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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Deleted, with a Stroke of My Ridiculously Irresponsible Finger

Futile: I don’t care how you pronounce it, it’s a beautiful word and at the top of my mind today.

Futile. As in “all for naught”. As in “sucker!” As in “you can’t get it back, and all efforts to do so are futile”.

One of the more pathetic aspects of my job is the daily “inputting”, if I may be so bold, of information into what is referred to as a “client relationship management database”.

Which is Dull-ese for “unbearably large database”.

One way or another, whether through my clever way around a 10-key pad or perhaps because someone really doesn’t like me much, I’ve become the lucky recipient of daily changes to this behemoth.

It’s huge, really and fearfully huge. It has in it truly everything we know about our clients: addresses, programs, numbers, names, prices, histories, and, perhaps the most important thing of all: who gets monetary credit for what.

There are only three people in the company that do this work. If this database were, say, a swimming pool, of the three people who know anything about this pool, two are Olympic-style swimmers and one is wearing water wings and showing her mom how she can do somersaults in the shallow end…

We’ll pause here, while you contemplate which one is me.

I am in this database pool anywhere between 12 and 20 times a day. The things I do to it are stupefying-ly mind-numbing. It’s repetitive work that requires nothing but a certain amount of dexterity and the ability to keep from committing hara-kiri with your letter opener as your brain ponders what has happened to your life…

Remember when you were learning about databases and filing systems? How the teacher told you to look at it as a big house, how in each room there were cabinets, how in each cabinet there were files, and that within files there were pieces of data?

Last week, I deleted the biggest room in the database house.

Another brief pause whilst I relive the horror.

In one key stroke – because the changes that I make require high clearance – I deleted 651 lines of data. Just like that. There was no “are you sure?” from the computer, no, “you’re kidding right? That’s nuts!”.

The computer did as I asked and deleted 651 lines of data.

The blood ran from my head.

I heard a roaring sound in my ears, and my arms went numb.

Six hundred and fifty-one lines of data.

Roll that number around in your head a bit.

Big number, innit?

I immediately confessed my sins to the swimmers in the deep end of this particular pool, of course; and they sent me a report of what had been deleted, offered to help put it back, and encouraged me not to stab myself in the neck, as I had offered.

It seemed right, somehow, that a blood sacrifice be made.

So! That’s my Wednesday. If anyone needs me, I’ll be at my desk, one hand tracking the next line on the report and the other punching the numbers in.

And if you’re on the 48th floor around 10:30, I’m going to need a piece of good chocolate, just to keep from crying.


Blue Eyes said...

We've all been there! Or at least I have.

Lisa said...

oh god- ive done that- felt my innards turn to ice water- awful xx

mbuna53 said...

Ya want a big brownie or some chocolate mousse?

Pearl said...

Blue Eyes, I hate that feeling!

Lisa, and the CONFESSION!! Having to tell someone that you've messed up, that it needs to be fixed! Argh.

Pearl said...

mbuna, chocolate mousse please. :-)

Blue Eyes said...

That sinking, cold realisation that what you've done is irreversible? I don't like it either.

Joanie said...

Oh hell, you need an entire Death By Chocolate cake! This is why I'm glad I don't do computer work.

Barbara Blundell said...

Where does all that deleted stuff go to ? Some expert told me that it's buried away somewhere deep in the subconcious computer brain. Perhaps there should be computer shrinks who do recession therepy.

darsden said...

OMG..Pearl..don't jump! Dang how about a couple of dozen chocolate covered cherries? You might want to check you settings and click Yes, to ask before, and ask again, are you sure you want to delete. The only close to that I can come is when my brother in law "accidentially" swipe my hard drive clean..you did want...I am sure you heard the banchee screaming from here...but...but my life...?

Jess said...

Ohhh shit son! I feel your pain. Indeed you are not the first, nor the last...

Good luck! Be one with the chocolate!

underOvr (aka The U) said...

Good morning Pearl,

I find it difficult to believe that your really good swimmers don't run a backup/archive of this very large database. There should be no reason to re-key that much data.

Even if you deleted the data unless it runs an auto save the data should have still been available if you had closed the file without issuing a save.

I realize this is all water under the bridge at this point, so I'm sorry you had to experience this kind of disaster. Ask your two gurus about database backup/recovery procedures. It's the best way I know to CYA when events like this happen.

I always have a Café Tasse Belgium chocolate bar on high alert, just say the word.


DevilsHeaven said...

Because of my mistake we didn't lose anything, but we did ask SEVERAL HUNDRED DEAD people for money.
Yeah, we've all been there.

naperville mom said...

That was a confession. The travails of the 'delete' button, god!

Ria~ said...

Pearl, sorry to hear about your mishap. You should however become familiar with your computers "temp" files. They store virtually everything you do on the computer, but old stuff gets pushed out with the new stuff you do. I once had spent 2 weeks working on a report and somehow deleted it (because i'm a complete jizzwad). But I just went straght to my temp files and was able to revcover the entire thing.

Would love to tell you how to get to it, but every comp is different. Ask your IT folks about it for future reference though.

BTW. I can get my hands on an awesome chocolate better than sex cake if your interested ;-)

tentativeequinox said...

Oh, that's such an awful feeling.

You're sure you can't turn it around and go on the offensive to those deep-end swimmers who didn't make the proper kind of backup where they can just turn back the hands of time, Super-Man style?

Because it's obviously their fault.

Just throwing out ideas for you.

Barring that, dark chocolate Caramilk bars work for me. Do they work for you?

Ann's Rants said...

Oh the frustration! That is a programming-failure NOT a Pearl-failure. I hope some brainy programmer can insert a "REALLY? ALL 651 LINES, PEARL?" message. Seriously.

The Jules said...

Aren't computers efficient? I like you're description of the "Ooh deary me!" feeling, which is almost always followed by the "Please make that not have happened!" wail.

I hope you immediately looked around for someone else to blame.

Jeanne said...

At the risk of seeming guilty of one-upmanship, I once made a teeny-tiny one line program change that resulted in the deletion of 25,000 purchase orders. My company had to hire temps to re-key all that shit.

Couldn't your DBA retrieve the lost data? (Our backup tapes were no good, and that's generally been my experience, but it might be worth calling the Help Desk.)

Kavi said...

ROTFL ! Not at your plight, but at the post !

I have been there too. And by that experience proclaim :

O ye brave swimmer in the shallow end of the pool you deserve all the chocolate in the world !!

Ian Lidster said...

Hang in there, baby. Just to hopefully cheer you a bit, there is an award for you at my blog.

Douglas said...

Two things:

1. Those deep water swimmers should have had a back up awaiting a "glitch" such as you caused. You should only have to re-enter a few lines of data.

2. I did much worse (which is why I know about #1), I took out an entire operating system and all data... with a single command. "Oops!"

Roshni Mitra Chintalapati said...

don't worry... I have done something similar and nearly shat in my pants when I realized!!
You did the best thing possible.. get help fast from some one who could fix it! Since you did it instantaneously, they could retrieve the data! Good going!! It takes courage to own up, believe me!

CSY said...

Been there, done ALL of that! Of course, working in an IT department, you'd think THEY would know how to make sure it wasn't permanent...yeah, our bozo's didn't know much either.

Got your moose ready for ya - he wants to know WHY I dipped him in chocolate...

Vic said...

My blood pressure went up just thinking about this!! They don't let me near the databases at work for a reason.

I'll help lug up large amounts of chocolate - thinking about you at your desk, and wishing I could be useful somehow.

Christine Gram said...

I too scream loudly "OH SHIT!!! HELP!!!" when something like this happens. Good for you. And thanks for making me laugh, as usual ;)

kcgirlgeek said...

Ugh. That brings back horrible memories of working at Midwest Nephrology in an office with seven kidney specialists and approximately seven MILLION files. And there's always that one person that thinks they can "help" you that doesn't read very well, doesn't know the alphabet, and types with one finger. *sigh* Yes, absolutely, bring on the 100 piece blue box of MarieBelle chocolates and we'll drown our grievances in artistic, mouth-watering, ridiculously expensive, mouth-orgasm-inducing, high caloric yumminess. I'm there.

Pearl said...

Oh, you guys crack me up.

As a number of you mentioned, one of my deep-end swimmers (let's call her Claudia -- she likes that, because her name is Claudia), a lovely woman who reads my blog, sent me this e-mail which I cut and paste for you here:
I just read your blog and all the comments about the deletion mishap. Several point out (rightfully so) that there should be a backup of this data.

There is a backup - the Siebel data is backed up every single night. The problem is that the entire database is backed up and it's a relational database (meaning all the tables are related to each other).

So even if we tried to restore the table from which those 651 records were deleted, we would have broken links to other accounts and associated contacts, opportunities, activities, etc. Restoring the entire database would take hours and mean that everything anyone entered in Siebel during the day would have been lost and each person would have to re-enter the data again.

It is easier to identify the 651 records you deleted and have you re-enter them than to expect 50 Siebel users to remember what they entered and re-enter it - not to mention the few hours of having Siebel totally down while the database is restored. Compared to all that - re-entering 651 measly client numbers is the lesser evil - just painful for you. :-)

As many people said - it happens to the best of us.
So sayeth my dear Claudia -- a woman with the patience of a saint -- so sayeth I!

This does not mean, however, that I will not be running to Macy's this afternoon for -- what did you call them, tentativeequinox?!-- Caramilk? :-)

tentativeequinox said...

Are Caramilk bars only available in Canada, and otherwise Queenly ruled countries? If so, you'd best get yourself a Queen so you can partake in their gooey, chocolatey glory.

Pearl said...

tentativeequinox, as a resident of Minnesota and neighbor of the lovely (and Queenly) country of Canada, I am shocked that an exchange has not been set up yet.

I will send you, um, wait. What is Minnesota good for? A trip to the Mall of America?! ACK.

Oh, wait! I'll send you some Spam in exchange for a Caramilk!! :-) How's that? We've also got White Castle and, um. Nope. That's all we've got...

Not The Rockefellers said...

J Robert Oppenheimer quotes seem fitting for this occassion:

(tweeked for you, Pearl)

Any woman whose errors take ten years to correct is quite a woman.

I have become death, the destroyer of data.

"It worked." (said after deleting the biggest room in the database house.)

Let me take you out for a drink!

Peace - Rene

Steve said...

I hate databases. Databases are dangerous and lead only to identity theft and the lack of privacy for everybody. You are a hero. People like you give me hope. Please come and work for the UK Government. Seriously. I'd rather our databases were deleted than CD copies of them left on passenger trains... which has happened at least twice in the UK...

Not The Rockefellers said...

Steve, you are right! Pearl is a hero!!

Seriously, folk songs are going to written about her.

Too bad Johnny Cash is dead.

His folk song about Pearl would have effing rocked.

Peace - Rene

Michelle said...

Pearly-Q I will give you anything you want!

Chocolate, bacon infused bourbon, tofu, cookies, you tell me OK??

I sorry about that. Is it all fixed now?

LiLu said...

Oh my lord... SHOOT ME. My first day at my job, I was all "the printer is out of ink! I'll be so helpful and change it!" and totally spilled a half gallon of black inky snow All. Over. The Copy Room.


Eskimo Bob said...

Pearl -

For the sweet love of all things leather - You have Red Wing Boots! Red Wing! - - I'm sure a barter can be made for Caramilk for Red Wing Boots. Canadians wear boots.

If not that then there is always Cream of Wheat or soup from Eddington's. You can ship soup right?

lizspin said...

Thank God for lifeguards. . .

Patricia said...

Anyone who deletes whole tables in databases is destined for great things. It's a fact!

Anyway, been there, done that and I'm familiar with the rock you probably felt in your stomach the instant you realized.

citizen of the world said...

Oh my God! That hurts me just hearing about it. I am pouring myself a glass of wine now in sympathy.

fingers said...

That sort of error is usually follwed by another deletion...

tentativeequinox said...

Eskimo Bob, what in the name of all things holy are Red Wing Boots? Boots with the logo of the Red Wings hockey team on them? Red leather with fringes cut in a wing shape?

I do wear boots, but they are a kind of tartan rubber boot that appealed to the four-year-old in me. Can a wardrobe sustain two pairs of boots?

Pearl, if it can get past the border guards, I will send a Caramilk sampler package. Just say the word. You know...the word.

Sucharita Sarkar said...

Well, if you subtract a huge number from an even huger number, even then you are left with a futile-ly huge number. So keep that chin up, and take the plunge once more with your swimming aids in place.

SweetPeaSurry said...

Awww Pearly babe, sorry you lost the data, at least there was a record of it still though. WOOT.

Everyone makes mistakes *hands you some yummy chocolate*

And we all still LOFF ya!

blessings luv!

Barbara Blundell said...

I think 'regression' therapy could give better results.

ugich konitari said...

ONLY 651 records ?

Not, the sun, the moon, the cupboard full of lifesaving drugs ? You could have deleted so many more important other things. But you didnt.

Pearl, its OK. It happens. We've all done it. And are standing by you as you take a bite into that wonderful chcolate on the 48th floor, and get ready to dive into the pool.

underOvr (aka The U) said...


As I said, "anything I say at this point is water under the bridge" but...

Claudia is right about relational databases, you can't restore one table without causing referential integrity of the database. However, relational databases allow you to take sync points of the database. This is similar to time-lapse photography when a photo is taken at intervals.

The sync point don't require restoring all tables in the database, only the ones which changed.

If you take a backup of a database, it's a given that time is required to restore it. It also means that any changes after the backup would be lost. That's why sync point are an integral part of a database recovery.

It's too early for me to be this geekish, so I'm gonna shut up now and go drink my sixth cup of coffee.


Wendy said...

Okay, while I know the experience was horrific BUT... it's pretty darn hilarious to read about! You have a way with words girl!

Adrian's Crazy Life said...

Yep, computers are a pain, aren't they? I love 'em though. I'm one of those Olympic-style swimmers you mention. I've literally been using Excel since it was invented - yes I am THAT old!

I'm getting ready to do a long whiny post about the crappy computer system I'm forced to use. Makes me insane!

Crazy Mo said...

Wandered over from Ann's Rants. LOVED your post! I totally relate -- I'm a complete spaz. Welcome to the club, Pearl!