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On the Records: Campaign-Finance FAIL.

Numbers and text don't mix.

Bad, bad things happen when you mix text fields with number fields.

So I had the bright idea this morning to add Kay Bailey Hutchison's gubernatorial contributions to the Tribune's state campaign-finance database, which until now only included currently elected state officials.

(We already had Hutchison's senate filings in our federal databases, but that doesn't include the money she's raised to challenge Gov. Rick Perry).

One problem: I broke an elementary rule to be mindful of data conversion errors.

Database manager programs, you see, assign what are essentially categories to fields, or columns, of records -- text, numbers, dates, etc.

I appended the full database with Hutchison's 2,700 contributions (of $250 or more) between Jan. 1 and June 30, but the amounts were listed as text, not numbers or currency. Problems ensued.

Long story short, that's why the search application was down so long this morning.

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