Where I continue to admire the Problem without a complete Solution.

Hi — it’s me again. It’s been a while because I’ve been “stuck” on what I have wanted to populate this space with. I’ve decided on for now as a loud thinking space for problems I am working on at work because writing it out helps.

A problem I run into on a daily basis is knowing what I want to accomplish, the steps to accomplish it but now knowing how to piece it together. This is where I think that fundamental training (have you) in computer science would help. I have all the pieces but I don’t have the glue. Yet. I’m learning what I need to do to solve this but there’s little structure to it, because it’s all in the moment. See also why sometimes the formal education can be helpful.

Current problem I am trying to solve: we send out new hire emails and currently that’s done manually, meaning we receive an email notice with bits of information on a new employee/intern/etc (but not their email because it may or may not have been created at the time the notice was sent). We retain X, Y, Z of that information, put it in an excel spreadsheet and then manually look the person up in our internal directory for their email (if it exists) and drop that into the excel sheet & then do a mail merge on an email template (with a sizable amount of links).

This is a LOAD of work and there is a large back log that exists and to do that manually would be 100% inefficient, expensive & a waste of time.

Current solution I have: Run an ldapsearch query for exchange accounts created equal to or greater than a certain date & are not test/dummy accounts and print the X, Y, and Z variables for all of those accounts. Then convert that data from LDIF to .csv and save to a file on the server, which I can then drop the file into local shared drive (OR send email w/ attached file) where person who does mail merge can then take the csv file and run the mail merge. Goal is to automate the mail merge in the sense of once the file is created, have a job that checks “modified date” when that changes automatically send email and then have a VB Script that can be ran to check for certain emails (this is where instead of email attachment, might be better to have the file in the local drive) or check the local shared drive folder for this file & run the mail merge on it to send the emails.

New problem I have *no* idea how to glue all of this together so it can be executed and ran from a single command. I have the ldapsearch query, I know how to print the output, I have the Perl script to convert the data from LDIF to csv, I know how to email the output file (as an attachment), I don’t have the script all the way together for the mail merge yet because I’d like to focus on and solve the first problem of getting the data because you can forget about the mail merge if you don’t have the data.

Solution? I don’t have one yet.

**UPDATE**
To say I have no idea how to glue all of this together is not completely accurate. I know I want to write a bash script because I can run all of these pieces from the command line, that was purposeful. I know that I will want to use the python-LDAP API. I know that I can (will?) use perl for the data format conversion. I know that I want to automate the emailing of the output file as a cron job. What I don’t know. Yet. is the syntax of gluing these together so that they run seamlessly from minimal effort on my part (in the end).

Resources:
Python-LDAP Applications (using the python-LDAP API) [part 1] [part 2] [part 3] [part 4]

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3 thoughts on “Where I continue to admire the Problem without a complete Solution.

  1. Pingback: Update to the Problem: we have a solution | Whitni Watkins

  2. This sounds to me like a bash script, if the small pieces you’re joining can all be run from the command line. Or if not, you can get a thing that records GUI input and plays it like a script – Steve McDonald at Tufts did a New England Code4Lib presentation a year ago with a Windows tool for this (can’t remember the name of it).

    In terms of checking when the file changes and automating that, I’m guessing this isn’t a super time critical process (like, you don’t need to do it the *second* the file changes), so in a Unix environment I’d write a cron job to run daily (or whenever) and check the last modified time on the file. I dunno if there’s an analogy for Windows, if this is all happening on your windows environment.

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