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25 February 2014 @ 07:39 pm
Okay. Work. I need people to bear with me, I had a small psychotic break today.

There is this database of names and events involved in a historic period, that we've all be consistently adding to over the course of a year. It's in a single Excel document, because it is, shut up. We've been slowly building it from multiple historical sources for over a year.

Today, I was adding a few more names from the latest source we've acquired, when I noticed a couple of oddities. Name: Catherine, Other Info: Son of John. Name: Billy, Other Info: Wife of Michael. I thought, that can't be right. I barely noticed the first time, just a vague notion that it was odd, but when I caught the second one, I got this queasy feeling in my gut. So I went up to one of the more famous names, one where it'd be easy to recognise if the info matched the name.

None of the info matches. NONE OF IT.

What happened was, at some point, someone (quite possibly me) hit 'Sort descending' for column A, but forget to sort adjacent columns too. And judging from how far apart one Name was from his identifiable Info (150 rows down), this was done MONTHS AGO. And nobody noticed. So every single subsequent edit anyone did just moved all the information further away from it's component pieces until the entire fucking database is completely and utterly useless. It is FUBARed. Completely.

That is over a year's worth of work, fucked into uselessness. It's gone. Even the stuff that was done before, the data from previous years that we built this out of, is retroactively lost because it's all one document. The whole fucking thing is completely gone.

I cried. I legitimately broke down. And, okay, in one sense it's lucky I noticed, because this version was sent off to be reformatted recently to be added to the permanent PUBLIC archive (they'll upload it onsite when it's done), so if I hadn't caught it now we'd not only be FUBARed, we'd be publically FUBARed. But all I could think was that I should have noticed MONTHS ago. For the love of god.

One click. If you forget one click, and don't notice it, everything done for MONTHS afterwards is rendered completely useless. How. HOW.

And I was so upset, I was having genuine hysterics, that I forgot not to say stuff out loud. My site manager was saying "Ah well, at least you'll have something to keep you busy for a while." Trying to be comforting or something. And then, "That's the problem with being good at something, you know. You'll be asked to keep doing it."

And I broke down and cried: "But I'm good at everything!"

That is a thing I said. Out loud. To my boss. *muffles face in palms* And I didn't even mean I'm better than anyone, I meant that if that's the measure of being good at something, I've been good at everything they've asked me to do so far (tours, databases, typing, press releases, etc). But. I mean. I always knew I was arrogant, but that came out of my mouth. In front of people.

For the love of gods. Oh gods, oh gods, oh gods.

We have the original archived copy of the list, from a year back. It's not interactable anymore, so we'd have to manually write it all down and re-type it into a new document (300 or more names), but at least we wouldn't have to recompile it from scratch from the sources.

This last years work, though? Redo from scratch. There's no previous version available anymore. We have to start again. I mean, we can use some info from the corrupted version, but given that things were edited into previous profiles from new sources, and possibly edited while attached to the wrong names, there is nothing in it that's trustworthy anymore. There is nothing that we can guarantee is uncorrupted.

I had a breakdown. For real. My manager was sort of ... we can fix it, honest we can, what if we do ... Except we can't do. I pointed out why we can't do. Accurately. I am ever accurate in my panic. And he was all ... He left me go five minutes early and was basically "I'll retrieve the bits I recognise, you go home, please stop freaking out at me now?".

And I said that out loud. "But I'm good at everything!" That is a thing I have now said.

My gods and little fishes, I need a redo of this day. Or, well. Technically months. I need to go back in time and stop that mistake from happening.

If I can figure out exactly when it was done and who did it, anyway. It was at least one month ago, dating by an email, and more like two or three dating by information added as best we can judge. It could have been any of us. All we had to do was forget one click and fail to notice it in time.

Why is this a thing that can happen? *plaintive* Why is that a thing that can happen to me?

So not a good day. This was NOT A GOOD DAY.
Current Mood: horrified
Oneiriad: tricorn by galadhironeiriad on February 25th, 2014 07:57 pm (UTC)

I recently discovered that all the mails we had been getting at work from the second biggest academic library in the country - including tons of articles ordered by students and faculty, who needed them yesterday when they ordered them - had been going into the spam filter for months. Presumably someone clicked the wrong place at the wrong time while sorting through the e-mail. So yeah, that was fun.

At least you caught it before going public? And you'll fix it - it'll take time, but you'll fix it, and it will be even better than it was before, yes? (And you'll be taking backups every week or so, because backups are wonderful things).
icarus_chained: Aurinicarus_chained on February 25th, 2014 08:11 pm (UTC)

Why is this stuff so easy to do? If you're not paying attention one time, it all snowballs. Why is it allowed to do that?

And yes. Yes, not fucking up publically is very, very good. We're, um, we're the national centre for this historical event. Kind of very ... buck stops here, yes? If it had gone public, that would have been bad -_-; So there is that.

I don't know if we can back it up. Possibly to flash drive, but it'd take up an awful lot of space to be saving separately with every edit. However, we will definitely be sorting the info at larger intervals rather than continuously, and doing it a LOT more carefully. I will write up the warning myself if I have to. And maybe have backups at set intervals, at least.

*cradles head in hands* I hate this day.
Oneiriad: tricorn by galadhironeiriad on February 25th, 2014 08:51 pm (UTC)
If it's an excel document, you should be able to do back ups - flash drives, an external harddisc, cloud service, even just mailing a copy to yourself once a month. Having a database without back up? What if the server crashes? Or enterprising thieves break in and steal your computers? Or an electrical surge fries the wrong harddrive? Or... I mean, you wouldn't need to do it every edit, but maybe once a month? Depending on how much you edit, of course.
icarus_chained: Aurinicarus_chained on February 25th, 2014 09:02 pm (UTC)
*nods* There'll have to be something. I know. But my gods, I'm still stuck thinking how we're gonna redo from scratch. I was thinking we'd figure that stuff out later.

Although ... I guess that was how we got into this mess in the first place. *smiles crookedly*
dickgloucester: spideranimateddickgloucester on February 25th, 2014 08:02 pm (UTC)
Oh, that sucks. *hugs*

And as for the "good at everything" line, if it comes up again, then you can claim you didn't know what you were saying because you were hysterical. I'm prepared to bet it will be forgotten.
icarus_chained: Aurinicarus_chained on February 25th, 2014 08:15 pm (UTC)
*hugs back*

I hope so. I'm not usually so, um, verbally arrogant about things -_-; Privately, yes, I'm an extremely arrogant person, but I don't usually say this stuff. Oi vey.
owleyes_arisen: Kradowleyes_arisen on February 25th, 2014 11:36 pm (UTC)
Everyone's entitled to a breakdown every couple of years. Take me, for an example. A lot of the time - well, I'm the kind of person who crams everything - emotional reactions, what I really think of other people or events - behind a pleasant smile and just don't think about it all that often. Meaning that when it erupts - it does so *explosively*. At the smallest prompt, the tiniest thing... Breakdowns are *normal*. They keep us healthy - at least, that's my impression.

*sends hugs*. Personally, I think you have a damn good reason for your reaction; what you've described is - well, my personal nightmare. I can't believe how strong you are; I would have reacted a lot worse in your place. As it is - you have a plan, you've got a back-up copy to work with, you have a *plan of attack* and you're on top of things.

What's past is in the past, and you can't do anything about it. All you can do is focus on what you *can* do - to quote a wise and venerable turtle, "Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery." What can you do *now*?

...I hope this helps. I hope I haven't inadvertently offended you. And I hope that things get better for you soon.
icarus_chained: Holdingicarus_chained on February 26th, 2014 06:11 pm (UTC)
*hugs* You haven't offended me, no. *smiles* Thank you.
penknife: anvilpenknife on February 25th, 2014 11:47 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry! That sounds like an incredibly crappy day. Your manager should totally be backing this thing up more often than once a year, though. I have often been saved from miserable work-related disaster by the fact that our computer system automatically runs tape backups every night, so it's not actually possible to destroy more than a day's worth of work.
icarus_chained: Aurinicarus_chained on February 26th, 2014 06:13 pm (UTC)
*nods* I think he's working on that himself. He appeared to be today, anyway. Although it wouldn't have saved much just having the backups. We did have one from a month ago that was emailed to someone else, but it was already corrupted. So ... noticing the problem before we delete/overwrite stuff, this is also a thing we should do -_-;
ciaranbochna: pic#118689787ciaranbochna on February 26th, 2014 12:30 am (UTC)
That is a certifiable nightmare, and I would agree that you are absolutely entitled to have a breakdown with all that is going on in your life. I don't know why these things happen, but in my previous job at a public library they did, and there was just no response other than exactly what you've described. I am sure they will at least understand why you reacted as you did.

I hope you manage to salvage a little bit from the previous document, and that days like this are very few and far between.

icarus_chained: Aurinicarus_chained on February 26th, 2014 06:15 pm (UTC)
... It may be more salvageable that it initially looked. We still have all the sources, and things with only one source that weren't edited again later can be lifted straight once we confirm that they're attached to the right references and find their names again. Things using multiple sources though will have to be manually checked against all of them, and some of them are going to be internally mixed, unfortunately.

We were starting reconstruction today. It's ... a lot more doable than it looked, though it's still going to take weeks. *sighs heavily*

me_ya_ri: Lotusme_ya_ri on February 26th, 2014 03:22 am (UTC)
Oh goodness! *laughs entirely ruefully because I can't think what else to do*

First, the probably have backups of the system. They SHOULD be able to go back however many months and find a non-corrupted version. Should. Not will. My company's done some boneheaded 'we don't need to back this up' stunts in the past so I stand by 'should'.

Second, as one of the people who yes, can get anything done and yes, always ends up doing said thing forever after, I completely understand that blurt. It's part of why the rueful laughter occurred. Embarrassing but at least your boss knows that you were having a bit of a breakdown. They're not likely to take it completely seriously.

Third, so much good luck on resurrecting the file and getting all the data right! I've had to do that a couple of times on big Excel files and ouch, no fun. No fun at all. Maybe convince your boss that not putting it all in one single file next time would keep this from happening in the future?

Good luck, sweetie! *hugs*
icarus_chained: Womanicarus_chained on February 26th, 2014 06:23 pm (UTC)
Yeah, that's very much a SHOULD rather than a CAN, unfortunately. Gonna have to change that in future.

Second, as one of the people who yes, can get anything done and yes, always ends up doing said thing forever after, I completely understand that blurt. It's part of why the rueful laughter occurred.

Yeah. They KEEP SAYING THAT. Everytime they try me with something new and I manage good enough to be going on with, that's what they say. Tours I expected, list after massive list I also kind of expected because I've a faster typing speed than anyone there and a better tendency to check my work as I go (though obviously not well enough, given what just happened), but doing the press releases wasn't ever something I expected to end up doing, it's just that I can do in one or two drafts what apparently takes most of them three or four (this is what you get when you write for a hobby). It's all doable, but the combination of responsibilities wasn't what I expected to end up with? I started out in this job washing dishes. Six months ago. This is all ... kind of weird and overwhelming sometimes -_-; And I only have this job for another two months.

*shakes head* Anyway. *hugs* Thank you.
twincityhacker: Gypsy and Joelmsp_hacker on February 26th, 2014 04:12 pm (UTC)
icarus_chained: Holdingicarus_chained on February 26th, 2014 06:24 pm (UTC)
*hugs back*
bradygirl_12: Diana--Greek Paradisebradygirl_12 on February 26th, 2014 06:18 pm (UTC)

I feel your pain, darlin'! Computers and their systems can be very, very evil sometimes. It seems like we spend more time with do-overs than if you used a paper and pencil!

Yes, back-ups are essential and should be done as frequently as possible so this doesn't happen again. And I know it's tempting to beat yourself up, but you don't know for sure that you made the mistake and you DID catch it before it went public, which would have been a circus! So after you distance yourself a little from this, you'll be able to tackle the problem and get it straightened out.

Edited at 2014-02-26 06:19 pm (UTC)
icarus_chained: Aurinicarus_chained on February 26th, 2014 06:32 pm (UTC)
It seems like we spend more time with do-overs than if you used a paper and pencil!

SO MUCH THIS. I have this tendency to write everything down long-hand if possible, because it's safer, but something this huge just has to be done straight to the document. Oi.

And I know it's tempting to beat yourself up, but you don't know for sure that you made the mistake and you DID catch it before it went public, which would have been a circus!

*nods ruefully* We started work on fixing it today, and it's more salvageable than it initially looked (everything except the names seems to be more or less still attached to the right things), though anything with multiple sources will have be redone because it could have been edited after the mistake was made. We're checking everything as we go, mostly because we have to anyway in order to attach the right names to it, but so far the bulk of the other fields are holding together. *rubs face* It's still weeks of work, but it's not flat lost anymore, which is ... always nice. Heh.

*hugs back*
bradygirl_12: batgirl (smile)bradygirl_12 on February 26th, 2014 06:42 pm (UTC)
SO MUCH THIS. I have this tendency to write everything down long-hand if possible, because it's safer, but something this huge just has to be done straight to the document. Oi.

Heh, it's why I write my stories, both pro and fanfic, in longhand first. I don't quite trust them to electronics! :)

And while it's a huge pain to do something over, such is life in the information biz. :)

Good luck with the project!
icarus_chained: Aurinicarus_chained on February 26th, 2014 06:48 pm (UTC)
*smiles sheepishly* Fics are the one thing I don't do it with, because I type so much faster than I write so it's easier to get the flow going with a computer. I'm never really nervous about losing them, though, because usually I'll just rewrite them if I have to (and I have, because I lose laptops with alarming regularity). It's never the same fic that the previous version was, but the ideas don't leave me, so it comes out more or less the same thrust. Heh.

Profics I do usually back up, though. I store drafts in various places online, usually, and my notes are almost always longhand.