It’s good that IF/ELSE statements in Excel all start with =( because that is how I feel when I write them. 

I’ve been doing some data entry and analysis work, after several years of not really using excel. There are so many shiny new features, some of which are even useful, but yet, it’s still the same old excel. It still crashes with no warning if you try to make it work too hard, it still doesn’t always auto-save before it does, it still makes me scream when I look up a simple logic formula and discover excel doesn’t actually support it.

Good ol’ excel. The more things change, the more they stay the same. =( indeed.

So, once upon a time at my old job, right near the end when things were really bad, our boss wanted us to program a query into our database that would pull every record in the database with a few data points attached (name, ID, some giving and demographic information). She wanted, basically, for our CEO to be able to push a button and get every record’s vital stats as a sortable, filterable excel file.

All five hundred thousand records.

I – not a computer programmer, or a database admin – was assigned to make this happen. 

It turns out you literally can’t do it in the database – the query breaks – let alone in Excel. What you have to do is pull five different excel files out of the database and then copy and paste them all into one giant excel file. It also turns out that Excel doesn’t like moving more than about thirty thousand rows at a time. 

So there was one meeting that I spent listening and commenting when called upon, all while opening an excel file of 100K rows, hand-selecting thirty thousand rows at a time, copying them, pasting them into the master file, saving the master file (towards the end this would take five minutes of off-and-on whitescreening), repeating. 

A colleague sitting next to me could see what I was doing and leaned over after the meeting to remark, “When I go to hell, they’ll assign me to do whatever you’ve been doing all meeting.” 

It kind of sounds like your boss wanted your database…in another database???????