Enter MIAP - With the unique learner number.



  • I'm new here! and this is my story of woe...

    I'm sure (especially my fellow Britonians) have read about the introduction of the Unique Learner Number, which aims to track the progress of any student (British, European, or otherwise) through High School, 6th Form College or otherwise.

    Today my task over the past few weeks has been to upload a .csv file using the MIAP 'Learner Registration Service' of all our new students and I have to say I'm not at all surprised about the quality of the system. Here's a list of all the gripes and semi-WTFs:

    1. The required format is an awkward twist on CSV - And as such a 7 page document has been produced explaining how to manually edit the CSV using Notepad.
    2. Data cannot contain any ampersands or commas (O'Toole => OToole)
    3. Dates are required to be in the format YYYY/DD/MM (Quite possibly the most stupid date format I've ever seen)
    4. A validation tool (written in Java, for cross platform goodness) is provided.. inside a self extracting ZIP file.
    5. The validation tool and the MIAP upload facility have wildy differing ideas on what is and isn't valid.
    6. It has taken 2 weeks after uploading a ~2000 row CSV file for it to be rejected (due to a few O'Tooles).
    7. Registering an additional user account for access to the MIAP portal requires you to search for the user (even though they don't exist), as the "User not found" error page is the only one to show buttons for managing user accounts.
    8. The user search requires that you specify the privilege set - if you can't remember then tough luck.

    What really confuses me is they go out of their way to make sure that a .CSV exported from any piece of software in existence will not work without addition work. OpenOffice does not double quote empty fields, Excel just doesn't bother quoting at all, and our MIS system doesn't natively export dates in their hokey YYYY/DD/MM format.

    Whilst the file format gripes and such can be fixed by a small amount of perl voodoo, it just isn't right... they even have the audacity to explain how to fix this glaring problem by way of a 7 page document filled with find-replace steps for some clerical monkey. The last step in the doc explains how to manually add a double quote at the start of each line in the CSV file...



  •  The real WTF is that you keep referring to apostrophes (') as commas (,)

    Other than that, you've got quite the WTF there. Run away!



  • @KNY said:

    The real WTF is that you keep referring to apostrophes (') as commas (,)
    Apostrophes are just commas that can fly.



  • @beerful said:

    3. Dates are required to be in the format YYYY/DD/MM

    No. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

    Oh well, it was fun having a date representation with only one interpretation as long as it lasted.

    That said, it sounds like every other piece of software for teaching institutions I've ever run into. The last place I'd want to work is in their IT departments, at least if I'd have to deal with this every day.

    On the other hand, maybe somebody is playing a cruel practical joke on you. Yeah, that's a comfortable explanation. Maybe it's TopCod3r?

    Edit: Thank you for ignoring my line breaks, oh incredible forum software.



  •  - Hey, Brian, do you want an A in Computer Science?

    - Ma'am, I've got a B+, I can live with that

    - Shut up you spoiled brat! You will provide us MIAP! 

    - But Ma'am, it's like a big project and stuff!

    - You'll have a 5 year new machine with Excel 2000 in it. Just start working. You get an A- then.

    -  You said A first!

    - ... (bitch slaps Brian)

    - I'm sorry ma'am. Thank you ma'am. I'll start right now ma'am.

    (to himself)

    - You're going to regret it, ma'am.



  • @ahnfelt said:

    @beerful said:
    3. Dates are required to be in the format YYYY/DD/MM

    No. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

    Oh well, it was fun having a date representation with only one interpretation as long as it lasted.

    That said, it sounds like every other piece of software for teaching institutions I've ever run into. The last place I'd want to work is in their IT departments, at least if I'd have to deal with this every day.

    On the other hand, maybe somebody is playing a cruelpractical joke on you. Yeah, that's a comfortable explanation. Maybe it's TopCod3r?

    Edit: Thank you for ignoring my line breaks, oh incredible forum software.

     

    I didn't realize people would willingly pervert ISO 8601.

     What. The. Fuck.



  • Ignoring the flying commas stuff, and all the other incredibly stupid stuff in there: @beerful said:

    ...
    3. Dates are required to be in the format YYYY/DD/MM
    Oh, sweet Jesus, why? With all the different "standard" formats for dates floating around, and a nice (usually!) unambiguous ISO format, WHY WHY WHY did they pick this hack?



  • @beerful said:

    3. Dates are required to be in the format YYYY/DD/MM (Quite possibly the most stupid date format I've ever seen)

    There's only one way to say this:

    WTF.

    You need to find the person who made that decision, and slap him. Hard. And repeatedly. This is like a cardinal sin. They *invented* a new date format, even though it has no advantages whatsoever over any of those they may already be familiar with.

    Really, you could have just left it at that one point. *ANYTHING* is less of a WTF than that. Yes, this includes SpectateSwamp and anything he's ever made or will make.

    Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go and find some place where I can forget about this.

    (At least they didn't use - as a date separator... *shudder*)



  • @Pidgeot said:

    You need to find the person who made that decision, and slap him. Hard. And repeatedly.
    With glasses.*

    <font size="1">*Eyewear or kitchenware, it doesn't matter, as long as it breaks to shards.</font>

    @Pidgeot said:

    (At least they didn't use - as a date separator... shudder)
    What's the problem with using dashes?

    Update: Makes the format much harder to distinguish from ISO-8601, is that it?

     



  • @Zecc said:

    Update: Makes the format much harder to distinguish from ISO-8601, is that it?

    Bingo. There's nothing wrong with using dashes as a date separator in general, but their use of / prevents it from being mistaken for a ISO 8601 date (since that specifies a dash as the date separator).

    Had they used dashes, I would likely have made it my goal in life to find the person responsible and do the slapping myself.



  • @bstorer said:

    @KNY said:

    The real WTF is that you keep referring to apostrophes (') as commas (,)
    Apostrophes are just commas that can fly.

     

    <font id="Graham">Notice that they do not so much fly as...plummet.</font>



  •  This reminds me of a similar service we had to use a while back. One of our clients was a gym that wanted to submit credit card payments to the bank in bulk. As such we were given an excel sheet with the credit card data which we had to convert to a text file for electronic submission to the bank. The text file was a wall of letters and numbers and the whole logic was that the first three digits meant this, the next 10 that and so on and so forth. Imagine the most non human-readable text file in existence.  And of course there was no validation tool. You followed the instructions and submitted the results for which you paid a submission fee. If you got it wrong you tried again. And of course paid the submission fee again.

    You might think this was back in the dark ages, but it was only 3-4 years ago. Being a bit green at the time I didn't get the urge to call them up and ask why anyone would come up with this retarded scheme. Years and many, many tdwtf articles later I can make a few educated guesses.



  • @DOA said:

    Imagine the most non human-readable text file in existence.
    <insert EULA joke here>


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