Thursday, February 24, 2005

.Net Deployment

I've been reviewing solutions for full life cycle deplyment and updates for .Net applications. Stay tuned for the results of that research!!

Friday, February 18, 2005

Well, had the big conference call with the clients today, all went really well!! I can't remember a previous contract where I was so much 'in focus'. Normally, us contract folks do the work and a full time employee (FTE) does the actual presentations and so on. This is a nice change of pace.

It's also been a fun and rewarding gig so far. All of this 'string' work has led me to build a .Net component to house all of the various functions and tools. I may even do some work to see what interest I can stir up commercially. It passed the close scrutiny of one of the largest trade goups in the country today, and looks like I'll be on tap for the COBOL conversion process as well.

I find myself becoming less and less interested in 'small' company projects. Unfortunate really because those are often the very companies that can really benefit the most from the proper application of technology. Unfortunately, I'm finding that they don't have the patience, or willingness to devote the resources required to bring it to fruition.

I enjoy the dramatic impact a new application can have on workflow and the cost model in a smaller company. It's very rewarding to see it happen after the application is deployed. The reality however, is that for every one of them that actually gets finished, the way it was designed, there are six or more that don't.

A lot of reasons, but, the one I see as being the single largest 'failure point' is the company management not believing the total cost estimate, or, over-estimating their ability to hold costs down by 'helping'. It may be an 'business owner' thing, so used to 'making it happen' they can't envision an 'outsider' really understands how simple it all is to do.

This is my 6th large company project, and like all the others, it's not only on track, but under budget. I attribute that to excellent pre-planning, fixed goals and allowances for unexpected diversions (like this Customer file project) in the overall plan.

I'd be very happy continuing to work and make a positive contribution at this client for a long time to come!

Friday, February 04, 2005

Stringing things along

Well it's hard to believe it's February 4th already, this week just flew by.

I presented my functions and processes to the team this week, to a very excited reception. I short we'll be appying several methods to the data stream, returning the 'Percentage of Likeness' and establishing thresholds for machine acceptance and placing unaccepted records into a queue for manual review.

This has been an intersting journey into 'fuzzy logic' and fairly complex mathematical theory. Taking the available research material and using a database language to implement it, all the while keeping in mind that the final product will most likely be deployed in COBOL!

Not exactly the most straightforward of tasks. Developing this in C/C++/VB or even Java would have been much simpler!

All in all though it's about the most fun I've had programming in ten years! A lot of mental gymnastics, but the end result has been quite satisfying.

We got notice today that one of the large industry files we maintain had an error in the annual publication. Not a good thing at all. Turned out that the original developer had buried an incorrect date "bracket" in the SQL for the view that feeds the report.

Unfortunately that section of code was not part of my original review as it hadn't been changed since the 1st quarter of 2004. The up-side was that I found the problem, proved that it was the root problem and not a larger systemic issue. We'll modify the February supplement to reflect the missing items in December and all will be in sync again.

As always that kind of step backward that delays any and all projects, I expect it will be another long weekend, but it is the life I love.