Lesson 12- Dude, where’s my file?

If you read the previous lesson, you can probably guess what this one is about.

After we finished uploading all of the questions, answers, files and the rest of information related to each of the lessons, the next step had to be done. This was the task of retrieving every-single-little-file that was used to upload information. They wanted to have a backup of information.

David, Larry’s cousin, was in charge of this. This took him..well… I think that to this day (about four years later), he hasn’t finished retrieving the information and I doubt that he will get it anytime soon.
Obviously this was more than expected. It wasn’t so much the idea that he couldn’t FIND all the information, because all he had to do was ask which person uploaded this or that subject. That wasn’t it.

They wanted to backup ONLY the information that was uploaded. That was quite a task, because maybe someone uploaded 10 questions but changed half of them while he was uploading them because they had mistakes of context. Or some answers were changed because the teacher who uploaded them thought they were way too easy for a high-school level student.
The process was done with very little time and many people were involved, so mistakes were bound to show up sooner or later.

So, which questions were changed? Who had them? And could we be sure that the files they had matched exactly what we had uploaded? No one knew.

I think that, at the end, they simply decided to not get those files but simply copy and paste the information on the site to an independent file. Again, more extra work that wouldn’t be needed if they just organized properly. The teachers, obviously, had to do this tedious copy-and-paste work.

In short, we copied and pasted the files to the system. Then we copied and pasted information from the system, to individual files.
Long story short, one more time, a consequence- an avoidable consequence- of the continuous lack of organization.

You’re saying that now we have to do… what?

Lesson 11: Army ants

At this time I honestly don’t know exactly what the lesson is, but I figure that as a write, the idea will come to me.

When we had finished recording high school level, it was time to upload the activities that were related to each lesson. They consisted of a Blog entry, some questions about that blog entry, interactive activities, an exam at the end of the lesson and frequently asked questions.
We had to manually upload every single letter of those activities. They hadn’t developed a way to automatically upload this information (they still haven’t). Also, we had a system that didn’t allow right-clic options. So we had to manually select a piece of text, type Ctrl-C, then go to the system window and Ctrl-V the information on to it.

This was very tedious work. Imagine having to copy and paste 25 questions, then their possible answers (3 at least) for 30 something lessons. Then frequently asked questions were about 5 per lesson (times 30 as well). In short, it was quite a lot of information to copy and paste manually.
And, as always, they wanted this done yesterday. So, their idea to get this done quickly? Everyone do it.

We divided the work. Or distributed rather. One person got 5 exams to upload and someone else got 10 exams of that same subject.
In this way, one subject was being managed by two or three people at the same time.

And it was done like that, no questions asked, just upload everything as quickly as you can. Of course, something done in haste has a high chance of resulting with poor quality.
And it did.
Files got lost and there were many mistakes made. If a physics teacher was uploading a History test, it would have been difficult for him to spot a mistake in context or an important date. The same happend with biology teachers that uploaded information for math or calculus.

It got done quickly, yes. But at the cost of quality. To this day I still don’t understand why that had to be done so quickly, since there weren’t any students enrolled. One might think that they wanted to save expenses, but the difference in doing it with more care would have been a couple of days. Maybe a week.


And we ended up re-doing this a few months later, when there wasn’t much to do. Maybe this was their plan all along, to do the exact same thing two times.
So what was the point of doing everything in a hurry? Just the fact of being able to say ‘it’s done’ (even if we don’t know what the hell we uploaded because there were so many people involved in the process). Again, the lack of organization was evident.

Therefore, one more time: organize, organize, organize. That is the lesson. Even if we had to do something quickly, nothing would have happened if we had taken a couple of hours trying to figure out the best way to get the work done.
A two hour salary of three or four people is much cheaper than the salary of 15 people during three weeks. So spend some time planning and figuring out WHAT you need to get done and HOW to do it. Also consider the possible implications or consequences. This alone can save a few headaches. Then go ahead and act.

What came next could be the only outcome of this lack of vision.

Next: Dude, where’s my file?