Scott's Column
Initial house plans, Database imports, and finally pictures of the land

July 1, 2000
By Scott Lewis

This month has been existing for us. We hired a designer at the end of April to draw our house. However, work has been anything but interesting.

The House

Our designer (whom I will link to when his own web site goes online) had a few really good ideas during our first meeting. We were very impressed with him. Our land slopes a fair amount, and he has some good ideas that may get the house to work well with it.

We rented a 10’ X 20’ storage unit to hold our stuff during the entire process. I am trying to juggle doing work on the land to clear as much as possible for the designer, and doing work on our existing house to prepare it to go on the market.

plot.jpg (26709 bytes)It’s finally picture time. Here is the plot of the land. Our property is the narrow lot on the left (if 100+ ft. is narrow). My sister-in-law and her husband own the land on the right. The rear of the property points toward Texas Hill Country (more in a moment).

house-location.jpg (38045 bytes)This picture is the site for the house. Notice the (almost) large oak tree. This is the best tree we have, so it is a keeper. We decided the house would be behind this tree. That tree is about 80-90’ back from the street.

picnic-table.jpg (56549 bytes)This next picture shows what will be the main play area of our combined backyards. The property line goes right through that picnic table. We expect our house to be to the left, and the back of the house should open to this area.

view.jpg (38674 bytes)This final picture (for now) was taken while I was standing on the picnic table looking toward the Texas Hill Country. We are going to build a two-story house with a balcony that should take advantage of this. I can’t wait to sit back with a glass of wine and some cheese and crackers on the balcony to enjoy this view.

This Old House

fence-before.jpg (38265 bytes)I replaced a section of fence and the gate to our backyard. I forgot to take a picture of the old fence before starting. You will have to settle for a picture of the fence and gate as they lean against the back of my garage. Notice the rotted wood at the bottom. All I had to do was lift it out of the ground. 

fence-after.jpg (22763 bytes)The finished gate and fence look great. If I were staying I would probably get the neighbors to chip in and replace the entire fence. Since I am moving I just wanted to make sure that it would not be a distraction to potential buyers.

I ended up taking three weekends to finish the work. I could have done it in two days (the post had to set overnight in concrete), but there are so many things to do.

Next is a good washing of the back of the house with a pressure washer.

Database Conversions

We are in the processes of converting some of our databases to take advantage of a new load process that will drastically reduce the time it takes for some of our loads. We have some databases that take over a day to load a single month of data. Testing has shown that we can expect most loads that use the new process, called flash loads, to take about one hour. That's a huge improvement.

However, we must first convert our databases. This process was painful. A consultant developed the process, and his contract ran out before he finished his work. This left us to try and understand it all from the incomplete documentation and code he left behind.

Part of the conversion process required exporting all the data in the database, restructuring the database, and importing the data back in. The export of the database I was working with took the better part of a day (as in almost 24 hours). The import was even more painful. It took a 9 days to import the database.

It got worse. When I looked at the database all the hierarchical information was lost. It turned out there was a problem with the export. So I had to export and import the database again. We moved all the files over to another server, and it only took 6 days to import the second time.

At least it was a one-time (or two time as the case was) operation. Now I have a database that used to take upwards of 40 hours to load, down to under 2 hours. That will make a big difference every month.


Expect the coming months to spend a lot of time telling the tales of building my house. My brother-in-law is the general contractor. I will be doing anything he is willing to teach me to help on both his house and my own. Hopefully it will put enough of a dent in the cost to make it all worthwhile.

Stay tuned. It promises to be a long fall/winter full of house fun.