So, I started working at a data input job, running out of money with no opportunities, so whatever haha.

I signed a bunch of documents saying I should keep stuff somewhat private so well I'll be vague.

What the company I'm working for does is basically hold onto stock for various companies, and stock freights.

As for my job I appear to be doing various miscellaneous things.

  • Double checking freights loaded stock
  • Filling in empty information a day in advance of a freight being launched
  • Compiling information about what was loaded by our company onto those freights
  • Sending Freight information to various contacts

Its almost been a week now so I guess I'll go over what I did day by day.

Day 1 Paid to sit around

This was supposed to be my orientation, but they moved it back one day for some reason, my day basically consisted of getting depressed at how tedious and monotonous my assigned job was. Joking aside it was a lot of repetitive tasks. A job basically anyone with a highschool diploma wouldn't have any issues with.

Day 2 Excel Macros

I reserved myself to doing the job via the methods taught to me the first day to try to understand why things were done the way they were. It was pretty confusing, and messy with how many If's, else if's, else cases I ran into, but I had someone "teaching" me along the way. Within the day there seems to be a HUGE chunk of time where I'm being paid to sit around doing nothing, literally, well I'm supposed to keep an eye on email, and be available. With this time I decided to automate a task that I had done earlier manually.

The task being done manually was to take 26 Excel files(CSV's) and combining them together into 1 sheet. They did this by literally opening each file individually and literally just copy pasting them. This is tedious I thought to myself, there HAS to be a way to automate this, while watching my teacher do this on the first day they had actually missed combining one of the 26 files into the bulk document, wasn't the end of the world for them, but its another vector for human error. Poking around in excel(which I'll be honest I have maybe 10 minutes of proficiency in lol) I found out about macros, with this new found knowledge I did a few google searches and figured how I could build a GUI with VBA which communicates with excel to load all 26 files and automatically combine them all. Well after 2 hours of poking it I got it done. Quite amusing to be honest, trying to automate mundane tasks is rather entertaining haha.

Day 3 Keyboard emulation

Another day, more mundane tasks. To build on top of what I did yesterday, the system in which the 26 files for combining are retrieved in the first place is SUPER tedious and mundane. To retrieve all 26 files, my company logins to the freight companies website, and accesses data via an adobe flash application.

I poked at it a bit thinking up ways in order to automate it, initially, before I realized it used flash, I was going to make a simple web scrapper with NODE and get it to automate the work, but well adobe flash makes any HTML automation a pain the the arse. But I reserved myself to a simpler(albeit more hacky) solution, AutoHotKey.

So I just went online and grabbed myself a copy of the portable version of autohotkey and made a simple script to basically automate the entire process. I made the script read information from the clipboard where I'd be keeping information about the 26 files I needed to access. It then simply goes in a loop of filling in forms and downloading the required files. All in all the process for getting all 26 files still takes like 4 minutes because each file takes time to access, but this is much less mundane than sitting around typing short lines of text and sitting around waiting for it to load over and over again.

Day 4 Mundane Tasks

So its day 4, to start the day(because I was early) I automated a task that basically came down to filling in forms on various pages. Each page had a "submission limit" which made it so you could only submit 20 forms at a time. The forms took the most basic information possible, literally just the same number in every single form.

The manual process is to click into the form with a mouse, input the number, then move onto the next over and over and over again. I just automated this with AutoHotKey again, simple enough. The other task was basically filling in a form and submitting, the form was the same every single day, except for a date field. Another easy task with autohotkey.

With those 2 tasks automated I moved onto planning how to automate whats possibly the most annoying part of my day. Which are:

  • Double checking freights loaded stock
  • Filling in empty information a day in advance of a freight being launched

The reasons these steps are annoying mostly stems down to my companies website being a huge mess. Every single page is a php request pretty much. With this being the case the browser navigation buttons(back/forward) do not work, nor does middle click work.

I'll roughly explain how I do the job above.

  • Open Today's Freight load list, this is the updated information basically
  • Open my companies page to search freights, input some freight information into a form
  • After this I am greeted by a long list thats pretty easy to get lost in
  • I then sort the list by # and then go into the a freight
  • If I notice there is a discrepancy between the freight and my updated list (fastest way to see this is that there's a number tallying the total items in the freight)
  • From here, I do see a giant list of items on the freight but no easy way to tell whats missing, for this I have to go back, but not with my browser, but with the back button listed on the page
  • Now I'm back on the huge list of freights, I have to tick a check box next to the freight I need(hopefully I didn't forget what I was working on) then press a button with the label(Request Details)
  • This opens in a new tab luckily enough, and shows me a list of items loaded onto the freight along with how many have been loaded.
  • I now compare the 2 and come up with a conclusion for what I need to either Add or Remove from the freight
  • Now I go back to the huge list of freights, request the list of items loaded onto the freight again, and finally adding/removing things until the discrepancy has been fixed
  • I also have to log down what I added/removed in a spread sheet and email that later

And that is basically me updating 1 freight, I'm probably dealing with 100 freights a day, while juggling 2 excel spreadsheets, navigating back and forth on a webpage, as is there's huge room for human error.

My initial plan was the create a chrome extension in which I could upload the updated list of items into, but I ran into issues with uploading the file into the chrome extension so I put those plans on hold. The new plan in which I knew I could do with little effort. This plan being a simple content-script loaded by chrome whenever I navigated to the freights list of items. All the freight really does is count all the individual items, like 30 chopsticks, 11 papers, 3 pencils. But this task eliminates the need for me to leave the list of freight items to request a details page. Cutting down on what I'd say wastes about 40 seconds. As well as lowering the possibility of mixing up freights.

Hopefully I can get my original plan off the ground eventually and have the extension calculate the difference in items loaded automatically.

Day 5

Well I haven't done day 5 yet, whenever I do maybe I'll come up with another thing to automate