“Not Enough Memory” — How Data Skills Ended an Excel Nightmare


Curtly Critchlow got here to Dataquest for a cause: he was scuffling with a knowledge nightmare. Lagging, crashing, “Not sufficient reminiscence” — Excel simply wasn’t as much as the duty.

Discovering the answer to that downside modified his life.

The Downside: Wrangling Livestock Knowledge with Excel

Curtly, 25, works on the Livestock Growth Authority in Guyana, South America.

“Our company is chargeable for visiting farmers and serving to them to change into higher farmers,” he mentioned. To do this, they journey to a whole bunch of farms throughout the nation, offering companies and producing knowledge with every go to.

It’s an vital program, nevertheless it created a large knowledge headache for Curtly, who was chargeable for wrangling all of that knowledge.

To document knowledge, the company was utilizing a Dropbox account with ten regional folders, every containing six information of information for the six companies the company presents in every area.

For instance, veterinary visits in a single area can be logged within the vet file that area’s folder, whereas vet visits in one other area would go into a special folder and file.

Working with that knowledge in any significant means meant attempting to mix sixty totally different information right into a six Excel spreadsheets. And that meant scrubbing enormous mountains of information by hand.

“It took up a complete week each month attempting to mix and clear the information,” Curtly mentioned. And due to the massive quantity of information, doing any form of operation in these Excel sheets took eternally. Even a easy copy-paste command would possibly take 5 minutes to execute as a result of Excel was so slowed down. 

Or it’d simply make Excel crash.

“At this cut-off date I had no concept that knowledge science was even a profession,” Curtly mentioned. “However I reached a degree the place Excel wasn’t sufficient, so I used to be searching for various options.”

Looking for an Various to Excel

“I started studying up [data science],” he mentioned. “I spotted, hey, I really like knowledge science. I’m not certified for it, however I prefer it, so how can I be taught it?” He began watching knowledge science shows on YouTube, and when he discovered a great one, he reached out to its creator to ask how he may be taught extra. 

The creator suggested him to take a look at Dataquest.

He labored by way of a number of of our free programs, and shortly noticed it was very totally different from the video-lecture-based programs he’d tried earlier than.

At first, he mentioned, “I form of wished movies.” But it surely didn’t take lengthy for him to comprehend that the Dataquest strategy was working for him. He felt he was studying extra by studying, and that it was giving him good apply for studying software program documentation (which is never obtainable in video tutorial type).

His boss on the Livestock Growth Authority was blissful too, as a result of Dataquest coaching was much more inexpensive than most of the obtainable options.

No Extra Excel Errors: Studying to Code!

When it comes to coding, Curtly was ranging from absolute zero. “I used to be clueless about the whole lot you guys have been instructing,” he mentioned. “Whenever you don’t know something there’s this concern that it’s complicated.”

However the learn-by-doing construction of Dataquest classes — and the truth that he may flip to academics and fellow college students for assist — made it simpler for him to make progress than it was with different options he’d tried.

(“I wasn’t too happy with DataCamp,” he mentioned. “Dataquest is means higher.”)

Curtly’s focus has been to maneuver slowly and intentionally by way of his programs: “As I be taught, I attempt to apply what I’ve realized into my on a regular basis atmosphere to make sure that I’m actually studying the ideas.”

And though he says he’s solely 22% of the way in which by way of the Knowledge Scientist path on the positioning, it has already made a big impact. “I’ve realized a lot,” he mentioned, “My life has been a lot simpler with that 22% information.”

Waking Up From the Excel Nightmare

One instance of how his life has gotten simpler? The nightmarish Excel cleansing and mixing job he needed to wrestle by way of every month.

After ending our pandas course, he went again to that downside and began writing code.

At first, it didn’t work, however when he bumped into issues he couldn’t resolve, he turned to our learner community for assist. “Ultimately,” he mentioned, “I bought it to work completely.”

“It took a few minute to mix all 60 information into six information, and it was only a candy feeling, a tremendous feeling.”

His Python script had turned a week-long nightmare undertaking into a totally automated, repeatable course of that took no time in any respect.

However after all, that accomplishment received’t be the top of Curtly’s journey. In actual fact, in the long run, he’s bought huge plans.

“My aim is to have my very own knowledge science startup that may assist companies and companies enhance their productiveness.”

“Assembly Dataquest was life-changing,” he mentioned.


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