Instructor: David Schuff, Section 001

Weekly Question #6: Complete by March 10, 2016

Leave your response as a comment on this post by the beginning of class on March 10, 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?

58 Responses to Weekly Question #6: Complete by March 10, 2016

  • I have not made one of the mistakes Taber listed, but I think the most important one to avoid would be Number 3: Start working on the database without doing a full backup first. This seems like a crucial mistake because if there is an error made while working with the data and it can’t be reversed, such as permanently deleting something, it may be difficult or impossible to retrieve the original data set. If an outside data source is not free, or it was an original data set that was not copied or saved, the cost of replacing the data is high, and will impose an unnecessary expense on a company in terms of money and time.

  • Since I’m not a regular Excel user, I have not made any of those mistakes. I think the most important mistake to avoid is number 4 from the article. I think including all of the columns is important because if you miss some columns then the data will be misrepresented and inaccurate, and it will most likely take time and be difficult to figure out which columns are missing from the data.

  • I have never made one of those mistakes mentioned in the article, but I think the most important to avoid would be to start working on a database without doing a full backup first. If something happens such as your computer crashes, dies, or something of that nature and you didn’t back up what you have been working on, it could all be lost. I think this is the most important because it seems like if this does happen it could be the one that wastes the most time to fix.

  • The most common Excel mistakes that I have encountered are number 6 and number 3. As a bookkeeper in the military we used excel a lot especially when it came to orders parts, stock and equipment. Most of the time the serial numbers are same except for the last 2-4 numbers so its very easy to make a mistake entering information or Excel likes to fill in the rest of the information once you began typing the numbers. Also more than most of the time I don’t even think about doing a backup for my data/orders I processed and at least two or three times I’ve made a mistake or saved the information incorrectly and when I go to open it back up the data is corrupted, formulas are wrong and I would have to start all over. Therefore, I think number 3 from the list is the most valuable mistake you could make.

  • I agree with several other commentators that “Number 3: Start working on the database without doing a full backup first” is an important mistake to avoid. The other errors seem like they would be easier to correct if there was a resent backup file. When I was first learning to use SPSS I made many errors that I wasn’t sure how to fix. I got into the habit of making a backup before playing around with unfamiliar features.

  • I have not been using Excel very long so I haven’t made these mistakes (yet). But I do think I could easily make mistake #3 and #1. 3 says not to start working on a dataset before successfully backing up the information already entered. I think this would be something easily forgotten and very harmful because if the computer or excel itself had a glitch, everything in a set would be lost in addition to the new data entered. Also, I feel that the #1 reason: clicking yes before reading the message, would also be a problem because very few people read the “terms and conditions” and usually just sign or click through everything.

  • I have never made any of these mistakes but in my opinion, the common errors number 1 and 3 are the most important to avoid. They are both as dangerous as they both involve losing a big amount of important data. Once data is lost, it is difficult to retrieve the data back and having to work on the database all over again and re create the data is a loss of time and money. The other errors result in only part of the data being lost and it does not take as much time and effort and money to re create part of the database than re create the database itself.

  • I have made the mistake described in number 9, Copying formulas that use relative coordinates. As i was doing my risk management homework (where the work must be shown using an excel chart), I was calculating the tax expense on insurance. After I thought the grueling process of completing my homework was over, I noticed that there was an uncommon trend in my numbers. I had to go back and actually search on google how to lock a certain cell into a formula rather than having excel guess at what number I wanted in my formula. Had I not gone back to check my formulas, all of my answers on my homework would have been graded as incorrect.

  • As my colleagues clearly explained some of our common mistakes using Excel, I would agree from an amateur standpoint that among Taber’s list of common errors numbers 3 and 1 are mostly engaging. In fact, the practical knowledge behind saving a file before further use has been one of the core steps during any automated processing. Furthermore, we as users of the new technology are getting much careless when it comes to evaluate our actions; thus, we are tempted to avoid critical steps of processing by not paying that much attention to meanings

  • I did not make one of those mistakes yet. In my opinion, the most important one to avoid is number three, because it is always good to have a backup, since a lot of things can happen. One example is that you worked on a file and added a lot of information, but suddenly your computer does not work anymore. Unfortunately, you did not save the file and a lot of work is lost. Another example is that you worked on a file and you are not satisfied with the result and want to start from the beginning, but since you did not save it, you can not find the beginning.

  • I have not made one of the specific mistakes listed in the article, due mainly to the fact that I have not used excel much. I think that the most important one to avoid is number 3: to start working on the database without doing a full backup first. This can be the most frustrating, and costly, in terms of time. This is also the easiest to avoid in my opinion, which is what makes it even worse if you screw up in this way.

  • Number 4: Sort a spreadsheet, but not include all the columns

    I’ve done this while working with patient data at Temple University Hospital this past summer. I was quick to notice what happened the times when this occurred, as all records will be corrupted so it is fairly easy to catch when nothing looks right anymore. A quick undo before ensuring all columns are selected and included in the sort fixes this common mistake.

  • Of all the ways to corrupt data listed in the article, I have only run into number 3: “Start working on the database without doing a full backup first”. In this incident I was working on an assignment last minute. I had probably made it 80% of the way through it and had not once thought to save or check my battery life and before I knew it my laptop died. Naturally I began to freak out and panic that I wasn’t going to to finish in time now, but luckily once I started my computer back up I was able to recover the file and all my progress.

  • Number 8: Accidentally use VLOOKUP’s fuzzy match

    I took BA 2104 and learned a decent amounts of formulas on Excel. Usually, operating them are quite simple, you can just type them down if you’re fluent enough. Or for new users, it’s better to use the formula interface. However, one thing about these formulas is if you don’t include the command “false”, they immediately take it as a “true”, then your whole thing is messed up. This is not the only formulas that does it. Many other “smart” formulas automatically adjust the whole thing for you without even ask for your consent.

  • I have made a similar mistake like number 3. Once I work in an auto dealer as internship. I have to record the new vehicle VIN number to dealer system. Sometimes i typed the wrong VIN number, and data may corrupted, in this case, i have to restart all works again. So, I think number 3 ” .Start working on the database without doing a full backup first” is significant. We must backup first before doing other works.

  • Number 4: Sort a spread sheet while excluding some columns
    I made this mistake this semester in the required Excel Online Class. In the chapter exercise I did ‘select’ ‘all’ and didn’t realize not truly all of the data was captured due to a black row or group of cells that made the function miss them giving me faulty answers compared to what was supposed to be the answer.

  • Because of my lack of experience with Excel, I have not (yet) made any of the mistakes discussed in this article. Out of all of the mistakes that Taber explains, I think number 3 is the most detrimental mistake to make. Failing to backup your data before starting can result in a mistake that affects every single part of your project. It starts at the beginning, so if forgetting to backup the data ends up affecting you, then you will have to restart everything that you’ve done. In terms of losing time, failing to backup data before beginning is the most inconvenient mistake to make.

  • I think number 3 is the most important to avoid. Not only data files, all the working files need a back up before starting working on it. A backup is important before and after working. If we have a data file backup before we work on it, once we make mistake and cannot simply go back as steps we can then refer the backup file and make improvements. Also, when we finish work, save another backup file can save our time, if the original file was lost, then we don’t have to do the work all over again.

  • Number 9: Copying formulas that use relative coordinates.
    I’ve made this mistake multiple times, especially when I first started with Excel. There are all types of data and blank cells in my worksheet which lead to most of my data corrupted. I had to redo the process and use the F4 function which is absolute value to fix the mistake.

  • Number 9: Copy formulas that use relative coordinates
    At my internship last summer, I was looking at consumer data for one of our clients. I was adding up totals for each segment, but didn’t notice the blank fields until another intern pointed it out.

  • One mistake that I have made that is not listed on the list, is entering data to a spreadsheet that is locked by another user. At my internship, my co-workers and I are given massive spreadsheets to update and work through. However many times we are all working off the same spreadsheet that only allows one user to work on it at a time. When you enter the spreadsheet it indicates whether or not someone is already in the spreadsheet or not. If someone is, other users are unable to save any changes to the spreadsheet. Many times I forget that someone is in the spreadsheet and make changes. However, when I am finished I am unable to save any of them forcing me to go in and make them again.

  • The most common mistake i make listed in the article is missing the data type. There have been multiple occasions where i go into excel and while working on the spreadsheet i go to enter in a date and that date gets changed into a integer. Luckily i have paid attention each time and have saw it change, so i can easily go back and re-type it. But if someone is not paying attention and is going typing fast, that date change can go unnoticed and cause annoyances. It is key to take your time and make sure that when entering in a date in excel, prepare for that date to be changed into a number.

  • One of the mistakes I am most likely to make is number 1: Click “yes” without carefully evaluating the message that says “do you want to remove this from the server?” I tend to not read those confirmation warning and have lost files as a result of that.

  • Since i do not use Excel regularly, i have not made any of those mistakes. I think the most important thing to avoid is number 3. I feel this is most important because you should always have a backup. If you fail to do this and something goes wrong, it can lead to unnecessary problems that could have been avoided.

  • I made error number 4, or at least a variation on it. I have used excel spreadsheets for my fantasy football draft for a few years now. Our draft does not allow internet use so everyone has to print out and bring in their own spreadsheets. I have stats next to each players name sorted into columns. I change the rankings in column A, then sort the whole spreadsheet to reflect the changes. One year I accidentally only sorted column A changing the stats of every player by not sorting them with the rankings column. Fortunately, I backup my spreadsheets and caught the error in time to open a backup and re-sort.

  • Of all of the mistakes listed in the article, I think the most important one to avoid would be to click “yes” without fully evaluating the messages that says “do you want to remove this from the server?” I think this is the most important to avoid because “server” could mean something different each time that message pops up. Like the article said, “server” could mean your machine in one instance, or the sandbox in another, so it’s really important to pay attention to all messages that pop up while working with data. Even though I’ve never done any of the things listed in the article, I’ll take them into consideration because I would hate to be working with a dataset one day and make one the mistakes listed in the article. I know Excel is heavily used in business and internships so I’ll make sure not to make any of these mistakes while working with data once I get an internship or full time job.

  • I have not made any of the mistakes listed in the article, but I think that number 3 is one of the most important errors to avoid. If you have done a full backup, then even if you commit one of the other errors and can’t fix your database or spreadsheet, you can go to your backup copy and start over. Not backing up a file or database can be especially bad if you accidentally delete something from the server and can’t retrieve it.

  • I cannot recall a time I made one of these mistakes but one that I could see being a big problem is the one regarding sorting a spreadsheet but not doing all columns. This would be such a mess and would either require one to start over, or go back until one found where the error was made. This would be a problem because it is the type of problem that would be very hard to find the root of.

  • I think that, by far, the most important trick from the Taber article is the one that deals with backing up your data. I say this because you can have absolutely no corruption in your data from any of the other 9 listed tricks, and you can still wind up with corrupted data do to computer malfunctions and crashes if you don’t back up your data ahead of time.

  • The most common mistake that I make will have to be the number one answer which “Click “yes” without carefully evaluating the message that says “do you want to remove this from the server?” The is truly me because i honestly would be in a rush and just quickly press yes or cancel which can actually distort the whole entire program and cause everything to delete. Also I think not only me but many many people tend to do this same exactly thing just for the simple reason that they do not feel like reading the message that can cause their program or work to completely erase. I would advise for everyone to clearly read every message that recommends someone to press yes or cancel, and yes that includes myself.

  • I have recently had an error in the sort function. When sorting information in the homework assignment, I included the header (cell 1) in the cells that were sorted. Then when I corrected the formula, I plugged in the wrong value because I did not see the header at the top of the column. This caused several errors in the data from there on out that I did not catch until about 30 minutes later.

  • Of the ten data mistakes listed in the article, I have made the mistake of clicking “yes” to remove data without thoroughly evaluating what exactly excel is asking. I feel like I’ve made this error more than once because many times i would just trust that excel knows what exactly i am trying to do. Although they sometimes make the correct suggestions, other times they suggest changes that are not meant for the specific data. I guess the lesson learned, is to not always trust the suggestions excel, or any other applications present to you in an effort to help you out.

  • I have copied formulas before that use relative coordinates. This resulted in incorrect calculations. Luckily, I noticed the mistake before anything consequential happened. This type of mistake highlights the importance of understanding the difference between absolute and relative coordinates in Excel and acting accordingly. You can prevent this type of mistake by designating coordinates as absolute when appropriate even if you don’t plan on reusing the formula.

  • I agree with some of my classmates that the third data corruption trick is the easiest one to fall for and the most crucial from the ten listed. Personally, I made the mistake during my internship at a youth development non-profit. When my supervisor handed me a large data set, one of the first I have ever worked with, I failed to save the data set before beginning my portion of the project. Unaware that certain formulas were already set in place, adjusting the data and adding new columns altered the original set of data. This took me some time to realize and I had to ask my boss to provide me with the original data once again and start my work from the beginning. In my Finance classes today, I always make sure to do a checkpoint save throughout my work to save me some trouble.

  • Although I haven’t dealt with these exact issues, I have encountered these types of errors in other programs. I always run into problems with importing, exporting, and converting files, as noted in number 10 on the list. I’ve used photoshop, flash, moviemaker, and other design applications in the past, and with just about every project I’ve made there has been an issue with files not loading properly.

  • I have not made any of these mistakes, but I think the most crucial error can be not backing up your data. I have never made this error while working in excel, but I have while working with Microsoft Word. Not saving your data every so often can result in many lost hours and frustration. Saving data is a simple thing to do and can save a lot of headaches.

  • The most common mistake that I make is probably the number one answer which “Click “yes” without carefully evaluating the message that says “do you want to remove this from the server?” The main reason why I make this mistake because I always rush my work, its like agreeing to terms and agreement on iTunes nobody reads it. I think a lot of people make this mistake because were just too lazy to read the fine print. Number four “Sort a spreadsheet, but not include all the columns” is another mistake that I make from time to time. They’re times that it doesn’t always affect the data. In both cases i was able to fix my work by just hitting the undo button.

  • I have not had any work related mistake experience yet, but the important one is #6 miss the data type, if excel mistook a date for integers, in sales that could create a huge problem for them company. For example, if the 2-12-2016 and the Excel worksheet misrepresent into sales number (2122016). It could effect and misrepresents the data, and the quarterly quota ratios for a firm or a company. Because it also could take a long period of to located the source of the problem.

  • I made a mistake using the filter feature while using a formula for “Draftkings” in excel. The website allows you to download player names with salaries and information regarding their performances which I sorted through using excel. Using one of my formulas, I filtered all of the results and hid the ones that I didn’t want. Then, when I made a different calculation, I forgot to remove the original filter causing all the results to not be displayed.

  • I definitely have made a “Stupid Data Corruption Trick.” During my internship I collected demographic data from customers of local Philadelphia businesses where I would have to import, clean, and update the data in Excel. I made mistake 9 where I used a formula such as sum, and I got an error that read “#REF!” The reason I received this error is because I changed or deleted one of the cells I was using to calculate the formula so it was unable to deliver an answer. This is difficult to fix if you do not notice the error right away, so it is very important to double check the cells when you are copying and creating formulas. This is especially problematic if you want to click and drag the contents to the end of the row because if there is an empty cell it will throw off the entire calculation.

  • I have never used Excell to do complex work that is being described in the article. I have however mistaked integers for dates. I kept my own record of dates i worked and the amount of hours i worked for my job this summer. In doing so i would type the date for example 6/15/15 and i didn’t realize that excel was changing the dates into an integer. This could have caused a big problem when i submitted my hours to my boss and he couldn’t tell what dates i actually had worked.

  • Since I do not use excel that much I have not experienced making any of the mistakes that were listed in the article. But, if I were choose one mistake that is the most important it would probably be Number 1. Whenever I get a message box or some type of ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question on my computer I almost always never read the whole thing, I just usually click the button that will get it off the screen fast as possible. Even though a lot of people tend to just disregard these pop up messages, for the same reasons I do, we should read into them in some cases because it can ultimately destroy data or information that we have been working on for a while.

  • I have made the mistake of “missing the data type” as number six in the article describes. A data value that was supposed to be entered as a date ended up as an integer with six digits. This almost corrupted my data, but for some reason most of the other dates that were put in did not change to an integer, so when checking through those few really stood out. If I had not checked back over the excel sheet after, that mistake could have been very costly.

    • I have not personally made any of the mistakes that Taber has listed, but i personally believe that one of the most crucial mistakes made is clicking “yes” without carefully evaluating the message. This erases some of the metadata which is pivotal when it comes to analyzing and creating hypothesis and assumptions. You cannot back up a theory without the appropriate information.

  • I’m not a frequent Excel user and therefore haven’t made one of these mistakes, but I think the most important to avoid would be number 3: Start working on the database without doing a full backup first. If you backup the data, making any of the other mistakes has is less of an issue than if there is no backup.

  • A mistake I’ve made a couple times, which I almost always caught quickly, thankfully, would be sorting data in a specific column without sorting the entire row. Excel now has a help box that automatically selects that you would like to sort the entire table, and not just that column. Unfortunately the box uses wording that can be confusing. Thankfully I’ve always remembered to save the original data set, at least on the occaisions I’ve made that mistake.

  • As someone who’s a very rushed and kind of ditzy individual, I often make mistake #3 a lot, although not often in databases since I rarely work in them. However, on one occasion, I was working on some math equations for theory crafting a game called League of Legends and completely forgot to save before my computer up and died on me, which lead to the loss of about 3 hours of work and a whole lot of heartache.

  • I have made the mistake of not including all cells in sorting plenty of times. During this assignment I did it quite a few times, as a result the wrong data figures switched to match with other figures. This messed up my whole sheet and made almost every answer incorrect, therefore I had to rematch the data with the right data. I did this by downloading the data again and changing my data I messed up to match with the original data

  • I personally have never used excel to this extent where I would make one of these mistakes. However listed in this article I believe the most critical mistake you can make is mistaking the data type. When using different programs the integers could be changed which would throw the dates and numbers mixed up which could ruin your whole set.

  • I have never made any of these mistakes because I am very rarely on my computer, but I think the mistake that would be the worst to happen to me would be to leave rows or columns out in an excel file. This could cause many problems and could skew data and results.

  • As I was working through assignment three, I made the #3 mistake. I did not back up my data before I started working on it, and halfway through when my computer died it did not save. I am so thankful for the autosave function, however it only retrieved half of my formulas. I now have learned the hard way to always back up data before you begin manipulating it.

  • I have made one of the mistakes listed in the article considering I use excel almost every day. I make mistake number nine the most often. Mistake number nine is copying formulas that use relative coordinates. I do this often especially when calculating my pay stub and double checking its correct. I often forget I need to make one cell an anchor point so that the formula doesn’t shift when copied.

  • I have not used made any of those mistakes before because I do not use excel very often. #3 on the list seems like it’s very important. You have to do a backup or you’ll lose everything you’ve been working with. Similar to an iphone, if you lose it you and haven’t backed it up you’re gonna lose all your contacts, photos, and messages. Essentially you lose the most important information, the data.

  • I work with CSV files daily at my internship and I have made the mistake of opening them directly in Excel. I noticed that the number format of several columns of data was not being displayed properly. For example, one of the columns was “Estimated Attendance” and the data included ranges of numbers like 1-9 and 10-20. When the file was opened, all of my ranges had changed to dates like Jan-9 and Oct-20. Simple errors like this can be frustrating and tricky to fix if you don’t have experience working with large, valuable datasets.

  • I have never personally made one of these mistakes, but I believe that #9 is a very common occurrence when working with data fields especially in Excel. #9 explains how people copy formulas that use relative coordinates. This will lead to data that is very off and misleading. People have told me stories about how they made this mistake and it is a very tedious one to fix.

  • I have never made one of the mistakes listed because I haven’t done that much work with Excel. I think the most important mistake to avoid in the list is number 3, as working on the data without backing up can ruin your entire set.

  • On the most recent assignment when using the equation to doublecheck to see if the total price was correct I neglected to check the data type for the cell I was typing in and my equation was just being left in its exact form and wasn’t giving me a result. Once I made the simple change everything worked fine.

  • “Number 3: Start working on the database without doing a full backup first”

    This rule I believe holds true for nearly every action related to data. Its a simple truth that I’ve constantly been retaught since I first started typing up essays on Microsoft word. Same is true for excel. A simple mistype or one of the many other common excel mistakes could alter or completely wipe your data set. More often then not, when trying to correct this you just keep making things worse, or at least I do.

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