What is Programming

Some would say that programming computers is like putting things together that don't have explicit instructions.  You sort of have to figure it out as you go.  Sure past experience is critical in arranging code in specific way to function logically, but more times than not, you have some level of flexibility and creativity to write the code as you see fit.

If you read other people's code, you wonder what they were trying to do, if they used the most practical approach, if they simply got it to work and didn't account for the unexpected, did they document their code by embedding some explanation of what was occurring, to let the next person have some indication when attempting to troubleshoot.

Coding is based on logic, yet flexible enough to add a personal touch.  So perhaps its a blend of science and art, of cognition and creativity, of repetition and free form.

That ain't too bad of a career choice.  Where else you going to find such ambiguity, without necessarily having to deal with people.


Two robots debate the future of humanity

Interesting video on Robots.  Ben Goertzel has been researching Artificial Intelligence for 30 years, way before mainstream.  He focus on Artificial General Intelligence primarily, rather than Narrow AI, and I've seen many of his video's over the years.  He's got a project OpenCog, found here: https://opencog.org



Humans Apply Bias to Everything Producing Less than Optimal Results

We're the best.  Best?  You're the only one. Yes, but who's counting.

We see what we want to see.  Wear blinders to confirm our bias.  What is bias?  It's our pre-assumed notions of life.

Hey Jon, you wear blue shirts.  I do?  Yes, 10 years ago, you wore blue shirts.  Well, that was 10 years ago.  Now I wear green shirts.  That doesn't align with my bias.  I will continue to think that you wear blue shirts.  I'd rather not adjust to new information, sure it's lazy, but I've already identified this and prefer not to change.

Bias is part of every equation.  You order a cup of coffee.  Some days they are nice.  Other days not.  Why's that.  Perhaps you look like their ex, we'll give your poor service.  Nobody's tracking service levels at a per customer basis, they'll never know.  I'll give you decaf instead of caffeinated.  In my little world, you will suffer.  Now drink your decaf, nobody's the wiser.

Oh, next customer is an old friend, we'll give them extra special service.

Human bias exist everywhere.  Medical offices, schools, you name it.  Special treatment for different people, based on hidden or blatant bias.  That's probably one reason why artificial intelligence is a difficult nut to crack.  Have to account for the "insanity" of humans, where they override logic based on emotions or what have you.

You can program a computer to use 100% logic.  Humans are anything but logical.  Give humans a choice, it will most likely not be based on logic.  At any point along the thought trail, there is human bias, for better or worse.

If you want to simulate human actions tied to thought process, simply identify the best possible solution using logic, and take the worse possible outcome at minimum 50% of the time.

You do know its probably better to pay your mortgage than go to the casino and gamble away your paycheck.  Of course, anyone knows that.  See you, I'm off to the gambling.

Humans use logic, and apply hidden bias to every equation, producing results that make no sense.  Hence, artificial intelligence embedded into robots is a bit complex problem to solve.

And there you have it~!


The Golden Rules of Project Management

There are 40 hours in the work week.  During that time, you work on assigned tasks in specific order until completion.

More times than not, you work on more than one task item.  And throughout the week, more requests arrive.  Meetings, more work, assistance, whatever.  How do they get added to the stack of current items.

You'd typically reshuffle the list, prioritize the list again and reset expectations.

Sometimes you get requests from multiple people, it's not funneled in from a single source.  For example, Person A assigns 3 tasks.  Person B assigns 5 tasks.  Person C assigns 4 tasks.  Each of the 3 sponsors have no idea what you already have on your plate.  So they think their task item is top priority and should be done shortly.  Meanwhile, you have 9 task items all due at the same time.

So you set out trying to meet all your deadlines.  As you don't want to say no to the people assigning the work.  Surely they wouldn't deliberately overload you, better get busy.

I would say its possible to survive in these types of environments.  For so long.  You can put in extra hours to try and stay caught up.  All it takes is one hiccup and then the finger pointing as to why you missed deadlines.

The reason you failed is because you were set up to fail from the beginning.  By not following best practices on basic project management.

How do you prevent this.  You set expectations.  Assign any task item in any order.  Based on estimated hours and time available, this task item should be done in x days.

You can add resources to the tasks, more developers.
You can extend the deadlines.
You can remove some functionality to shorten the task item.

However, you can't add more task items, add more complexity, add more meetings, shorten the time lines, constantly change priorities.

You need to provide accurate estimates.  You need to provide your available hours for the week.  And need to disclose other task items competing for your time.  And you need to set expectations, and relay any changes upstream as soon as possible, if they have impact on deliverable.

The other thing you'll need to understand, it's nobody's responsibility to make this happen, except yours.

From your sponsors perspective, they don't know there's a problem.  "I only assigned you a few task items, what's the delay?".

Well, you added scope to the project, you didn't provide written requirements, you didn't communicate in timely manor to provide answers to questions, and you set the timelines without asking for developers perspective.  Also, I have ten other task items that need attention as nobody's prioritizing the workload.

It's up to you to manage expectations.  It's part of your job to let project managers know that the assigned deliverable's are impossible.  Let them know about the golden rules of project management listed above: add resources, extend timeline or remove functionality.

These tasks add up to 75 hours.  There are 40 hours in the week.  We'll need to extend the deadline, add resources or remove functionality.  What should we do?

Now apply that to the dozen task items assigned from various sponsors and you're good to go.  It's better they understand the implications of overwork beforehand, as if you wait until you miss every deliverable, it's all on you.

We don't want failed project.  We don't want to burn out.  We don't want to give away valuable time to the client for free.

The solution is, set expectations based on the Golden Rules of Project Management.


Tennis League

The tennis season ended today at the new club.  I signed up for mens singles 4.5, scheduled to play 6 matches.  Due to hurricane Irma, matches got shifted.  Turns out I won 4 out of 4 plus a forfeit and someone dropped out.

Today they announced the winners, I received first place.  Picked up a prize. A new insulated cup.

Its been about 10 years since last competitive league, even though not in great shape, was fun to play some tennis.  Sitting behind a keyboard all day, good to get oxygen flowing.

Not sure what's next as far as leagues, play it by ear.

And there you have it!


Securing the Data is Top Priority

The recent data breach at a major information store house company should send alarm flags to every major business today.

If they can hack an almost impenetrable system, chances are, yours could be next.  I once heard that any device connected to the internet is hack-able.  And it's playing out in real life.

If I was responsible for securing data, I would go out and hire the best security team available and set up a fortress, best that money could buy.  It's easier to defend before an event happens than to clean up the mess down stream.

Security experts should be well employed from here until eternity.  Yes, having great data converted to insights to increase sales, reduce costs and streamline process' is great, but if hackers can access your data dump on the internet and your business shuts down, that's not too good.

Data breaches are real.  They happen every day.  To some of the biggest orgs out there, especially the ones that have valuable data for exploitation.

Security first!  That's the way I see it.

And so it goes~!

Barriers to Entry in the Workforce

What would you like to be when you grow up?  I'd like to be CEO.

What are the barriers to entry?  Well, you most likely have a degree or two or three and tons of business experience.  So why aren't there more CEOs?  Limited number of positions.  Why aren't there CEO positions listed on the job boards?  There are different barriers to entry.  CEO's are not filled the same way most jobs are filled.

What are the barriers of entry to most positions?  College degree, industry experience, entry level, or lateral moves.

Many people have a comfort zone.  This is what I do, this is what I did, this is what I'm going to do.  Typically, not much variation over the long haul.  Perhaps some upward mobility depending on your work ethic or lack of, your ability to play politics and your ability to get things done.

In the world, there are 3 typical jobs.  You make something.  You service something.  Or you sell something.

Some jobs overlap.

Musicians make music.  Artist make art.  Authors make books.  Bakers make goods.  Chefs make meals.

Medical profession is in the business of service, yet they tend to sell things, discretely or not, to their patients, or customers.

Sales people sell things.  Shoe salespeople sell shoes.  Umbrella sales people sell umbrellas.

Although the roles are segments, they tend to overlap.  And good workers are skilled in all three areas.

Programmers make programs.  They also service programs.  And perhaps they sell those programs.  Or they sell their ideas or service to other departments internally.

Back in the day, a programmer sat behind a fortress, was provided specifications, and worked for months uninterrupted to produce a final product.  They were the gatekeepers as they held proprietary information and, the ability to translate business process into machine code in form of application, which had value to users.

Now programmers must service their clients, whomever they may be, as well as sell themselves, their skills, their value.

Typically, those versed in writing code have been intellectual if you may.  Programmers tended to be introverted or socially inept.  No more, now programmers must have social skills and sales skills if they wish to survive.

Not only that, what are the barriers to entry?  College degree, real world experience and perhaps know someone.  Once you get foot in the door, college degree becomes irrelevant for the most part.  Either you provide value, by making something, servicing something, or selling something.  Or a combination of all three.

Can you enter the world of programming without College degree?   It's possible.  If you have ability and knowledge to solve problems, there are jobs waiting available, as IT has shortage of qualified workers.

If I was going through the system today, I'd probably skip the traditional 4 year college diploma.  First, it's costly.  Second, they teach you the basics.  Third, you delay entry into the workforce, losing out on valuable time.  Forth, by the time you graduate, the world of IT has already changed and you're behind the curve.

If it were me, I'd learn as much as possible in High School before graduation.  I'd get involved with industry experts through networking, take on some free projects to gain real world experience, by creating a side business.  I'd attend classes on the internet, perhaps some certifications, so I had the necessary skills out of the gate.  Completely bypass the traditional 4 year diploma.  Perhaps in time, attend courses at night, maybe get an AA degree, perhaps Bachelors, maybe MBA, who knows.  PhD, most likely not.

Programming computers has a lower barriers to entry than many occupations, with one of the biggest upward mobility potential.  You can increase salary quite a bit in a short time, so long as you have the skills, motivation, work ethic and understanding of how business run.

I wouldn't stay at the same job very long, as that's passe.  Pensions went away, no use in staying put for very long.  Here's why.  

When you move jobs, you learn new ways to do things, you meet new people, and solve new problems.  Within a few years, you have enough real world experience, projects under you belt and flexibility to climb the ladder of your own terms.  You can't depend on the company to provide that upward mobility.  

Reason being, they want immediate results, they'd rather hire from the outside than train internal people, hold carrots to entice loyalty.  Now that healthcare is available outside the corporations, there are really no immediate ties which handcuffed a good chunk of the workforce prior.  People got lazy, they liked their seniority, x weeks off a year, corner office.  They preferred the pecking order and lack of change, how people hate change.  Many folks worked harder at keeping the job they had, avoiding actual work, primarily for job security.  Those days are over.  Job security is dead.

If I was going through the system today, I'd find a way to make it happen, by self learning how to program a variety of different technologies and claw a way into the work force, and relentlessly learn new skills.  As today's corporate ladder doesn't go up, it goes sideways and down.  You have to own your destiny and not rely on outdated models.

And so it goes~!


With All our Technology Why haven't We Improved These

We talk about technology helping mankind in amazing ways.

Why haven't we found an easier way to remove garbage and waste from society?  We sure do produce lots of plastics and empty packaging and waste.  In a Consumer society, at some point, everything becomes waste.  I imagine we won't have museums in the future, as none of this stuff will last that long.

Why haven't we found a better way to feed society.  Agriculture got us out of the savanna and on to farms, how many people do you know that are full time farmers?  In that regard, why haven't we created synthesized foods, that bypass the need to have cattle and dairy and fruits and vegetables.  How about a pill wash down with glass of water?

Why haven't we created a better mechanism for the standard Toilets.  Seems like people have been using bathrooms for a very long time.  This is the best we can do?

These three are very basic needs.

How about others?

Why haven't we centralized the health care records.  This one seems like a no brain'er.  We certainly have storage, software, networks, security (maybe), and some really smart people.  Imagine how much savings could be had.  And perhaps better care, faster, more efficient.

Why aren't children considered adults sooner.  Why must children wait until 18 years of age?  Seems like children could be fast tracked and become adults much younger?  Once they reach puberty, they could become parents.  Why do we have 12 grades of school, locking kids into the system until adulthood?  Why not become 'legal' adults sooner.  Does this rule seem a bit outdated?  Like when we needed a dozen kids to work the farm to get the crops in.  I'd say, in the interim, if parents sign waver, child becomes adult when they say, otherwise, wait until 18.  If parent signs waiver to drink alcohol, join military, clergy, etc. make it happen.

Why don't we have an additional 'legal' status, before becoming married.  Like 'sort of married'.  Can have a ceremony, gifts, cake, dancing, except the two are not united in holy matrimony, until death do they part.  They're just trying it out, see if it's a fit.  Sure would cut down on the divorce rate.

Why do people get drivers licences at 16 years old, and never tested again?  Seems like a test now and then wouldn't hurt.  Just to verify the eyes and ears and reflexes are still performing.  And new rules appear all the time on the road, people don't keep up with new rules.  Why not have classes and tests periodically keep people up to standards.  Maybe reduce a few wrecks here and there.

And so it goes~!

Some Questions about Robots and their Role in Society

Assuming Robots enter society, what is our approach towards their mental health.

Will Robots get depressed?  Will they feel fatigue?  Will they feel euphoria?

Assuming Robots had emotions, could they love?  Could they hate?  Would they become spiteful, jealous, envy, revenge?

I could see a Robot in conflict, two prime directives, unsure which takes priority.  Sort of like having someone dipped in freezing water below the waist and excessive heat above the waist.  Body doesn't know how to respond as too much stimuli, not sure which to fix first.  Do they attempt to get out of the freezing water first, then take care of the heat?  What sort of mental dilemma would the Robot experience.

Robot, go to the store, pick me up a box of pop tarts.  Robot gets there, they are out of pop tarts.  Should they get an alternative instead?  Should they go to another store?  Should they return, order on the web?  How would a Robot decide If-Then-Else when the variables are greater?

Would Robots have preferences?  Robot 1 prefers the color Green Robot 2 likes Blue.  If the Robots shared a room, what color would they paint it, Green or Blue?  Perhaps Robot 1 stabs Robot 2 in his/her sleep.

How would that be handled?  Would Robot 1 go to court, hire an attorney, be locked up in prison?  What if Robot 1 was instructed by a human to stab Robot 2, or perhaps their Spouse or Partner?  Robot 1 performed the deed, could the person dictating the order be held responsible?

What if we had a Robot army?  Would Robots feel remorse or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?  Would a Robot be paid for services?  Would a Robot seek Mental Health counseling, assuming it had Insurance?

Could humans purchase Life Insurance on a Robot?  Will Robots have warranty periods and expiration dates?  What if a Robot receives a faulty upgrade patch, goes off the deep end, who gets held responsible?

Would a Robot have thoughts?  About life and death?  Existentialism?  Would it feel remorse?  Or happiness?  Could it plan future events to steer outcomes such that it would benefit over another Robot or Human?

Would a Robot sleep?  Or would it work 24/7?  Would it get time off to pursue interests?  Would a Robot get married?  Divorced?  Polygamy or Monogamy?  Could it adopt little Robots or Human children?  Could it have pets?  Could it earn salary?  Have  a bank account?  Could a Robot run for elected Office?  Could a Robot have a funeral?

Keep in mind, when we discuss Robots, we are encapsulating Artificial General Intelligence beings, that are self aware, autonomous and have free will, to a degree.

So we have legal questions, property questions, health questions, family questions, liability questions, just about every question imaginable.

Robots are on the horizon.  Are we ready?


Slaying Dragons

Have you ever tried to untangle a knot?  It's a difficult task indeed.  You must have patience, attention to detail with meticulous steps to outsmart your tangled knot.

Solving puzzles is sort of fun once in a while.  Especially the difficult ones.

Sometimes at work you get a tough challenge to solve.  Typically with short deadline.  Like the production server is down, could you please fix it, for example.

When solving a problem, its a good idea to have quiet space.  So you can concentrate.  For focus and attention.  However, there are times, before you can fix that problem, you need to fix another problem.  Sometimes related, sometimes dependency's involved, sometimes unrelated.

And before you can work on those issues, you have to fix this, this and this.  So you can imagine, pressure times pressure times pressure.

You have to peel the layers of onion problems to get to the core problem.  These can potentially be stressful situations.  Some people run from these.  Others role up their sleeves and set forth, into the unknown.

When all the messes are cleaned up, the seas quiet down and all is well, you can sit back and reflect, and have meeting to assess damage, how to prevent in future, document, and of course, assign blame.

And when you retire and sitting around, you can think about your war stories, tell people how you got your ulcers and high blood pressure, and slayed many a dragon in your prime.  And that's really all that matters.

Slaying dragons!

And so it goes~!


Tennis is Life

For some reason I signed up for the tennis league at the club.  Played the first match, seemed to go a lot easier than I thought it would.

We had a bad stretch of weather and hadn't played in a while.  Got an email to schedule next match.  Got there a few minutes early, decided to stretch out as that's the one ingredient most people conveniently forget.  Ran the lines a bit, reminded of my younger self 30 years ago.

We warmed up briefly, started play.  They stuck us on the back courts, away from most players, except the clinic on the courts across the way.  I was relaxed and focused.  Possibly from multi tasking all day concentrating on the reports and trying to get numbers to match and write code and attend meetings and cooped up all day.

Out on the courts, free as a bird, my mind was quiet.  I had glasses on and could see the ball early.  Got to the ball in plenty of time.  The balls hit to me were not hit hard, they had some air and took a while to get there, so I could run to each ball, track it down, hit a steady shot back, nothing fancy.

I tend to run down every ball and get everything back and this match was turning out that way.  Would hit the ball side to side, down the line, hit it short, make him stretch, run to each shot, keep the ball low.  Each point ended with a well placed shot, not powerful, just well positioned.

Although the weather was warm, humid in fact, sweating through the shirt in no time, I didn't feel slightest bit tired.  The first set ended quickly, 6-0.

Next set, we were tied 1-1, I went up 2-1.  We chatted between games.  Although a competitive match, it was friendly, the thought of losing never entered mind.  I have never played this focused, where the ball went where it was supposed to, every single time, without much thought or effort, the only points I lost when the ball went slightly out, going for the line and just missing.

Not sure people realize how much I trained as a kid.  My coach Cid, during private lessons, would have me hit 25 forehands cross court, ball had to land behind the service line, in the box.  Miss one, start over.  Then down the line forehands.  Next, backhands, cross court and down the line, 25 balls or start over.  Volleys, overheads, serves.  I enjoyed the lessons more than matches.  My career record did not match my level of play during lessons.  Perhaps no pressure, maybe better focus, no fear of losing, not sure.

The match I was playing was similar.  I could hit the ball all day long, didn't want it to end.  But it did, 6-1 in the second set.  We thanked each other, good match, play in the club tournament, see ya next time.

In all my years, I never hit the ball that well, consistent, precise.  I may have only lost a handful of points overall.  Although 30 years have passed, I could sit out there all day chasing down balls, getting everything back, without getting tired.  Perhaps a form of meditation, mind and body in synch, running on instinct, getting lost on the courts.  I think that's how I got through high school now that I think about it.

After school, every day, at the club 3:30 till dark, then worked at the club sweeping the courts.  Or practice on the High School team or with the other Juniors in town with a coach from Bolleteri (now IMG).  Tennis was life.  School was a barrier to get through to get on the courts.  I disliked the school environment since the 8th grade, not fitting in all that well, except for a hand full of people that knew me and my humor.  Every day I played tennis and worked out, ran, weights, jump rope, weekends too.

This match made me think of the good old days, when the outside world didn't matter much, outside the courts.  The only thing that mattered was tennis.  Training, practicing, playing.  Trying to improve.  Challenging better players.  Getting stronger.  Winning.  Losing.  Play again.  Climb the ladder.

When I'm on the clay tennis courts, running around, focusing on nothing in particular, I abandon the real world, as the racket becomes an extension of the arm, the legs move on their own, the mind quiets down, perhaps an inner game of chess, floating around near the baseline, I chase down every ball, every time.  

Tennis is life.  I grew up on the courts.  Where life's problems disappear.  There are no limits on the tennis courts.  It felt good to be home, if just for an hour.


Opportunity Costs Are Everywhere

What's an "opportunity cost"?

Imagine a youngster, involved in: Baseball, basketball, bowling, soccer, swimming. track, roller skating, violin and tennis.  

It's possible to become great in everything, chances are, not really.  In order to pursue greatness, one must focus on a particular skill set.  For me, it was tennis.

That was actually the suggestion of my mother, who drove me and my brother to practice every single day and with carpools.  She also financed my tennis lessons.  Private lessons, group lessons, leagues, tournaments, rackets, strings, grips, clothes, etc.  Probably could have purchased a few cars with that money.

I never won Wimbledon or the US Open.  But the point is that in order to get good as something, you have to drop other things.  And that's known as opportunity costs.

You can apply that to technology.  I started as programmer, databases and report writing.  The languages changed over time.  Eventually, I dropped programming to work specifically with data.    

Within data, there are a dozen different technologies to learn and master.  Some people like Extract Transform and Load, others like Reports, Cubes, NoSQL, Big Data, Performance tune, Data Modeling, Architecture, Developer, Project Manager, Supervisor, Manager.  And within each segment, there are a dozen different vendors and tools.  And those tools must integrate with other technologies and tools.

And then we have Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Streaming Data, Algorithms, Statistics, Visualizations, Graph, and so on.  So even within a specific segment of technology, Data, we have a couple dozen choices, vendors, roles.

You either try to keep up with all of them, become descent, or pick one or two and become great.  Keep in mind, as you choose, you are dropping your expertise level on the other technologies.  That is the price to pay, or cost, for your opportunity to specialize.

Or you could hit the lottery and that would take care of things just fine.

And so it goes~!


Billable Hours

With 13 weeks remaining in 2017, decided to review billable hours for the year.

From high level, on current project, if you combine billable hours + travel and subtract out Holidays, Jury Duty, PTO, Admin time, looking at 120% billable hour rate capacity.

In other words, if you figure each week has 40 potential hours and I worked x number of weeks, I worked every possible hour plus 20% on top of that.  20% of 40 hours is 8 hours, so I've worked on average 48 hours per week for the past 30 weeks.  Although I didn't find time to get training last year or this year.  And last year I let some vacation go unused.

The thing is, although I bill 40 hours max, chances are, I work over 40 hours.  So that would indicate the % is higher.  Although the travel of 171 hours doesn't include the extra day layover on Sundays and I flew home on Friday's 9pm to save money.  And I stayed at AirBnB majority of nights when traveling.  

Found out this week my contract got extended until end of the year.

If you think about it, I taught that online Azure course over a year and a half ago, and till this day, I don't have a single line of code in Azure.  I taught the course on SQL Database, SQL Data Warehouse, Hadoop, HDInsight, Streaming Analytics, Power BI, AzureML, Data Factory, Service Bus, maybe some U-SQL and had a section on Artificial Intelligence.

But I've been writing standard SQL against AWS Data Lake Hive tables the entire project with some PowerBI.com.  SQL hasn't change much in 21 years.

Looking to close out the year, try to use up some of that PTO and start prepping for 2018.  Got some time off scheduled, head to the mountains.  Probably leave the laptops home!

And so it goes~!


Brilliant College Kid, Drop Outs, Start Biz, Makes Billions

We all here these stories, some college kids drops out, makes billion dollar startup.  It's possible, maybe.

What if some group, had some idea for a product, like, lets find a way to get people connected to all their friends, find out their deepest, inner most thoughts, capture those in a database, how could we do that.

Well, we could force people to do data entry every day, remember facts, emotions, web of connections, etc.  Or we could build a fancy cool website, make if fun.

We'll pick someone, let them run the company, make tons of money, and we'll get our ulterior motive.  Which is a data mining site where the public freely enter and divulge all information in their heads of past and current experiences along with their personal relationship network, their underlying beliefs, so we can build social profiles of everyone on the planet, and we won't pay them a dime for this valuable information.

Let's create a device, which people will carry with them at all times.  It will contain all their contacts, they can surf the internet, talk on it, take pictures, upload.  We'll fund it, brilliant founder college dropout will make billions, and we'll introduce our portable, information gathering and tracking device ulterior motive.

The trick is, most if not all people chosen to lead these companies will be college drop outs, somewhat defiant of the system, technological genius, common theme.

If you'd like to introduce ultra new technology for some reason, and would like to mask ulterior motives, simply hire a bright college kid, get them to drop out, spoon feed them the technology, make up some story of company history, kid makes billions, meanwhile you get what you want, public need not know anything.

There's no way this scenario is true.  But.  You ever wonder?

Current State of Technology

What is the current state of technology.

Get a deck of cards.  Open the box.  Throw the cards up into the air.  Watch how each card lands.

Next get a fan, plug it in, aim the fan at the cards, turn on high.  Watch the cards fly through the room, under chairs, tables, behind curtains.

Next, shut all the lights in the room, so you have absolutely no idea where anything is.  Notice how you can't even see the cards any more, scattered, under the chairs and tables.

Now, walk out of the room, down the hall, get in your car, and drive away, fast.

That basically sums it up.

Any questions?


Everybody Loves a Winner

Time to pick up the dog poop out back.  Clean the pool.  Add chemicals.  Clean the filter.  Pull the weeds.  Mow the lawn.  Trim the shrubs.  Bring down the pails.  Bring up the pails.  Bring down the recycled pails.  Bring up the recycled pails.  Clean the garage.  Clean the kitchen.  Clean the bathrooms.  Vacuum the downstairs.  Vacuum the upstairs.  Vacuum the steps.  Clean up the dog fur around the house.  Do the laundry.  Fold the laundry.  Bring the car in for repair.  Drive to doctor appointment.  Call insurance fix the billing error.  Pay the doctor appointment.  Go to next doctor appointment to fix problem cause by previous doctor.  Go to next doctor appointment to fix the problem caused by the next doctor.  Call insurance to fix billing error on last two appointments.  Call doctor to have them fix the notes from doctor visits as they wrote down incorrect stuff.  Pay the bills for previous two doctor appointments.  Look for newer doctor.  Drive to MRI.  Drive to C-Scan.  Drive to pharmacy pick up prescriptions.  Grocery shop.  Sam's Club shop.  Pick up dog food, dog toys, biscuits.  Drive dogs to dog groomer.  Pick up dog medicine.  More doctor appointments.  Drive to dentist for semi-annual cleaning.  Call insurance why didn't they approve x-rays.  Pay bill to dentist.  Emergency crown needed.  Pay bill for crown.  Fill up car with gas.  Pick up food for dinner.  More doctor appointments.  More doctor appointments.  Pay bills for doctor appointments.  Visit and drop off stuff for family member in senior care facility, memory care unit.  Fix the computer, internet not working.  Change the light bulbs that are out.  Change the air conditioning filter.  Order more ac filters.  More doctor appointments.  More prescriptions that don't work.  More bills.  Work 40 hours per week consulting.  Travel.  Work.  Travel.  Work. Travel.  Repeat all the above.  For years.

People wonder what wears you down.  I'm not sure exactly.

When you're going through a storm, don't stop to ask questions.  Just keep moving forward.

How do you take care of yourself?  You don't.  No exercise.  Lack of sleep.  Exhaustion.  Toughen up.

I joined a tennis club.  Started playing after 10 years.  Same people, some new ones as well.  Some good days, some not so good days.  When you're losing, the key thing to remember.  Stick to the basics.  Don't try anything fancy.  Get the ball back in play.  Let the opponent make the errors.  Find some momentum.  Keep at it.  If you lose, play again next week.  Practice at the wall.  Eventually, you find your swing again.  And you win.  Nobody cares about the losses.  Everybody loves a winner.

And so it goes~!


Technology Advances like a Drum with Block Chain Ripe for Prime Time

Data becomes information.  Information adds value if used properly to align business practices, streamline processes with net result of increased sales & profit and reduced costs.

Traditional Reporting
Reports have existed for a very long time.  They report on the past.  Business typically managed the business in the rear view mirror.

Red shirts seems to be selling in region B, while White shirts are selling in Region C, while Yellow shirts are not selling anywhere.  Let's drop Yellow from the product line, increase Red & White shirt production.  Seems Fred had highest sales, Bob had lowest.  Lots of useful information of the past.

OLAP Cubes
Next, we accumulated that data into Cubes for faster slice and dice.  Lots of data transformation, business rules and data ingestion.  Costs a lot, tough to maintain, can't store all data.

Big Data
Next, Big Data provides data lake to store all data.  Still need to cleanse, transform and prepare data for consumption.  Handles a lot of prior issues, and adds some problems as well.

Machine Learning
Machine learning has been around for a while also.  People have been creating "models" to predict future probability based on past data.  I know the banks used this in the mid 1990's to score credit applications.  Advances in technology, lower costs and software availability have proliferated into mass consumption.  Schools and University's provide courses so people can get up to speed quickly.

Artificial Intelligence
Artificial Intelligence is a higher level of all this.  Massive data, crunching numbers to provide easy access to important information at the snap of a finger.  It's widely available on smart phones.

Internet of Things
Internet of Things allows remote sensors to capture and relay information back to central hub for storage, processing, analysis in real time.  Our planet is in the process of becoming interconnected.  Besides not have standard protocols, guaranteed security and widely available programmer base, there are other things to consider like how long is the battery life of a device, how do we apply software patches and upgrade Hardware & Software over time.

Quantum Computing
Quantum Computing is a hot topic.  Scientist attempt to leverage the peculiar behavior of quantum physics and apply to technology.  Our entire computing system is based on binary numbers of zeros and ones, when combined, they form a language which computers can interpret.  Quantum bits allow greater flexibility where a state may be 0, 1 or some where in between.  This added feature allows faster computation across wider scenarios and can potentially reduce computation time to solve difficult problems.  Theoretically, this technology will be able to crack any encryption known today and poses security risks perhaps.  The machines are very expensive, difficult to maintain cold environments and the knowledge base is centralized to advanced level mathematicians, physicists and scientist.  The quantum bit has bizarre properties, such as instantaneous communication with paired bits across great distances.  Another behavior is not knowing the state of a particular bit until we ask the bit what its state is.  This tech has great potential.

Block Chain
With all that said, the newest feature that has a lot of attention right now is the Block Chain.  Why is it hot?  Because it lays the framework plumbing technology foundation across a variety of sectors.  It has potential to radically alter existing processes such as banking, healthcare, election systems, stock market transactions, clearing house middlemen, just about anything.  What is unique about Block Chain?

It's a distributed ledger.  Transactions are written, never removed.  Each transaction has a Digital Signature, basically a hashed key of the prior transaction, along with current key.  As the transaction is sent out, the Digital Signature is validated and record is recorded across a distributed  data store and record is assumed to be valid because it passes the rules engine and the group agrees the transaction to be valid.  Block Chain can handle any "asset".  Assets can be people, things, events, you name it.

The transaction could be anything.  We agree to give x person 10 units of y.  Transaction sent.  Authenticated & distributed & recorded.  Audit trail agrees.  Done deal.

It could also be stock purchases.  ABC agrees to sell 10 shares of Y Stock to DEF at $10 per share on 10/01/2017.  Transaction sent, authenticated, distributed, recorded.  Done deal.  No batch processing.  No hidden fees.  No hold up in time.  No fraud.  No corruption.  

Speaking of fraud, imagine an Election process that wrote votes to the Block Chain.  Secure, record-able, transparent if need be, audit trail.  Completely transparent with documented audit trail.

This Block Chain technology could not only disrupt just about every business model today, it could also replace our paper money.  Imagine that.  Without paper money, what's the need for traditional banks.  Just sent money across the Block Chain, pay the nominal fees, transaction is secure, done deal.  Imagine all the available real estate with empty banks potentially.

In my estimation, sure reporting is great.  Insights are wonderful.  AI to ease the flow of life, that's tremendous, although Artificial General Intelligence may not happen for a while, if at all, can read my post on that topic here.  IoT can link the worlds together digitally.  Block Chain has the most potential to radically alter the life here on planet Earth.  

What's the holdup from widespread adoption?  My estimation is getting the Block Chain to scale up.  As in millions of transactions a second across a distributed network across the planet.  Maybe that new underwater pipeline between North America and Europe could help facilitate that.  Once Block Chain scales, you could see widespread adoption across a variety of sectors, including all the big boys in every sector.

Technology geeks will eventually run the World's digital plumbing via Block Chain and it will have the biggest impact in the near future.

And so it goes~!

Can Mankind Create Artificial General Intelligence

What do you want to do when you grow up.  For some of us, we still haven't decided.  After close to 50 years.

Chances are, if you chose anything related to technology, you have a chance at keeping your job until you retire.  Although most jobs are now becoming technology related.

They say Artificial Intelligence will soon be here.  First we'd have to define what AI is.  And there are two camps, one is narrow artificial intelligence and the other is general artificial intelligence.

We've already got narrow AI built into many household devices especially smart phones along with some sites on the web.  These assistants make our lives easier by studying patterns, analyzing tons of data to facilitate easier flow in our everyday lives.

As far as general artificial intelligence, from what I've seen, we are years away, if ever, of solving this riddle.  What we are talking about is creating a life form out of thin air.  That sort of dabbles with the hidden laws of nature and physics, which is probably hidden for a reason.

Some of our brightest minds have attempted to create AGI for the past 60+ years, with minimal success.  If the goal is to reproduce the activity of the human mind, we have a ways to go.  We know the basic architecture, except for the black box that ties everything together.  Call it what you like, the soul, the being, the unique aura of an individual, we don't know much about it.

If the goal is to reproduce the behaviors and characteristics of mankind, we better understand what that infers.  This AGI must understand human emotions, like love and hate, lust, greed, envy, rage, revenge, wars, homicide, genocide, blind obedience, hierarchical structures that benefit only the few, for the AGI beings to understand just how we think and behave.

What we've got here, is a reputable version of clinical settings for creating a Frankenstein.  It's alive!  Oh know, what have we created?

I would think that many smart people in the AGI field have already concluded that creating life out of thin air is no easy task.  Is it possible at all?  Time will tell.  If we do in fact let the genie out of the bottle, there would be no turning back.

And why is that?  Primarily because our attempt to rush into this without planning, architect, strategist, creating rules and laws of ethics and behavior, is just not at a point it needs to be.  Our rush to market, for profit and control of the market, is simply bypassing these required tasks.

Another reason for possible delay, AGI is not simply a technology issue.  It's a social, financial, legal, medical, biological, just about every industry needs to be apart of the process.  Technology is just one aspect.  That requires an arsenal of staff, granted, some heavy hitters are putting up a lot of money so they probably have these items covered.

Technology is racing forward.  We've removed the guard rails and safety nets.  Full steam ahead.  If we do crack the code of creating life, I sure hope society can withstand their creation, and if it survives, our lives could potentially be altered forever.

You can read some more blogs on the subject:

Intelligent Machines or Pandora's Box

And so it goes~!


Data Is Not the New Oil

They say data is the new oil.  Oil is black tar like substance, extracted from the ground, from ancient fossils.

Data is a bunch of zeros and ones combined to form objects in the form of strings, numbers, blobs, etc.

There's only so much oil in the Earth.  Data is an infinite resource.  That's a clear distinction.

Oil can be extracted from the ground, assuming you have the rights and machinery to do so, as well a way to offload your cargo to refinery and then market for sale

Data can be home grown, purchased or found on the web.

Only oil specialist can work with oil, from extraction to shipping to processing to your gas pump at the station.

Anyone who has access to a computer, knows Excel or SQL can work with data.

There are some very clear distinctions as to why Data is nothing like Oil.

What do they have in common.  Ability to make money~!

and there you have it~!


Digital Currency uses Block Chain Technology

Digital Currency is taking off.  A new currency that bypasses traditional banks and markets.  Many currencies are worth billions.

It runs on block chain.  A database that writes transactions across distributed network.  The digital ledger is sequentially written, transparent and uses hashtags to ensures validity.  If someone tampers with the chain, future transactions will not be accurate for all to see.

Who discovered this technology?  Some guy, not sure.  He wrote a white paper, helped out a bit, then disappeared.  Seems odd.  Digital currency entered the scene Jan 2009, after the financial meltdown.

Block chain is highly valuable due to the fact that it handles secured transactions.  The chain doesn't have to be related to money, so the open source code can be used across variety of sectors.  Think healthcare, retail, stock market.  Transactions are instantaneous, bypassing the traditional wait time like overnight batch processing.

It's primed to replace paper money in the near future.  Perhaps another financial collapse, exit paper money, enter digital currency stage left.  Electronic currency can be tightly controlled, making fraud and money laundering almost impossible.

Block chain can track assets.  Any asset.  With the rise of Internet of Things or IoT, products can be tracked using current methodologies, and soon to be tracked using block train.

Let's say you purchase an item on the internet, using a digital currency like Bitcoin.  The product is shipped, perhaps tracked in the delivery truck, it arrives at your house.  The embedded sensors in the IoT device sends signals back to the home office, write a record to the block chain, "asset ownership="John Q. Owner", DateOfOwnership="2017-09-22", PricePaid="49.99", TaxPaid="3.49".  As you can see, the asset is tracked in an IoT Block Chain database, over time, with audit trail.

If asset changes hands, perhaps stolen or bartered, were proper taxes paid, IoT-Block Chain knows.

Once digital currency takes off and potentially replaces paper money, the national deficit could be wiped clean over night.  Since the dollar is no longer tied to the gold standard, and potentially no longer secured with paper money, not only can every coin or token be tracked in real time, we could also trace each coin back in time to see how it changed hands, when, by whom, you name it.

Imagine how many companies are tied to paper money.  Banks may not be necessary in the future.  Also something to note, the entire currency could be centrally located, perhaps across the globe, with a single currency.  Asset tracking could become a reality.  Transparency.  Audit trail.  And Centrally controlled.  The ramifications of this technology could alter the planet, a real eye opener for sure.  Don't take my word for it.  Have a watch:

The times, they are a changin'.


Is Ride Share Business Model a Fad or Here to Stay

Driving people from place to place, using your own vehicle has many positive aspects.

  • You become self employed.  Tax write offs.
  • You set your own hours.  Work any time you feel like it.  Day or night.
  • You get to meet interesting people.
  • You get to see the world, not behind a cubicle, but right in front of your eyes.
  • You can work part time or full time, you choose.
  • You get tips plus paycheck.
  • Revenue stream

There's a lot of freedom.

On the downside, you're car takes a real beating. 

  • Wrack up miles faster than one can image.
  • What does that do to the resale value.
  • What about frequent car repair.
  • Increases chance of auto wrecks, possible insurance increases.
  • No guarantee of riders.
  • What if your passenger takes you an hour away with no return fairs.
  • Increase competition as more drivers ready to pick up next ride.
  • Not sure if they get benefits, like days off, sick days, insurance, but I doubt it, freelancers.
I wonder what happens when the drivers require a new vehicle at the end of the year.  Wouldn't the cost of a new vehicle dip in to the profit stream worked so hard to get during the year.

Is ride sharing a good business model.  Definitely for the owners of the company.  Not much overhead, as they don't own the vehicles, the workers are not employees and the routes are selected via a derivative of machines learning and artificial intelligence.

Good model for the workers?  Perhaps.  Quick and easy revenue stream.  Just keep in mind, there are downstream hidden costs.

Will this model trickle into other segments of society?  Streamlined business model, keep the profits, place the burden of costs on the free-lanced workers.  If the goal in increased profits and decreased costs, seems like a no-brainer.

And there you have it~!


Universal Global Unique Identifier or U-GUID

The Universe is based on energy.  That energy aligns and clusters and disperses.  Similar to a swarm of bees.

We align and cluster ourselves.  Pick a favorite sports team, we align, unite, form a bond, have an agreed upon adversary.  Pick a Country.  State.  City.  Political Party.

We cluster and form an energy unit.  Aligned on beliefs and values.

Yet some of our cluster mates, may actually be antagonist in another cluster.  We may align with USA, but we like the Yankees and you like the Mets.  Another cluster may like the Mets, yet they are Republicans and Pro-Choice while you are Democrat and Pro-Union.

We partake in different overlapping clusters and form alliances accordingly so long as the group does not further cluster within the outer cluster.

Try for a minute, to remove all your Clusters.  No favorite team, political party, country, religion.  What have you.  

That's your true self, without the layer upon layer of aligned clusters.  Now that you've found the core, you have past memories and experiences that make you unique.

Now remove those.  At this point, how much different are you than anybody else?

Do you have a unique signature that defines you specifically, a Universal Global Unique Identifier or U-GUID?  If so, does that stay with you after you depart this planet?  Has your U-GUID been to other realities in other parts of the Universe?  Has it been to this planet prior and will it return, where does it go when it leaves?  Are there different levels of U-GUID's as far as Spiritual Growth.

Is the U-GUID your "soul"?  An energy field that never dies?  Simply transforms dimensions and realities and learns with each new life.  If so, how important is that new big screen plasma television or Ferrari, material pleasures or distractions from our true calling?

That's the question on the table.  Were we placed here on Earth at this point and time to further our evolutionary growth of Spirit, to experience physical reality in order to learn and grow?

And so it goes~!


Riding the Storm Out in Florida

We weathered Hurricane Irma with minimal impact.  We were fortunate to have power all day and night with constant flickering, along with internet connection.  The winds howled continually throughout the evening and picked up gust around 1am.  I stayed up until 3pm then went to bed.  When we awoke, went outside to assess damage.  Mostly downed branches and limbs.  The trench dug on the side of the house did its job and pushed the water out of the backyard.  And we brought in all the stuff from outside so no flying debris.

Then I raked up the leaves, went on the roof to rake some more, assembled a pile out front.

Had a chance to strum the guitar while the storm howled, riding the storm out around 1am on the back patio...(video quality ain't so great).  I basically finger pick the notes, with no song and no idea what next note will be at any point.  Just random strumming, using index and third finger and open strings mostly.

Hurricanes are part of living in Florida.  First direct hit since we moved here in 1982.  I hope everyone who stayed during the storm was safe and damage to property not too severe.

And so it goes~!


Sit and Wait

The Hurricane was heading towards Florida, they predicted an east Coast thing, so many of the residents were thinking, we're off the hook.  I was holding out as the storms have a mind of their own.  Sure enough, the thing turned heading directly towards us.  We heard stories of people driving north, grid traffic, arriving to destination with not much gas.  So we decided to ride it out.

I spent about 10 hours Saturday preparing the house.  Then I got a call from a friend, he left town in a camper, was in Texas when we spoke.  He said to get out.  By that time, it was really too late.

So we spent the day doing nothing much really, just waiting for the nasty weather to start.  And start it has.  Wind is howling, trees are shifting from side to side, been raining nonstop for hours.  Dogs are huddled together.  Lights have been flickering on and off for hours.  Internet keeps resetting.  At this point, we expect to lose power shortly, as the storm should arrive after midnight.

All we can do is sit and wait.  So that's what we'll do.  See you on the other side (of the storm) ~!

Mapping Attributes Across the Galaxy using Big Data

Let's say you had an IoT device.  It would contain a variety of information including latitude and longitude as two attributes that change over time.

Let's say you could record every location along with time, to give a complete record.

Let's take this a step further, and somehow embed a sensor IoT in every atom in our Galaxy.  We'd store the Id, Lat, Lon along with time stamp for every atom at every instance of time down to the microsecond.

Then we could use mapping technology to replay specific intervals in time.  That would pick up a handful of attributes, but what if we could store others.  And record in a big data repository.  Perhaps a Graph database to see how different atoms aligned or repelled with other Atoms, discover the secret to 'dark mass' in the Universe.

If anyone has free time and would like some extra credit, please feel free to begin this project.  It would be much appreciated.

And so it goes~!

Meetup with Other Selves in Alternate Parallel Universes

 Having some spare time waiting for the Hurricane Irma to make a presence, I organized a Meetup  with my other selves who reside in alternate parallel Universes.  We all met in a galaxy far far away, few of me were late as MapQuest not available in that sector of the galaxy.

We each introduced ourselves, how our lives progressed, and got to witness what our lives would have turned out had we made alternate decision at each point in our lives.  Some of me were very successful, others not so much.

We spoke of past lives, turns out some of me borrowed so much, they're still repaying back the loans.  It was a very enlightening experience to meet all of me at this point in time/space.  Really opens your mind to the ramifications of each decision in life.  Some good, some not so good, then amplified with each new decision.

It's sort of like the Theory of Fractals where each spot of physical space can be zoomed in, only to find new spaces where you zoom in again until infinity.  Same with decision making and it's exponential possibilities and such.

Regardless, based on discussion with my other selves from alternate parallel Universes, I'd have to say the segment strand I'm currently on, this could very well be Purgatory.

And so it goes~!

Purpose of Media

Television and media have multi purpose.

Entertainment  Low level sit-coms to babysit the masses.

Information Flow  Disseminate single source of the truth.  Watered down, filtered, altered and biased.

Revenue Stream Advertisers pay gobs of greenbacks to get their brand in front of your eyes and ears.  Seriously, who purchases items based on loud, flashy, obnoxious, half true blurbs.  Apparently just about everyone.

Create Culture When you have the attention of majority of population, you get to inject subtle hints of acceptable behavior.  You set the tone, define boundaries, within limits, you don't attack the people paying revenue stream, shoot yourself in the foot.

Anxiety If you catch yourself getting anxious after media binges, its not by accident.  Media structures its content to make you feel weak, tired, lethargic, anxious and perhaps depressed.  In that state, you aren't much of a threat, chances are you'll likely binge purchase to feel better.  News spews one bad segment after another after another after another.  Newspeak.

If you ever take over a country, first thing you get is control of their media.  Then their education system to educate the youngsters, as the adults are too old to learn new behaviors.  Loot their museums.  And their financial markets of course, start flowing your goods and services cha ching!

Let's march to victory~!

And there you have it~!

Credit Bureau Data Breech

The Equifax breech in my opinion is the grand daddy of them all data hacks.

When I approved loans for 4 or 5 years, Credit Bureau was the "main" way to asses if someone was credit worthy.

A 5 to 10 second glance at the report, we could determine if you drank champagne, beer or milk.  In other words, we could determine your character using the credit report.  And it works.

Back in the early 1990's, the main 3 were Equifax, TransUnion and TRW.

Now that hackers have this info, we're screwed basically.  They know every credit card, auto, home and unpaid student loans you've had, for the past 7 years.  They know if you pay your bills, they have your address info.  What more could they need.

Truly  this is a data hack of epic proportions.  The one thing I learned about approving loans, the ones who qualify best, don't need the loans.

And there you have it~!


Big Storms a Comin'

Big storms a comin'.  Started preparing the house this am bright and early.  Just finished up around 6pm.  Bringing in all the stuff from outside, dug a ditch to the front yard from the back as water tends to accumulate.  Quite a day.

Pool clean, check!

Patio clean, check!

Trench dug, check!

Patio stuff brought in, check!

Car in garage, check!

I remember back in 1986, me and a tennis team mate rode out the storm.  And we had the half dozen storms around 2003 or 2004 back when I worked for the insurance company, got quite a lot of damage in the 3 county are Miami, Dade & Broward.

I believe this storm is heading our way.  Its going to be a big one.  Neighbor said the big issue are the trees.  I tend to agree.

Since we're not evacuation zone we decided to stay put.  We're about a mile from the Bay.  You have to respect Mother Nature.

They've been saying Tampa Bay is due for a big one.  Guess we'll find out shortly.

House is secure, food, water. Going to ride this storm out. To our Florida community and states to the North, we got this! Prayers.

Chloe ready, check!

Sammie ready, check!

Snoopy ready, check!

And so it goes~!