Memorial weekend 2007

It was a great Memorial weekend! Had taken two days off before the weekend. Gave me an opportunity to re-think and re-affirm what I want to do in my job going forward. In the recent past, I have come to recognize that my strongest skills since my childhood have been Math. And God, I love data! It gives me a kick to see patterns in those rows and columns of data. You see something common between two records, something common between two extracts and friggin’ hell, you need nobody from the client to explain all that’s plain and simple, which typically takes ages as no one currently working knows all the data – a commn reason you will hear.

Over the past 15 years, having worked with many technologies such as VB, .Net, RDBMSs like Oracle and Sql-server and taken roles such as Team lead, Project Manager, I find that while I can do all these I haven’t particularly enjoyed all of it. Yea right, sometimes you feel that you enjoy doing something only to find out that over a period of time, you don’t enjoy the same all the time. But, what has consistently stayed interesting to me is working with data. Well, now-a-days no one just works with large amount of data without using a database, right? It has given me great satisfaction to make a stored procedure work faster or to have identified a problem with a SQL and corrected it. I remember at Promissor (formerly ASI Inc.), when I first was consulting, someone had written this lousy SQL with six or seven nested sub-queries all referring to the same table – in other words, a helluva lot of correlated query to perform. If you know something about SQL, a sub-query is executed for each record that is fetched. So if the main SQL (say with one sub-query) returns 10000 rows, there is actually 10001 SQLs executed in effect. Now, multiply 10k by 10k by 10k etc or 10k to the power 6. That particular SQL took over 40 minutes to run. I changed the SQL to use 6/7 instances of the same table with joins between them and the results were back in less than 40 seconds. This was a big thing at Promissor as they were trying to implement this business rules engine – versata – at that time. Versata was a Java GUI/middle-tier code-generator and once generated, the developer had changed the data access to run this dynamic SQL. Anyway, it made the day for me and the Project Manager who was behind the implementation.

Recently at Merck, I did quite a bit of data migration – from legacy data to Aprimo‘s databases. Now I would expect myself to have written .Net code to do the migration or use a tool. But some smart developer had prepared spreadsheets to generate the SQLs and given the volume of data wasn’t in the gigabytes, it worked very well. I used the same approach and it worked out pretty well. Sometimes, you have to consider if you want to do the job always the same way. Come on, why do data migration writing .Net code if you can do the same in less than half the time? Of course,there will be situations where closely controlled business rules need to be applied where a spreadsheet isn’t sufficient. Now, that is the call a consultant needs to make.

So where was I? Yeah, my desire to work with data. So, over the past weekend and maybe a month, I have decided to look for something more to do with data. You may think I am crazy to give up 3-4 years of strong .Net development skills to work with something else. But, I have realized, though late, that one needs to work with what comes to one naturally. That Peace is essential to keep the energy flowing and the ideas flowing, else, you would be struggling to or fighting yourself to get the ball rolling.

The other thing I have enjoyed most has been teaching Yoga. In today’s USA Today, there was an article about people, mostly young, quitting their dream jobs or what they thought was a dream job, to do what they really wanted. (Read Rick Jarow’s ‘Creating the Work you love’ – see a review I wrote ) One of the questions that the author posed was what would you do for FREE? That could be your dream job. Well, teaching Yoga doesn’t pay the bills. Or, there are many other that do teaching Yoga well. I just enjoy it as an avocation. For the bills, it will be data processing or database for now!

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