Dec. 1st, 2010

lederhosen: (Default)
Spent a large chunk of today on the phone to one of our SAS support guys discussing a problem I've been having with one of my programs*. Ended up sending him the program + logs so he could look through it for himself, and he actually called it a "work of art". Go me!

He might have been thinking Picasso, or possibly Escher's "Ascending And Descending" given how long the wretched thing takes to run, but I shall take it as a compliment.

I know I'm not a real programmer, but in the course of developing some SAS training courses I've learned a little bit along the way... also, developed a sense of "if I am telling newbies how to write programs I probably ought to take some of my own advice" type guilt, which is a powerful motivator to plan, document, and validate.

The stupid thing is that I'm pretty sure this program was working two weeks ago; the thing that's been giving me all this grief is the validation step that confirms that it works in practice as well as in theory. Apparently non-optimisable SQL joins are a bad thing when the tables involved each have about a million entries... but I have wrestled it down to the point where it only takes about 10 hours to run and about a gig of memory!**

*I am about 95% sure the cause of the problem is "some other process, probably their automated backups, decided to put a lock on one of my files at the same time my program needed to write to it", but they wanted to explore other options.
**Which would be why I end up running it at night, at the same time the automated backups happen...

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