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From:John G. Heim Date:February 10 2010 7:09pm
Subject:how things get messed up
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About 5 years ago, I was asked to write a php app for my department. The app 
keeps track of graduate school applicants to my department at the 
university. The main data elements are the scores each professor gives to 
each applicant. There are only about 400 applicants each year so even with 
all the personal data, scores, transcripts,  etc for each student, it's not 
much. for the first 2 years, it was under a meg of data. Well, then the 
selection committee asked me to add something so that if a student e-mailed 
the department a document, say a paper he'd written or a photo of himself, 
or whatever, it could be tacked on to the info they saw about him while 
grading the applicant.

So I said, "Well, there is only going to be maybe 10 or 20 of those a year. 
And even if all 400 applicants submit a PDF of a paper they'd written, it 
would be only 400 docs. 4,000 after 10 years. Yeah, lets just create a 
documents table in the database and store them in mysql."

For the first 2 years, only 2 students sent in documents to attach to their 
application. I figured I'd wasted my time. Then the next year, the graduate 
school changed their  web application form to allow students to upload 
documents. "Fine," I said, "My worst case scenario has already come true. 
But, well, this is why you plan for the worst case."

Then they started taking letters of recommendation as PDF documents. In 
fact, they started requiring PDF docs. Each student has 3 to 6 letters of 
recommendation. All in all, I figure we're at about 100 times as many docs 
in our database as I originally expected and about 10x my worst case 
scenario.

I should either be fired or shot.  Maybe fired *then* shot. Actually, its 
not as bad as all that. I can pretty easily write a perl script to export 
the docs to files and access them via a network mounted filesystem. After 
all, saving myself 5 hours of work 5 years ago is worth what? -- maybe 
10hours today? It is amazing how often quick & dirty turns out just being 
dirty in the end.



Thread
how things get messed upJohn G. Heim10 Feb
  • Re: how things get messed upBuford Tannen10 Feb
  • RE: how things get messed upIlya Kazakevich10 Feb
    • Re: how things get messed upCui Shijun11 Feb
      • RE: how things get messed upJerry Schwartz11 Feb
        • Re: how things get messed upJohan De Meersman12 Feb
    • Re: how things get messed upJoerg Bruehe11 Feb
    • Re: how things get messed upJochem van Dieten11 Feb
  • Re: how things get messed upMartijn Tonies11 Feb
    • Re: how things get messed upDavid Giragosian11 Feb
  • RE: how things get messed upJerry Schwartz11 Feb
  • Re: how things get messed upMartijn Tonies11 Feb
    • RE: how things get messed upJerry Schwartz11 Feb
    • Re: how things get messed upAnn W. Harrison12 Feb
  • Re: how things get messed upMartijn Tonies12 Feb
    • Re: how things get messed upJohan De Meersman12 Feb
  • Re: how things get messed upMartijn Tonies12 Feb
    • Re: how things get messed upJohan De Meersman12 Feb
      • Re: how things get messed upVikram A12 Feb
        • Re: how things get messed upJohan De Meersman12 Feb
          • Re: how things get messed upVikram A12 Feb
            • RE: how things get messed upJerry Schwartz16 Feb
              • RE: how things get messed upMartin Gainty16 Feb
                • Re: how things get messed upBarry Leslie17 Feb
              • Re: how things get messed upVikram A18 Feb
                • RE: how things get messed upJerry Schwartz18 Feb
                  • Re: how things get messed upJohan De Meersman18 Feb
  • Re: how things get messed upMartijn Tonies15 Feb
  • Re: how things get messed upMartijn Tonies15 Feb
    • Re: how things get messed upJohan De Meersman16 Feb
      • Re: how things get messed upPaul McCullagh17 Feb
  • Re: how things get messed upMartijn Tonies15 Feb
    • Re: how things get messed upAnn W. Harrison15 Feb
      • Re: how things get messed upJohan De Meersman16 Feb
      • RE: how things get messed upJerry Schwartz16 Feb
  • Re: how things get messed upMartijn Tonies18 Feb
RE: how things get messed upJerry Schwartz22 Feb
  • Re: how things get messed upVikram A24 Feb