Our database has a mind of its own.


Every semester around workshops, the database gets more interest than any other time and with all these submissions, weird bugs pop up.  There are some that are reproduceable/understandable – we have work arounds for those.  There are a few others (though most of them are probably unknown to us) that we hear about from a few people, but then can’t always get the same error when we experiment with it.  If you find a bug that isn’t described below, let us know.  If you are a genius computer programmer with an excess of time on your hands, let us know that too.

The unfortunate truth about our database(s):  It is fundamentally flawed.  It was designed by some students who perhaps should not have taken such a complex project on and even professional programmers can’t iron out all the kinks without starting from scratch.  You’ve all heard our budget issues (spreading $500,000 over $2 million in requests), so commissioning a new database is just a dream for now.

The advice I can offer:

1) Use Firefox.  Google Chrome, IE, and Safari will refuse entry of comments and will display the word “null” all over.

2)  Be on-campus or use the VPN.  The database is never down (*knock on wood*) so if you get a timeout message or error from the link, you’re off-campus.

3)  Don’t submit the cost amount with a dollar sign.  We conduct all business in U.S. dollars, plus there’s a character recognition error in the code.

4)  Priority error.  The database automatically codes the event priority based on which event type you select (between regular, OTS and travel).  If you toggle between the three too much, the priority setting gets out of whack and goes blank.  The problem is that a priority is required to create a program.  To avoid this: don’t worry about program type (we can distinguish between the three without the database telling us which is which).  If it’s already happened, copy the info you’ve already entered and open a new “Create Program” using FIREFOX (note: this error is often associated with the use of IE).

5) The weird code that pops up when no events do.  The database has an auto-filter based on funding period.  At around the time of workshops, we advance the default funding period a semester.  When you log in to look at your fall events, you won’t see any events..just divide by 0 code – this is just the ugly way of saying “No events found.” Adjust the filter settings to “All year 2010-2011”. If you get the error again, the first time you try to filter, the dropdown menu next to the search button switches to “—–” instead of “Program Title” (or it doesn’t switch but just doesn’t work).  To work around this error, select “Program Title” in the drop down menu, click “Search” (without entering any search terms) and then reselect your Funding Period and click filter.  We apologize for the error and are in the process of fixing it, but this workaround should help for now.

Hope these help.  Sorry for the craziness of the database.  The plus side is you only have to deal with it a few times a semester (I wish I could say the same).  And the ultimate work-around is – Email Us .  Send us everything you would have otherwise entered in the database.

Happy planning!


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