Pilot fish gets a new assignment: responsibility for a mainframe application that prints a monthly report listing all the employees who use the company's tuition-reimbursement program.

"The problem we had that made it a recurring programming problem was that, at some point, someone had decided to send the raw data to an outside vendor, which accumulated it and created a data tape that was then sent back to us to be used to print the monthly report," says fish.

"The outside vendor hired a series of temps to do the actual data entry — all of them with zero experience on this particular job."

That means each month fish has to take the tape from the outside vendor and copy the data into a raw "dump" format to discover just how that month's temp has decided to format the data.

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