Scrappy Hacker

You look at successful people and wonder how did they do it.  I asked that question at an early age.  What makes these gifted people so gifted.

Well, it could be the gens.  Some people inherited good DNA from their parents.  Which allow them to perform certain tasks easily.

Others went to good schools, had easy paths in life, silver spoons.

And others built their talent from the ground up.  Hard work and dedication.  They call it 'grit'.

As a tennis player, I was scrappy.  Chase down every ball.  Fight for every point.  About 10 years ago, I got quoted in the newspaper after winning a league, that I like to wear down the opponents.  Because I love to sweat, run around in the heat and keep the rally going.


This attitude rolls over to computer programming nicely.  Except I would say it's more of a hacker approach or methodology.  Figure things out, find ways around obstacles, find creative solutions and learn on the fly.

In both tennis and programmer, I'm surely not the best out there.  But I'll keep trying.  Again and again.

Are you a Marshmallow or Warrior

What are your motivations?

Well, I live for the weekend.  Usually have to drink each night to get through.  Then drink on the weekend.  Sleep in late.  Go shopping.  Purchase stuff with credit card.  No exercise.  Drink some more.  Watch sports.  Television.  Dreading Monday.

Jobs that people don't like, working to pay the bills, for buying things that don't last.

Wasting the days away.  Remember, this is what we call normal behavior.  

Looking in from the outside, I'd say this lifestyle is a form of slow decay.  Not much growth.  Yet, this is a good chunk of the population.

Yesterday, on Good Friday, I was in line at Starbucks.  The person in front of me ordered a few items, then proceeded to hand 4 or 5 credit cards to pay for the $10 purchases, each declined, perhaps each one was maxed out, who knows.

When I was in school, I distanced myself from the crowd.  I played tennis.  Tennis allowed me to push through and grow, mentally and physically.  While others were wasting time, I was running, doing push ups, jumping rope, practicing my serve, playing against the wall, riding the bike, lifting weights, running laps, stringing my tennis racket.  A mini universe connected yet separate, with no barriers or limits.  Each loss pushed to work harder.

Physically, I didn't have an ounce of fat.  I could play tennis all day every day.  Track down every ball.  Practice every day after school.  Private lessons.  Group lessons with the best players in town.  Tournament every weekend.  High School matches.

In tenth grade, I earned the number one position in both singles and doubles.  My opponents were seniors.  My record was 3-10.  Got clobbered.  By senior year, my record was 10-3.  I was the captain of the team, made it to the finals of districts in singles, lost to a guy that went pro.

The next day, I laid down my rackets.

What do people do when they aren't playing tennis?  How do people focus their lives without goals?  How do people find purpose?  How do people find direction in life?  What do people do for challenge?  How does one grow without goals?

Well, read the beginning of this blog.  They waste their lives away.  Consumed in material possessions, false realities of television and vices to temporarily numb their discomfort.  Working jobs they despise.  

Are you surviving?  Or thriving?

Are you taking responsibility for your life?  Learning new skills?  Setting up a budget to get out of debt?  Exercising to get off the couch?  Reading books to get different perspectives on life?  Spending time in nature to re-balance your spirit?

That's new.  New is change.  Change is scary.  Scary is fear.  The known, no matter how unbearable, is easier than change.  Wasting lives away. 

I was a tennis warrior.  The wins or losses didn't matter.  It was the journey of self discovery to push the physical and mental boundaries.  When tennis went away, I wandered for 25 years.  The spirit of a warrior can not be suppressed. I refused to become a marshmallow, drowning in debt and bad health, numbing the discomfort in vices.

Although I had a slow start out of the gate, I eventually passed most peers in every category.  Because they got dumb, fat and lazy.  

I never gave up. In fact, I'm just getting started~!


What About the Missing Dark Data?

I'm starting to believe that metrics are only good as the paper they aren't printed on.

How many things processed from this time frame, by whom, for what price.  Sure that makes sense.  A linear path of what happened when by whom and perhaps why.

What bothers me are the things that don't get documented.

Let's examine touch points along a time line.

Nurse enters an event at specific time: Bath administered to patient @ 8am.  Coimpleted 8:45.

Noon temperature check: 100.7 degrees, slight fever.

The doctor looks for clues as to the cause of elevated temperature.  And he will never find it.  Why?

Because had he known the actual events, that the nurse tech began the bath at 8am, then went to help another patient, leaving first patient wet and cold for 30 minutes, under the air conditioning vent, before returning to complete the bath, which resulted in slight temperature fever.

An undocumented event.  An untraceable fever.  The whole in the unsolvable equation, unless you're there to witness and report the event.  But nobody's asking you to expose the root cause.  Let's just give some more medicine to the patient to fix the problem.

Whenever human element is introduced into a process, the room for error increases dramatically.  Gross negligence, laziness, lack of training, whatever.

It seems blatantly obvious that we measure the documented things.  What about the undocumented things.  The black holes in all the data.  The things we don't measure.  Perhaps if you studied mounds of Big Data, to isolate patterns to determine specific instances of high temperature, specifically patients of nurse x, and determine the days that nurse works, and applies baths, then there's a higher number of incidents of fevers.  But that's a long shot.  Although possible using statistical analysis and algorithms and big data.

I would call this missing data "Dark Data".  Because it could potentially be captured by sensors or devices or monitoring devices or apps.  And once you stream this data continuously using Streaming Analytics and Event Hub from Microsoft Azure, you'll just be guessing or deriving half baked solutions on incomplete data.

The data we report on is great, keep in mind, there's potential for gaps and undocumented "dark" data.  And that could make the difference between life and death, profit or going under.

We Need to Automate Everything, Artificial Intelligence to the Rescue

Artificial Intelligence is a tough nut to crack.  The goal is simulate human behavior.

So let's say we train a neural network to learn behaviors, traits and characteristics of human behavior.

For example, we teach the machine the process to dispense coffee at a coffee store.  We train the model, test and score and evaluate the results.

And we find some startling results.  Although the process of taking a customers order shouldn't vary, we find the results are all over the map.

Some customers are not satisfied with their drinks, some are oblivious and some are very satisfied.  But why is that?  If the process never varies, in theory, we should see similar consistent results every time.

So if we dive a little deeper, we find some interesting things.  First, there are many variables.  Some are known, others not known.

For example, client A got decaf coffee when he ordered caffeinated coffee.  Let's review the tape.  Well, bartista 1 took the order, processed the order and delivered the order.  According to the tapes, they performed their job as expected.  Let's ask bartista A a few questions.

Did you perform your job as expected?  Yes, the order was taken in timely manor, processed the order as expected, and delivered within timely manor.  Yes, but you gave decaf when they ordered caffeinated.  Oh really?  I'm sorry, my bad.

This could be chalked up to many factors, some obvious.  Over worked.  Not paying attention.  Read the order incorrectly.  Or it could be something else.

Let's look for the non obvious.  Perhaps the client looked like his/her ex-wife/husband, get back at her/him.  Perhaps the bartista is late on their rent, drank too much last night, not focused on their job.  

Perhaps they are unknowingly upset with themselves for their life situation, they should have studied more in school, now in a dead end job.  We'll make sure everybody is as miserable as me.  How about a nice hole in the bottom of the cup, you'll enjoy the coffee dripping when you get to your car.  How about we forget to include your donuts with your order.  

Or the opposite, how about we give this person exceptional service?  Because they look like me or they have similar tastes or interests.  

Let's apply this rule to everything, everywhere:  let's discriminate our behavior and services to our clients, based on internal bias, prejudices, beliefs and opinions.

Let's vary the outcome based on slight deviations from the actual process.

First off, many of these incidents don't get reported.  Second, nobody investigates why.  Third, the person may not even be aware of their errors.  So nothing gets corrected.

This scenario could be described as a black box.  And we typically don't know what happens in a black box.  Magic.

Yet if the process is identical and the results vary greatly, we must account for the variations of end results.  We need to explore the black box a little deeper.

And when we look closer, we see people performing the job descriptions as expected, yet with a bit of undocumented wiggle room.  Which result in varying results and outcomes.

Loose lips sink ships.  And varying from the process skews results.  And the results are based on undocumented internal bias.

Once we identify the patterns, the trick is to correct them.  How?  

Implementing guidelines, such that, there is no wiggle room for error.  Remove the barriers for deviation.  By following the prescribed pattern of actions, you can consistently provide results within expected statistical ranges.

Bartista: Listen, we know you are paying the same amount for your coffee, but I don't care for you, so I'm going to vary your order just slightly so that you get sub standard service or product.

Personally, I find this scenario to be widespread and prevalent in our society.  You can apply this formula to just about everything everywhere.  Yet nobody knows it exists or aware of it.  A silent, invisible signal affecting the outcome of everything.

I find it to be the source of chaos, confusion, corruption, and a vehicle to spread negativity into the world.

 When duplicating human behavior, we need to dive into the behaviors and processes to investigate.  We have to account for the variations in results.  And look to the reasons behind them.  I believe those deviations stem from bias and discriminating factors within the system, undocumented and unaccounted for, yet present.

We need to remove these variations from the equation.  Through process.  Documenting, Workflows, Business Rules, Implement through technology and algorithms.  To prevent unknowns from the equation.  For consistent patterns and results.

Then monitor results and modify to self correct on the fly.     

By streamlining processes, we can ensure quality service across the board.  This should reduce costs from having to correct problems downstream and customer retention.

If we matched human behavior 100%, we'd need a function to simulate stupidity, biases, prejudices, hatred, vengeance, revenge, evil, etc.  

We need to automate everything.  Remove the human factor which is tainted, biased, prejudiced and inconsistent.  I think this is the key to fixing a lot of systemic problems in every aspect of everything on the planet.  

Automate.  Remove bias.  Streamline.  Measure.  Repeat.

And the vehicle to automate this is called Artificial Intelligence.