Sunday, April 11, 2010

Challenging myself and others

I am a compulsive workaholic. That is the only explanation for my inability to stop coming up with new ideas and trying new things. My latest "little project" is the PL/SQL Challenge, a daily PL/SQL quiz that culminates quarterly in a championship playoff. Top prize: $1000 USD. Not a bad prize, simply for knowing PL/SQL, right?

Ah, so easy to come up with ideas, so challenging to deliver them as functional products or websites.

First, I had to design a database to hold all my content and serve it up to consumers. Then I needed to create the content for the quiz: hundreds (and hopefully eventually thousands) of questions and answers (and have an application built to allow me to do that). My friend, Joel Finkel, was instrumental in enabling this earliest phase of the PL/SQL Challenge.

Next, more or less, I needed to have the public site built in which people could take the quizzes, see their rankings, and so on. Chris Shaw of Shaw Marketing came up with the logo and overall web design. From there, my fine friends at Apex Evangelists (Sumneva), most especially John Scott and Paul Broughton, committed many, many hours of their lives to building, tweaking and then deploying the website. Gentlemen, I am forever in your debt.

Recognizing the limitations of my incredibly narrow specialization in PL/SQL (and thus not even having a solid grasp of the total Oracle technology stack), I also decided to partner on this whole initiative with Finn Ellebaek Nielsen. Finn is an outstanding Oracle generalist, who has also decided to focus on and promote automated testing solutions for PL/SQL and Oracle. We'd been working together on Quest Code Tester for awhile, and he was a natural choice to work with me on the PL/SQL Challenge.

And this is how I have managed to drag several more human beings into the endless, mad and ever-expanding churn of activity that defines my professional life. Sorry about that, Finn and Apex Evangelists! I hope there are not major regrets (yet).

And now what I need are players, lots of players. During the first two days of the Challenge, we had over 400 people visit and answer the quiz each day. That's a fine start, but just a start.

If you are a PL/SQL developer or work with PL/SQL in any way, you owe it to yourself (and me, that's right. You owe me - it's the least you can do after I sacrificed so much of my life to help PL/SQL developers. Aw, just kidding. I didn't sacrifice. I benefited!) to visit and give it a try.

Win prizes, see your name "up in lights" on the website demonstrating your proficiency in PL/SQL. Show same to your manager. Get a promotion and a raise. Succeed professionally beyond your wildest dreams - all by playing the PL/SQL Challenge.

Well, maybe not. But it's certainly a possibility.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Prize or not - Thanks for building the website and thanks to all those that helped you. Being a programmer/analyst in Oracle solutions I find this new site a great way to keep my skills up and challenge myself on questions that I may not know. I especially like questions that I dont have answers to right away because then off I go to check my book marks and read a little more about PL/SQL and how things work and behave. Thanks again and appreciate the efforts you and your team put into the website.