Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Bad keystroke leads to $251M stock buy

From ComputerWorld.com:
A Taiwan stock trader mistakenly bought $251 million worth of shares with a misstroke of her computer keyboard, meaning her company is looking at a paper loss of more than $12 million and she is looking for a new job.
One wrong keystroke and it cost the person her job. I have heard that stock brokers (especially the high-end ones) deal in millions of dollars, but isn't there some sort of a reality check? $251 million? That's quite a bit isn't it? I wonder if the software had any mechanism to prevent such transactions. Was it the usual (read: lazy) confirmation dialog box: Are you sure you want to continue? Blink. Clicked Enter without even thinking about it. Alan Cooper talks about creating software that lets you undo actions and maybe this was one of those cases where an Undo would've helped save someone's job. Yes, I am aware that there might be some complexity in programming this kind of undo. I am also aware that mistakes should not be so costly.


At 8:55 AM, Blogger Jnarin said...

This reminds me of something else. I've deleted all my mails, more than once, by accident (read: carelessness). I always use Shift+Delete to send those mails that I don't want to eternity, but more than once, I've ended up doing the operation with not the mail, but the folder selected & have pressed the "Enter" key without reading what's on the (lazy) dialog box!

At 9:37 AM, Anonymous Percy said...

That's precisely my point. We do make mistakes from time to time and in the electronic world, it should be made a little easier to recover from those mistakes. The problem with using the "Are you sure?" kind of confirmation messages is that we've gotten so conditioned to them that we hit Enter without even thinking. Almost like a natural response.

And usually, with these kinds of mistakes, you realise your mistake pretty soon. Gmail has a pretty nice feature if you hit the Discard button by accident when composing an email. You'll get a message at the bottom saying, "Your message has been discarded. Undo discard". The Undo Discard is a hyperlink that will recover your message. Extremely helpful and nicely done.

Food for thought for all developers.


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