On Thu, Feb 11, 2010 at 8:56 AM, Martijn Tonies <m.tonies@stripped>wrote:
> Hello John,
> 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
>> 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.
> Not sure what the problem is really... What are you running into?
I think John is just sharing an experience - a lesson learned if you will.
With the same spirit in mind, many projects in my work culture begin with a
specification of, "Just put up anything so our (internal) users can react to
it." Talk about vague. Geesh! However, a senior programmer told me years
ago that the life of a programmer is often filled with doing, undoing, and
redoing. And not enough appreciation for the work involved. I try to keep
that in mind.