Section 004, Instructor: Larry Dignan

Weekly Question #6: Complete by Oct. 23

Leave your response as a comment on this post by the beginning of class on March 9, 2017. Remember, it only needs to be three or four sentences. For these weekly questions, I’m mainly interested in your opinions, not so much particular “facts” from the class!

Answer one of these:

We spent a little time in class discussing the article Stupid Data Corruption Tricks.

  1. Have you ever made one of the mistakes listed in the article? Describe what happened.
  2. If you haven’t made one of those mistakes, which one of them do you think is the most important to avoid?

29 Responses to Weekly Question #6: Complete by Oct. 23

  • I have sorted a spreadsheet without including every column before. There were three columns added into a sum in the total column, and I accidentally sorted only the total from largest to smallest (it was number of total responses to a survey). Thankfully I noticed before sending it out, that every single one of my total numbers made no sense, and was in a separate row from where it should have been. And as I was submitting it to an automated system, had I failed to correct the error it would have gone live on a website right away.

  • “Click “yes” without carefully evaluating the message that says “do you want to remove this from the server?”

    This is something that I used to do all the time by habit. For other classes, I had to use excel (especially math classes) and I wasn’t too familiar with it at the time nor was I familiar with the language that was being used. So from simply being frustrated and making mistakes, I remember seeing dialogue boxes and just kept clicking yes hoping it would do something. It deleted my data sometimes (I’m grateful for the undo button), or sometimes it got rid of what I was doing permanently.

    Have you ever made one of the mistakes listed in the article? Describe what happened.
    If you haven’t made one of those mistakes, which one of them do you think is the most important to avoid?

  • I make mistakes, but I haven’t made one of the mistakes listed in the article yet. I’m bound to do it thought. The mistake that I would say that is most important to avoid that was included on this list was clicking yes before reading what the message was. Too many times people all their handwork and effort just by not reading the conditions and options in a box. It’s not like you can press undo if it was asking specifically so you wouldn’t make a mistake. It’s always important to double check that way you didn’t waste your time and effort, only for you to go back and do it again.

  • The mistake I made multiple times was missing the data type. Many times I would be using integers for dates or want to be using money but using something different. This would especially happen if I was copying data into excel or putting in data and forgetting to change what type of numbers they are.

  • Especially during the in class exercise and assignment for last week, I’ve been a victim of committing mistake number 9. While attempting to copy the formula that would check if the coupon code was correct, I copied the cell and pasted them in all the other relevant cells. Instead of Excel understanding that I needed to copy to formula adhering to the new cells, it just copied the formula for the first cell, thus giving me the same answer for every instance the formula showed up.

  • I think it is very important to backup your database. Electricity can go out whenever, and electronics can randomly malfunction. I think people should always make a full backup of their databases. That way no matter what happens, people won’t lose important information and have to start all over again.

  • One of the mistakes that I have made before was starting to work on data before backing it up. I can recall countless amount of times my computer died in the middle of my assignment or Excel has suddenly stopped working and I had to begin my homework all over again. Last week, while cleaning the data in the spreadsheet for Assignment 3, I completely forgot to plug in my laptop. I was so concentrated and excited about finally catching on how to do the assignment that it completely slipped my memory. All in all, my computer died and my assignment went down the drain. I had to re-do it and that was painful. However, it did help me realize that I made a couple of mistakes first time around.

  • I’ve definitely opened CSVs in excel and wound up with unwanted scientific notation. Fortunately, this is generally a pretty easy fix. The most important error to avoid, in my opinion, is to back up the original. If you’re staring at a spreadsheet for a long time, it’s easy to lose track of where things actually came from. Maintaining a copy of the original is important to the process because accidents happen, and it’s better to start over than to have just utterly destroyed your whole data set.

  • I havent made any of the mistakes listed in the article yet, but I am 100 percent certain that I will load a CSV file directly into excel one day and mess up my data set. However I think the most important mistake to avoid is sorting a spreadsheet without all the columns. This is because it is so easy to just hit select all but in doing so you can corrupt your entire data set. This is a very avoidable mistake that really just comes down to laziness.

  • I have made made one of the mistakes listed in the article. That is copy formulas that use relative coordinates. The mistake was happened when I was doing the assignment 3. When I was copying the formula from the excel. The formula was not firmly represented. The formula is increasing by the excel coordinate. Finally, I realized that I should use a dollar sign to firm the formula. That was a true story!

  • The easiest mistake to make and also the most important one to avoid is the relative coordinates mistake. With a large list of data, it is common practice to just copy and paste a formula down a column if it is to be calculated for each individual row. However, sometimes the Excel user wants to use a specific value contained in only a single cell of the data in their formula for each data entry. If a specific cell address is not used, the formula will continue to retrieve from a cell relative to its location instead of the specific cell that needs to be used, and so an entire column of data can be calculated incorrectly.

  • I can definitely see Clicking “yes” without carefully evaluating the message that says “do you want to remove this from the server?” being the most important mistake to avoid. In today’s tech world, I am guilty of just clicking “Yes” without reading because you start assuming what you are reading, so I could also see doing this with a database. However, there is no simple Ctrl+Z Undo with a entire database because many times that same text prompt would probably also say the action is not reversible (at least with Access). Furthermore, this mistake could easily be avoided by simply reading prompts carefully while working with databases.

  • Personally, I think the most important mistake that you really want to avoid is #1. I think it is very common to click “yes” especially when you’re already stressed out and don’t really know what is going on. You might think that by saying yes it won’t do anything since you’re already lost in the sea of data but it could very easily ruin your data. It could also delete metadata and that would be very harmful when it comes to evaluating your data and what it is showing.

  • When I interned at a tech company this summer, my job involved cleaning and sorting data from CRM and SAP records. My job specifically involved sorting all of the firms we sell software to in the Southern sales region of the United States and dividing them geographically and by the value of the deal amongst account managers in their respective region. When I started sorting the data for Louisiana, I began working on the database without doing a full backup. Sure enough, my computer froze and required me to restart it. Upon restarting my computer, I realized that all the work I’ve done thus far on the Louisiana account was gone. Fortunately, Louisiana only had approximately 500 accounts and wasn’t that big of a setback for me. If it had been Texas, which had approximately 4,000 accounts, I would have been boned. Lesson learned; always backup your database.

  • I have yet to make one of these specific mistakes but I’ve made several others. One important mistake that I would like to avoid is number 3, “Starting the database without doing a full backup first”. If I were to half-complete an assignment and for some reason, Tableau or Excel shut down or even my laptop die, I would lose it. It is very important to backup your database that way, in an incident as such you still have access to the part of the assignment in which you already completed.

  • There were many mistakes that I’ve done according to the article but I’m going to narrow it down to one. I have done #8 which is “accidentally use VLOOKUP’s fuzzy match” where I did not include the word “false” as the fourth VLOOKUP parameter while I was working on an assignment for MIS 2502. This led to data corruption and I was stuck for almost 20 minutes before I figured out what I did wrong and then went on about with the assignment.

  • I’m not sure that I have made mistakes listed in the article, but I think the most important mistake is #1. Probably many people click ‘yes’, despite they don’t really know what’s going on. They overlook that click ‘yes’ won’t change anything or make problem. However, it can damage the data and also can delate the data which is very important to your data.

  • I have made mistake number 10, opening a CSV file directly into excel. This happened when I was doing one of the first assignments for this class when we were learning how to find and use open data. I downloaded a CSV file from opendataphilly.org and opened it in excel, only to find that all of the data I needed to use was automatically converted into a form that I would need to revert in order to use it for the assignment. I decided to find a new dataset.

  • I cannot recall a time when I have made one of these mistakes, but I think the worst mistake to make would be “Clicking “yes” without carefully evaluating the message that says “do you want to remove this from the server”.” The big issue is that your losing access to information entirely. The other mistakes can be fixed and adjusted; however, you cannot fix the information that you deleted. The best you can do is start over and reapply all that was lost.

  • I haven’t made any mistakes when I work on my Excel but I think Number 1 “Click ‘yes’ without carefully evaluating the message that says ‘do you want to remove this from the server?'” is the most important one to avoid. This is because that when we are not paying attention to those pop-ups, we would delete important data which means do the work again. That is why I think this mistake is the worst mistake among 10.

  • I have clicked “yes” many times without correctly understanding the message that was given to me, I always thought that it wouldn’t change anything but the truth is that it is very important to avoid making this mistake because by clicking “yes” without evaluating the consequences, you could easily delete important data from the server and not understand why.

  • An error that I have made before is missing the data type, (#6). This occurred because dates were originally written in my spreadsheet as a word followed by integers, but as I was working I continued my sheet writing the dates as integers. This confused Excel which then confused me, but this error is a very avoidable situation.

  • I recently hired a junior analyst. Working with this person has made me realize, more than ever before, how important it is to have an instruction tab on any workbook being shared. The error that occurred was a combination of number 3 and 7 from the article. The majority of the cell contents in a particular spreadsheet that was being shared between the two of us were formulas with many nested paths. Unfortunately, the cells were copied and paste valued, eliminating all the original formulas and a copy of the file was never made. This was a very time consuming, costly mistake.

  • One of the mistakes that I have made is not starting a backup before working on the database. Its always important to backup your work because if you mess up all your work has the possibility of being wiped. I’ve forgotten to save before and made numerous mistakes that I couldn’t roll back on. It was took a lot of time for me to have to go back into the database and rework it.

  • I have not made any of these mistakes (yet). I do think the most important one to avoid is clicking “yes” without carefully evaluating the message that says, “do you want to remove this from the server?” I think this is the most important mistake to avoid because this can actually delete very important data and metadata and that data could possibly be deleted forever.

  • I have no personally committed any of these mistakes myself but one I would try to avoid the most is number 3; start working on the database without doing a full backup first. This is the most important one to avoid because if this mistake is made everything can be lost and although it is one of the easiest to avoid, it still happens. This mistake can hurt to varying degrees depending on how far into a project one might be but any time someone has to start completely over because of a failure to save their work, the feeling is powerless. It is important to save your work periodically so this mistake does not occur.

  • Not going to lie here. I have committed a few of these mistakes. Most recently, I sorted the spreadsheet without including all of the columns in our assignment 3. I sorted the total cost of the orders, but their connected line item and other metrics were lost immediately. Luckily it looked suspicious, so a quick Ctrl+Z remedied that. If it had gone unnoticed, all of the data point connections like the order number, number of items ordered, etc., would be lost!

  • Yes, I have made mistake number 3 listed in the article. I frequently start working on the data base without doing a full backup first. I am just so focused about getting the assignment done that I do not think how to properly prevent anything going wrong while working on the file. It is extremely important to save the original database in order to be able to access the original data and if your new file gets corrupted you can always resort back to the original document. In the future, I should start saving original files as backups just in case anything goes wrong with the new file.

  • I have made mistakes, but I have yet to do any of the given top 10 mistakes. To me the biggest mistake would have to be “Click “yes” without carefully evaluating the message that says “do you want to remove this from the server.” This in my opinion is the biggest mistake because this can cause you too lose more than you expected not paying attention and just hitting yes could cause you to lose valuable information. Which will cause you to have to restart and no one wants that.

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Office Hours
Larry Dignan lawrence.dignan@temple.edu Alter Hall 232 267.614.6467 Class time: 5:30-8pm, Mondays Office hours: Monday half hour before class, half hour after class or by appointment. ITA: Nathan Pham. Contact via email at Nathan.Pham@temple.edu