 2011 @ 10:45 pm

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