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From:David Giragosian Date:February 11 2010 3:11pm
Subject:Re: how things get messed up
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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
>> 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.
>>
>
> 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.

David

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