Oh, Data, data data! Those were days!
My friend, Matt, in London, has been blogging for over a decade now. His blogs aren’t long but are often thought provoking. I often don’t agree with many of his ideas, but I do admire him as a friend. So, every now and then we will catch up on Facebook for a chat.
Last week, I saw his post on Facebook asking for an easy method to upload his blog posts from his previous blog. He switched blog platforms about four years ago now and has ever since wanted to upload his old entries to his current platform. However, the previous posts were backed up into a PDF file. So, I knew that there wasn’t a simple way to extract the entries from the PDF file and upload. Yet with my knowledge of databases, I thought I could give it a go. Matthew, reluctantly, trusted me and sent me the file.
Within a half hour I had the data in Word and started to tidy the data up. The way Adobe saves documents in PDF files, often saving them to Word the format ends up being a real mess. However, after learning some advanced “find and replace” techniques and switching between Word and Excel I was able to clean the data enough to be ready to upload to his blog. Yes, I did make many major mistakes along the way, which I had to fix. The server which Matt use to host his blog has many features locked down due to the plan he have, so it made it even more challenging. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed the challenge. It took me two days to do it.
It reminded me of my days as a database programmer and how much I enjoyed these sorts of challenges. Challenges not only figuring out technical solutions but dealing with customers and their expectations.
I enjoy being an academic/reseacher yet I do miss my days of messing around with data and developing database systems for small businesses. I still work with data, often qualitative research data, but it’s often isn’t the same.