...parenthesis in file path trigger bug in embedded database driver.

You can't make this shit up.

I've been troubleshooting an ETL problem on our development server since last Thursday. The server is an x64 (64-bit Windows) machine. The ETL has been running fine on my laptop, and my bosses laptops. It crashes and burns miserably on the server with common Oracle errors, but ones which are inexplicable under the circumstances.

It turns out that all 32-bit components on 64-bit Windows are installed in folders named "Program Files (x86)". It also turns out that Oracle's database client has a bug in it which causes crashes if the path to the program has either '(' or ')' in it. You can't modify the Windows pathname without causing chaos on the system, so you are basically stuff in this Microsoft/Oracle inter-compatibility nightmare.

There is supposedly a patch for the Oracle bug now, but as is so common with Oracle support of 64-bit Windows, I keep downloading the wrong version. Hopefully, I have finally found the right one.

But seriously, I've lost a week's worth of work over a design decision by Microsoft combined with a totally bizarre Oracle bug. There's also been unbelievable collateral damage at work... The IT gatekeepers found out we were using the production database for our source data, and took our access away. They moved the QA box without telling us, and then bitched that we should have requested firewall ports weeks ago. It's just unbelievable.
So I passed my IBM DataStage 8.0 exam (94%, 75% needed to pass). That's 20% of my bonus, so YAY!

Time to update the resume again, so I don't forget for when I need it again.
Warning... whining ahead.

Read more... )

EDIT: Final total (probably personal record)... In 7 days (Monday-Sunday), 73.5 billable hours at work, 11 hours in class, and 3.5 hours of additional schoolwork completed. Needless to say, I'm a bit behind on the reading.


Sep. 19th, 2008 09:29 am
So, we were supposed to go into production with thew new datamart I've been working on (and the associated reporting system) on Monday of this week. Obviously, it's Friday, and I'm still talking about it. We are now supposed to go into production "early next week." I just got off a call where they are now suggesting a complete redesign of the architecture.

I really hate redoing things. If I have to redo it because of my screw-up, that's one thing. If I have to redo it because some idiotic self-aggrandizing IT whack-job who things 500M is "just *way* too much data" that is a completely different story.

I really am quite irritated.

Ah well, I guess I need to get back to work. While they are happy to redesign my application for me, somehow I doubt they are willing to extend my deadlines.

TDWI paper

May. 7th, 2008 03:27 pm
Well, TDWI has finally published the first part of my paper, entitled Data Warehousing on a Shoestring Budget. I don't expect to win any awards, but the fan mail is already pouring in. Or, at least solicitations from vendors who want me to push their products. That's almost fan mail, right?

Here is a link, which appears to be free access:


Now, if I could just get this ETL to run, I'd be able to relax and enjoy my fame...
Today is not off to a great start. I got up at 6:30 only long enough to change the alarm to 7:00. I reluctantly got up at 7:00, showered, and then sat in bed and read for a while. When the radio turned off automatically at 8:00, I decided I should probably finish getting dressed and head off to work. I actually last the house about 8:30.

There wasn't much traffic (in spite of the fog), so I managed to get here at about 9:15. The 95-91-691-84-72-372 route is probably about 10 miles longer than the 95-91-9 route, but it's way faster. I came home the route 9 route the other day, and I have to do local streets the whole way across New Britain, and then I get stuck in a lot more stupid Hartford traffic.

So I head upstairs, unpack the laptop, turn it on, and grab some coffee. By 9:47, I had spilled same coffee all over my shirt and cleaned it up. Luckily, this is one of those nanotech shirts. I rinsed it off, and it's almost dry already (five minutes later).

I've been having killer sinus headaches on and off all week. I sincerely hope it's not a sinus infection, but the crazy part is that Sudafed and Excedrin don't seem to always work. It's definitely not a good sign. Hopefully the coffee will help, if I can quit spilling it on myself.
I should try and get my company to send me to something like this:


Data warehousing class, in Rome. Mwa ha ha hah!

To all the professional tech writers out there, you've earn props from me. I don't mind writing documentation for my systems, but documenting other people's systems? That's the suck, yo.
As an experienced (i.e. screwed by every vendor) IT professional, I have certain opinions of database products. I think almost every product out there has an appropriate use, even if sometimes that use is just to provide material to fill the trash can. It follows that I can be heard saying things like, "SQL Server 2005 has really impressed me: it's now almost like a real database!"

At this point, I'd like to say that there are perfectly appropriate uses of Microsoft Access out there in the world. If you need a database to store inventory for your family store, stamp collection, or "little black book", Access provides a handy combination of user interface tools and database functionality. It's not for me, but I recognize that you can't pay $50,000 for an Oracle license to keep track of your stockpile of knitting yarn.

However, you should never use Access as the primary front-end to your enterprise application. Once you are linking together multiple Access databases (on different versions) to control your SQL Server 2005 data processing, you have screwed up. One of these three incestuous Access databases is corrupted, or perhaps all three. The reality, though, is that now I've got a pile of Microsoft crap here that doesn't work.

Crud. Thunderstorms, damaging hail, and tornadoes along my route home (again).

Hopefully, the last storm weeded out all of the weak trees along CT-34.
So, I am very sorry to say that I will not be at Balfar's Challenge tomorrow. I was really hoping to finish my Legal Skills paper (due on 4/23/2007) this week, so that I would have the weekend to play with friends. Unfortunately, Real Life happened.

Usually, when I'm getting ready to roll up an engagement with a customer, things get very slow at the end. After all of the reports have been delivered, usually it's just a little knowledge transfer (i.e. training) and delivering documentation and maintenance plans. However, this is that that customer. This is the "oh wait, did you know it also needs to make Julienne fries?" customer.

We got hit with a huge list of changes, new requirements and "corrections" to "misunderstandings". The net result of this is that our deliverables now look nothing like the requirements we had last week. Also, it's been pretty much rapid prototyping the whole way. Do you like this? How about this? Number one? or number two?


Last week, I didn't get any time to do anything because I was working for two customers (40 hours at one, and 10 hours for the other). This week, I haven't had any time to do anything between my only customer is out of his mind. I've billed 45.5 hours this week, and that's just doesn't fully communicate the way that it's been nag-nag-nag even when I wasn't working. My ear hurts from all the time on the phone.

So, everyone... Please have fun tomorrow. Say 'hi' for me, and drive, play, and fight safe.
So, thanks to the piss-poor application design of this third-party software package, combined with the jury-rigged VPN, and the complete misery of Windows file-sharing, my enormous meta-data package is now hopeless corrupted. Like an idiot, I have not been keeping backups since the client said they were, but of course, they were lying.

I have to redo all changes since the last branch, so I'm going to be playing piecemeal catch-up for the next few days. Profanity is insufficient to express my current level of discontent.

Oh, and as an aside, I am now throughly convinced that the government of Connecticut no longer serves its citizens.


Jan. 2nd, 2007 09:19 pm
So, I got up at 5:00 AM this morning. I left the house at 6:00 AM, and the line for the ticket machine was about 15 minutes long. So, I managed to make the 6:40 AM train to Grand Central, which gets in about 8:18. I had no trouble getting on the subway, along the train was packed. It's about four blocks from the Wall St station (for the 4-5-6 line) to my new workplace. The new place is literally across the street from the A-C-E station, but, ah well.

So I went in at about 8:45 AM, and had to submit to both a visual inspection of my bag, and an x-ray of same. Never mind that I could have carried the legions of hell under my huge coat, and I never even went near a metal detector. So after the extensive investigation of my bag, they called upstairs and left a voice-mail. I then proceeded to stand in the lobby for 45 minutes.

At almost exactly 9:30 AM, the security guard called me over and sent me upstairs. I then spent eight hours with a guy leaning over me, trying to learn how to do my job while constantly heckling every typo and mistake I made. So their database is sufficiently hosed as to be nearly beyond help. What was explained to be as 10-15 tables is actually about 60 tables. And while most of the tables are 1-5 million rows, the database is a whopping 60GB monster.

So, they have this super-important-jumbo-monster-doom-MARKETING report that takes 45 minutes to run. Come to find out, it takes every table in the whole database to generate the query for it. I suggest a summary table, and they insist that the table is too large to build a summary: it would take up too much space and be too slow. We'll just set that aside.

I had been told that these guys work from 9-5. I was hoping to stretch the evening, since I hope to leave early next week when school starts. Nonetheless, the guys start coming by my desk every give minutes starting about 4:50 dropping hints that it's time to leave. I finally left about 5:30, just as they were getting ready to chase me out.

Subway home was relatively painless, as was the train. Just fucking long. I ended up getting home at about 8:00 PM, so I had two bowls of delicious soup and some spice cake a la mode (thanks [livejournal.com profile] jeep_squire). Pretty soon, it is time to take down the garbage and head to bed. I think I'll sleep in until 5:30 AM tomorrow.

So, various other tidbits fell out of the chronological story: there are no ethernet jacks for my laptop. I checked my email and found out that the other ISA guy that was supposed to show me around sent me an email 90 minutes after originally scheduled to tell me that he couldn't make it. Nice work guys. Oh, and I can't get a permanent badge yet, because the contract hasn't been signed.
Excessive heat forces CL&P takes some customers off-line in Stamford

(Stamford-AP, Aug. 2, 2006 2:42 PM) Two electrical circuits in Stamford failed today due to excessive heat. Connecticut Light and Power took some customers -- including the University of Connecticut campus in Stamford and Metro Center -- off-line. Mitch Gross, a spokesman for the utility, says CL&P acted to avoid a much larger problem. Customers were urged to immediately conserve energy.

I work in the Metro Center. They cut the building power at about 1:00 PM. Since then, we've been running off the Thomson generator on the roof. Unfortuantely, only the Thomson offices have power. When I leave, I will have to walk down the fire stairs; the HVAC has been off for three hours and the temperature in the hallway is 84 degrees. It is noticably warmer in here, perhaps 88-90. The sun is conveniently on this side of the building, too.

Supposedly, the trains are still running. I hope so, because I can't take too much more of this.

Clearly they were working on the plumbing. The toilets flush again, but clearly there is a lot of ick that needs to purge: the water looked like something out of a ship's bilge. Work is still boring, but at least the server is back up (it was down for a hour) so I can do what I need to do.

I found some new icons today, and I'm pretty amused by them.
So, there were two kinds of people in the New Haven parking structure this morning:
  • Me
  • Assholes
Really, this is just a sure sign that I'm cranky and need more rest. Still, dropping off passengers in the middle of the parking structure does seem pretty irritating. I think it's fair for me to call him an asshole, at least.

I've basically had a headache since Tuesday. Sometimes it is worse, sometimes it is better. I think it's mostly tension and weather. Hopefully that thunderstorm will roll through here and it will cool off and the pressure will normalize for a little while. Ah well. It wouldn't hurt if things would start cooling off, either.

I managed to work 4.5 hours extra last night, so I only need to pick up another 27.5 hours in seven business days to secure my bonus. However, two of those days are Thursdays (fighter practice), so really that works out to 5.5 extra hours per day. I'll be lucky if I can tack on 5.5 more hours before the end of this week. Sonofabitch. That leaves 22 hours for next week.

I should probably just let it go, but it's hard because it is right at that edge of possibility. It's not a reasonable goal, but it is an acheivable one. I wonder if it is worth it, though.

I plugged in the new freezer this morning, so it should be down to freezing by about noon. It's using an extension cord right now, but hopefully I will get a chance to run the new circuit for it sometime soon. Ideally, I would like to do it this weekend, but I'm not sure it's going to happen. I have all the bits, but it takes a while to tack all that wire to the joists. I also have to demystify some of the existing junk at the same time, and that's always fun and time-consuming.

There's a lot of other stuff I meant to include, but I forgot what it all was.

Maybe I'll get some work done.

Head is killing; not sure if it is weather or just neck muscles pulling on the braincase.

Work is as-expected after two full business days without email or phone. Boss is stuck in traffic; fine with me, probably his turn.

Training was okay, but days were long. Got lots of walking in. Learned some stuff.

Thanks to training I'm 16 hours behind for this week, going to be interesting trying to make that up before 7/1.
The installer for Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Evaluation Edition (.exe format) is 897MB. The "retail" versions come on two DVDs. It was officially released the week of November 7th last year.

On April 14th, service pack 1 was released. It is 253MB.

So... after four months, we've already replaced nearly 30% of the end-product. Nice work, guys. At this rate, it will be a completely different product at service pack 3.

Then again, DTS features weren't working for me at all in the Eval, so maybe they will work better after sp1. That's the goal, anyway.

I'm a little out of sorts today.

We got a bunch of stuff done around the house over the weekend. I removed the old curtain hardware and vinyl blinds in the front room and guest room, and we installed new draperies. We finally managed to deal with the last of the garbages bags; we bought many rubbermaid-style bins at Target to store that stuff. We also sorted out many boxes of books in the guest room. You can now actually see both the walls and floor of the guest room, except for the wall by the light switch, where 14 boxes of relatively unpopular books remain.

I also got some good work done on my bonus project, which I hope to have done by this weekend so that I can turn it in early enough that it can't get lost by the powers-that-be. It represents about 4.375% (50% of 50% of 50% of 35%) of my total yearly compensation, so there isn't really a lot of room for hosing that as far as I'm concerned. Luckily, they are basically a "submit and get credit" rather than a graded type of thing. I won't be surprised if they up the standards next year.

I'm reading The Microsoft Data Warehouse Toolkit, With SQL Server 2005 and the Microsoft Business Intelligence Toolset for work. I'm only about 82 pages in (out of about 750), but it suffers from a common theme of the Kimball Group publications: it starts at the very beginning. I have read about four of their books so far, and the repetition seems to be getting worse. What I would like to see from this book is "What is different when building data warehouses in SQL Server 2005?" but I first have to wade through how to run requirements meetings and the basics of dimensional modeling.


Managed to remove all of the old curtain rods and blinds in the living room and guest room and install new curtain rods. I also got the last of the clothes and fabric out of garbage bags in the guest room. Now I just have to finish moving the resulting storage bins and boxes downstairs. As usual, I found a few things that were suspected lost. Now I'm fidgety and feeling a bit of cabin fever from the rain, which is ironic because I'm also tired. Wacky.


I just spent all day redoing everything I did yesterday due to a requirements change. I finished about 45 minutes ago.

Just now, I get an email that they are making another "minor" change which invalidates everything I did today.

That's right! I get to do it all again tomorrow.



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