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Stephanie Rabbani on PHP, Db2, Music and More

Stephanie Rabbani, one of IBM's Fresh Faces, discusses Java, PHP, databases and traveling.

Paul Tuohy: Hi everybody and welcome to another iTalk with Tuohy. Delighted to be joined by someone who actually just a week or just over a week ago, I finally got to meet in person but didn't get a chance to interview. So I'd like to say hello to another of IBM's Fresh Faces, Stephanie Rabbani. Hello Stephanie.

Stephanie Rabbani: Hi Paul.

Paul: So Stephanie, sorry just to be clear: You're in Victoria in Canada, correct?

Stephanie: That's correct. I'm in Western Canada.

Paul: Okay so you're a good long distance away from me so hopefully you won't catch my cold.

Stephanie: Yeah.

Paul: To those listening, I do apologize for how nasally I'm sounding at the moment, but it can't be helped. So Stephanie, you are―anybody who wants to see who you are just has to go to the IBM website. So maybe let's just start off. Do you want to tell us a little bit about how you got into the world the IBM i?

Stephanie: Sure. Yes. So I was lucky right out of university to be hired by BCD back in 2002. I had never heard about the IBM i before, but the company and the job seemed really interesting. So I got hired right into tech support in BCD, doing tech support for their products on the IBM i. So it really helped me learn the system, the ins and the outs, and I really got to get used to it and I really grew to love it.

Paul: Okay so what would you have studied back in college, Stephanie?

Stephanie: In university I studied Java on Solaris machines, you know other languages as you do in the university, C, Perl and stuff. But it was primar―Java was you know object oriented Java was my main first language in university. So the world of the i and RPG was brand new to me.

Paul: Okay. So since then―I mean 2002―so you have a career behind you at this stage. So do you want to tell us a little bit about that? So what is it you do now?

Stephanie: Now I work for Alan Seiden Group doing PHP, PHP and various other things as a consultant on the IBM i architecture and development―web application development and i primarily, also a lot of trouble shooting. That is kind of my main job, mainly what I do these days on the IBM i or in general

Paul: Okay so would you see yourself as being a database person, an RPG person, a PHP person, a troubleshooter, a mixture of all the above?

Stephanie: Correct. Yes, as a consultant you're brought in for projects, and it can be every―you can get your hands into everything. Sometimes customer―clients need the direction on where to go in terms of their database. I do love Db2 and I love database modernization as well, so I love it when I can dabble in that. Then I've had my hands in RPG all over these last 16 years, so I've done some RPG back when it was fixed format but I love the new free format as well. You know if the client needs some business logic changes or needs some of the RPG modernized a bit, I can get my hands in that. But yeah, primarily for the purpose of bringing their data―data to the web is what I work on.

Paul: Just as a matter of interest, Stephanie: Do you still do any Java?

Stephanie: You know as a consultant you will see everything, so I have worked on Java in the last, I'd say five years. I've probably done two or three different―we've had two or three people―clients who've had Java questions or issues on the i that I have worked on. So I have, not―I mean not a lot―but I have definitely also worked on Java in the last few years. Yeah.

Paul: Okay. I was just wondering if it was now a thing completely of the past like you left in college but-

Stephanie: I know, yes. Thankfully not, because I do like the language and I still have some skill there, so luckily I've been able to tap into it a little bit. Yeah, it's fun.

Paul: So have you looked at any of the sort of newer languages and that, like on the system like Node, like Node.js or Ruby on Rails or Python, any of those?

Stephanie: Yes, so like I do enjoy―really enjoy learning. So I have done a little bit of Node. I took some just on personal time some Node training courses and on our cloud development box I got Node running, got Node up and running with kind of just the most basic chat program with the tutorials. I am learning Python a little bit more. Seiden Group has been working on that. The Python, the new Python toolkit for the IBM i to connect your applications to the i, the i database, the Python toolkit on calling programs, service programs, etc., are running SQL through Python so I've actually―I am learning Python in a bigger way which has―it's been really fun. I've seen Ruby but I haven't had a chance to work with Ruby yet, but yes I do―it is exciting that the i has all these new languages that are―that you can run on the i so I do like to learn these new things and I have been.

Paul: So when you mentioned database there, Stephanie―so what would be let's say two of your favorite database things?

Stephanie: Oh, favorite database things? Gosh. I was just in―I was just in Scott Forstie's Db2 jam session at the RPG DB2 Summit, and there were some really interesting things in there. I'm trying to remember what they were, but I do love, you know, the new DDL tables, the ability to have the long field names now that we have in the indexes. The reliability of the Db2 database is kind of cornerstone. Gosh, my favorite things. You know, ohhh. Yeah.

Paul: It's hard to pick one isn't it? [Laughs]

Stephanie: Yes, it is. It's the kind of the cornerstone in my opinion of the system so―and I work with it every day―so it's like well what's my favorite thing? It's a hard question. Yeah.

Paul: Yeah, I know. I smoked that one at you from outfield. I do apologize.

Stephanie: No problem.

Paul: So Stephanie, do you end up traveling a lot then?

Stephanie: I do and the last couple of years, kind of since I've started with Seiden Group―I think you know I'm starting to get status on an airliner, too so that means I have been traveling. Previously I kind of―I only attended the one conference, ZendCon, every year but now I like to―I definitely like to attend COMMON every year, lots of great people to meet there. And I attended my first RPG Db2 Summit a week ago, which was an excellent conference, and my first LBMCPA a couple of weeks ago, which also a really great conference. So I'm attending a few more conferences and I'm privileged to go on site with some really great customers, so I do travel quite a bit. I also in my personal―personally I do really, really like to travel, so yes. That would a yes.

Paul: Okay has all of that been in sort of Canada and the U.S. or further afield?

Stephanie: Mostly Canada and the U.S. I was in Europe in January. I was in England, Denmark, and Sweden in January, so that was lucky. I think I will go to the South Pacific in September, so pretty lucky. Yup.

Paul: Very nice. Very nice. So since you mentioned the RPG & DB2 Summit, Stephanie, one of the other things of course was that you debuted on stage at the RPG & DB2 Summit―

Stephanie: Yes.

Paul: As part of the RPG V―

Stephanie: Right.

Paul: And as a―how was it that Ted put it? On the last leg of your world tour―

Stephanie: That was also the first leg.

Paul: That was also the first leg of your world tour. [Laughs]

Stephanie: That's right. That's right.

Paul: So you're as musician as well, Stephanie. Now I know down in Dallas you were―you were playing the ukulele.

Stephanie: Correct.

Paul: But how many instruments do you play?

Stephanie: I have learned seven instruments over the years. My latest that I'm learning now is the violin but yes, I've learned kind of―learned how to play a basic way seven instruments so yeah, I do enjoy―just like I enjoy learning new programming languages I enjoy learning new instruments as well, so that's a side hobby of mine.

Paul: Okay. I'm sorry. Are they all string instruments that you go for?

Stephanie: No. I do play the flute and the baritone horn, so those are kind of out of the string, but I do play―and the piano―but I do play the guitar, bass guitar, ukulele and violin as well.

Paul: Okay, so do you just do this for pleasure or do you you know play with a group or that? Apart from the RPG V.

Stephanie: Right. No, the RPG V is my first, my first group. I play it―I do play it for pleasure with my friends, campfires, campfire type situations. Yeah, just for pure pleasure.

Paul: Cool. Cool. Okay so, Stephanie, I think that is a good, happy note to leave it on. I'll just leave everybody mulling over the fact that there is yet somebody else who work in development that plays more than one musical instrument. [Laughs]

Stephanie: That's great. Yes.

Paul: With that so Stephanie, continued success and thank you for taking the time to talk with us.

Stephanie: My pleasure. Thanks for the call, Paul.

Paul: Okay everybody. That's it for this iTalk. Tune in again soon for the next one. Bye for now.


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