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.
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.
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).
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” 😀 ) 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:
- 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”
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 😛
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.
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