REBOL Technologies

Harry readme and global warming climate change

Carl Sassenrath, CTO
REBOL Technologies
2-Dec-2009 0:23 GMT

Article #0444
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Well, if you think your programming life is difficult, here's something that might cheer you up, or maybe not...

Google for the "harry_readme.txt" file.

As you may have heard this is a diary/log file by a programmer who was responsible for analyzing temperature and other weather related records for global warming climate change research at one particular university. It included a hundred years of data collected at tens of thousands of weather stations around the globe. How's that for an interesting database!

Man, isn't that the perfect description of the torturous programming project far too many of us have experienced before?!

Oh... did I ever mention that back in the 80's, I used to analyze scientific research data for universities and foundations? And, some of it was even atmospheric data, imagine that. It's usually a disorganized, imperfect, poorly managed domain of underfunded projects powered by poorly paid student programmers hammering on bits just to find some basic significance in the data to which they've been entrusted to help solve some important worldly problem.

For programmers, project loyalty runs deep.

Skimming quickly through Harry's readme file brings back so many familiar database statistical analysis nightmares... still so vivid I can clearly picture the research lab, even the smell of it. The database doesn't work, so the researcher asks you to "make it work". Some glitch fried sections of the data, so you patch them. The plot shows it's all just random data, so you filter. An important script was lost, so you reverse engineer it from the published results. Ah... the life of being a research analyst/programmer. Systemantics supreme.

I kind of feel sorry for this guy Harry. But, frankly, he did a great job documenting his data journey, so kudos to him.

I can't wait to see the movie.


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