Before becoming a chronicler of the banking industry, I worked as a database developer. I mostly worked with an obscure hierarchical database tool called Omnis, which had the claim to fame of being the first cross-platform (Mac/PC) database for the first GUI version of Windows. Subsequently, I left the programming game to get an MBA and then, to make a long story short, here I am.
Now that I'm also managing the Web sites for CMP Media's financial industry publications, I've found it necessary to bone up on my technical skills. Thus, I've been taking evening classes on how to develop web-based database systems using Oracle and ColdFusion.
So for the first time, I'm using a true relational database system instead of an outmoded and theoretically unsound hierarchical method of structuring data. I'm using SQL instead of procedural code, and with the help of Joe Celko's excellent book on SQL Programming Style, I now understand the difference between the two. What used to take me a really long time and a big bundle of code can now be done in a single statement.
Similarly, as an old-school thick-client developer, I have found the Web to be an exciting method of deploying applications relative to distributing code updates to each user. I know, this is stuff that was a big deal about 8 years ago. But it's one thing to read and write about it, and another to build something in a day that used to take a week.
Which leads me to the question of the day: Is your IT staff trapped in the ice? Take it from this cro-magnon developer, this is a fast-moving industry, and if you're not staying on top of the trends and constantly challenging yourself, you're going to be obsolete in no time.