Category Archives: Team and teamwork

February Chicago PUG – what the conversation was about

It’a almost time for our March PUG, and I never blogged about the February one, I guess now it’s as good as any other, especially because  the March PUG is just several days away, and as usual I hope to attract more people to our next event

As for the February PUG,  I really liked it, even though I managed to completely mess up and accidentally cancelled the meetup! I am still not used to the new Meetup editor. Nevertheless, perhaps it was even better, that I’ve made people to re-confirm their participation at the last minute.

I was presenting our most recent work –  a new framework for efficient communications between a database and a web application. My favorite topic; and I was super -excited to share our success. And I was very glad, that one of our application developers decided to stay for the PUG, because very soon all the questions merged into one big question: what did you do to make it happen? What did it take to change the developers mindset? How did we pull it all together?

And my coworker started to describe, how we did it. And I’ve realized, that I almost forgot about many obstacles, which we had overcome. How many things didn’t work from the very beginning. How many “extra miles” we had to walk in both directions.

Answering the comments on one of my previous posts on that topic: it’s just not so easy to write a “matrix” of decisions which would automatically replace the ORM. Most of the time it’s a customized development. If an app developer would always know that method A involves three joins on a database side, and method B pulls the attributes from the same table as  method C… then probably they won’t start using ORM from the very beginning. But the purpose of ORM is to hide these details!

It’s not easy to do things differently, Especially in a small startup. With all the deadlines, and with clear understanding that there is a potential slowdown in development. But we all tried to do the right thing – as a team. I give a credit to myself for coming up with a framework which at the end of the day is easy and convenient to use in the application. And I give even a bigger credit to the whole team for willingness to work through all the issues toward the best solution.

My fellow chicagoans! If by now you feel sorry you missed the February PUG – please consider coming to the March PUG upcoming Wednesday!  Johnathan Katz from Crunchy Data  will be presenting the talk “An Introduction to Using PostgreSQL with Docker & Kubernetes”. We expect another “bridging the gap” event 🙂

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The best things from 2017 and what I am looking forward to in 2018

When I am talking to people about the year 2017, and what was important, I would repeat over and over: everything I was striving for during my 30+ years of professional career had happened. All wishes have come true. Which would inevitably lead to the question: well, Hettie, what are you going to next then?

And there are plenty and plenty of things I want to do, but first I wanted to reflect on 2017 one more time. I’ve already listed multiple times all our technical accomplishments, all the wonderful things I was able to implement in a real production environment.  But when I look back at what was the best, it is definitely working with our new tech team. As I am reiterating over and over again, “the database is a service”, and whatever we are doing inside the database, can only make any impact, if our results can be utilized by “somebody” – by our end users.

And most of the time our end users are  application developers.  I can’t imagine any serious database development without continuous interaction with the rest of the development team. For years my “golden standard” for the teamwork has been my work for New York Department of Education, where I had a full support of the tech leadership, which helped me to defend my approaches and produce the results I am still happy about.

But what has being going on in the past several months is even better. The way we discuss the user stories. The way we make decisions on what should go into the application, and what – into the database. The way we debug. The way we discuss, what is critical, and what’s not. The willingness of each of the team members “to go extra mile”, to adjust in order to make others job easier. Basically, whatever I could imagine for the teamwork being perfect, is there. 🙂

Being in this industry for 34 years, I know that nothing lasts forever:). I know that every tea,, every organization evolve, and that nothing is granted forever. But I also learned to be thankful for what’s going on right now, and enjoy the moment.

Looking forward to 2018 – I hope that our team will continue to be the most amazing team ever. I am looking forward for the stress -test of our new applications with high data volumes. After all, I was designing the data storage and data access to be super-scalable, and I hope that it will work this way.

I am looking  forward to use the performance data we’ll obtain to improve our bitemporal library, and I already have some ideas of what I exactly I want to do. Actually, I have new technical ideas on almost everything I’ve developed through the last year. I still didn’t get notifications on whether any of the papers I’ve submitted for the next year conferences were accepted,  but I know that both are very good papers :), so even if none will get accepted… I will try for another conference!

 

 

 

 

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We are live!!!

This happened yesterday. And immediately after “this” I’ve realized I am so tired – I could not post even a paragraph.

For the past several months the only thing people have heard from me was – “I am busy”. And I was. And yesterday our new product has been launched. Our new website went live, and a first couple of loans got through, and the first loan was funded.

For a couple of our team members that was the first real product launch in their lives. Not for me, but it’s definitely the first time in my life when not only all database design and database code is written by me (or drafted by me), but also everything is based on the new technologies, which were developed with my participation

the other day one person who’ve known me fora while asked me, whether I’ve accomplished everything in my life.

It sure feels pretty close to that :). That “I have nothing left o wish for” – all my wishes have become true. But now comes the next phase – life have to prove, that all the things I believe are scalable, durable, flexible, efficient – indeed are.

I am always saying: a database is a service. Nobody from the “outer world” can see all these cool things. The only thing people will see will be (hopefully!) fast response.

But you know, what’s even more important than “all wishes coming true”? That’s our team, In my 34 years in industry I am positive that’s the best team I ever worked with,  with each and single person being cooperative, flexible, opened to trying new things, diligent, attentive to details… and the list goes on… I’d just summarize it – each and single person in the team understands what the word team means:).

A picture from the launch:

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When working remotely does not work

About a week ago this article from Atlantic landed in my Inbox from one of many newsletters.

And now, returning home from just three days of working remotely, I think about how I agree with many of the points this article makes.
In general I am very thankful, that I have an option of working remotely periodically, but only because otherwise I will have to skip work entirely each time I travel.

I’ve always been a great proponent of remote work, arguing that it can be as efficient, as working in the office if not more, using my work with NY Department of Education as an example. But I have to agree with this article: times have changed. And now I have no doubts, that working remotely for me in my current position should be very limited – both to my own benefit and the benefits of the projects I am working on (which, to be honest, is almost the same thing :))

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The joy of team work!

Last week I had to work a lot! I mean, A LOT! But work-wise that was one of the happiest weeks, and I wanted to share with everybody why it felt so happy.

Those of you who worked with me before know, that my favorite activity is working with  applications, because optimizing for applications is way more difficult and way more fun than optimizing reports. Yes, you can impress everybody, including yourself, reducing the report run time from one hour to one minute. But how much cooler is it to reduce the page load time from 30 sec to 0.1 sec?!  Especially when you have a power not only to write the best queries ever, but also to design the data model “the right way”.

When you do the application database work, the most critical part is to work in close contact with the  application developers. And depending on what kind of team you are lucky or unlucky to have, it may be the best or the worst part of your professional experience.

My IT team here in Braviant is one of the best I ever worked with, which was proved one more time last week. The most difficult part has always been connecting the db work and the app work, like: I’ve selected all this data for you, can you read it from the output I am providing? Or: we can give you all input parameters that way, can you process them? Our app developers have already made a huge step “in my direction” agreeing not to use ORM, but to read the output of the database function. Next step – we hit the  wall exactly where I expected. I’ve spent a half of Saturday writing my code, so that the app developers could start using in Monday morning… and now they are saying they can’t process correctly the embedded record sets! I’ve heard that many times before, and each time in a couple of hours I would hear: Hettie, there is no way! Let’s do it “the old way”, we know how… That time, however my team kept trying to find a solution, and watching these efforts made me to start thinking how I can change the output on my side. After several iterations going back and forward, we came up with a pretty neat way to return the records, which could be used right away, and even a better approach, which, however would require more work from me, and could not be done on the spot.

And you know – I totally understand, when people hate rewriting one piece of code multiple times, which makes me appreciate even more the willingness to rewrite later, when I will come up with the more automated solution from my side…

I have already written a lot in this post, and I am not sure whether it all make sense, but let me try to summarize.  I loved that everybody were willing to compromise, to make adjustments, that there were no “just because” statements, that the whole team was focused on the goal to build the application right from the very beginning, so that we won’t need to worry about performance six months down the road.

Hope it will continue that way.  Except of me working on Saturdays part 🙂

 

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My first year at Braviant

Yesterday was my first anniversary at  Braviant Holdings. That was not an easy year. There was a lot of hard work. Lots of days and nights when I was not sure where I will be able to accomplish what I want and what I believe is needed to be accomplished.

But now, when I look back and think about what have happened over this year, I can only say: Wow!

Building of the new Data Mart from scratch, completely replacing the new system, using new techniques for combining multiple external sources. Keeping up with new challenges. Helping to build new framework for our data analytics. Starting as a sixth employee in the company and the only tech person and now being a part of a tech team within the company which quadrupled it’s size in one year.

And most importantly – delivering high- quality database solutions. The thing  which makes me really happy is that through this whole year I never had to compromise my technical values, that I was given a freedom and responsibility to do what I believe is right, and to be accountable for results. It’s the best thing one can imagine – to see how your works makes your company to perform better – every day.

And the last, but not the least – always feeling good being around my co-workers, smart, intelligent, helping, compassionate and dedicated. I love the culture of continuos learning, which exists at our workplace, love the fact that everybody wants to know what other groups are doing, and how their work impacts others. Granted its’ much easier to accomplish when the company is small, but I really hope we’ll continue this way.

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That’s about us!

I know that many people have already reposted this article, but I didn’t! Mostly because these past three weeks I was preoccupied by my family issues…

Anyway – Here is an article about Braviant Chicago office. And it’s very true, that we’ve hired the best and brightest! My dear co-workers, no matter how much I can be upset with you changing your requirements twice a day – you are indeed the best and the brightest, and I am honored to work with all of you!

 

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