The Slow Uphill Climb

Popeyee was a fine character.  Just going about his business.  Mean old Brutus wouldn't have any of that.  That gorgeous Olive Oil with baby.  And didn't Wimpy think to get a job, pay for his own burgers.  Come on man, pull your own weight.

They say Gilligan's Island had undertone.  Professor represented white collar, Skipper blue collar, the Howell's were upper class, movie star, mid-west gal, and Gilligan was the commie red that messed up everyone's plans, every single time.  They didn't get paid much, for one of the best television shows of all time.  Gilligan wasn't a bad role model.  Just play stupid.

Sure had some good shows back then.  Sat 3 feet in front of the TV, didn't have remote, lucky to have color, played Pong, before Atari, Pin Ball, Pac-Man.  Those arcade games sure got a lot of our quarters.  I sold bubble gum on the bus and school for extra money.  Hand held games like head to head football, basketball, Rubik's cube.  Those were the days.

Then the computers showed up.  Eighth grade, first course on TRS-80, took typing class, had an IBM-PC at home to hack on DOS, just dual floppy drives, no hard drives, or mouse.  Used to dial into BBS using 1200 baud modem.  Took computer class in high school, sat in the back, everyone copied off me, teacher never knew I was there.  Signed up for wood shop, they moved me to electronics, we build an AM radio, final exam was to troubleshoot why it didn't work, something didn't get soddered correct, had to fix it.

Just coasted through childhood, made high honor roll most times, somehow got into college, even graduated in 4 years, got a diploma and everything.  College was sort of like 13th grade, just transition from high school to college, courses were more difficult, even more displaced in classes of 800 people, you have to find time to study.

After graduation, there's no more school.  You have to go out into the world and find a job.  What kind of job can an Anthropology major do, with no business world experience, during a deep recession?  What are you supposed to do, got to pay for car insurance, pay the rent, electric bill, gas money.  Nobody really explained the entire concept of adulthood, sort of landed there, looked around, uh, what am I supposed to do now?

Well, turns out they have temp agencies to get you jobs for a day.  Maybe $5 an hour.  Couple times a week.  It's a living.  Except, being on the bottom of the financial totem pole, you don't have too many options, other than up.  My mother called one day, they're interviewing at her work, for credit analyst, I applied, had to take a basic math test on addition, subtraction, spoke with the hiring manager, started a week later.  They train you for a week, then throw you out on the call center, taking calls from live sales people in the store, with customers applying for credit in real time, at the cash register, ask basic demographic questions, run credit report, respond with answer, in under 5 minutes.  My average talk time was under 2 minutes.

After getting hired full time, after a year or more, they asked me to come to work early, compile the credit analysts call log from prior day into Lotus 1-23, had some macros.  A position opened up for lead, I applied, didn't get it though, they gave it to some guy, I asked why, my manager said, "he's starting a family, needs the extra money", I sort of thought that was discrimination, I'm no lawyer though.

So I found a job listing in the newspaper, credit analyst, a mile from my job at the time, drove over in shorts and tennis shoes, dropped off resume, reception says, do you have a minute, the hiring manager would like to speak with you, sure.  I interviewed in tennis clothes, got the job, after, he asked if I knew anyone else looking for credit analyst job at the finance company, sure did, got two people hired from previous job.  My salary was under $20k, yet I was so thrilled, hiring manager bumped to $21k out of pity I suppose.

We used to work weekends, take credit apps from retail stores, it was pure chaos.  We had temps pick up the fax, hand it to a data entry temp, who passed it to a credit analyst.  It would get backed up, the store would call in, asking for status, they got so mad.  I went to the director who hired me, said, why don't we just number the loan apps as they arrive, track them on paper, it worked out great.  Then we got downsized, I interviewed for asst. manager in finance branch, got the job, said if I decline, forfeit severance, so I moved the next day, started new job that Monday, no money for moving expense, to another state.

I worked in a finance company, high risk, high rate.  I sold so many loans the first month, my manager submitted for employee of the month, and got it.  I was good at selling loans, sort of like selling bubble gum o the bus in 6th grade.  Also had to collect, call people, track them down, get payment, even drive to their houses.  Almost got bit by a dog, and threatened by a customer never to show up at the house again.  So I applied for a credit analyst position at the bank.  I knew somebody there, although wasn't 100% qualified, applied, got the job, it was fun, except had to approve loans for cars, RV campers, land, HELOC, cash, CD, you name it.  Was a bit different, learned on the fly.  They asked for volunteer to assemble the prior day credit analyst numbers, I volunteered, everyday, I got to compile reports for a few hour, was way better than approve, decline, decline, approve.  So I asked the bank to pay for a night class, c++, got an A, reimbursed, and got hired into the IT department.  They said if you want a descent raise, you have to quit and come back.  So I found a reporting position.

Since then, salary has increase quite a bit, about 4 and half times. I'm still writing reports, 22 years later, hasn't changed much, actually its changed a lot, just have to get the data and numbers to match.  It's still fun for the most part, hard to believe they pay you for this, but if those are the rules of the game, I'm in.  For some reason, I seem to enjoy working with the numbers and data and solving tough problems.  Believe it or not, even in IT, many folks just don't like to think for long periods of time.  I may not be smarter, but somehow I see the solutions, over time, they tend to repeat, and of course, its usually something quite obvious that others overlook, kind of like me.

I really don't know what to become when I grow up.  Luckily, writing reports has been a good fall back for the bulk of my career.   One day, maybe, I'll figure it out.  In the meantime, I'll be writing reports for a client, trying to get the numbers to match.  Not sure how any of this can be traced back to my degree in Anthropology, but at this point, not sure anyone even notices.

And so it goes~!

SSIS Automation using SSIS

Do you ever sit down and write code.  For hours.  Never get up.  Even to eat or use the rest room.

That's what I've been up to the past few days.  Writing c# code.  In SSIS script component.

It's quite tasty.  It's actually programming.  Within SSIS.  In the data space.  It's an SSIS package to create other SSIS packages.  Using custom code, XML templates.  Reading from source system.  And Excel file template.  It outputs ".DTSX" packages.  To automate the process.  Rather than write each package one at a time.  Automation is key.

Also writing U-SQL scripts.  Create, truncate and dropping tables in Azure Data Lake Analytics U-SQL database.  And pushing CSV files up to Azure Data Lake Store.

Sure is fun to be heads down in the code.  I'll be there in 5 minutes.  2 hours later, where are you?  I'll be there in 5 minutes.

And so it goes~!


Time Stops for Worm Holes

Can you stop time?  Just open a slit in the space time continuum.  Drop down a worm hole.  Appear in a far off galaxy.  Hang out for a while.  Return home in time for dinner.

Populate Mars.  Maybe occupy some pre-built structures, from before they lost atmosphere, flew to Earth, built a race of working bi-pedal hominids.  History is fluid, most of the truth evaporated.

Atlantis.  Lost?  Shifted south.  As India shifted north.  Smashed, created some mountains.  Platonic shift?  Europia.  Popcorn please.  Fiction is so fascinating.

Big Bang.  Any witness'?  Got a few questions.  Infinity.  For how long?  Expand forever.  Where is the edge?  Been there a few times.  Took the worm hole.  Found the slit.  When time stopped.  Back for dinner.

Three senses?  Wow.  What about all the others?  Like doing math with no odd numbers, and excluding 7, 5, 1 and 9.  Sort of limiting.

Before arrival, sat around, with the guides, what would you like to accomplish this time, while in physical form?  Well, purgatory sounds like a good learning experience.  And poof.  Here we are.

Predict the future?  Can't predict the past.  Fiction.  Reality?  An aligned hallucination.  1. Work 2. Spend 3. Repeat

Unlearning is the first sign of intelligence.  Tabula Rasa.  Blank slate.  Dinner plate.  Time to go.  Famished.


Azure Programming in U-SQL

Here's something I noticed recently.

I enjoy working in the Microsoft space.

When you work in Microsoft space of technology, things are fairly consistent.  Drop down menu's.  Command buttons.  Documentation.  It's fairly uniform across most applications.

When you compare that to open source or another vendor owned software, perhaps the fonts are different, or the screens are jumbled and difficult to read.

In other words, when you work with the same software apps by Microsoft, you intuitively know where things are on the screen, you know what to expect when you install an application, you have confidence the app is going to work as expected and most likely, it will integrate with other products of same vendor.

Now keep in mind, if you've ever tried to install Visual Studio for instance, you are aware of the number of dependencies and extra installs required just to get everything up and humming like dot net frameworks and such.  And there's a bunch of different places to download the software.  And try messing with the Gaac or Registry settings, no easy task.

All that is a side note.  What I"m talking about is ease of use, the common themes across products and its interaction with other apps.

We're not talking about deprecating good products, like Visual Studio 6, forcing developers to move to .net object oriented languages.

Speaking of new languages, I've been working with U-SQL for the past few months and I will say its a fantastic language.  You can develop the code in notepad and copy paste into the Azure portal, click submit and watch it run in real time, it shows the code, the errors, graphs, execution plans.  

Also, you can take that same code and run in Visual Studio then hop over to Azure portal and watch the job run in real time.  You can also see the Azure objects from Visual Studio, export data in VS or Azure, and watch jobs run in VS or view objects from Solutions Explorer.

It's amazing to write code in on a VM, execute the code to pull from on-premise data, push to the Cloud Azure Data Lake Storage Group, mount that data using U-SQL and send to U-SQL database table.  Hybrid Programming is the future.  When you execute a job, you can see the Estimated Cost / Charges on the web page.

This environment is so open and fluid and really opens up a lot of options, and it has the look and feel you get with similar vendor products.  I've been working with Microsoft products since 1996 professionally with Visual Studio 3,4,5,6, then ASP then .net, SQL Server, MSBI and now Azure.

Azure Cloud Programming has a lot of good features and opportunity.  Bite off a particular area to work in, I recommend U-SQL.  Good stuff.


Attending the Real BI Conference at MIT in Boston

Wrapping up day 2 of the Real Business Intelligence Conference, See Beyond the Noise, held at MIT in Boston.  Overall, it was a great event and glad to attend.


The nice thing about the conference, was the venue.  Just being at MIT, you sort of feel smarter.

Next, the quality of speakers was great, with a mix of topics ranging from Futurism to GDPR to Real World Data Project success stories.

Food, snacks, great.

I like the single auditorium, single track approach.  Lots of conference have a number of multiple tracks running parallel and having to choose between multi options.

The conference also had a community feel to it, as in getting to meet people from all over the world, have discussions of quality, on variety of topics around technology.

The two day approach was nice, as some conferences run 4 or 5 days, and very technical, by the end of the week, your brain is fried, don't remember much and actually skip some of the sessions to give the mind a rest.

This conference was concise, personal, quality speakers and content.

If you're interested in attending next year, the website is:  https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2019-real-business-intelligence-conference-tickets-47210074604

The most surprising topic was around GDPR, which is basically a world mandate, to protect EU user's data, the rules, and implications surrounding non compliance. Seems like a good opportunity for consulting firms to hold business' hands in getting compliant.

The main theme in almost every talk, "Ask better questions."  Overall, very happy to have attended the Real BI conference 2018 at MIT in Boston.  Even got a photo with Howard Dresner, who coined the term "Business Intelligence" term in 1989, his firm hosted the event

Thanks for reading~!


Tennis Against the Wall 2

Another tennis video.  Mostly forehands.  Against the wall.

Gusts of ambition.  On a warm summers day.


Tennis Wall

Been playing sports all my life.  Gave up baseball, basketball, bowling, soccer and swimming to excel at Tennis.  Funny thing, my 6th grade teacher also taught tennis at the club and I took clinics from him after school.  Been playing tennis on and off since high school.  One thing you learn over time, the wall is the greatest opponent.  Today decided to try again, give the wall another go at it.  Granted, got my cigar in hand, few volley's, in the blistering heat.  Sometimes I play left handed.  Used to be in pretty good shape, play for hours.

Tennis is the greatest sport, can play your entire life.

And so it goes~!