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Xerox "Routine Backup Test" Leave 17 States Without Food Stamps

samzenpus posted 1 year,17 days | from the time-to-revert dept.

Bug 305

An anonymous reader writes "People in Ohio, Michigan and 15 other states found themselves temporarily unable to use their food stamp debit-style cards on Saturday, after a routine test of backup systems by vendor Xerox Corp. resulted in a system failure. Xerox announced late in the evening that access has been restored for users in the 17 states affected by the outage, hours after the first problems were reported. 'Restarting the EBT system required time to ensure service was back at full functionality,' spokeswoman Jennifer Wasmer said in an email. An emergency voucher process was available in some of the areas while the problems were occurring, she said. U.S. Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Courtney Rowe underscored that the outage was not related to the government shutdown."

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GET A JOB YA BUMS (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45115609)

N/t

Re:GET A JOB YA BUMS (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45115669)

Re:GET A JOB YA BUMS (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45115697)

And the Repubtards want to cut spending. I guess they want wages to decline even faster.

Re:GET A JOB YA BUMS (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45115725)

It might help if the Dems quit importing competition for all those unemployed.

Re:GET A JOB YA BUMS (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45115841)

So increasing taxes to help government spending helps private employment?

Lets double the tax rates on everything if thats the case, or triple and then those 3 people looking for jobs will easily be able to find them.

Re:GET A JOB YA BUMS (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45115861)

And libtards think employment is supposed to come from daddy government.

Re:GET A JOB YA BUMS (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45115949)

idiot

Re:GET A JOB YA BUMS (1)

roc97007 (608802) | 1 year,17 days | (#45116045)

Government spending != wages, unless you're talking about government wages, which I don't believe we were.

Re:GET A JOB YA BUMS (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45116089)

How does increasing spending help employ people? Unless you just want everyone to work for the government and make everything state run....
 
Oh, wait....

Infrastructure (1)

tepples (727027) | 1 year,17 days | (#45116221)

Government spending on the construction and maintenance of roads and other infrastructure creates positive externalities for businesses located near the infrastructure.

Re:GET A JOB YA BUMS (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45116305)

Think about it. The money has to go somewhere. All money eventually ends up in the private sector. If the government contributes towards building a new research building, where does that money go? Private contractors, and private companies selling stuff. New permanent jobs are created when a new building is put up, and it also contributes to the number of employees needed for all the support companies.

Re:GET A JOB YA BUMS (4, Insightful)

roc97007 (608802) | 1 year,17 days | (#45116027)

But is this a measure of people competing for jobs in good faith, or is it merely the number of people unemployed divided by the number of jobs? From TFA, I see it's the latter.

This doesn't take into account people like, for instance, my sister, who hasn't worked since the mid-nineties and is grimly determined to do whatever it takes to remain on government assistance for the remainder of her life. Justified by "I had bad things happen to me in my youth; society owes me a comfortable living in the manner and place of my choosing as a result."

I'm pretty sure she's not the only one.

Re: GET A JOB YA BUMS (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45116247)

Luckily, she's a statistical minority. She's only your sister, not mine.

Re:GET A JOB YA BUMS (5, Informative)

dkleinsc (563838) | 1 year,17 days | (#45116345)

But is this a measure of people competing for jobs in good faith, or is it merely the number of people unemployed divided by the number of jobs? From TFA, I see it's the latter.

1. To be counted as unemployed, you must be actively looking for a job. If you aren't, you are officially a "discouraged worker" and removed from the unemployment rolls. So, for example, if your sister hasn't worked since 1995, an hasn't even been trying to get a job, she isn't one of those 3 people trying to fill a single opening.

2. Even if, say, 1/3 of people who are counted as unemployed are really bums trying to mooch off the government, that still means that half of the people legitimately looking for work are coming up empty.

It was even worse a few years ago, when the ration was more like 5 unemployed people to 1 job. In that situation, you could be demonstrably good at your profession, and still not be hired because they could get the best-of-the-best for a pittance in that economy.

Re:GET A JOB YA BUMS (-1)

amiga3D (567632) | 1 year,17 days | (#45115683)

It's hardly fair to expect people to get a job just to eat. Everyone is entitled to food, shelter and reasonable transportation. It say's so in the US Constitution.

Re:GET A JOB YA BUMS (2)

Rick Zeman (15628) | 1 year,17 days | (#45115709)

It's hardly fair to expect people to get a job just to eat. Everyone is entitled to food, shelter and reasonable transportation. It say's so in the US Constitution.

It does? Where? Since when?? The closest my US Constitution comes is "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness."

Re:GET A JOB YA BUMS (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45115727)

How does one stay alive without food or shelter?

Re:GET A JOB YA BUMS (1)

MightyYar (622222) | 1 year,17 days | (#45115985)

Natural rights are those that cannot be taken away by others, not a declaration of entitlements. Someone else cannot take your liberty, but you are welcome to chain yourself to a fireplug.

Re:GET A JOB YA BUMS (1)

sjames (1099) | 1 year,17 days | (#45116023)

So you don't mind if they go hunting in the neighborhood? You're fine with it if your neighbors plow up the lawn, plant crops, and get a cow?

Re:GET A JOB YA BUMS (1)

MightyYar (622222) | 1 year,17 days | (#45116187)

The fact that we have natural rights does not preclude us from making other laws. Are you serious or trying to build a straw man?

By the way, I would like very much if someone would like to come safely hunt or trap the deer and rabbits that are eating my garden. I have a neighbor with crops in the front yard. Eclectic, but whatever. There are no cows, but one lady (same as the crops) does have chickens in a movable pen. Another guy moved up from Texas and had chickens for a while, but he seems to have given that up.

Re:GET A JOB YA BUMS (1)

sjames (1099) | 1 year,17 days | (#45116329)

The point is that that all of that has been made illegal in many places. Many of the means by which a non-lazy person might gather the essentials for living in the absence of offered employment have been taken away, but no suitable replacement seems to be on offer. That is at the least unethical.

Re:GET A JOB YA BUMS (1)

DarkOx (621550) | 1 year,17 days | (#45116191)

So you don't mind if they go hunting in the neighborhood? You're fine with it if your neighbors plow up the lawn, plant crops, and get a cow?

I am fine with all of that. Although if you try hunting on my lawn, I'll consider you a poacher and a legitimate target.

Re:GET A JOB YA BUMS (1)

sjames (1099) | 1 year,17 days | (#45116343)

I'll bet you'll find there are laws forbidding it where you live. You might should get those repealed since you are fine with the behavior. That or offer a suitable substitute.

Re:GET A JOB YA BUMS (1)

jedidiah (1196) | 1 year,17 days | (#45116265)

> So you don't mind if they go hunting in the neighborhood? You're fine with it if your neighbors plow up the lawn, plant crops, and get a cow?

No, not really. I are proceeding from the false assumption that those of us that believe in personal property rights are flaming hypocrites.

Truth be told, there isn't much good hunting to be had in my neighborhood. That whole "urban" thing has scared off most of the wildlife. I am not sure how much you could make out of the few rabbits and squirrels that remain.

As far as "agriculture" goes, I don't have much tolerance for purely decorative landscaping anyways. I would much prefer it if all of the bushes and trees in the neighborhood provided something edible.

Re:GET A JOB YA BUMS (1)

sjames (1099) | 1 year,17 days | (#45116355)

So the commons were closed. In most cases, agriculture beyond a small garden somewhere in the yard are forbidden. meanwhile, no reasonable alternative has been offered.

Re:GET A JOB YA BUMS (1)

Shavano (2541114) | 1 year,17 days | (#45116077)

In other words, they don't exist. Because you may think you have a right to live, but anyone can take away your life. If the right to live isn't a natural right, nothing else is either.

Re:GET A JOB YA BUMS (3, Insightful)

MightyYar (622222) | 1 year,17 days | (#45116151)

It is exactly because natural rights are violable that it is important to protect them.

Your "right to life" is not a directive to the rest of us to keep you alive, it is a directive to the rest of us not to actively try to kill you.

Re:GET A JOB YA BUMS (1)

jjjhs (2009156) | 1 year,17 days | (#45115765)

I think you are confused, that is from the Declaration of Independence..

Re:GET A JOB YA BUMS (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | 1 year,17 days | (#45115769)

To be pedantic: life does, in fact, require food. One might even include shelter in that requirement given that much of the US climate can be considered deadly to the unsheltered at certain times of the year. Reasonable transportation is a bit of a longer stretch, but liberty would include at least the freedom to move about, and the pursuit of happiness could imply at least the ability to find transportation which enabled such a pursuit.

Personally, I'd like to see them starve, die from exposure, or - at the least - hear them complain about lack of efficient bus routes.

Re:GET A JOB YA BUMS (1)

tepples (727027) | 1 year,17 days | (#45116241)

One might even include shelter in that requirement given that much of the US climate can be considered deadly to the unsheltered at certain times of the year.

In that case, plenty of cities and states are violating the right to life by denying people the right to pitch a reasonable tent on public land.

Re:GET A JOB YA BUMS (1)

sumdumass (711423) | 1 year,17 days | (#45116303)

To be even more pedantic, the life mentioned in Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is not a right to live, but your right to control your own destiny or die trying. That is where liberty and pursuit of happiness come into play. It is only limited by your abilities and resources due to the life you created for yourself.

The concept of life liberty and the pursuit of happiness is not about what a person is entitled to. If that was the case, the very first congress would have instituted welfare. It wasn't until the early 1900s that it became part of the political landscape and that wasn't because the sudden invention of TV or Radio and congress somehow knew some of the people were in need. No, the concept is about what you can attempt to strive for and achieve.

Do you know what folks do. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45115869)

It's hardly fair to expect people to get a job just to eat. Everyone is entitled to food, shelter and reasonable transportation. It say's so in the US Constitution.

It does? Where? Since when?? The closest my US Constitution comes is "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness."

Do you know what happens when people get desperate? They stick knives and guns in your face.

Yeah, sure they may get caught, but in the meantime, you're dead. Got your own gun? Doesn't work when they stab or shoot you in the back.

Get it? These social pograms are to prevent folks from doing some very desperate things.

But that's just practicality. Let's talk about just being a human being.

We can act like a human being or we can act like animals where it's the survival of the "fittest"; which means in this culture, making money.

But when you are someone who grew up not learning the skills - material or social - to get a job, it is very difficult if not impossible. And I can tell you from experience, nobody clues you in about any defects one may have - you hear nothing or "you are not a good fit". No one ever points out what one's difficiences are. Many of these folks grew up in broken homes, were abused, live in the shittiest areas and have no ability to move.

And the job market being so tight as it is, it is completely unrealistic to "just go out and get a job". We have college graduates - folks with degrees in nursing, engineering and CS let alone "worthless" degrees having a horrible time.

You people take your lives and your opportunities for granted. You grew up where you had the opportunities or at least the knowledge how to get those opotunites. I grew up in a working class family that didn't go to college. I was the first to go to college because I was fortunate enough that my parents were able to afford to live in a middle class town and I could go to a school with college prep classes. I was able to have friends that had college educated parents and knew the "system" - like there are folks to help you get into college and better your life. Many of these poor folks don't even realize sugh things exist - really.

And when you live a life of no hope, you may even give up. he thought of "why should I even try when the rules are against me."

Yeah, yeah, yeah, cue the folks who grew up in a log cabin and pulled themselves up by their bootstraps. That's great that you knew how to do that. That - knowing how to pull yourself up by your bootstraps - is a skill in itself.

I myself am getting helpless too. I see the billionaires just rigging the game more and more. I don't beleive the American myth that one can work hard, take a chance, and make it big. In reality it is know someone in the right spot. I tried a couple of businesses and they failed. I'm tapped out at 50 and i'm scared about my future - it looks like SS and dog food in my retirement. Well dog food - SS is going to be confiscated by the student loan people. I stupidly went back to school for retraining. Yeah, no one hires 40+ year olds for entry level positions.

I mean really, when Mitt Romney was running, he said all he did was "examine reports" and made no decisions; like closing down factories or anything that cost people jobs. he made over $200 million by just examing reports - a $50K a year "analyst job". I could do that! But I don't have a well connected daddy to get me a cushy job that let's me make millions doing what a low level peon does.

Just count your blessings and stop judging other's lives and their characters because you are where you had opportunites that many others don't have.

Re:Do you know what folks do. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45115953)

Thessalonians 6-9 Our orders—backed up by the Master, Jesus—are to refuse to have anything to do with those among you who are lazy and refuse to work the way we taught you. Don’t permit them to freeload on the rest. We showed you how to pull your weight when we were with you, so get on with it. We didn’t sit around on our hands expecting others to take care of us. In fact, we worked our fingers to the bone, up half the night moonlighting so you wouldn’t be burdened with taking care of us. And it wasn’t because we didn’t have a right to your support; we did. We simply wanted to provide an example of diligence, hoping it would prove contagious.

10-13 Don’t you remember the rule we had when we lived with you? “If you don’t work, you don’t eat.” And now we’re getting reports that a bunch of lazy good-for-nothings are taking advantage of you. This must not be tolerated. We command them to get to work immediately—no excuses, no arguments—and earn their own keep. Friends, don’t slack off in doing your duty.

14-15 If anyone refuses to obey our clear command written in this letter, don’t let him get by with it. Point out such a person and refuse to subsidize his freeloading. Maybe then he’ll think twice. But don’t treat him as an enemy. Sit him down and talk about the problem as someone who cares.

Re:Do you know what folks do. (1)

sjames (1099) | 1 year,17 days | (#45116255)

Sorry to interrupt the pseudo-religious smug fest, but that clearly refers to people who refuse to work as they were taught. It does not refer to those who nobody has taught or who are willing but cannot find work.

Where is the teaching people how to do needed work? Where is the work to be done as people have been taught? I see no command to get to work as there is no work offered. Where are the people sitting down and talking to them as someone who cares?

Jesus said many other things about the proper way to treat the poor (who had no means to work) and the sick and crippled (who have no ability to work).

I say pseudo-religious since devout study would have left you with a genuine sense of the meaning and a compassion that would lead you naturally to the questions I ask.

Go on the net and learn to start a business (1)

tepples (727027) | 1 year,17 days | (#45116277)

Where is the teaching people how to do needed work?

On the Internet, if Nicholas Negroponte's One Laptop Per Child project is to be believed.

Where is the work to be done as people have been taught?

In your own business that you started. Do you think Jesus's adoptive father Joseph was the equivalent of a W-2 employee, or was it more likely that he owned his own shop?

Re:Do you know what folks do. (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45115973)

And the desperation isn't caused by ignoring illegal immigration, or proposed amnesty?
And having the one part time job you were able to get being cut down to 28 hours a week because of a helthcare bill?
Or inflation, costs of food and gas for your car, shooting up because of massive printing of money?
To boot, if you complain too much the well funded NSA might be listening in and determine you are a terrorist?
And if you go online and express your frustration you are met with tons of liberals saying you are racist because you don't want a black man as president.
Then your grandfather who fought in WW2 is banned from the memorial in DC, and he tells you that is because you voted for people that don't agree with him.

No, I don't think its a lack of social program causing distress. I think it is government causing most of it, and you are proposing more of it.

Re:Do you know what folks do. (1)

djupedal (584558) | 1 year,17 days | (#45116331)

Again with the DUD smelling 'dog food' we're-all-gonna-starve poverty chant - really? Odds are you should worry more about becoming dog food if things are as bad as you pretend.

Re:GET A JOB YA BUMS (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45115731)

WHAT ABOUT BLOWJOBS?

Re:GET A JOB YA BUMS (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45115795)

>It's hardly fair to expect people to get a job just to eat. Everyone is entitled to food, shelter and reasonable transportation. It say's so in the US Constitution.

Citation needed.

Re:GET A JOB YA BUMS (1)

cdecoro (882384) | 1 year,17 days | (#45115899)

Here [wikipedia.org] you go. :-)

Re:GET A JOB YA BUMS (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45116047)

Another citation [wikipedia.org]

Re:GET A JOB YA BUMS (1)

Xicor (2738029) | 1 year,17 days | (#45115919)

there is ABSOLUTELY NO SUCH STATEMENT in the constitution. according to the constitution, you have a right to life, liberty and property. you do not have a right to food, shelter, or even transportation. quit being a bum and get a job.

Re:GET A JOB YA BUMS (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45116057)

How much are you paying? When and where should I report for work?

Re:GET A JOB YA BUMS (1)

amiga3D (567632) | 1 year,17 days | (#45116141)

Go back and look, the "life, liberty and pursuit of happiness" quote (happiness not property) is from the Declaration of Independence.

Fourteenth Amendment (1)

tepples (727027) | 1 year,17 days | (#45116339)

Xicor was referring to the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which does say "property".

Words that should never be spoken (2)

ThatAblaze (1723456) | 1 year,17 days | (#45115621)

"[A politician] underscored that the outage was not related to the government shutdown."

These words should never have to be said.

Re: Words that should never be spoken (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45115655)

It would be funny it if was, in fact, related..

Senator Obama on raising the debt ceiling (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45115737)

Let me remind you all of Senator Obama's words from 2006 regarding the raising of the debt ceiling. He voted against raising the debt ceiling at that time.

"The fact that we are here today to debate raising America's debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the US Government can not pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government's reckless fiscal policies. Increasing America's debt weakens us domestically and internationally."

Source [snopes.com]

How true are those words? I only wish President Obama still believed what he did as Senator.

Channeling Ron Ziegler from 1973: (1)

Hartree (191324) | 1 year,17 days | (#45115791)

That statement is no longer operative.

Re:Senator Obama on raising the debt ceiling (2, Informative)

Ksevio (865461) | 1 year,17 days | (#45116003)

However, when Obama was a senator, the administration had turned a budget surplus into a budget deficit. That was the result of reckless spending on tax cuts and wars.

That contrasts with the current administration which was given a large deficit to start with (made worse by declining tax revenues due to the recession) that has cut government spending.

Re:Senator Obama on raising the debt ceiling (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45116061)

In other words, "It is ok when we do it".

Re:Senator Obama on raising the debt ceiling (0)

tepples (727027) | 1 year,17 days | (#45116349)

Here's how I see it: "It's OK when we borrow less per year than the previous administration borrowed in its final year and continue to borrow less each year."

In other news: (1)

Hartree (191324) | 1 year,17 days | (#45115757)

"[A politician] underscored that the entry of the US into WW2 was not related to the attack on Pearl Harbor."

This is exactly why testing backups is necessary (4, Insightful)

dwhitaker (1500855) | 1 year,17 days | (#45115637)

Backups don't always work - that's why you test them. This time they did not work - much better that you experience problems when you anticipate them than when everything else is going wrong, too. It's unfortunate that the system was down, but it seems they got it back up in a reasonably quick time frame. Moreover, merchants are supposed to have manual means of recording EBT payments for just such a scenario.

Re:This is exactly why testing backups is necessar (2)

amiga3D (567632) | 1 year,17 days | (#45115657)

The local Walmart was lacking in any backup method. They had at least 50 buggies packed full of food sitting around the registers and a lot of pissed off customers. Glad they got it back up, I don't look forward to that riot.

Re:This is exactly why testing backups is necessar (3, Funny)

roc97007 (608802) | 1 year,17 days | (#45115981)

The local Walmart was lacking in any backup method. They had at least 50 buggies packed full of food sitting around the registers and a lot of pissed off customers. Glad they got it back up, I don't look forward to that riot.

Ye gods, the crowd could get ugly...

Too late.

Re:This is exactly why testing backups is necessar (1)

plover (150551) | 1 year,17 days | (#45115687)

Moreover, merchants are supposed to have manual means of recording EBT payments for just such a scenario.

Those lead to fraud loopholes, and not just EBT. Someone can claim, "oh, my card doesn't work because the system is down, just fill out the paperwork for me, please." Thats more problematic when nothing distinguishes a "DECLINE-card has no funds" from a "DECLINE-system is broken" to the cashier.

Re:This is exactly why testing backups is necessar (2)

Bite The Pillow (3087109) | 1 year,17 days | (#45115963)

Did you just pull random speculation out of your ass? If the system works, the card gets used. Most people on the registers are not going to know about any backup system. Want to use your card? swipe it first. Doesn't work? swipe it. I need to know what the problem is so I can ask my manager.

Manager comes over. What happens when you swipe it?

Now, if you're talking about friend of the cashier, that would raise lots of red flags to have piles of swipes work, followed by a single transaction by the friend. It would work once.

What happens after the data is reconciled for manual backups? If you exceed your limit or the card is not authorized for you, some accounting will find you.

Xerox asked retailers to revert to a manual system, meaning customers could spend up to $50 until the system was restored.

That sounds like a reasonable compromise, once everyone is aware the system actually is down.

Smith said that typically when the cards aren't working retailers can call a backup phone number to find out how much money customers have available in their account. But that information also was unavailable because of the outage, so customers weren't able to use their cards.

That addresses this for most cases, so you don't get fraud.

cashier Eliza Shook said dozens of customers at Corner Grocery had to put back groceries when the cards failed Saturday because they couldn't afford to pay for the food.

Sounds like they didn't just let people buy whatever they wanted, because the plan b was down. Now, why did you waste our time posting horseshit?

Re:This is exactly why testing backups is necessar (2)

Rick Zeman (15628) | 1 year,17 days | (#45115717)

Backups don't always work - that's why you test them. This time they did not work - much better that you experience problems when you anticipate them than when everything else is going wrong, too. It's unfortunate that the system was down, but it seems they got it back up in a reasonably quick time frame. Moreover, merchants are supposed to have manual means of recording EBT payments for just such a scenario.

Exactly. Imagine a more catastrophic meltdown down the road and all of the Nancy Naysayers saying, "WhyoWhy didn't anyone test it?"

Re:This is exactly why testing backups is necessar (1)

Okian Warrior (537106) | 1 year,17 days | (#45115835)

... much better that you experience problems when you anticipate them than when everything else is going wrong, too.

So what you're saying is: if you make a 1 million dollar mistake, your response should be "Phew! At least I didn't lose 5 million!".

An outside observer might suggest that losing the $1 million is bad on its face. Mitigating the outrage by making false comparisons is the sort of thing politicians do, as a dodge for responsibility.

Should we be sanguine about these sorts of problems because they're not the worst possible scenario? Is that an acceptable excuse?

Re:This is exactly why testing backups is necessar (2)

dwhitaker (1500855) | 1 year,17 days | (#45115877)

Risk exists, and appropriate management of it is how the world moves forward. I'm not privy to the inner-workings of Xerox, and it is entirely possible that they were not following best practices and that a substantial portion of this is due to operator error. However, even routine tests have risk associated with them. My point is that immediately blaming Xerox is not a good reaction: making and testing backups is an effort to mitigate risks (with much worse outcomes). If minor problems arise from time to time in the course of protecting against a larger future risk, that should be accepted. How the short-term and long-term risks offset each other is a discussion for the 17 states, the USDA, and Xerox.

Re:This is exactly why testing backups is necessar (1)

Dunbal (464142) | 1 year,17 days | (#45116099)

Errare humanum est

Re:This is exactly why testing backups is necessar (1)

DarkOx (621550) | 1 year,17 days | (#45116119)

Should we be sanguine about these sorts of problems because they're not the worst possible scenario? Is that an acceptable excuse?

To some degree yes, mistakes happen, especially with large complex systems. We should count having avoided the worst cases scenario as a success and see what can be done to mitigate the failure mode that did occur in the future, and the answer to that question might very well be nothing or nothing less costly than the future number of anticipated similar failures.

k-ROGER that! (2)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | 1 year,17 days | (#45115639)

Hahaha I was walking thru Kroger's yesterday and they kept announcing over the speakers "We cannot accept EBT today because our computers are having problems."

OS Problems? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45115645)

Xerox makes extensive use of GNU/Linux.

Fail-safe (4, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | 1 year,17 days | (#45115649)

People in Ohio, Michigan and 15 other states found themselves temporarily unable to use their food stamp debit-style cards on Saturday,

Why is it that a convenience -- our credit cards, are able to weather a failure like this by simply allowing all purchases, but our food stamp cards simply stop working? Credit card systems are, at every level, designed to cope with a failure by simply authorizing the purchase. Only a very small number of transactions would have been failed anyway for insufficient funds, etc., and these are reconciled when that part of the system is restored to service... meaning there's very little loss to the provider for this.

For that matter, if they've decided to design the system in this fashion, where were the redundancies? If a routine backup can result in failure on this scale, then it begs the question of where and how the backup of the actual systems, not just the data, got overlooked.

Re:Fail-safe (3, Informative)

dwhitaker (1500855) | 1 year,17 days | (#45115681)

One of the news articles mentioned that merchants were supposed to record transactions manually and allow purchases up to $50. Not ideal, and not the same as allowing all purchases, but it is a provision of the system that is supposed to ensure people aren't deprived food and necessities during a short outage. Now, whether retailers actually followed protocol is an entirely different matter (and one that does have implications for the way the system is run).

Re:Fail-safe (4, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | 1 year,17 days | (#45115945)

One of the news articles mentioned that merchants were supposed to record transactions manually and allow purchases up to $50

Due to the government shutdown, I cannot provide primary source data such as would be normally available from the USDA, etc. In lieu of that, the links provided represent the best non-authoritative sources available at this time.

The average household size is 2.48. Source [usatoday.com] .
The average person spends about $70 a week on food Source [loweryourspending.com]
76% of people on food stamps are disabled, elderly, or children. Source [feedingamerica.org]
Around 44 million Americans are on food stamps now*

* [Couldn't find credible source; Estimated from multiple sources]

This would mean that the average weekly trip to the grocery store, for an average household, would be $173.60. If your number is correct, then the government has opted to allow vendors to 28% of a family's food to be processed. Also according to the article, this outage may last up to three days.

Now here's the thing; A lot of those families live 'paycheck to paycheck'. Even if it is welfare; They don't have a fully stocked pantry. If they don't buy food today, a lot of them don't eat. And most people go shopping on the weekend. Your quoted $50 means the average family runs out of food in just under two days. I was unable to find any citation to back your assertion that they were allowing purchases as long as they were under $50 as well, so I have my doubts as to its validity. Anecdotally, two of my friends who have food stamps in the midwestern area reported being unable to purchase any food or remove any amount of cash benefits from their accounts.

So either the situation is 'rather bad' -- 1 in 8 Americans will be going hungry for at least one day this week on average. Or it's 'very bad', in that 1 in 8 Americans will be going hungry for three days. And possibly longer -- many of those people use public transportation or arranged rides to get to the grocery store every week. Especially the elderly and disabled. These rides are picked out weeks ahead of time. For them, they could be looking at not eating for a week or more.

So I return to my original point: Why is it that credit card companies, who offer a convenience, do this, but our government, which provides something that in a very literal sense is life or death to some people, does not? There is no answer to that question that I come away with that makes this look like anything other than criminal neglect of a vulnerable population.

Re:Fail-safe (1)

sumdumass (711423) | 1 year,17 days | (#45116133)

I need to challenge your premise a bit.

Living paycheck to paycheck should have no bearing on how stocked a pantry is when the pantry is being stocked by welfare benefits cards. It is literally like me saying here is $174.00, buy food with it and only food and you waiting until your paycheck comes in to purchase the bare minimum and save the rest for your next paycheck.

Furthermore, and I understand this is anecdotal, but it is representative of most of the people I know getting food stamps via EBT cards, most of these people have friends and families that will float money to them for food purchases and then make their purchases from the EBT cards. This is nothing new, it is illegal, but it is also something that probably would be completely overlooked due to a situation like this. Normally, the EBT holder would go to the store and purchase the food for the other person then receive a cash reimbursement from that person. So it isn't like there was absolutely no option if someone was completely out of food. This doesn't even begin to mention friends and family that would just say "come on over for dinner and we will send some left overs home with you" or something of the sort.

I don't lack empathy for these people, I'm just challenging the sense of dire emergency you are presenting. I know it is frightening for people who receive the benefits. I was just talking with a girl about it being a problem with Xerox and not the government shutdown so the benefits should be restored soon. But she was frantically surfing her Iphone5 trying to find out more information for it. I told her to go to the local TV news site, they just did a story on it before I left the house. She saw the story and was relieved some but still nervous because of the shutdown. It sure was an inconvenience, it likely left a lot of people anxious, but it was not a dire emergency or anything like you present.

Re:Fail-safe (1)

dwhitaker (1500855) | 1 year,17 days | (#45116157)

Thank you for bringing numbers into this. My $50 number is from one of several articles like this: Source [nbcwashington.com] .

My thought was that allowing up to $50 is certainly not enough for a typically grocery trip, but that if the outage was of a short duration (measured in hours rather than days), that it might be sufficient. It's at least a system in place today rather than one that would ostensibly need to clear numerous political hurdles.

I think some of the other threads have covered that EBT is run more like debit than credit, so that the fundamentals of the system are different. Furthermore, if it were set up to behave more like credit cards with automatically approving purchases in the event of an outage, someone will be liable for the difference (the retailers? the states?), and each has large negatives associated with it.

EBT is also a political lightning rod, so any changes that may improve the system from one perspective may be viewed as unconscionable from another. However the numbers shake out, a vulnerable population was hurt, but preventing it again in the future may not be as simple as one would hope.

Re:Fail-safe (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45115749)

I wonder what it'd take to get the EBT cards knocked out in the other 33 states?

Re:Fail-safe (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45115771)

Why is it that a convenience -- our credit cards, are able to weather a failure like this by simply allowing all purchases, but our food stamp cards simply stop working?

In the case of credit cards, the CC companies will just tell the merchant to eat any fraud. Surprisingly, the States did not sign up for this method.

Re:Fail-safe (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45115807)

People in Ohio, Michigan and 15 other states found themselves temporarily unable to use their food stamp debit-style cards on Saturday,

Why is it that a convenience -- our credit cards, are able to weather a failure like this by simply allowing all purchases, but our food stamp cards simply stop working? Credit card systems are, at every level, designed to cope with a failure by simply authorizing the purchase. Only a very small number of transactions would have been failed anyway for insufficient funds, etc., and these are reconciled when that part of the system is restored to service... meaning there's very little loss to the provider for this.

For that matter, if they've decided to design the system in this fashion, where were the redundancies? If a routine backup can result in failure on this scale, then it begs the question of where and how the backup of the actual systems, not just the data, got overlooked.

"Allowing all purchases" is oversimplifying how it works.
Not ALL processors have an agreement with ALL their switches to do stand-ins, and if they do, there are limits.
Stand-in processing is not free.

If stand-in processing was happening:
A: I would assume the transaction limits could be lower than quite a few grocery bills because most people buy weeks worth of food at a time.
B: You _NEVER_ tell cardholders "When our system is down, all transactions under $50 are automatically authorized". You have no idea the amount of fraud that would cause. No cardholders should know when stand-ins are happening or what the limit is, period.

Re: Fail-safe (2)

Mabhatter (126906) | 1 year,17 days | (#45115837)

That's because the EBT cards function like Debit cards, not credit cards. So they need to contact the account to verify funds every time.

They could make it some other way, but we wouldn't want people cheating the government by getting one extra cart of groceries early, would we. All because we didn't program the computer to check the cards balance every time.

Re:Fail-safe (1)

CarsonChittom (2025388) | 1 year,17 days | (#45115885)

Only a very small number of transactions would have been failed anyway for insufficient funds, etc., and these are reconciled when that part of the system is restored to service... meaning there's very little loss to the provider for this.

Right. And if EBT payments did likewise, it'd be a headline in some newspaper that Sen. Local voted for allowing welfare recipients to receive benefits to which they weren't otherwise entitled.

Not a commentary or criticism; simply a statement of fact.

Re:Fail-safe (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45115957)

Why is it that a convenience -- our credit cards, are able to weather a failure like this by simply allowing all purchases, but our food stamp cards simply stop working? Credit card systems are, at every level, designed to cope with a failure by simply authorizing the purchase. Only a very small number of transactions would have been failed anyway for insufficient funds, etc., and these are reconciled when that part of the system is restored to service... meaning there's very little loss to the provider for this.

For that matter, if they've decided to design the system in this fashion, where were the redundancies? If a routine backup can result in failure on this scale, then it begs the question of where and how the backup of the actual systems, not just the data, got overlooked.

Because people that hold those credit cards by and large _pay their bills_. People that hold EBT cards have them because they do _not_ pay their bills. So we should just say "ok I trust you!" and authorize anything the deadbeats want?

Re:Fail-safe (1)

Hartree (191324) | 1 year,17 days | (#45115971)

That's the system they went to in New Mexico when I was working for a card processor there. When the system first started, there was no default approval.

That was bad. Try telling someone "Sorry. Your kids are going to go hungry tonight."

So, they allowed store level approvals up to a certain amount when the system was down. It got abused some, but was a much better option than a blanket denial.

This was in the late 1990s, and would have varied from state to state, obviously. I would expect most states would have a similar system.

Re:Fail-safe (1)

Shavano (2541114) | 1 year,17 days | (#45116127)

Credit cards are taken as a promise to pay. If you have the card, either you are good for it or the credit company is the one who has to come after you for payment.

Debit cards don't work that way. If they can't verify the funds in your account, they don't get paid.

Isn't this how Chernobyl happened? (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45115665)

Some idiot said, "Hey, let's test the backup system on a production server."

Re:Isn't this how Chernobyl happened? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45116129)

And then Xerox copied him.

At least Xerox (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45115671)

At least Xerox does backups, and tests them. Sure beats not testing and risking catastrophe.

Very lucky - *this* time (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45115675)

This situation could have resulted in violence (or worse) if this wasn't rectified quickly.

Re:Very lucky - *this* time (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45115713)

Bring it on...

Routine... (1)

leuk_he (194174) | 1 year,17 days | (#45115741)

Routine means that is done more often, not that is is done correct or even approved....

It's Free Swipe Yo EBT (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45115751)

I'll just leave this here... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NzspsovNvII

Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45115805)

Food stamps? Why does your country need food stamps?
Is this a war-ravaged african country we're talking about?
Some neoliberal-ravaged western country perhaps?

Re:Why? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45115865)

Food stamps? Why does your country need food stamps? Is this a war-ravaged african country we're talking about? Some neoliberal-ravaged western country perhaps?

I've worked with and talked with emigres to the U.S. And they really were surprised that America's roads are not paved with gold. Really. There's a lot of need in this country, and food stamps can make the difference whether or not families get to eat decently or not. Lots of debate about food stamps here. Lots of well off people never come into contact with the poorer folks (see some comments here), and they hold elitist opinions. Food stamps get abused by some, I'd rather that happen than some kid here needlessly starves.

Re:Why? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45116007)

Food stamps? Why does your country need food stamps?
  Is this a war-ravaged african country we're talking about?

Yes, and getting more so all the time. See "Detroit", "Chicongo", "St. Louis", "Washington DC", etc...

This can get scary: (4, Interesting)

Hartree (191324) | 1 year,17 days | (#45115843)

In the late 1990s, the company I worked for was one of many processing EBT card transactions for grocery stores in New Mexico when they first switched to it from paper food stamps. The bank that was the approving authority for them (the next higher link up the chain from us) had a system problem and had been down for about 45 minutes.

I got a call from a very stressed sounding manager at a store in a bad neighborhood of Albuquerque and explained that the outage was statewide, and I'd already called the next highest level.

His response: "You don't understand! These people carry guns."

I really didn't have a good answer for that one, but certainly sympathized.

They later changed the rules so that when the statewide system was down, they could approve it at the store and then take out any overuse from later payments. That got abused, but it made some store managers a lot less nervous.

Re:This can get scary: (-1, Flamebait)

ibsteve2u (1184603) | 1 year,17 days | (#45115943)

I got a call from a very stressed sounding manager at a store in a bad neighborhood of Albuquerque and explained that the outage was statewide, and I'd already called the next highest level.

His response: "You don't understand! These people carry guns."

Republicans, eh? Since the incident preceded the formation of the Tea Party?

Re:This can get scary: (2)

Hartree (191324) | 1 year,17 days | (#45116011)

Obvious trolling is obvious.

Regardless of who it is, try telling someone "Sorry, but your kids are going to go hungry tonight." The response won't always be a fun one.

Re:This can get scary: (0)

ibsteve2u (1184603) | 1 year,17 days | (#45116195)

Funny, to me...the reader is supposed to assume something from "bad neighborhood", "these people", and "carry guns"...so I did.

Re:This can get scary: (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45116333)

Well, obviously it was a bunch of niggers. Calling them "people" is a bit deceptive.

Re:This can get scary: (1)

sumdumass (711423) | 1 year,17 days | (#45116205)

Actually, he probably meant gang members and thugs which would likely be more apt to vote democrats then republicans or tea party members.

However, I'm not sure why you jumped to political affiliations. It is not like only republicans or only tea party members own guns or carry guns. To think so it sort of silly.

Generator transfer switch test? (2)

Jayfar (630313) | 1 year,17 days | (#45115917)

With various reports referring to it as a power outage and others as a test of backup systems, I'd guess this was a generator load test where something went wrong with the transfer switch. We do those off-hours monthly at the data center where I work and, being the nervous sort, I'm grateful they usually coincide with one of my days off, although ours have gone smoothly.

Don't jiggle the jello (1)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | 1 year,17 days | (#45115991)

I actually feel for the Xerox people working on this. I know what it is like to have a system with intense and broad functionality and you are frozen in fear every time you make the slightest change. Testing ahead of time is great but can you be 100% certain that you have 100% test coverage? If you are then you are a fool.

If I had to point any fingers it would be that they should have a multi-layered deployment system where they deploy to the test center, a small random group, a larger group, and then nationally. It sounds like they might be halfway there with this outage only affecting 17 states. Ideally it would only be affecting a few counties in a couple of states.

Plus you want to keep the domain of your test area down to the point where you can fix crap manually.

Stay away from these stores for a while (1)

umdesch4 (3036737) | 1 year,17 days | (#45116321)

A point to consider: How many hours was perishable food left in all these abandoned carts before being put back on the shelf? I'd steer clear of buying anything perishable from a store accepting EBTs for a while, at least.

EBT (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45116359)

Well, I have to say that this might be good.
I was in Target last week, at the checkout, behind a woman who paid approx $330 with a benefit card. At least 90%, if not more, was processed or manufactured food, apparently 'acceptable' to the system. It beggars belief that so much money was spent on sugar

what does Xerox provide? (1)

belmolis (702863) | 1 year,17 days | (#45116383)

The article is vague as to what Xerox provides. I gather they're not just the hardware vendor. Do they supply the software? Do they handle clearance, like a credit card company? What exactly is their role?
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