Go figure the bug

This Story is Shared by Niyas P,
Sr. Data Science Engineer at Gramener

Back in school, my math teacher told me, “If you are not able to solve a problem, shut your notebook, go out, play, and then start solving again on a new page. DO NOT LOOK AT YOUR PREVIOUS ATTEMPT.” Somehow, I think that advice is valid even today.

Not so long ago, we bagged a project for a global media agency. We built a Sales Spend Analysis Dashboard as part of the project. And one fateful evening deployed it.

The dashboard had a table component with Advertiser, TV Spend, Print Spend, and Sales as columns. But as luck would have it, the advertiser column was not visible at the client’s end.

Just as the situation demanded, I put on my thinking hat and took out my Sherlock Holmes magnifying glass. As an astute member of the team, I thought I had a grip over the situation. After all, we fix bugs all the time! How hard could it be? I mean, I just had to reproduce the problem in my system, and ta-da, we’d have the solution.

But nada, the solution became a dream because I wasn’t even able to reproduce the problem. Not in my system, not in any of the others. I wish I had heeded my math teacher’s advice.

It was a disaster. The client was antsy and dismayed because he had a presentation the next day.

That day went by without us having a solution. But a new day comes with renewed hope. And as they say, a new pair of eyes can find a mistake in your work sooner than you can.

Ranjan Balappa, our Associate Lead Data Scientist was our knight in shining armour. He ran the project in his machine for another use case and accidentally reproduced the problem. And voila! We had our breakthrough.

The problem was simple but unique. An ad blocker was the bug! Interestingly, ad blockers remove the HTML elements with specific keywords. Of course! The adblocker removed the HTML table column with the header Advertiser name. So, the table only had the financial numbers without the Advertiser information.

Moral of the story: When looking for unknown bugs, do not hesitate to ask for a fresh pair of eyes!

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