Friday, April 27, 2007

Just Strap Some Bulwarks to the Tank

Remember that bug I was talking about last post? Well I figured out the problem; it was a bug in SQL Query Analyzer. Ha.

But the whole situation (and my resulting blitz of productivty afterwards) reminded me of a situation I read about. In World War II, after the Allies successfully landed in Normandy, they were having trouble making progress inland. The hedgerows in that section of France were particularly nasty. The infantry kept having to fight the German troops at every intersection, and the tanks were constricted to roads and couldn't really do anything.

The solution? Some brilliant commander realized that the Normandy beach was covered in discarded fortifications from Rommel's "Atlantic Wall". So he had the engineers attach some of those fortifications to the fronts of the tanks (with superglue I can only assume) and had the tanks rumble right through the hedgerows.

What's the comparison I'm trying to make here? Well, my issue with the previous was that the query analyzer was incorrectly scripting the existing stored procedure to the query window, and so I couldn't do anything. This is like the Allied troops getting bogged down in a hedgerow. Eventually I could've slugged through it, but it would've taken a long time.

Had I attached some fortifications to the front of my tank (i.e. used a different tool or outlook), I would've found the problem instantly (e.g. SQL Enterprise Manager didn't have the bug, and the system stored procedure "sp_helptext" returned the correct SQL as well). Instead, I spent something like 2 hours (then 15-20 minutes with Matt) slogging away at the problem.

I think my point is lost somewhere up there. What I wanted to say was that when you hit a problem that stops your work, try looking at it from a different angle. This will help you solve it (the obvious benefit), but more importantly, it will keep you interested in the problem and keep your attention from wavering (the benefit that I really needed).
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