Programmer pilot fish gets an assignment to "see what you can do" to improve an ancient Visual Basic program that's used by hundreds of users at his company.

"It's a VB6 application written in the 1990s by an engineer who wrote it armed with an 'Introduction to VB' book and then left," says fish.

"Last year the application was on well over 500 workstations, and we were getting complaints about how slow the application was and how difficult it was to upgrade."

But fish is instructed to not rewrite the application -- just see if he can clean up the original source code somehow.

He tracks down the source code and, after researching the mess, he moves more than 100 SQL statements to a stored procedure on the database server. That speeds things up quite a bit.

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