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28 Oct 2005

by Noel

Not-so-failsafe Computing

I went to withdraw some money from an ATM yesterday, but instead of the normal screen I was confronted by a Window NT 4.0 bootup screen. The machine seemed to have hung at that point, so for a laugh I pressed 4-5-6, thinking it was the closest key sequence to the famous Ctrl-Alt-Del. Imagine my surprise when the machine rebooted! It can tell you the ATM was a Pentium 3 running at 700MHz, with 128MB of RAM. This whole episode amazes me for so many reasons: that ATMs run Windows (do they ever get viruses? can I play Minesweeper if the network is slow?), that the software doesn’t detect crashes and try to recover, and that they can be rebooted so simply. I’ll never look at an ATM the same way again!

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