Section 005, Instructor: Shana Pote

Weekly Question #6: Complete by Oct. 19, 2017

Leave your response as a comment on this post by the beginning of class on October 19, 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?

21 Responses to Weekly Question #6: Complete by Oct. 19, 2017

  • I have made one of the mistakes listed in the articles and it was mistaking the data type. This happened when I was inputting data into excel and I was trying to input dates into Excel, but the program confused it as integers, so I had to change the way I inputted the data. Another mistake I made was not backing up my data or making a copy of my original data before making any changes. It is important to back up data, because you can use the original data to compare to the new data you have altered just in case you have made any mistakes. Also it is important to have a backup copy, because if you make any mistakes or somehow lose your new set of data then you always have the old copy to refer to.

  • I have definitely edited an excel sheet without backing it up first. Sometimes I’m working on something quickly, or assume that other people have a version. But this is a bad habit I should definitely get out of. I’ve also had the problem happen that we talked about in class, where the zip code was dropping the “0”. I work at a PR firm right now and we send out tickets for movie studios, so this could have been a big problem! Luckily, I was able to fix it before it got any further.

  • I am guilty of hitting the “ok” button without reading the dialogue box. So far no major consequences have happened, but its only a matter of time. I also have had the issue with leading zeros. I am continually updating a contact spreadsheet and we have quite a few contacts that are located in New Jersey, which initially I was unaware that the leading zero would be a problem. So the first few times I was updating, I didn’t take notice to the fact they were dropping off until one time I looked up as I hit “enter” and saw it eliminate the zero. Which led me to have to scan through all the zip codes for New Jersey and correct the ones I had entered during the month. For our purposes I was able to just adjust the cells which needed the leading zeros to a “text” format which allows for the extra zero.

  • I have made a mistake listed in the article, it was missing the data type. It happens when I put in a date, but it changes to an integer. Many similar data errors have occurred, although it is a very simple fix. Another mistake I’ve made on Excel is copying formulas and miscalculation. I’ve miscalculated and copied formulas into the rows, but sometimes I miss a cell that I didn’t notice before. I’ve also made the mistake of not backing up my data or making a copy of the original before making major alterations. You should always back up your data because it is important to have the original to look at in case you need to fix a mistake in the new data.

  • I think that mistake 3 “Failing to do a full backup first” is the most common mistake and the easiest to avoid. It is very important to always back up all sets of data. Without a backup, you would have to start from scratch to recollect the data which can be time-consuming or very difficult to do, especially if you have a deadline. One time I made this mistake, I was working on a 5 pages paper for one of my classes, and when I was in the middle of the paper, the computer abruptly shut down, and I wasn’t able to recover the document afterward. This mistake thought me to always save whatever I m working on every couple minutes.

  • I have made mistake number 3 far too often, I’ll begin working on projects of all kinds (papers, excel sheets, photography edits, musical arrangements, etc) without backing up what I was doing. These projects will later corrupt or mistakes will be made that would easily have been remedied had I backed them up beforehand. Personally, I see this as the most important mistake as it’s the most rudimentary and as such it’s the one most overlooked.

  • I think I make the mistake of using the wrong data type the most, which can be a critical error. However, I believe the most critical thing to do is to make a backup file before beginning. Anything can and will happen, as this has happened to me in the past. I am also guilty of not making checkpoint saves which can lead to a critical loss in the work I have achieved in the file being worked on. Your work is not worth anything until the finished product is completed, and if anything happens to the work flow to hinder achieving the final product could prove to be incredibly detrimental to even achieve the task at hand.

  • I have a horrible habit of not backing up the work that I do. In one case, I had been working on a statement of values worksheet for one of my company’s largest clients. Naturally there were thousands of rows, and the project was going to take me a few weeks to get through. There were multiple times where I realized that I had either been pulling values from the wrong database or had put the values in the wrong section of the spreadsheet only after I had saved it over the last copy. It was very time consuming to go in and have to correct all of these mistakes by hand instead of just opening up the backup copy.

  • Due to my lack of time with Excel prior to this course, I have not made any of these mistakes within that program. However, many of my papers within Word have been corrupted due to me not properly backing them up. For example, during a timed essay my senior year, I had to re-type 400 words because my work had not been properly backed up. I believe this is the most important step in working with data because if not properly backed up, tons of data can be lost and many things will have to done over again as I have had to do many times in Word.

  • I think it is important to avoid mistake #3, which is working on a database without doing a full back up first. This is a very important step because many things could go wrong that would compromise your work, such as a computer malfunction or a program malfunction. These could cause you to lose your work and if you haven’t backed it up you will have to start all over, which is very time consuming and frustrating. Starting over could also cause you to rush, potentially resulting in more mistakes.

  • I have not made any of these mistakes in Excel because I barley use Excel before this course. But I think start working on the database without doing a full backup first is the most important problem to avoid. Backup is like save points in videos game, if players forgot to save their games then next time when they get on and play, they will notice that they have to start over from the beginning again, all those playing hours going to waste because a simple mistake. Same thing apply to Excel, save work is extremely important.

  • I haven’t made any mistakes on this list, because before I start working, I noticed some of them are really important. I agree with the most of people, mistake #3 is very common and may lead to frustrating result. It won’t harm you to save and backup more! Do it as frequently as you can. There is one convenience to backup data, it is not only preventing your data being corrupted or system crashing, you can also go through the data before each processing and analyzing step (I recommend create different backup files on each steps). That could be useful because you can cancel your choice at any time, or even combine the old data and the processed data together if you want!

  • For a year I worked in the sales department of a construction equipment company. We had an inventory of a few million dollars of aerial work platforms and telehandlers and used a software program to record all of our contracts (dates, rates, customer, jobsite, etc). The software allowed you to export the data into SAP Crystal Reports and using your own metrics you could design custom reports. I wanted to design more efficient month-month financial metrics so that we could eventually have more accurate information to guide the buying and selling of new equipment, but I was not well versed in SQL. Instead of backing up the database, and testing my commands in a controlled environment, I made live changes to existing reports in our software. Fortunately, all changes were reversible and I didn’t negatively affect our reporting ability, but I realized how important it is to backup data so you can protect the data from human error. The issue was the developers of the software company didn’t provide a data dictionary for the reports they designed, so when I tried to replicate one in Crystal Reports I had to manipulate it to break their code. The developers wanted their customers to pay for their departments “reports service” instead of making their own reports, and I wanted to save our company money and harness the data that we were generating. Alas, I didn’t have a degree in data science and was learning by doing…which is a great method until you make a mistake and don’t have anyone with more experience to correct the mistake. Suffice to say, I learned to always back up your database so that you can restore the system.

  • I have made the mistake of clicking “yes” without reading what I am agreeing to. I am also guilty of working on a database without doing a full backup first. I have not had any major issues so far, only minor errors that I could remedy easily. However doing this is a huge risk; it only takes one time to make a huge error. These are bad habits that I need to break.

  • I have made several mistakes in the list. The most usually mistake is put values in fields that are supposed to be pointers or references. It usually results in a confusing date. I am careless. Sometimes when I have done a spreadsheet, but I feel the data looks strange. After I review it, I find it’s because I put values in the wrong place. It’s a mistake easily to make.

  • One particular mistake I can remember is the time we were upgrading all the surveillance cameras in various garages from analog to IP. I was responsible all technical aspects of this project and for placing the switch ports,mac addresses ,camera locations ect into our shared spread sheet.
    And I like to ascend all the columns in doc from a-z, but on this occasion I only did one column and that column happen to be the Mac address. so in the end when we went to import the info our locat data base the equipment and the locations did not match.

    Luckily one of our Field tech caught the problem before the upload and I was able to clear up the issue before it became a issue.

  • I have personally never made one these mistakes as I haven’t been in a position to. I do believe that my biggest mistake would be pressing yes when removing something. I have a horrible problem of not reading what I am doing and I go with the flow and I’ve been known to delete things in large amounts due to my carelessness.

  • I have clicked ok before without reading something before. I think this is an easily fixable mistake and something that I have to pay attention to.

  • I haven’t used Excel that much before this class, but number 3, not making a backup before working as bitten me in the ass before on other programs. But number 6 (Miss the data type) has happened to me when I have worked with formulas before. Where I was supposed to take an numerical input from the user, but than forgotten to convert it to an integer or float. Which can cause errors or wrong values from the formula.

  • I have never made any of these mistakes myself, however, I think the most important mistake to avoid would be opening a CSV file directly into Excel. Making this mistake can corrupt your data, which makes it inaccurate. It would also be difficult to notice that this action would corrupt your data unless you know beforehand that it does, so it would likely be an undetected and unfixed mistake.

  • I haven’t made any of these mistakes before because i don’t have a lot of use with these programs. Although the most important to avoid is number 6 Miss the data type. It is easy to mistaken enter the wrong data which can throw a large screw into whatever your doing. It might take a long time to find and fix, so its best to be aware of all data you enter.

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Shana Pote

Alter Hall 232
Class time: 5:30-8pm, Thursdays
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