Honey, I deleted all my data!

Early one Monday morning a TOA4 Online user reported, not too cheerfully, having “accidentally” deleted all of the equipment (and therefore all of the test data too) from her company’s TOA4 database. Anything we could do? at all? I could hear her boss’s heavy breathing in the background.

Yes, of course, we could fix it, but I had to go find Farmer Neil, our server administrator, who was far out on the land with his dynamite, air compressor, and jackhammer preparing the still-frozen soil for this year’s planting of canola (hey, this is Canada). Pushing the hood of his parka back and mopping his forehead with a large red hankie, Neil just said, “Yep, we’ll get her all fixed up in no time. Have to work my way closer to the farm house, though, because my wireless isn’t too good this far out, eh?”

Deleting data does not actually remove anything from TOA4’s database — each deleted item is simply marked as “deleted,” and from then on the software pretends that the item is not there. Every few days the database is “compacted” to remove all the deleted items.

Since the user’s deletion event was recent, and we knew the user’s login ID, it was easy for us to pinpoint in TOA4’s transaction log the exact moment when the mass deletion took place. A simple script was uploaded to the TOA4 Online server from Farmer Neil’s grimy old laptop in the warmth of the big red tractor’s cab. The script rummaged through the database and un-deleted all of that customer’s equipment and test data that had been deleted at that particular time.

Usually, these things happen late on Friday afternoon when users are worn out and hurrying to finish something so they can go home for the weekend. This was a new case — a user who was bleary-eyed from the weekend and started working before she had her Monday morning coffee!

The moral of this story: Don’t click any delete button (or the OK button confirming the deletion) until after you have had your coffee. If you do, contact Delta-X Research right away, and we will fix it, as soon as we can find Farmer Neil and get him within wireless range.

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