My personal Groundhog Day

weed's picture

So I wrote a little script for the accounting department here at work. It takes data from a variety of sources (Access DB, Excel file, flat text file), does some calculations on them, then emails out the results to the project leads. It gives them a breakdown of the financial status of their projects.

Our company is a little paranoid about their accounting data, so it resides on a separate network, which has no internet or outside connections. Therefore, the accounting people have to move the data from the acct network to the main network so the emails can go out.

Well, in order for my script to run, the Excel file has to be formatted a certain way. Meaning, the filename has to be the same from week to week, the sheet name has to be the same from week to week, and the column headers have to be the same from week to week. Not very hard, at least in my humble opinion.

Well, there's a lady in Accounting who just doesn't get it. Every Tuesday, when she runs this script, I get a phone call.

"It's not working!"

I used to check the logs, but now I just look at the Excel file and tell her to make sure everything is named correctly.

"But I did!"

So I tell her what's NOT named correctly, get the usual "Oh....", and the script runs fine.

Now I know there's 10000000000 ways to fix this to idiot-proof it, I just haven't had time to do it yet. I just think it's funny a human being can't wrap her mind around the three little things that need to done in order for this script to run. A filename, a sheet name, and column names.

Am I asking to much here? Am I being that IT guy? I'm talking many MONTHS here of the same thing, over and over. My own personal Groundhog day.

My $.02


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matthew's picture

My groundhog day

I used to work for a bank in downtown Salt Lake City (now defunct, a tiny shell of its former self. You can close the doors on a bank, but it takes 7 years to do it these days).

I don't know why, but this bank seemed to have acquired more than its fair share of groundhog-day candidates. There was one particularly high-maintenance who would call us every single day to reset her password. No lie, she could never remember what it was. Not a very old lady, either, just a gal in her thirties.

Eventually, we implemented a "shut down machines at night" policy. There were valid security and cost-saving justifications, but it was a fairly major change for bank workers who'd always just left their machines on 24/7. Anyway, I got a call the next morning after implementing the policy, and it's this lady. I thought I would just have to reset her password again, but the problem is more basic than that. She says her computer won't turn on.

I did a few seconds of troubleshooting, then said I'd be right there, since it seemed that this was a bad problem. Upon walking to her cube, I find that her computer is turned around backwards, cables everywhere. She explained that she had been trying to "figure out why it wouldn't turn on".

I quickly re-attached the cables and turned the tower right-side-out.

I pushed the large power button on the front. You know, one of those bright-colored types with a really big power symbol on it.

It greeted me with the traditional hum of equipment and KAAANG of the monitor turning on.

"So that's how you do it," I heard muttered softly from the woman behind me...

Matthew P. Barnson

Matthew P. Barnson