10/26/2011

Vacation

As anyone working in the IT field knows, work can be exhausting.

It can drain you physically, mentally and emotionally.

That is why they invented vacations.

This week my wife and I spent a week in the Georgia Mountains.

We rented a cabin in Blue Ridge, Ga. We usually visit this area twice a year for the past five years.

I'd have to say this was out best vacation yet.

The cabin was secluded, close to a creek, close to town, very spacious, plenty of amenities, clean, screened in patio, new grill and best of all, it had a fenced in yard for the dogs.

That meant that I did not have to wake up at 6am to walk the dogs on leashes.

The wife woke up and opened the screened patio door and the dogs went a wandering.

This was a vacation in itself.

We then awoke, had coffee, showered and drove over to the Waffle house each day to enjoy an egg and cheese biscuit.

Then we journeyed to one of the State Parks, Fort Mountain and Vogel as well as Blairsville, Hiawasi and Ellijay.

We mostly ate out fast food for lunch and cooked on the gas bbq each night.

At night we rested, read books and spent some quiet time doing nothing.

Tomorrow we head back to Florida - long drive - then we have Friday, Saturday and Sunday to unwind from vacation.

Not sure if we'll be back in April. Will have to see how things look at that time.

One peculiar thing to mention. Every time we've been to this area the people have always been so friendly. Southern hospitality I suppose.

Not this time. The locals were very unpleasant and seemed to cater to the locals.

Perhaps the down economy has dried up their customer base and they now focus on the repeat customers.

We were kind of disappointed about this as we usually enjoy spending time with the locals.

Either way, the dogs had a wonderful time as did my wife and me.

10/21/2011

Microsoft Access

Seems all the rage lately surrounds Microsoft SQL Server Denali / 2012.

Whatever happened to Microsoft Access.

Seems I have worked with Access for a long time now.

The basic premise is awesome.

You have a database.

Can import tables from Oracle/SQL Server either linked or imported.

You have ability to create forms.

You can utilize the built in VBA/Modules.

You can definitely create reports.

It has somewhat built in security although easy to crack the passwords.

It's small and can be uploaded to websites easily and easy implementation to store data for online apps.

Some of the limitations:

Size - constantly have to shrink the db.

Hackable.

In order to maintain the db you have to work on the pc - there is no built in 'Web Interface'.

I was thinking they could build one and use the product to compete with MySQL by giving it away for free --> isn't that how it works, give a product away to crush the competition?

Anyway, I believe it's a fine application that bundles with Office.

I have not researched the 360 version or if it even exists.

Maybe someone can clue me in on that.

From what I've seen with the latest version of SQL Server so far, it's just an amazing product.

Perhaps Microsoft can leverage their ancient solid application called 'Access' too.

10/20/2011

What is it you do here?

What ever happens to all that information entered into the system every day?

It's stored in one of the database repository's as 'raw data'.

The Reporting Services team is tasked with converting 'raw data' into 'information'.

That 'information' allows internal and external customer's to manage their business and make decisions.

Reporting Services does that by creating reports which reside on the web to catch
exceptions and help the internal business units run smoothly.

So Reporting Services takes the raw data, converts it to information, in the form of files & reports, for client consumption, to allow the Customers to manage their
business and make timely and accurate decisions.

10/19/2011

3/4 through 2011

This year is about 3/4 over. Or 1/4 to go.

Either way you slice it, it's been a pretty good year thus far.

I changed employers in January, from one government agency (the County) to another (the School Board).

What a world of difference.

Rigid, out-dated technology, no authority, strict environment TO relaxed, somewhat current technology, supervisor position in a good atmosphere.

I was almost running out of things to do at the County while transitioning from Java to Oracle / SAP (XCelcius) BI position.

The School Board is a fast pace environment with endless requests.

I enjoy the challenges that are associated with supervising a team of two full time report developers and a contractor.

And interacting with peer supervisors.

And meeting with all the friendly customers.

And writing reports.

Just today though, I was reminiscent of the programming days.

I guess I still miss writing code for web applications and such in Java/JSP/VB.net.

I got my start in Crystal Reports, Oracle and Visual Basic so I always had the three main things covered: getting data into the db and getting it back out in an application.

I attended the SQL Saturday in Tampa in the beginning of the year and then again last month in Orlando - both were excellent events. There's another one next month Nov. 5 in Tampa I plan to attend as well.

I managed to conquer my fear of 'true' BI and dabbled a bit in the new SQl-Server Denali.

I got some SSAS, MDX, Power Pivot experience and hope to finish up with some Share Point.

However on my job I believe we plan to purchase a pre-built data warehouse in Cognos which we could query in SQL from SSRS which would be nice.

And if they ever replace the AS400 they are going to have a lot of new reports to manage and create.

Looking into a crystal ball, I would say that creating reports seems to be in my future.

Also, I had stopped my part time job in June because we had to work 10 hour days in the summer.

I was pleasantly surprise to receive a phone call from my old boss asking me to pick up where we left off.

So I started back part time in early October and it should last until the end of the year - with the possibility of extension. I was extended several times last years so I'm hoping to continue the trend.

My family is heading to Georgia mountains next week to rent a cabin - can't wait to see the leaf color changes and cooler temps.

I have to say this. People raz government workers for being lazy, making huge amounts of money and sucking the country dry.

Well, I've been on both sides of the fence, Public and Private jobs.

I have to say that some of it is true, there are some people who work for the gov't who haven't seen a full days work - ever. But those people are slowly being weeded out. And as far as making lots of money, uh, I don't think so. I'm about $20k underpaid at the moment, in this market. Moving to another market, I'd say closer to $30-40k underpaid.

That's why I have the p/t job though.

Anyway, my skills are slowly improving, I hope. I'm fully into Microsoft reporting at the moment, which is where I wanted to be this time last year.

Overall, things are going well.

I look forward to closing out the year with some time off during the holidays and will see what develops next year.

Thanks for reading the articles on my blog - I write quite often and have no idea who actually reads these things.

10/14/2011

SSIS

Microsoft SQL-Server Integration Services is not a new product.

It goes back to the original DTS packages of years ago.

I wrote DTS packages and felt comfortable in that environment.

So when writing/debugging SSIS packages, I have an understanding of what I'm doing.

However, if you didn't write the package, and asked to debug it, it is not an easy task.

On first glance, the package seems overly complex.

However by breaking each task down to simpler units, it's not difficult to understand.

In the 2008 r2 version, they have some new features.

However looking at the SQL code beneath seems straight forward.

What I did to troubleshoot is to number each task and write a brief description.

Next, copied the SQL to Transact SQL editor to view what's going on.

However, I can not run the package because it updates production tables and such.

Once you have a birds of view, as well as look under the hood, the problem presents itself.

In my opinion, SSIS is another animal when it comes to programming.

It's not your typical Java or .net app where you can step through the code line by line.

It's a bit fragmented.

But not impossible.

I still prefer to troubleshoot production problems of someone else code rather than write the code from scratch.

Guess that makes me a "maintenance" coder.

Kind of a niche.

Oh well, could be worse I suppose.

SSIS is good for doing specific tasks.

Root Cause Analysis