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Hello

This is my first SCN blog. It took the pyramid scheme of the Blog It Forward Community Challenge and a friendly kick in the behind by the wonderful Jelena Perfiljeva and Vinod Kumar to get me there. It will be another link in the growing Blog It Forward (BIF) Chain. It can’t hurt to unveil a bit about myself since we are “seeing” each other online so much.

About

I was born and raised in Berlin (West), as we had to distinguish at the time, since the city was divided by the infamous Berlin Wall into an Eastern and Western part. My last name is short but hard to pronounce. I think it originated in Poland. Just call me Thomas.

Luckily that wall wasn’t meant to stay. In late 1989 I was one of many thousands of so-called “Mauerspechte“, who would quarry out and take home small pieces of it, after the courage of the East German people and a legendary misunderstanding lead to the opening of the border crossings and consequently the fall of the Berlin Wall and the German reunification. Working at a bank branch at the time, I also helped paying out “Begrüßungsgeld” to hundreds of East German visitors.

Like some other BIF bloggers, I was fascinated by the home computers appearing in the early 1980s. My first own computer was an Apple //e, which cost my entire savings account and then some (funded by dad). It was a good investment though, since I  learned several programming languages on that machine, which turned out to be useful later on.

SCNblog.jpg

Also during the early 1980s my other, major passion became apparent. Local radio stations like RIAS (Rundfunk im Amerikanischen Sektor), SFB (Sender Freies Berlin) and AFN Berlin (American Forces Network) played various musical styles, on and off the charts. I soon found out that I liked the “funky stuff” most. Over time, I collected thousands of vinyl records with Funk, Soul, Disco, Jazz, Hip Hop music, to name just a few genres. I also used to spin records at private parties, public venues and (underground) radio stations. In 1988 I was finally able to buy my first set of the classic Technics SL-1200 MK2 turntables. I later switched to CDs, and by now everything is stored on a NAS as digital files. Sign of the Times.

Other (mostly former) hobbies included football, skiing, tennis, squash, badminton, chess and poker. Occasionally smoking a good Cuban cigar combined with an Islay single malt whiskey can be called a passion as well, I guess.

These days, most of the time spent is claimed by work and family matters. My wife and I are proud of (and busy) raising two great kids, Antonia (7) and Frederik (2).

Career Center

After a two year bank clerk apprenticeship I switched to study Computer Science and Business Administration. I worked as an intern at an IT company in Berlin, when in 1993 they not only decided to implement SAP R/3 Release 1.1 but also asked me if I wanted to help migrate cryptic legacy data by way of some custom ABAP programs. Luckily I agreed and got involved.

After completing my degree in 1994 I continued to work on SAP topics for the company until 1996, when I had a chance to move to the U.S., have a sponsored visa (“skilled worker” πŸ˜€ ) and work as an SAP consultant on several projects in Austin, Philadelphia and Scottsdale. In 1998 I moved to Brussels, Belgium, for a huge, international IS-Oil project. Since 2002, I am a freelance developer and consultant with project assignments mostly in Germany, still doing ABAP programming when I get a chance inbetween all the workshops, discussions, phone calls, designs, documentation, reviews, testing, support, you name it.

SDN and SCN

I signed up in 2003 or 2004, when SDN had just started. Until 2007 I was mostly silent (“lurking”), looking for and finding a lot of information that would help me solve problems or keep up to date with new technologies. The ABAP forums (and others as well) were in a pretty desperate shape though, with interview questions, link farms and huge copy/pasted texts galore (sample 1, sample 2). I started to reply to a few “normal” questions, made a sport of pulling OPs legs when the question did not deserve any better, and met like-minded people in the “Coffee Corner” (Can we have some sort of a Coffee Corner back again, please?).

2008 saw an initiative to enhance forum quality through stricter rules and moderation (Moving to Strict Rules to improve Quality and  Control). I made frequent use of the “report abuse” button, and by early 2010 moderators were so unnerved that I was invited to become a moderator as well and handle the stuff myself.

TechEds 2008 and 2010 took place in Berlin, and I was happy to be able to get in and meet great people, you know who you are!

Some of my favourite SCN threads:

Sticky Thread: Funny threads?

DATA CLEANSING

polymorphism

Trivia

  • last time I visited Walldorf was for a training course in 1995, seriously
  • before R/3 release 3.0 it was possible to modify the logon screen and save the entered passwords in a Z-table; I got away with it after confessing to my team manager, right after I won a bet saying that I’d be able to guess her password
  • one of the regular users of an application that I wrote was a fine young lady; I added some code that would spawn a sequence of Yes/No popups with the last one asking if she’d go to a concert with me; she clicked “Yes”, however it should remain our only date
  • I signed the very first question that I asked on SCN with “helpful replies will surely be rewarded”

Interview questions

What was your dream job as a kid?

Astronaut, no suprise there. I avidly read books about the solar system, the Apollo program, the moon landings, the Space Shuttle. Of course, I felt that the chances were quite slim. A few years later I read a fascinating book about the 1978 ascent of Mount Everest without oxygen masks. I wanted to be a mountaineer, but growing up in lowland meant that the chances were once again small. My dad worked at a bank, sometimes he would take me along and I could see their huge vault and wads of 100 DEM notes, so I thought that’s cool as well.

Describe an instance when empathy in a project, development, collaboration, work experience, or community interaction turned a situation around.

According to my wife, I’m lacking the fundamental understanding of the concept behind “empathy”, so I cannot eloborate πŸ˜›

Had you not been into Software/SAP at all, where would you have been?

Astronaut or mountaineer. More likely, I would have maybe continued to work at the bank, probably focus on stock broking and end up rich or broke, or somewhere inbetween.

Fast Forward

I’d like to “blog it forward” to Matthew Billingham (a great moderator and OO guru, plus we share the same hairstyle, so we sometimes get mixed up by people), Clemens Li (long time, very knowledgeable and critical contributor in the ABAP spaces), Sandra Rossi (not sure if she is still active here, but I’ll try anyway) and Jürgen L (massive contributor and very active moderator).

.

I’m not very creative at this, so please pick your own questions from the pool or answer some you always wanted to be asked. Wait a minute, how about

What has been a very embarassing moment in your SAP career? If you can’t decide, list them all!


In diesem Sinne

Thomas

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30 Comments

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  1. Tammy Powlas

    So great to see you blog and thank you for being such an active SCN moderator. 

    It seems we learn a lot of a country’s history through Blog It Forward

    It seems there are single malt fans every where too. 

    I hope you will blog again

    Tammy

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  2. xMoshe Naveh (Old Acct)

    What a fascinating BIF blog and piece of history to start the morning with. thanks a lot, I never knew the story behind the fall of the Berlin wall.

    Thanks a lot for joining BIF and for being such a diligent SCN moderator.

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  3. Vinod Kumar

    Hi Thomas,

    Glad to read your blog (the one which I was eagerly waiting for πŸ™‚ ).  Thank you for the contribution & support in both ABAP development & SCN Moderators space.

    Regards, Vinod

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  4. Susan Keohan

    Wow!  A first-ever blog – and so informative and fun!  It’s good to see you here, and congrats on being part of the #BIF pyramid scheme!

    Cheers,
    Sue

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  5. Jelena Perfiljeva

    Thomas, glad to see you have accepted the challenge and joined the cult err… pyramid scheme!

    Enjoyed reading about your romantic side (who knew?!). Germany might have lost a banker (or an astronaut?) but gained a great SAP expert and a blogger, as it turns out. πŸ™‚

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    1. Thomas Zloch Post author

      Jelena, I used the now obsolete POPUP_TO_DECIDE for this approach. Romantic or rather nerdy? πŸ˜‰

      By the way, this might be the only use case where hard checks on SY-UNAME are mandatory!

      Thomas

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  6. Thomas Zloch Post author

    Thank you all, you are too kind!

    I’m glad you liked what I came up with, I also enjoy reading the other BIF blogs for reasons Tammy mentioned, learning new things about other countries, people’s origins and so on. Great idea by Moshe to kick this off.

    Frank, no plans yet for TechEd this year, but it’s rather unlikely that I will be able to go.

    Cheers

    Thomas

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  7. Gregory Misiorek

    Hi Thomas,

    sorry to have missed you at Berlin TechEd in 2010. i used to be a bank teller way back when and also enjoyed listening to “Western” radio stations in the 80’s, but from the other side of the wall. with “wind of change” in my ears i enjoyed walking across and checking out the other side in 1990.

    today, it seems like free-lancing (subcontracting, solo practice, etc.) is the big part of the “ecosystem”, too.

    PS Halluva an avatar

    cheers,

    greg

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      1. Gregory Misiorek

        Hi Thomas,

        i’m sorry if i created the impression of being from East Germany, but strangely as it sounds, i have fond memories of my summer vacations spent there when i was in high school. i grew up in a small town about 50 km from the Polish/German border, and i’m really proud and happy that it’s just like the one between Connecticut and Massachusetts, ie practically nonexistent.

        to make a blog-it forward entry i think i need some questions from you (or anyone else for that matter).

        thx, greg

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          1. Marilyn Pratt

            Very naughty of you Ms. Powlas.  I didn’t believe that you had a single mean bone in you and here you are baiting us both.  I’m waiting Mr. Misiorek and I am very patient (comes with age).

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        1. xMoshe Naveh (Old Acct)

          Hi Gregory!

          Thanks for your interest in joining the BIF family:)

          You have a lot of questions that you can choose from in the BIF challenge page. From time to time I update the with new questions possed by BIFers.

          Looking forward to reading BIF.

          Moshe

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  8. Tim Guest

    Hi – A very interesting post, thanks. I love Berlin and have been many times. I always stay near Warshauer Strasse and tend to hang out in the old East.

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    1. Thomas Zloch Post author

      Thank you Tim. Yes, the “old East” is where it’s happening now, at least in the central districts. Lots of shopping and nightlife and “scene”, however rents and prices are going up as well.

      I prefer living with my family in the “old Southwest”, however currently working near the well known Gendarmenmarkt I’m getting my share of action as well πŸ™‚

      Cheers

      Thomas

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  9. Jason Lax

    Thanks: This was a great read. 

    I remember watching the wall come down on TV from far away Montreal and it definitely left an impression on me: I can only imagine what it was like seeing it in person.

    So, do you miss listening to music on vinyl? I still find digital leaves a bit of the sound, especially on older classics.

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    1. Thomas Zloch Post author

      Thanks Jason. It was a huge party indeed, so many people on the streets and climbing up and down “the Wall”. I remember that many East Berliners told the border guards who now let everybody go: “Don’t worry, we’re coming back!”

      Soon after the economic complexities of the reunification became apparent, but that’s another story πŸ˜‰

      Actually I’m not missing the vinyl, I had so many in the end that it was just too much to handle, and when moving to the US in 1996 I decided to start selling them. There is still a few remaining, but the gems are long gone.

      I agree from an acoustic standpoint there is something special to the analog sound, but for me the practical aspects are more important now. High quality MP3s (>= 192 kbps) sound OK, as far as I am concerned.

      Thomas

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  10. Thomas Zloch Post author

    Are you serious? If yes, then thanks a lot but there are so many others that would deserve such recognition, and more.

    I don’t always have time (or knowledge) to resolve issues, as a lot of the time is spent looking after mostly the discussions spaces, ABAP Development in this case.

    Having the overall picture in mind sometimes leads to strict decisions regarding single posts or people. That’s why I asked if you are serious, because I have seen similar laudation by such folks who actually meant it in a sarcastic way. However I don’t remember any mutual discomfort in the past. πŸ™‚

    Thomas

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  11. Marilyn Pratt

    Dear Thomas,

    There is some geneology at play here as I blogged it forward to Jelena Perfiljeva who blogged it forward to you.  So you may credit me or blame me as you wish.  Like Jelena’s post, yours “knocks my socks off” for its interesting content.  How come the best forum participants/moderators/influencers are also darn good bloggers who try their hardest to avoid blogging?  Can you tell me the answer to that question please?  Your writing is amazing, your stories inspiring and entertaining.  Your description of your activiites during the time of the wall….sobering and important. 

    And your first computer story is a good model of parental guidance.  In comparison I guess I was late to the Apple world with my first 1984(?) Mac which I admit my dad moved on to me after he played with it for a while.  I thought it wasn’t a computer for “real programmers” LOL.  But I was grateful to get such a valuable toy.  (he by the way sold them to libraries as part of his work with audio/visual equipment so his own Mac was a freebie).

    About the Polymorphism thread (re-read and trip to memory lane) 

    polymorphism

    .  You guys (*note political incorrectness with that noun) are soooo mean.  But I couldn’t help laughing out loud again.  Very unprofessional of me.  Poor OP was like a nosebleed in a shark tank with you all circling around and taking huge killing bites.

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    1. Thomas Zloch Post author

      Marilyn, thank you for the kind words!

      I am actually quite lazy when it comes to writing texts, always have been. In school I would return four pages during an exam, and the girl sitting next to me would return twelve. Well, my handwriting was much smaller, and I think I was able to condense the relevant information more efficiently πŸ˜‰ .

      Writing concepts or documentation in SAP projects is always the toughest part for me, but it must be done.

      I’m OK though with the many but rather short snippets I’m writing in the discussion spaces.

      I have a few ideas for blogs and some more for technical documents, but I cannot promise when I will have the time or patience to get around writing them. I do admire those who routinely output high-quality content in the form of blogs or documents.

      I think we bought the Apple //e also in early 1984. The first Mac came out shortly after, but (at least in Germany) it would have been even more expensive, if I remember correctly. There was also the compact //c which looked pretty cool, but way beyond my remaining budget.

      I remember the polymorphism thread because the replies where so funny, and because I got into a little row with a valuable member that was resolved amicably soon after, and we became good (virtual) friends. I think the initial question was edited sometimes afterwards, maybe by “The Knight who says Nii” ? (insider pun)

      I would not call it unprofessional to make this sort of fun occasionally, maybe “politically incorrect”. However, being correct all the time can be quite boring. Since being a moderator I decided to cut it down somewhat (as sad as it is…).

      See, you made me write an unusually long post here.

      Thomas

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        1. David Branan

          While I am totally familiar with the tag, I can’t take the blame for the removal referenced. I didn’t delete things much – even in the case of point gamers.

          BR

          David

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          1. Thomas Zloch Post author

            No no, somebody else…we all know and respect that person…he/she loves to hate the ponits system…enough said πŸ˜‰

            Thomas

            P.S. good to see you drop by!

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  12. Suseelan Hari

    Hi Thomas,

    Good Day!

    Once again, I am happy to see you in BIF. I really appreciate all your efforts. Very nice blog and fantastic Pics. Keep up the good Work! You rock as usual! I was very much interested to read your first blog. You think different and its very interesting. Once again thank you so much for your advise.

    Your Help Counts!

    Have a fantabulous day! πŸ™‚

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  13. Bruno Esperança

    Hahaha… that second to last trivia… what a classic!

    I wonder how you still kept your job… no one noticed you transport request named “Removal of the concert invitation”? Or did you just hide it in some other TR? πŸ˜€

    Cheers,

    Bruno

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    1. Thomas Zloch Post author

      It was hidden inside the actual application and transports, but I think I would have gotten away with it at the time, as I was still an intern or student then.

      As an external contractor I’d better not try this again, I’m happily married anyway πŸ˜‰

      I see you discovered the polymorphism thread, have fun.

      Thomas

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      1. Bruno Esperança

        When I read stuff like that all I can think of is that classic Rambo III quote:

        Afghan contact: – “God must love crazy people.”

        Rambo: – “Why’s that?”

        Afghan contact: – “He makes so many of them!!”

        πŸ˜‰

        Cheers!

        Bruno

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