Last Friday afternoon, there was a breaking news report in the Chicago Tribune that international passengers arriving into Chicago O'Hare Airport were being delayed because of a problem with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) computers. Customs had to use its back-up systems from about noon CDT to 1640 CDT before the main system was back on-line.

What was interesting about the story were two items: one, it wasn't only Customs' computers at O'Hare that were affected, but reportedly the problem affected CBP computers at airports nationwide. Reading over the Tribune story, probably close to 1,000 passengers were affected at O'Hare alone - how many passengers were affected across all US international airports?

The second point was that the news was reported only in the Chicago Tribune that I can find, even as of today, a couple of days later. The CPB makes no mention of it on their web site that I can find, either. 

The CBP computer problems at LAX two years ago, although larger and longer, was widely reported from the start, as was the United Airlines computer outage a few days earlier at O'Hare.

It makes one wonder how may other major computer outages occur and how many people are affected on a daily basis but are never reported.

The Conversation (0)

Why Functional Programming Should Be the Future of Software Development

It’s hard to learn, but your code will produce fewer nasty surprises

11 min read
A plate of spaghetti made from code
Shira Inbar

You’d expectthe longest and most costly phase in the lifecycle of a software product to be the initial development of the system, when all those great features are first imagined and then created. In fact, the hardest part comes later, during the maintenance phase. That’s when programmers pay the price for the shortcuts they took during development.

So why did they take shortcuts? Maybe they didn’t realize that they were cutting any corners. Only when their code was deployed and exercised by a lot of users did its hidden flaws come to light. And maybe the developers were rushed. Time-to-market pressures would almost guarantee that their software will contain more bugs than it would otherwise.

Keep Reading ↓Show less