[thechat] What do you *really* do?

Luther, Ron Ron.Luther at COMPAQ.com
Tue Apr 10 08:46:00 CDT 2001

Hmmmmm ... I usually generate the "Bambi in the headlights" look when I try
to explain what it is I do ... I've almost always had those 'hard to
explain' jobs like "Internal Operations Research Consultant" ... kind of a
permanent 'special projects' guy.  [I told the President at the last company
I worked for that I was his "data alchemist"... I still think that's a cool
(and reasonably accurate) title.]

At work: I've pretty much always done custom data analysis and reporting.
I've actually done the "time and motion" studies sitting with a stop watch,
taking notes while people work.  [Although I've never actually worked in IM
... I've done pretty much all my own coding --- it's just been easier to
write the code to compute the variance of a stratified ratio estimate than
to try to write the specs to get someone else to code it - especially if you
need it fast and it's a "one time use" application!]  Almost 2 years ago, I
finally kind of "woke up" and had a bit of an epiphany about the incredible
value you could provide to a company by using an Intranet for information
distribution and reporting. A friend of mine gave me a link to Webmonkey and
I started buying 'tech books' and learning everything as fast as I could
.... cuz I knew what I wanted to do.

I've been here at Compaq for almost 6 months now.  I'm on the "business"
side of the house. I'm responsible for maintaining and developing the
reports generated off our 'world wide' corporate data warehouse ... as
opposed to all of the other data warehouses we have around here.  I support
supply chain activities (MRP, Inventory Analysis, Sales Order Analysis,
ect.)  Mostly by working in a 3rd party tool called "Brio" - which is a
pretty fair Intranet "enterprise" reporting tool.  Sometimes it means
writing specs for the IM guys to modify the code on the ASP reports. I'm not
allowed to code ASP here - but I am allowed to give "hints" on how to make
things work!  [It's a little odd - I'm not allowed to "code" - but I've
written two very useful Perl programs during "emergencies" and I've spent
half a day explaining 90 pages of Perl someone else wrote to our dba's who
have to maintain the code.  {and NO - I am not a 'Perl wizard' -- I've
barely finished reading the Gecko book!}]

I also spend a lot of time as an "interpreter".  I've done a lot of
different kinds of "purchase order analysis" for example - so if a user
group is asking a PO report - I can 'guide' IM and explain what the user is
really looking to do - what's important - what's not.  I can also explain in
"user-ese" what the technical issues are that IM is stumbling with. Kind of
an odd role I guess .... but I DO get to say "bullsh*t" to BOTH sides!  ;-)

Sometime I get dragged into working on "Data Quality" issues.  Yuck!  That's
a 'no-win' situation and I really don't enjoy those.

Probably doesn't sound very impressive - but I try to have as much fun as I
can anyway!

Pet Peeve: [Besides 'admin' tasks.]  Users who ask for what they think you
can do --- and not what they really want!

At home:  Read (gotta bunch of 1st and early edition illustrated books - OZ,
Dr. Doolittle, Peter Pan, etc. when I'm not reading tech junk).  Play WITH
my guitars - note - this is very different than actually playing guitar.  As
a musician I totally suck - but I'm not as anal about that as I used to be -
so I can relax while playing with my guitars now and enjoy making noise!
Going out with my sweetie - antiquing (I used to go to an awful lot of
auctions and estate sale things - so I have a lot of wierd junk.), dancing,
biking, rollerblading, rock climbing, traveling, grilling up some steaks,
kicking back with some wine in the hot tub, whatever - she's fun!

I spent 5 years as a "docent" - an educational volunteer at the Cleveland
Zoo - taking animals out to schools, talking about animals, feeding animals,
junk like that - it was fun - got to "play" with some pretty cool animals!
[Want an "ego rush"?  Push your way through a very large crowd with an owl
perched on your (gloved) hand! Serious high!]  I wish I had time to do that
here in Houston.

I spent a couple years as a volunteer for the Soapbox Derby - and have a
nice picture of myself getting ready to race down "The Hill".

I'll close with a quote from a paper my son once wrote for school ... one of
those "tell us about your family" projects:  "My dad is weird - but cool!"

Well ... that's me!  ;-)


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