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. Reed March 6, 2007 / 4:13 pm

    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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