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Andy, where are you?

By Andy Warren,

A number of readers have noticed that I've been a lot less visible lately, both in writing articles and in answering posts. The reasons are a little off topic, so if you're just looking for SQL stuff, stop here! If not, you might find the rest of this mildly interesting.

I think most of you know that the three of us (Brian, Steve, and myself) do it all here in addition to having full time jobs. And I think most of you know that work schedules in the IT business are less than predictable. Combine the two, the result is just short of chaos.

When we started up a little over three years ago we installed the Snitz forums. Can't say we put a lot of thought into it, it was something Brian was familiar with and we needed something, so we just loaded it. As we grew we wrapped a lot of functionality around it - one example being that we create a discussion topic for every article we load. Over time the performance started to degrade, it had numerous security holes (it uses ALL dynamic sql, hurts me to even say it) and upgrading was hard because we had tweaked the code in a lot of places. Upgrading was going to be painful no matter what we did, so we decided to bite the bullet and move to asp.net. We looked at options and went with InstantForums. I spent every free hour I had in December porting the forums over, customizing it, tuning the performance. We got it done, but we're still chasing down a few bugs and a good dozen feature requests. I won't say it was the smoothest transition, but overall everyone was very supportive while we worked through the major issues.

In January things got a little busier. Tina Rourk, the CIO at my day job was offered an opportunity to become the CIO of our parent company. She had been with the company 15 years, so her leaving definitely left a gap to fill. After several months of searching, her replacement ended up being my long time boss Sean Burke. Somehow out of all of that I ended up taking the job Sean vacated, managing the development team. I had been wearing two hats as DBA and developer for a while, but it's still quite a change.

It's fun to have the opportunity to influence direction a little more and try new things, but it's tough letting go of being in the thick of writing code and solving problems. Really tough! Sometimes I just want to solve problems, not work on schedules. If you're thinking of moving to management, spend some time thinking about what is important to you before you move. Steve had been through this just a few months earlier, was nice to have someone to call when going back to writing code was looking very good!

Since January it's been a lot of work to get settled and try to get the team acclimated to how I work - my methods tend to be a little unconventional (more on that in a future article), plus master all the managerial trivia that goes with this type of job. We're growing too. A year ago there were three developers plus me, now there are seven developers, we're looking for one more senior developer and a world class DBA (yes, email me if you're interested). I'm lucky to have a team of people that are capable and willing to put up with me while I learn. The team includes my old friend Leon, Amy, Chris, Tom, Kevin, Joe, and Vivek.

Somewhere about the second week of January all the little free time I had disappeared. The luxury of taking a ten minute mid morning break to peruse posts disappeared too. What can you do? The day job pays the bills and more importantly, I like to win! That means putting in the time up front. Of course just having all of that going on wasn't enough, my wife was pregnant at the same time. On March 30 our first child Tabitha Grace was born. Now there just isn't enough time in the day!

I suspect it will be another month or two before things settle down. Steve is managing content for me for a while and will be trying to make up for my absence in the forums. I'll be using what time I can find to resolve the open code issues and work on getting some features added that we've wanted for a while - stuff I can work on without a real deadline. Depending on your interest, I also hope to share some of the problems and solutions as I learn more about managing a development team. Let me know what you think.

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