A Eureka Moment-Scrubbing Data

It’s back to school time.  Today there’s a fleet of yellow school buses on the road and the newspapers have been filled with stories of how to pack nutritious lunches and how to encourage conversations with your children and so on.  Under the banner then of the well-known phrase “And what did you learn today” and as a testimony to lifelong learning, here goes my true story.  

I am not a researcher but I have worked with many a talented person who was.  I would hear them speak of ‘scrubbing data’ or ‘cleaning data’.  My understanding of what it means is meagre but I get the concept.  You take a bunch of information that is stored in a database and through some mysterious process you separate the wheat from the chaff as a farmer would put it, or you remove the extraneous bits and keep the solid data that can be used in your research.  

I have discovered a new method for scrubbing data and am putting it out there for researchers to comment upon.  Perhaps this eureka moment will save a lot of time for those who toil in the details of data. 

Step one:  You are the secretary.  Using your laptop and a memory stick, take minutes at the Annual General Meeting of a local organization.  No paper back up is needed.  Good for the environment and efficient too.  Save the minutes, the only record of the meeting, on your memory stick.

Step two: Stick the memory stick in your pocket after the meeting (you don’t want to lose it).

Step three: Do laundry.  Washer and dryer.  Find memory stick in drum of dryer after cycle is complete.  

Step four:  Sweat.  Insert memory stick and find out….ta da!!  It works!

Moral of the story, well actually two morals:

1.  There is more than one way to scrub data.

2. Those high-efficiency (HE) front loading washers really are gentle on your belongings.

A true story.

Useless or Silly Things-No. 1-Sudoku Solutions

Every once in a while I come upon something that makes me scratch my head.  This observation is about Sudoku puzzles. Wikipedia tells us the term Sudoku is not be confused with Sodoku, a bacterial zoonotic disease. Who knew?  I guess this is helpful to know if you take your chimpanzee to the local vet-you wouldn’t want to say, “I think she has a Sudoku” lest you become a laughing-stock. 

The Puzzle

Here’s the deal-the Sudoku puzzles look like this one in our paper today:

Sudoku puzzle-easy one-I should be able to solve it

As you probably know you solve the puzzle by inserting the number 1-9 into each line.  The same goes for each square-numbers 1 through 9.  There is only one solution for each puzzle.

People who do Sudoku puzzles usually have a certain method for solving the puzzle, a specific logic.  I was given a book about how to solve Sudoku.  It was helpful except for the directions for the most difficult puzzles-the explanation was most difficult too.


I do puzzles-mostly crossword puzzles.  It makes sense to provide the solutions to crossword puzzles.   You may have inserted an incorrect word, mis-spelled a word or you don’t know the answer at all.  

Why in the world do we need the solutions to Sudoku. There is only one answer-either you get it or you don’t.  Seeing the solution doesn’t help.  You don’t say “Oh, that’s where the three goes!”.  It’s a waste of newsprint.  

Someone told me recently that not all Sudoku puzzles can be answered by logic.  There are some where you must guess. That can’t be true, can it?

Help me out here with a couple of things please

  • Do you see a need for providing Sudoku solutions?
  • Do you think some Sudoku puzzles can not be solved by logic?