T-SQL Tuesday: The Contributing Factor

Ewald Cress writes:

Find a person or several people to pick on, and tell us a shareable story or two about how they have made a positive contribution in your life.

I’ve known Ewald for 27 years, though we only met two years ago. It’s wonderful that he is hosting this T-SQL Tuesday.

My first job was working at an ISP help desk, which lasted a surprisingly long five months. After that I found a job at a consulting firm which worked with PeopleSoft (before the Oracle buyout).

I was exposed to a number of database platforms, but I didn’t get stuck in there like I should have. I still thank Stuart and Ronnie for teaching me the value of offsite backups, though!

This post, however, is about my third job, and the man who made a dramatic impact on my life as a data professional. My shoutout for this T-SQL Tuesday is to a very dear friend of mine, Ian van Schalkwyk, who died several years ago.

Ian convinced me to work with him at the Learning Channel, and together we ran the back-end for a website that for a time was the single best educational resource in South Africa for high school learners, learn.co.za.

Along with the website, our New Media studio moved into other markets, where I designed my first SQL Server database and wrote my first stored procedure, for a registration system that supported the original launch of the Sunday Times project known as “It’s My Business”.

After looking back at that code recently, I am surprised nothing broke. There were race conditions. There were scope problems. There were table variables!

We had tens of thousands of registrations and used the database to send mail to each registered user. That SQL Server 2000 database didn’t go down once.

I owe so much to Ian, for a number of reasons, and I don’t want to forget his talent and encouragement while I stepped out of my comfort zone into this new world of relational databases.

He taught me everything he knew about SQL Server and classic ASP. Later, he taught me about how to be classy even in the face of death.

Thank you, Ian. Thank you, Ewald.

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