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Data cleaning

Posted by on July 13, 2011

On Friday we had vague plans to go to the beach with Bryan but we didn’t set anything in stone the night before which was a mistake. Only Bryan and I were up at 7:30 and since high tide (and the best swimming) was at 10 am we quickly realized a trip to the beach was not going to happen. It’s probably best that we didn’t go because we spent all day cleaning data to prepare so Bryan could make a presentation about the project for Saturday.

Cleaning the data involved going through our hand written lists of names and coordinates and matching people up with the information in the database then recoding the name associated with the waypoints to line up with the barcode in the database. Could I have written that in a more convoluted way? It’s actually not that complicated, but it took three of us all morning to go through everything because we had 250+ waypoints to verify. I suppose it was better than Hai’s job, which was to cut these filter paper packets in half lengthwise and put them into separate boxes so they can be shipped and processed in two different laboratories. I cut 500 of those stupid packets earlier in the week so I was glad to do something else.

We didn’t have anything to make for lunch and no one was in the mood to shop and cook so we decided to go to Mbweni Ruins hotel to eat. Since the last time we had lunch there we waited over two hours for our food, I cycled down to the restaurant early and read the menu to everyone over the phone and placed the order so everyone else could continue working. It was really nice to have some alone time to read and watch the ocean from the covered patio. Living with so many people really makes it difficult to have time and space to myself.

After lunch Bryan showed us some cool tricks in Microsoft Access to link data together and to query for missing information. It was interesting to learn but it took all afternoon because some data points were missing or two points were labeled exactly the same. It took a long time to sort everything out and by the end everyone was very tired of sitting around one computer, staring at the screen. It’s funny how the days spent doing office work make me more tired than the days where I walk around all day.

We finished with all of the data processing pretty late in the afternoon and Bryan still had to make the presentation that he was going to give at 9 am. Needless to say, we didn’t have time to do anything fun that afternoon. We were supposed to have dinner in town with Kristina and Deler but we were still working at 6:30 and were not really close to being done. We rescheduled dinner for the following day and went to Mweni Café for dinner. They have a buffet on Fridays which we got, but the food is not really good and I decided I’m not going to eat there ever again. That’s really not a hard goal to meet since I only have a handful of meals left in Zanzibar.

We worked pretty late into the night making maps and slides for the presentation but finally got everything finished.

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