Section 006, Instructor: Shana Pote

Weekly Question #6: Complete by October 19, 2016

Leave your response as a comment on this post by the beginning of class on October 19, 2016. 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?

23 Responses to Weekly Question #6: Complete by October 19, 2016

  • I haven’t done any serious data analysis, so I haven’t made any of the mistakes listed in the article. However, I believe the most important mistake to avoid is the miss data type. This happens when you move data sets into different systems. The system can which your data into a different type. For example, when using Excel fractional values are turned into whole numbers. This is why miss data type is an important mistake not to avoid.

  • There was one mistakes I have made a couple times last semester. I’m in a sorority and we do a lot of excel spreadsheets to get/share information within the chapter. Number 6, “Miss the Data Type” has been a problem a few times when I have created an excel spread sheet about upcoming dates and deadlines. In the A column I listed the dates like 9/7 for September 7, and so on. However when I clicked all of column A I somehow managed to press some buttons that made it all into decimal form of the dates. I sent the email with the excel spread sheet attached before I realized the error. It resulted in lots of confused girls emailing me back.

  • There have been many times where I have copied formulas that use relative coordinates. Many times I don’t notice that I make this mistake until something else is off in the formulas and I backtrack to the source of the issue. Another common mistake I make is when I copy a column of data cells into another column to “transfer” it, the data types of the columns might be different and then mess up calculations.

  • I remember when we were being trained on Microsoft excel in high school. For a class exercise, we were supposed to use the VLOOKUP function to compare values in a column on an array to values in another specified column. Instead, I used the HLOOKUP Function and I got an error. I would’nt call this a mistake because then I did not understand the use and differences between these functions. I realized how important it is to make sure you put in the right variables into your formula in order to prevent errors.

  • I haven’t done any analysis on excel before, but I did make a mistake while trying to create a form and organize information: I started working on the database without doing a full backup first. The thing about not backing up first is that once you make a mistake, it’s hard to spot and make a change. When I noticed I made a mistake in the form, I couldn’t find the original data and had to go over the process again.

  • I think the most common mistake made by Excel novices, including myself, is copying formulas that use relative coordinates; this happens way too often for those who do not use Excel extensively. I recently made this mistake when I was creating a spreadsheet of my expenses for a financing class: I found myself adding and deleting rows of information to sort the data, but this negatively affected my formulas that I set up in order to calculate running expenses, averages, and other statistics about the data. Since I did not have to edit thousands of rows, the problem was easy to catch and to fix, but I can’t imagine doing the same thing for a large-scale company which might handle thousands of transactions a day.

  • While I have not spend a lot of time using Excel, I have experience with errors in other programs therefore I can relate to how people feel when their data or documents become corrupted. As a result, I believe the most important mistake to avoid is to “start working on the database without doing a full backup first.” This is the most important in my opinion because if you do not backup your database every hour or so, your data may become corrupt resulting in lots of work being lost which only makes you have to do work twice. With that said, it is extremely necessary to always backup your data so it does not become corrupt and you do not lose it, which can also be applied to various computer programs.

  • I personally have not used excel, or have taken part in extensive data analysis throughout my academic or professional career. However, as I begin to utilize excel and data sources I have to be careful when analyzing data sets. Therefore, after reading this article I found clicking yes to remove something from a server to be the biggest mistake. This seems to be the biggest mistake, because accidentally deleting metadata and configurations seems to make whatever data one is analyzing to become useless and irrelevant.

  • I have not had that many experiences with excel, and i do not use excel in my professional career or and i have just started my academic career. During this class i have been able to analyze data and use excel an and tableau. I feel that my biggest mistake that i have made so far was copying the formulas and missing the data type. I think that is very important to copy the data correctly in order to gain the correct results. and it is important to not rush through the data a completely miss the data type.

  • I have never made any of the mistakes listed in the article, but I think the most important one to avoid is copying formulas with relative coordinates. From my experience in using excel for accounting work, it is critical to make the proper formula copies into cells to ensure to correct value is reached. Even small errors can have huge repercussions on the rest of the work, as all data feeds into the financial statements,

  • In my experience, I have never made any of these mistakes listed in the article. However, the one that I think is the most important to avoid is #4) Sort a spreadsheet, but not include all of the columns. I think that this is a very important concept to try and not mess up on because there can be tons of data miscalculations if this step is miscued. If all of the data that you have is not included in this step, it makes your life much more difficult when trying to get a job done.

  • Since I have not done any “real” data analysis, I have not committed any of these mistakes. However, I think the number 3, which says “start[ing] working on the database without doing a full backup first ” is the most serious mistake because people will contaminate and lose the original data. There is no chance for people to go back and start again.

  • I personally haven’t done any of these mistakes as I have only started using excel more recently and haven’t had a chance to. I would say the biggest mistake would be not backing up the original form of the data. If any irreparable mistake is made, it’s easy to go back to the original data and start again. In this way, backing up your data is a fail-safe net. As long as you catch any errors you make, they are all completely fixable with the original data on hand. Without the data, any mistakes you make can become permanent or irriversible as you do not know what the data was like before the mistake.

  • I have not made any of these mistakes personally but i believe the 10th one would be the most important to avoid. The 10th one talks about opening a CSV file directly into excel. If you do this excel will automatically corrupt the data if you double click. This is a mistake that could happen and you dont even realize. I frequently double click and it would throw data off completely for such a simple mistake. I think this would be the most important one to avoid because you can do it without even realizing.

  • The company I used to work for has a program in which they give awards to middle school students based on their performance at school. The company does this every summer and partners with different school each year. While working for them, my job was to receive student transcripts sent to us via mail post, arrange them in order from highest to lowest grades, make a list of names with this order along with their grades and contacts, put it on an excel file and send it to my supervisor. This sounds simple and straightforward enough, yet turned out time-consuming as all the steps were done manually and thus, prone to lots of mistakes if my eyes got tired staring at the screen for a little too long. Unlike in MS Word that when I highlight some words and scroll down to see some paragraphs below, nothing would happen. But then when I click on a cell in Excel and scroll down, the content of that cell would also scroll down and replace the content of the cell wherever my scrolling stops. So by the end of the day, just when I was done with my assignment and went over them again to double check, I realised a few names went missing and what’s more, some of the names, grades and contacts were mismatched. I thought I went crazy because it was such a long list and the more I tried to fix it, the more names came up to be wrongly placed. This was just a simple mistake but since I knew what this list was for and imagined how much trouble it would create later on, I couldn’t help but staying behind to redo it and to remember that this mistake cannot happen again.

  • Last year, I took a Microsoft excel certification class at Arizona State and in this class we had many assignments to get us accustomed to excel. For our midterm we had to create and execute a data analysis regarding the stock market. I had to take stock data and other relevant date from at-least 5 years back, and while constructing a formula to perform a regression analysis I did not use $,$ markers to avoid mistake number 9. Because of this I had spent the well over 5 hours trying to correct my midterm. Only to have my professor look at it the next day and solve the issue in under 5 mins and make me look like a complete imbecile. Never will I make this mistake again.

  • Yes, I’ve made several of the stupid data corruption tricks. The worst one I have made is the putting values into cells that have formulas or are pointers to other cells. Usually, I’m play around with the numbers and just want to see how changing it to a different number may affect the outcome, and change it back when I’m done. However, I forgot one time that I changed the pointer to a hard coded number and left it without changing it back. My manager came back to me asking why there was a new variance when there wasn’t one before, and I had to go searching though the workbook to find where my error was.

  • In my experience in working with Microsoft excel, I have made the unfortunate error of missing a data type while working within a spreadsheet. Thankfully, at the time of making the error, I was able to catch is somewhat quickly which prevented me from making the mistake I made even worse. I soon realized how imperative it is to not only make sure all the data types you are using are correct, but to also make sure they are categorized and organized neatly within excel, or you will be left with a workbook that is not only incomplete, but extremely hard to navigate for anyone trying to make sense of your data or draw any conclusions from it.

  • I haven’t done very much work with Excel so I actually haven’t done any of the things listen in the article. I have made mistakes like forgetting to save a document and then losing it, but that’s not nearly as specific as the mistakes in the article. I think any mistake that permanently deletes files is the most harmful mistake because at least if you don’t save changes correctly you can correct them.

  • I haven’t made any of those mistakes as I have not done much work in Excel. I think the most important mistake to avoid is sort a spreadsheet, but not include all the columns. Using Excel’s select all function, empty columns won’t be included. This could be a major problem in organizing a spreadsheet with a lot of data.

  • In my experience, I haven’t made one of those mistakes. In my view, the most important thing is that ‘Start working on the database without doing a full backup first’. When we are working an the database, the data is changed. If we make a big mistake that ruins the whole database, it is lucky that we have a backup. And we can have another chance.

  • Personally, I have not worked with enough Excel files and data sets to have made any of these mistakes. However, I think that the most important one to avoid is “Number 3: Start Working on a Database Without Doing a Full Backup First.” This is the most important because any other mistake that you make just gets compounded, and is very hard, if not impossible, to restart from the beginning. In addition, any accidental deletions or editing mistakes cannot be undone.

  • A mistake on excel that I have made many times when I was initially familiarizing myself with it was copying formulas that used relative coordinates and working on a database without fully backing it up first. The former is an issue because certain values need to be locked in and shouldn’t change when the cell is dragged down. If I didn’t try to make sense of the data I was looking at, I wouldn’t have caught that this was happening, so it’s important for people to not just assume that values on excel are correct, or else they won’t catch certain mistakes. In addition, I once started data analysis on a spreadsheet for an organization I was a part of that recorded membership, without backing up/making a copy of the original data. As a result, the information I originally started with didn’t carry through till the end, since much was changed throughout the process, and I had to try to revert data from my memory of its original format.

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Office Hours

Shana Pote (instructor)
By Appointment Only! Email to schedule time between 6-10 pm, M-F, or 9-12 S-S. Office hours will be via Google Hangout, Skype or WebEx
Email shana.pote@temple.edu to set up appointment.

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Craig Kestecher (ITA)
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