Back in a previous life, I liked using Excel for data analysis. No, really. It's a great tool for small to moderate data sets. If you know what you're doing you can use it with large data sets, too, provided you have some level of control over the back end--the actual data store, or "data warehouse." But in this case, I don't, and in this case the volume is probably too large. One table in the data warehouse has over fifty million rows. Fifty million.
The data warehouse of the company isn't organized the way I would have organized it--although granted, my view on "the right way" is influenced by the reporting needs I'm running into, which might not have been predictable originally. (Although some of it probably could have, and indeed should have.) I'm told that canonical data warehouse theory all but stands canonical database theory on its head: it's good to denormalize data rather than normalize it, and--unlike the reporting server in that past life--you don't want to simply mirror the actual production database. That part I can understand; the denormalization I can't, and the near lack of indexing drives me nuts. And since I'm a read-only user of the reporting server, there's nothing I can do about that, save put in requests with the folks in control--who are already far more overloaded than I am. ("Indexes" on databases greatly speed up access to them, but you probably won't know fields in a database to index unless you're designing the reports--which means that to run an efficient ship, you either need someone in the database team dedicated to reporting tools, or you need to give someone in the reporting team levels of access which will scare the database administrator.)
As much as the thought will horrify some folks, I'd love it if the warehouse ran Microsoft SQL Server rather than MySQL. No, it's not quite as fast, but it's a lot more powerful, and darned if it doesn't work better with Microsoft products. See, my day is increasingly consisting of starting queries, letting them run and lock up whatever application I'm using until either they're finished or I can't or won't wait any longer for them. And, increasingly, it's "can't," not "won't": more requests for reports come in and they crash against the unyielding rocks of the unresponsive database server.
And you know, not being able to do your job kind of sucks. It can make you look incompetent and it certainly makes you feel incompetent.
Beyond that, the timing is getting to me. Not the commute, exactly--the commute's annoying but honestly less so than the commute to NetPoodles was. No, it's the hours of 10:00 to "sometime after 7:00." When being home by 8:00 is early, it's difficult to get into bed by midnight, let alone before it. Making it in bed by 1:00 doesn't seem late--but of course it means that I'm highly unlikely to be out of bed before 8:00. Unless I sequester myself in my room, I'm not likely to be doing much creative in the evening, yet it's very difficult to get up early enough to take advantage of morning energy.
Of course, I could try to shift my work hours--but the chances are leaving at the "early" hour of 6:00 every day would be looked at askance regardless of my arrival time. (At NetPoodles, I left at 5:30.) And of course, normal working hours would make the commute worse.
Well. It's still a great place to work, and I'd still be perfectly happy if my contract--which ends again in less than two weeks--gets renewed a second time. But I wish it was a lot closer to where I live.
I'll keep trying to find the time to attend to "personal" projects, including that elusive goal of finding freelance writing work. The idea of being my own boss is increasingly attractive, and it's not quite as scary as it used to be--perhaps because I'm doing 1099 work now, perhaps because I'm no longer nervous--well, as nervous--about having my income radically cut. (A cut to zero would be bad, obviously.)
Well. It's well past midnight now, so I'll take another small step in that apparently fruitless struggle to get up early enough to provide personal time: I'll go to bed.