It’s all about the doco

Reading this story reminded me about a paper-wasting effort from waaay back.  

Take a moment to read the story – about a client requesting a specific “quantity” of doco – measured in “metres” – not “pages” !

Anyway, one of the projects I worked on back in about 1994 was at a mining company located in Irian Jaya (West Papua New Guinea).   A laaarge American company, with an operation that cost $1m a day to run.

One of my tasks was to create a “transaction” report – covering the mine-site operation, and the other divisions located in Singapore, Jakarta and New Orleans (ie. LOTS of data).

They needed a report for the entire financial year – which was spawned out to disk (HP-UX Unix, Informix, green-screen – old school, indeed !)   They wanted it printed out – and asked me how many pages would it be.

I used the old command line grep and awk statements, and opened the text file in vi, and scrolled “up” from the bottom – and saw the page numbers were about 4300+

They HAD to print it – so they said – they needed it for their “records”.

Anyway, it printed to 5000, 6000, 7000 pages – and kept going.   Turns out that the 4 digit place-holder (XXXX) for the page number wasn’t big enough – and it had gone over 10,000 pages.

But – as it passed 10,000 pages, and then 11,000 and so on – it was a “guess” about how many pages it would be.

It turned out to be 44,300 pages – with the leading “4” missing from my original page number estimation !

Yep – they printed the entire lot – consumed about 38 trees – and it woulda sat in a box, never to be looked at.

Dunno if it would’ve been 8 metres of doco – but damn close – and my best effort (not intentional though !)


One thought on “It’s all about the doco

  1. Gives you some serious appreciation for the thoughtful implementation of vi… Imagine loading 44,300 pages into RAM.

    – A TDWTF reader

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