Brain Teaser #5

This article is one in a series presenting labor and time-saving techniques to accomplish real-world computing tasks. The goal is to stimulate the reader's imagination and to demonstrate creative and highly practical ways of applying computer application program features.

Data Fix-Up


It's your first day as the new database manager for a small mail-order company. As you look over the database you notice that data-entry for new customers requires four extra characters for each customer's telephone number.

You mention this to your boss, explaining how an input mask would eliminate the necessity of typing in the parentheses for the area code, a space before the telephone number, and a dash between the first three and last four digits. You point out that this would mean quicker service for customers as well as a decrease in data-entry errors.

Your boss agrees that this would be good, but says it would take too long to re-enter existing phone numbers for the company's 12,000 customers records.

Looking at the clock on the wall you see that it is 11:30 and you say you can have the job done before noon. Your new boss looks surprised, and a bit skeptical.

Now you must deliver. Explain how you would fix the data in a matter of minutes.

Bruce Miller, 2008, 2016


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