Friday, December 12, 2008

SQL Quiz #2 - Challenges

Chris Shaw posted a new SQL Quiz and I have been tagged by Kendal Van Dyke, so I need to take up the challenge. The question is: “What are the largest challenges that you have faced in your career and how did you overcome those?”

Starting out

I'd say my first challenge was entering the Information Technology field in the first place. I should explain that I had little interest in computers in high school and college. I was more interested in sports than technology and my original goal was to become a basketball coach so I went to college to study Physical Education. Well, along the way I learned full-time coaching gigs are hard to find and I don't really like working with children so teaching was out. A good friend of mine is a developer (a true geek genius) and he started mentoring me. When he was the Software Development manager at the local pulp and paper mill he had two openings that he was struggling to fill and he managed to convince me to apply, as he was convinced I could do the job. Well, I finally gave in and was hired (his boss had to approve). Well, I found out I loved doing the work, but it has always been a struggle as I don't necessarily understand all theory and it was then as I had to learn VB, SQL Server, accounting, and pulp and paper making all at once! I managed to do it and have been doing it for almost ten years.

The big project

The second challenge would be the first big project that I was the IT lead for. We were purchasing a soup to nuts Manufacturing Execution system that required me to write the data transfer process, interface with the vendor's development team for custom modifications, prove bugs were bugs, and basically question everything. The biggest issue that I had to solve was a deadlock issue in the database from the RF units on our forklifts in the warehouse. Basically the way it was coded, once you had 3 or more units working at once the units totally locked up because of deadlocks in the database. I don't recall the details in the code, I do know it had much looping (RBAR). I used Profiler (this was SQL 7) to find the offending SQL code. Then I had to go into the vendor's proprietary scripting language and change the code that was causing the problem. Miraculously, the units stopped locking up. Much to the vendor's consternation I proved the bug, but to my knowledge they never fixed the code, and shall remain nameless.

I think almost everyone I follow I know who blogs has been tagged for this, but I have not seen R. Barry Young's name go past so I'll tag him.

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