They Call Me Andy Null

  • Comments posted to this topic are about the item They Call Me Andy Null

  • Thanks for the laugh!

  • Hello, I'm Mr Null[/url]

    On two occasions I have been asked, "Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?" ... I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question.
    โ€”Charles Babbage, Passages from the Life of a Philosopher

    How to post a question to get the most help

  • I love it! I liked it so much that I pasted a print of the editorial into my notebook just in case I want to show it to someone in the future! ๐Ÿ™‚ I'm glad you shared it, because I agree "Only a data geek could have this much fun with a piece or two of junk email." ๐Ÿ™‚

    Of course, the serious points are that although NULLs can be a bl**dy nuisance in SQL, they also serve a valid wider purpose, which is to represent the cases where "We don't know the answer to that question" or "We can't know the answer (because the question doesn't apply)" or maybe a few other things.

    Dealing with those situations makes people feel uncomfortable and too often the answer is to brush it under the carpet and cause things like "Andy NULL".

    I guess many NULLs represent a compromise or a simplification in the data model or a problem in the data acquisition. It is rare that there is a realistic opportunity to remove them altogether from the database. The problem (which isn't restricted to SQL) is explaining the consequences to the uninitiated in a way that doesn't sound patronising and say that the options might be limited to saying you have to exclude the affected records ("Sorry, you can send mail to customers like Andy"), or that you have to substitute some sort of default. Defaults are great if you convert a missing "Middle Name" to blanks or "empty string" in the application, but not too great if you convert Andy null to "Andy NULL", and just plain "Andy <blanks>" is scarcely better.

    Of course, there is a whole new level of strangeness when people start trying to do arithmetic with columns containing NULLs, That might make an interesting topic if anyone has some good examples.

    Tom Gillies LinkedIn[/url]

  • Marvellous. I now feel a strange need to start putting my last name as NULL in all the tedious places that I'm required to enter personal details for no benefit to me.

  • Brilliant. Had a good laugh.

  • The Mrs didn't like receiving an aged based communication that said she was NaN.

    The dog and I went for a LONG walk that day.

  • A true story I mention when teaching about proper NULL handling is the guy who received thousands of parking tickets because his personalized tag was "NO PLATE". This is something only a data person can appreciate.  I laughed for days.

  • I rarely reply - but this made me laugh too.  Although one reason it made me laugh - I have some good friends and their last name is actually "Null".  I can just imagine all the problems that would cause in schools, if they had any children.

  • Andy - Perhaps we are long-lost relatives...

    Cindy NULL (per various junk mail)

  • I have to confess to having written
    <variable> := NVL(<variable>, 'NULL');
    in an Oracle script, and not that long ago.

  • I suggest you contact the marketing company and have them change your name from "Any Null" to "Delete From Customer".

    "Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise. Instead, seek what they sought." - Matsuo Basho

  • Made me think:
    He's a real nowhere man
    Sitting in his nowhere land
    Making all his nowhere plans for nobody

  • Thank you, Andy, for this light hearted article. Really needed it on this Friday.

    Kindest Regards, Rod Connect with me on LinkedIn.

  • reminds me of a friend of mine who's last name is Bort, with a first initial of A.  At a certain place they worked, the login was first initial last name based, so when they tried to type abort in the login prompt, the program of course crashed and burned.  :hehe:

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