Wow, you guys are fantastic and exactly what I needed.
My use of the term Hacker isn’t in the “Maker/hacker” sense – I forgot they’ve hijacked the term. (my continual side interest in the evolution of language over time and how it changes should’ve picked that up )
By hacker, I’m talking about situations where you have practically NO time to work with, people are breathing down your neck, they expect perfection but don’t give you a clear idea what they want and expect you to predict it, the result has to appear flawless to their eyes (even though YOU know the places where it might fail – and you can tell them SOME potential areas to watch out for, but you can’t tell them EVERYTHING or they will misinterpret that as incompetence and lose their trust in your abilities).
The solution has to last forever. It must make sense. It must anticipate anything that might happen and it must always work and never break down. It should be simple enough that a child could use it.
Automating systems seems to be where my forte has always been; mostly with data. Give me ridiculously large amounts of data from crappy sources – numbers or words – didn’t matter – and I’ll figure out the rules; how to automate the cleanup, combine it, process it, and spit it back out however you like. My swiss army knife is Excel + VBA but I’ll use whatever tools are necessary to accomplish things precisely, without a single loss of data or missed decimal point. (I get anal about missing/lost information) Databases are always too structured for me and I always needed to do some kind of math or charts or have some interaction.
I never had to *understand* the business metrics needed; just how to express them in the way Excel likes. I’ve taken the same approach when working on web sites or word processing or whatever was needed from me – even fixing appliances or trying to sort out someone’s personal problems. The details matter and can’t be averaged out.
I suppose tinkerer would work as a description; without the training and experience that you guys have in your fields, I know I couldn’t even close to using the idea of “my people” and Engineers.
I’ve always been an outsider to most groups; understanding ‘just enough’ to get a grasp of the overall mindset but never enough to join.
I tend to create groups; I come up with an idea, gather as many people as I can around it who are of similar but different mindsets (online), and do a massive brainstorming; basically they do a lot of the thinking for me and the more input I get, the better I can help them with their issues while also clarifying my own. Sort of a double-loop system, where prejudices are continually reevaluated based upon current input and modified, spit back out, brought back in, modified again, until some clarity can come forth and there’s some shared understanding with prejudices mostly removed.
I apologize for my oversimplifications of Engineering; I’ve been told that I am “transparently emotionally enthusiastic” online (not so irl) and I have a bad habit of not recognizing when I’m playing on the wrong playground.
But I still believe that this is the closest thing to the ‘right playground’. I jumped in feet first into unknown waters and you have been quite responsive to me and I greatly appreciate it.
Thanks for cutting “the new guy” some slack. I’m used to a more aggressive reception with online forums where people have been there a long time and you guys are all quite welcoming.