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Saturday, February 11, 2006

Why we all love computers 

Here's a great example of garbage in, garbage out:
A house erroneously valued at $400 million US is being blamed for budget shortfalls and possible layoffs in municipalities and school districts in northwestern Indiana . . . The house had been valued at $121,900 before the glitch. . . the home usually carried about $1,500 in property taxes; this year, it was billed $8 million. . . the $400-million value ended up on documents that were used to calculate tax rates. Most local officials did not learn about the mistake until Tuesday, when 18 government taxing units were asked to return a total of $3.1 million of tax money. The city of Valparaiso and the Valparaiso Community School Corp. were asked to return $2.7 million. As a result, the school system has a $200,000 budget shortfall and the city loses $900,000.. . . the user probably tried to use a real estate record display by pressing R-E-D but accidentally typed R-E-R, which brought up an assessment program written in 1995. The program is no longer in use and technology officials did not know it could be used. The county treasurer said his office spotted the $400-million error after it caused an improper billing but apparently it wasn't corrected elsewhere.
And as more and more computer programs are partly overwritten and abandoned, chances are this type of thing will happen more often.

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