Community Colleges Offset Hefty Student Loan Debt

Student loans allow students to attend college, to earn a degree, to become a productive member of society.

Except.  Student loans are expensive, they wrack up quickly, in addition to "hidden" costs of college, food, beverages, coffee, etc.

Upon graduation, new grads may take lesser jobs to pay bills out of the gate.  Uphill battle when starting at the bottom.  Need to start higher in the food chain to have any value of college degree.

Because once your foot's in the door, nobody looks at college degree or GPA.

That's one problem, starting too low on the totem pole.

Next, student loans are costly, the debt can not be written off when filing bankruptcy 13 or 7.  So you owe that money for life.  Indentured servants.  Although the money was borrowed with full disclosure, you owe the money, what part of the equation are we forgetting.  Buyer beware.

Also, many people don't complete college to earn a degree, because college is not easy.  So think of college drop outs that carry debt with no degree, lesser job prospects.  Some people do this a few times, different majors.


Community college.  Get an AA degree still living at home with the parents.  Plus, a hidden gem, you can actually earn college credits while still in High School, some people get their AA degree upon HS graduation.

Then, head to the workforce.

In addition, you have to form networks before graduation.  Start priming the job market as in taking part time jobs, for free even.  Get you name out there as dependable, hardworking, problem solving.

And attend user group meetings  Because those are the people in the trenches, doing the actual work, they know the inside scoop of the culture you live in, the good and not so good places to work, and, they are funded by the recruiting agencies.  Recruiters are there primarily find candidates, and they know the market even better, because they know the hiring managers.

In summary, if you don't want to pay student debt for decades, get your knowledge before you graduation from HS, and attend Community College while living in your parent home.

Then, you'll have better leverage than the other folks in finding gainful employment, so you can move out of your parents house, and start your life.


Past 2 Years as Data Consultant

The client was about 10 miles from home.  Commute wasn't too bad, when not working from home.

Then I traveled to Indianapolis to work with a health care client, writing SQL statements in Parallel Data Warehouse.

Then I got pulled off early to work on a Hadoop - SQL Data Warehouse project.  That was also in Indy, and I worked 100% remote, some late nights doing Hadoop.

Then I got a short contract end of year with a drug manufacturing company in Indy, some travel for that one, I remember it snowed quite a bit those few weeks.  Wrote Tableau reports for new drugs.

Then I sat on the bench for a bit, and got assigned new project in Boston for an Insurance company.  After multiple extensions, the contract lasted almost a year and a half, basically writing complex SQL reports for variety of internal customers along with some Tax reports that got sent to external customers, some Power BI and Excel VBA.  Lots of travel early on, then subsided.

Now, I'm working on a project for a large financial company near Wall Street in Manhattan.  Cool technology, working with Azure, pulling data from source systems, flow through SSIS into Azure Data Lake Store and Azure Data Lake Analytic U-SQL database.  Mostly remote work expected until November time frame.

Quite a variety of projects, locations, industries, technologies and teams.  Passed the 2 year mark in May and still going strong.  Been consulting full time 5 years now.  It's interesting to see a variety of clients across the board with different data infrastructures.

I can still remember back early 1990's, working for the credit card center, assembling prior day phone reports using Lotus 1-2-3.  And using Crystal Reports 5.0 for the Bank in 1996.  People just want accurate data in timely manor, to manage the business, reduce costs and streamline the business.


The Man Who COULD Have Been Bill Gates [Gary Kildall]

Quick & Dirty Operating System = Q-DOS

Seems odd, to credit with innovation, perhaps.


Azure Data Lake Store & Azure Data Lake Analytics with SSIS

Started out with DOS programming. Still writing DOS commands today.  Because it still solves problems.

Although getting some newer technology lately.  In the Microsoft Stack, working with traditional SSIS, along with Azure Data Lake Store and Azure Data Lake Analytic.

They have some neat components to send data to Azure, like the Azure Data Lake Destination which you can trail a Source component to send data to the Data Lake.  And there's also a component to send files up to Azure, Data Lake Store File System Task.

Once the data lands in Azure Data Lake, you can move that data elsewhere.  Our project has the data flowing into Azure Data Lake Analytic U-SQL tables.  Experimented around with a separate Visual Studio project to send data in two hops, found another way of doing it today, creating a second Azure connection, to Azure Data Lake Analytics ADLA connection manager in SSIS.  You connect it to an ADLA Component, with 3 different ways to store the U-SQL query: embed, file or variable.  When the component gets called, it initiates a U-SQL job, it gets submitted, and processed, the job appears on the Azure Portal in real time, after it gets queue'd up.

The Database was created ahead of time, in another U-SQL job, where you stipulate the schema, table name, index and partition.  The SSIS U-SQL job pulls the data from the Azure Data Lake, in our case a CSV file, then ingests into the database table.  For automation, will need to truncate the table before hand.

What's nice about this solution, its all contained within a single Visual Studio project, as well as a single package, should streamline the development and maintenance.  Figured out the solution in chunks, and strung together the pieces today.  Next up, hook the data source to a real database, instead of a CSV file, apply some naming conventions, standards, error handling, for a re-usable pattern.

Although Azure has been around for a while now, and I did in fact teach a course on this stuff 2 years ago, you really don't get your feet wet until you are in the trenches, building solutions, poking around the Azure Portal settings for hours, assigning IP Address's, user roles, installing dependent files.  I will say this.  I document the crap out of everything, screenshots along the way, detailing every stop for later use and knowledge hand-off.  Surely it must be a carry over from a decade of blogging.  If you have to go through the sweat of learning, why not document the journey.  It doesn't slow things down, it reinforces the learning in real time, if you have to write about it, it stamps your brain so you can retain it better.  Nobody has time or energy after the project is complete to document, do it in real time, doesn't have to be perfect, and sometimes you go down the wrong trail, and scrap things.  You learn as you go.  I say passing tests to earn certifications is great, but self teaching and solving tough problems fast is still a better indicator of top programmers in my humble opinion.

35 years behind the keyboard now, starting with DOS and BASIC(a) on the IBM PC.  I still enjoy programming computers.


Shoe Bandit Strikes Again

Having kids is not easy, we should know, we have three children, all of them, have four legs, two in the front, two in the back, four wheel drive.

These kids, demand a lot of attention.  Here, Snoopy and Sammie are getting a brushing:

Sammie decided she wanted one of my shoes, didn't ask, just took it and ran, little whipper snapper:

In no time flat, the shoe is now hers, smile indicates she's quite pleased.

The "shoe bandit" strikes again~!


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~!


Sandboxes, Not Square Boxes

What do you want to be when you grow up.  Tick tock.  The clock don't stop.

Well, approaching the half century mark, should probably start to think about it.

Shovel snow.
Pull weeds.
Mow lawns.
Clean tennis courts.
Pull pins as golf club.
Work in a factory.
KFC fried chicken cook.
Drill press machine operator.
School book store.
Copy machine.
Furniture mover.
Credit Card Analyst.
Retail Credit Card Analyst.
Small Loan Credit Analyst.
Assistant Branch Manager.
Bank Loan Underwriter.
Report Writer.
Computer Programmer.
Project Manager.
School Board Administrator.
Data Consultant.
Tennis Instructor.

Perhaps its time to narrow it down a bit.  Except.  Opportunity costs.  Once you define a specific niche, you choose one over another.


Ah, choice.  That's what separates us from the animal kingdom.  Our minds evolved from slithering snakes to bi-pedal upright hominids with ability to choose.  Choose to become slithering snakes, full circle, just kidding.

Choose not to choose.  Whichever way the wind blows.  Doesn't really matter.  To me.

Here's what I see.  Contentment is stagnation, first step towards growing old.  To stay young, see the world with fresh eyes, enjoy what you do, do what you enjoy, find a sandbox in which to play.  When its no longer fun, time to move on.  When its not fun, it becomes work.  Who wants to work for a living.  When you can play.

From our earliest beginnings, our minds are ripe for learning.  Schools tend to squash, trample and squelch curiosity, free thinking and growth.  What sense in fortifying factory line non thinking workers to be curious.  All that does is kill the cat.

Form a single line, keep your mouths shut, speak when asked a question.  And no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.

Wait until you're older.  Except when you get older, you wish you were young.  Catch 22.  What they don't teach you.  GPA means nothing in the real world, after landing your first job.  Just shut up, fall in line, for the next 40 years.  Now they don't even give gold watches.  Bring in youth at a third your salary, and you get to train them.

So, once again, we are faced with the nagging question.  What do you want to do for a living?  Well, I'd like to play, in a sandbox, until it gets dark out, until I hear my name called, time to come in, supper's ready.  Growing old is for the birds.  Staying young is the name of the game.

Let the rats run the rat race.

I'll be in the sandbox if you need me.