Tag Archives: human factor

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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ACT-W Conference: Dr. Helen Sun keynote

Dr. Sun keynote was definitely the best thing out of the whole conference! The talk was called “My Personal Journey and Transformation Story”. To be honest ], my first reaction when I heard about switching career from the English professor to the information technology was rather skeptical, but the more I listened to the talk the more I started to realize how close is it to what I believe in, and what I consider the most important things in life and professional career. I find it very true what Dr. Sun said about the leadership. She cites the quote from Bob Gates that “Leadership is when people choose to follow
you, even if there’s no consequences of not doing so”.

But the most interesting thing happened at the very end of the talk. Dr. Sun said: if somebody will be talking to you about work-life balance, do not believe them. There is no such a thing as a work life balance. It can only be a work-life integration!

And that was the word! For many years, when I was telling people my personal story, and when I was telling young women seeking a career in IT: you do not have to choose between work and family, you can have them both if you set up your mind accordingly. But the word “integration” never crossed my mind and yet it describes perfectly how I feel about this subject.

And then Dr. Sun continued, talking about how she always would make a point to talk to her son on Skype every day when she was away on business trips, and about tons of other things that she did. and most of them would be exactly what I did. And what she said about her son not being upset, that she often could attend his events, and that he was proud of her, and how she gave him a positive example – I could say it about my kids, word to word.

So when she was finished, I raised my hand for a question, and told her how much I’ve enjoyed her presentation, and thanked her for giving me that word – work-life integration, and told her how my life journey resembled her’s.

And I think she was really glad to hear that 🙂

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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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How women networking should NOT be organized

There was one small episode during ICDE 2017, and although it has been a month already, I still feel like I want to write about. Here is want happened

Among other booths of different vendors there was (as usual) the Amazon AWS. And one of their reps told me,that on Thursday they are going to have a “women event”, and whether I want to sign up, and if I just could leave my email with them. I told her: well, there is a conference banquet on Thursday, at what time precisely your event is going to be? And she said reassuringly: after the banquet!

Now, the banquet would start at 6PM, and on Wednesday evening I receive the following email:

Hi Hettie,
I wanted to reach out on behalf of AWS and invite you to attend the AWS Women in Engineering Networking Event tomorrow on Thursday, April 20. Our recruitment and engineering teams are coming down from Seattle for the ICDE Conference and we’d love to meet you in-person at our happy hour at Blue Door Winery in San Diego (around 3 miles from the conference venue).
There will be wine tasting, artisanal bites, and a raffle on-site. Please feel free to bring guests, the more the merrier!

I am clicking on the invite, and guess what start time it shows? Yes, you are right – at 6PM.

Let me tell you that. The banquet is the most important social event at any conference, and I would always make a point for the younger generation about the importance of attending a conference banquet. There you can be introduced or just introduce yourself to anybody, you can talk at length with the authors of the papers which were most interesting for you. People just are more relaxed and do not run to attend the next session. And if somebody organized a “women networking event” at the same time – how this should be perceived? Like “kid’s table”?! How much this kind of networking would worth? And if the event organizers didn’t bother to look at the conference program when scheduling this event, it’s even worse…

Fortunately, at least at the first glance, there was not that many women who would trade the banquet for this networking event 🙂

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How I learned to love tests: both using and writing ones – part 2

Even when I would reluctantly admit I need to have tests on place, I never understood, why one might want to put the check for the number of tests you want to run in pg_tap. What’s the point? You know how many tests you want to run, so the only thing you need is to count the executions :). And when the number does not match it means that you didn’t count them correctly;)

That’s what I was absolutely sure about… until last week. A week before that I’ve discovered that I’ve mapped one foreign table incorrectly. Or, may be, it got changed and I didn’t notice – I didn’t have proper tests!

Nevertheless, after I fixed the table structure… yes, you are right, a number of tests failed! and since ai’ve added a whole bunch of newly mapped columns (21 of them, to be precise), I had to place 84 more tests… four for each column… and after I did it… and pg_tap reported that I ran less tests than I’ve planned. And my first inclination was to change the “number of tests I want to run”. And I almost did it… but then I thought: I remember I’ve counted! If there are less than 84 new tests, then there are two options: either I counted them incorrectly, or – I misses several tests.

It was not fun at all, going through this huge file with all the tests… but I found the missing ones! And I was so happy again, that somebody forced me to run the tests each time I am committing changes 🙂

 

 

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How I learned to love tests: both using and writing ones – part 1

My fellow database developers, let’s be honest: we do not like writing tests. We are not application developers. We do not understand the test-driven development: at the end of the day, how we can figure out what should be the outcome of our functions and stored procedures, when we do not know what data they will be working with?!  When our managers tell us, we should generate the test data, we think its’ the most ridiculous thing in the world, because if we create some data, obviously the results of the testing will be favorable!

I understand, that not necessarily each and single database developer goes to that extreme, but… pretty close. And I will be the first to admit being guilty with the similar attitude. I only believed in testing on a “copy of the real data”, sort of A/B testing, which is important, but not the only thing to be tested.

Especially these days, when the data structure is not “almost always static”, when the changes the application DB are not a rare catastrophe, but a part of normal life of the application. At a minimum you want to have tests which show you that if you change”something” in the database structure, other “something” won’t break. We need those tests. But… it is so boring to write them! It slows our development process sooooo much! Especially, you know, when you have this big project to complete, and each and every half an hour matters!

At least that’s what I was thinking for the past two months working hard to bring our new Data Warehouse live. And promising to myself, I will write the tests… later :).

But my former co-worker, my forever-mentor, current consultant for my company – Chad – have written his test for “his”part  – which is a part of our system, which is responsible for “taking” to the third-party databases. So… on the night of massive changes on the said third-party database, which were not properly communicated in advance, when some parts of my processes started to fail… and when I fixed the data structures to match the new ones… the tests started to fail!

I was not happy :). Not happy at all. I was thinking – why?  Why I have to sit and fix these tests at 11-30 PM?! But guess what. It took me only 45 minutes to fix each and single test, which was touched by the change, and to validate the new data structures. And I was done before the midnight. And guess, how long it took other people to have their parts of the system updated and running with no issues? Almost the whole night, and almost the whole next day! You might laugh at the next statement, but here is it anyway: at that moment I felt very much protected by these tests.

And that’s what the tests are for, aren’t they?!

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About my new job – what exactly I am doing

The most important thing which I love about my new company is that we all share the same values, have the same vision. When I had a very first conversation with the CTO, literally her second phrase hit the right spot! I thought immediately – we can work together. I we will work together 🙂 – and so far I could not be happier.

I’ve immediately jumped into a very important project. Like it happens to me way too often – I’ve already promised the moon and stars, and now I am thinking – what if it will take longer than I thought? I know exactly how I want to proceed with each and single part of this project, but I also know that each step can involve some unforeseen technical difficulties. It makes my life both nervous and exciting. Every morning I wake up realizing I was thinking about my project while I was sleeping, and now can tell: no, this idea which seemed so cool yesterday is not really going to work. Or the opposite – well, I know how to make this part better!

… that’s how I used to say when my kids were teenagers – it’s like having three soap operas running at the same time 🙂 – now it’s a reality show running here and now. And the outcome is still unknown…

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