Changepoint part 1
Real professionals worked at Changepoint. I learned a lot here, although I thought I had nothing more to add to my knowledge of SQL Server. I worked as the head of the DBA team.
Their main product was Changepoint, an application used to control the business of various. Among the important customers were Dell, major financial companies (Mastercard, Sun Life), and even Microsoft was a Changepoint customer.
I took it upon myself to check the code developers wrote in Transact SQL (the database language) and modify them to obtain increased performance. Another role was to check what the other DBAs were doing. The most prestigious part was technical support level 4, which was rarely reached; probably in the five and a half years I worked there, I was needed 7 or 8 times. Level 1 was the help desk who answered the phone, level 2 was the technical support team, level 3 was a few developers who knew the app inside out, and I was level 4, mostly because when the problems were severe, they were always in databases - and I also had experience as a developer.
In those few interventions of mine (when we were connecting to a server at the client), the company’s vice president was also participating. He was careful that I didn’t say anything that would compromise the company (he would have kicked me under the table - it never happened). He wanted to be present mainly because no troubleshooting level was higher than 4. So he had to know that it was no longer a quick technical solution, only a political one (I’m talking about company policy), and that involved talking to executives at the client about how to modify the application in that segment to satisfy the client. Well, that never happened, I managed to solve them all.
I also attended a few meetings where the company wanted to sign contracts with certain clients, and those projects were mainly database projects.
I remember a project with Dell where a Changepoint team traveled to the USA to the Dell headquarters to discuss their requirements and proposed solutions. The Dell software team were Brazilians from a small town south of Brazil who also came to the USA for the meeting.
The meeting seemed somewhat at a standstill. Two Brazilians exchanged some words in Portuguese (which I didn’t understand), but I nodded, smiling as I understood. They looked at me. I know some words in Spanish (even a few in Portuguese) as I have traveled a lot in South America and have tried to learn some phrases and words. Sometimes, I exchange learned phrases with my wife here and there to have fun and remember what we’ve been through. “Tudo bem” (everything’s all right in Portuguese) is one of them. So “Tudo bem” came out of my mouth involuntarily, and then I said in Spanish, “I understand a little Brazilian and Spanish”.
They asked me how I knew Portuguese and Spanish, which was greatly exaggerated, and I continued in English. I told them that I traveled to South America, and even a year ago, I was in the Amazon jungle in Manaus, Brazil. They really liked to hear their country being talked about nicely (who doesn’t?). They asked me how I learned Spanish. I told them the truth: I had a Mexican colleague who, finding out that I was interested in Spanish, only spoke to me in Spanish when we saw each other occasionally in the company but insisted on teaching me, especially tricky (ugly?) sentences. The Brazilians wanted me to tell them a stupid thing I learned from the Mexican.
I said, "Me gustan las chicas con mucha carne y grandes tetas." I won’t translate because it’s rude to the ladies, but it was 100% true, the Mexican told me that a few times, I think he had an obsession.
All the Brazilians burst into laughter. The atmosphere immediately relaxed.
I don’t know if that helped us sign the contract (several million dollars), but it helped me greatly when the project started. Only I worked on the project on behalf of Changepoint, and for Dell it was my casual friends, the Brazilians. I must mention that those Brazilians were good professionals, I was impressed. The project was brilliantly done. It was a project to transactionally replicate the Changepoint database, with the goal of automatically switching Dell applications to the replica if the primary database went down.
In the next post I will describe the embarrassing way I left Changepoint.
Where it all started: