data cönversion


He showed the kind of reliable presence that you’d expect from an eldest son of an eldest son.

I really enjoy looking at random blogs. Instead of having something algorithmically pushed in my face, I just stumble upon whatever it is. And deal with whatever it does for me and with me. That this happens outside some intent is a huge plus for me. Like the sentence above. Finding it triggered a question about my ancestry.

In 2008, I had entered data into PhpGedView. The problem is that this software didn’t really get any significant updates. PHP8 frowns upon array{} for instance. The database dump could be loaded, and in the end, it was surprisingly little trouble to extract the GEDCOM records out of the different tables into a GED file. Webtrees looks like a reasonable application. The installation was nicely guided. After a quick expansion, the system nicely indicates which modules are missing, which permissions should be different, etc. All very easy to solve. 25 years ago this kind of thing might have taken half a day with varying success. Even though technically software was already flowing via the Internet back then. The import of the GEDCOM data itself worked fine.

Traveling as an analogy is helpful to indicate how insane this all is: If things go well, like they did here, one travels at jet speed. Around 1 km per breath taken. Nice. Great that the data is now in a neutral GEDCOM format, will make it into a backup, and exists in living software.

Just some umlaut flaws to fix. Maybe 20 entries that don’t look right. I could have fixed them manually. But NO, why not write a quick converter instead? After all, GPT-4 was so helpful before. This should take 5 minutes.

If man makes a plan, God starts laughing.

It took 4 hours. I ended up willing a stupid search-replace tool into existence. Because, well, GPT-4 completely lost the plot on this very simple problem. To an extent that it seemed to make progress, but then just entirely failed again. It was ridiculous, infuriating, beyond belief.

Or to stick to the travel analogy: It felt like being duct-taped to a garden chair in a Walmart parking lot at midday in August in Arizona.

The first part was so complicated and worked so well. The second one, simply going from èu to ü, completely failed. In a bad way. I ended up doing it myself. Of course, writing a program instead of quickly editing those 20 entries.

This on the background that on May 24, 2024, GitHub CEO Thomas Dohmke said that there will eventually be one billion developers on his platform. Developers, Developers, Developers.