3/26/2017

Will automation take people's jobs?

When you drive through a toll booth, there's nobody waiting to take your money, make change, small talk.  Just a bunch of empty booths.  With a sign indicating your charge will be though your license plate.  A mysterious picture scanning your plate, determine the charge, finding its way to your mailbox.  Or pre-purchased account on your windshield.

I drove to the ATM, took out some cash.  No teller necessary.  When I called the customer service,  a friendly voice instructing which buttons to push, authorize my credentials, perform the transaction.

Will automation take people's jobs?

That's a good question.

One possible theory, artificial intelligence will wipe out humanity, or put us in cages at the zoo, or will outperform humans to such a degree that we become obsolete.  P
eople speak of a new form of socialism or guaranteed basic income where people will enjoy luxury activities in their idle time.

Some question comes to mind, 


  • Do you think the banks will forgive people''s outstanding debt.
  • Who will pay for people's healthcare
  • Who will pay for people food.
  • Who will pay for people housing.
  • Why would people reproduce if their offspring have no chance of employment.
  • Will people enter debtors prison for unpaid debt.

I don't think we know at this point.  Let's examine some current trends.

  • We know many jobs have already been automated.
  • We know that prices are going up sharply for basic goods and services
  • We know that many incomes are flat or decreasing.
  • We know that job competition is stiff for low wage earners.
  • We know that some high paying jobs have been pushed offshore.
  • We know people are working more hours.
  • We know people are working well past retirement age.
  • We know average household debt is approximately $12,000.
  • We know many households are upside down on their mortgages and many have entered the foreclosure process.
  • We know that student loan debt has risen substantially and is longer candidate to write off during bankruptcy.
  • We know the cost of healthcare is rising and there's a penalty for not having any.

Let's take out our magic crystal ball and attempt to synthesize these observations.

Are the current trends benefiting society as a whole.

If we circle back to automation and artificial intelligence, will they have an impact on society.  


  • Will somebody step in and subsidize payments for a good chunk of society and if so, how will that get financed.
  • What will people do 24 hours a day with no chance of employment ever.  
  • How will the logistic take place to house and feed and care for all these unemployed people, forever.
  • With less money flowing through the economy, what impact will that have to business'.

This is a tricky sticky subject and I'm surely no expert in the field.  I'm just asking basic questions on possible scenarios and how they could play out.  And pointing out some trends and food for thought to see which way we're heading.

One thing to keep in mind, if the purpose of a business is to maximize profit and decrease costs, and automation and Artificial Intelligence are definite ways to accomplish those, what impact will that have on the economy, humanity and the planet.  Are there any safety nets in place or in the works to ensure a soft landing if automation was to cause ripple effects.  Will humanity continue it's trend of upward mobility, from the jungle, into the grasslands, onto farms, into cities.

Perhaps time will tell.

3/19/2017

The Data is Priceless

We hear the drum that data is the new oil.

IBM owns the weather channel.  Surely those weather points are valuable.

Microsoft owns LinkedIn.  Sure that data is valuable.  Just about every person that is employed is on LinkedIn.  With their complete work history, timelines, places, job descriptions.  How much could the data alone be worth.  Priceless.

What are some other data points that could be purchased?  That's what investors should focus on.  That data is worth more than diamonds, oil, land.

In my humble opinion.

3/18/2017

Quick Ideas for New Software Apps

I was thinking of some apps for the smartphone.

Like a diet app, when it determines your location is a bakery or fast food joint, it send an electronic zap to your phone.  Call it "Shock Diet".

Here's a handy feature, have a sensor in your mailbox, sends notification when mail is delivered.  How many times have you walked to the mailbox, opened the box, nothing. 5 x in a day.  That would save time and money.  But then again, surprised we still have snail mail.  Call it "MailboxAlert".

How about an app that can scan your food, tell you how many calories, how many sit ups you'll need to do to work it off, how many days it will cut short your life.  Call it "DietaryGenie".

How about an app so when you fly, it tells you what city/state/providence you are flying over at that exact moment.  Call it "FlyOverU".

How about an app that tells you where things are in a store.  Have you ever walked around a giant box store, wondering aimlessly, with no sales people in sight.  Call it "SalesPersonGhostTown".

How about an app that does your waiting on hold for you.  We are experience longer than usual wait times, your call should be handled in a week from Tuesday.  Call it "IfWeActuallyCared We'dHireSufficientStaff".

How about an app that rates the office staff of a place you visit.  You know the ones that could care less who you are or why you're there, that make you wait for long periods while the surf their smart phones.  Call it "TooLazyForARealJob".

How about an app that monitor's the free items at food places.  You know the people who take 25 sugar packs to stock up at home, or salt, napkins, creamers.  How about an app that limits these petty thieves.  Call it "Ain'tStealingHereNoMore".

That's all I can think of.  I should have those apps completed by lunchtime.

Thanks for reading~!

9 Things to a Happier Life

Get rid of cable.  First of all, it ain't cheap.  Second, it turns the mind to mush.  Third, think of all the better things you could be doing.  Get a part time job, read a book, walk in nature, fix the house, anything is better.

Get rid of your land line.  With all the negative aspects to smart phones, they really do assist in your day to day activities.  Of course you can talk on them, get voicemail, read emails, find directions, etc.  I don't know how we existed without them.  Why would you need a land line, other than to host a fax machine.  And get rid of you musket and covered wagons too.

Outsource the stuff you don't want to do.  Sure it may costs money, if you can free up your time to do things you enjoy, it's worth it.

Do the stuff you've been putting off.  Nobody's getting younger.  There's only so much time.  People get health issues.  Fact of life.  Don't wait until the end, there won't be time.

Enjoy the ride.  Life is a marathon.  There is no imaginary place off in the future, where everything magically becomes great.  That theme generates just about every marketing effort since the beginning of time.  That illusion will cost you.  Life may not be perfect, but it's all we have.  You don't have to stop and smell the roses, enjoy the treasures of life in the small details of everyday living.

These are the good old days.  Guess what, taxes will probably go up for the rest of our lives.  Aches and pains become more frequent.  People will not always be around.  Life has been a struggle going back to the days in the jungle.  Life is what it is.  It will never be perfect.  Best enjoy life and be thankful for what you have.  You may not always have it.

Do nice things.  It's easy to turn a blind eye.  Throw that rubbish on street.  Cut someone off in traffic.  Doesn't take much skill or effort to be self absorbed.  Give someone a compliment.  Do more than what's asked.  Show up early, stay late.  The world could use some kindness.

Get a dog.  Dogs are God's present to mankind.  They are loyal, caring and furry.  We grew up with cats.  Cats are great, but they aren't dogs.  Dogs are tremendous.  We have 3 spoiled dogs.

Get rid of fear.  Some people say there are only two forces in the Universe, Love and Fear.  Fear is a lower vibration.  We find it everywhere.  Television, news, you name it.  People are afraid of just about everything, including fear itself.  Fear is mostly an illusion.  Except when you get that feeling that a tiger is about to eat you while drinking from the watering hole.  That fear is real.  It's the false fear that weighs us down.  And turns us into not so nice people.  Fear keeps people afraid.  When people are afraid, they become docile and make you old before your time.  Stay young.  Don't fear fear.  Just an illusion.

And there you have it~!

Reunion in Boston

It's not everyday you have a family reunion.  Well, today was that day.

While in Boston, MA for business, my mother was in town as my 97 year old Grandmother wasn't feeling well.  She arranged to meet along with my Aunt and Uncle.  We met at a nice Italian restaurant and had a great reunion talking about the past and present.  Sure has been a long time.

Bit of a chilly night, yet warmer than last week.


Earlier in the day, had a chance to walk over to Harvard University.  Went to the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Natural History, I majored in Anthropology and Archaelogy.  Enjoyed viewing the ancient Native American Indians, especially from the SE and NE of USA.  The old brick buildings were everywhere and the weather was quite nice.



Good times~!

3/15/2017

Tennis & Programming Similarities

When you've been playing tennis all your life, you can basically pick up a racquet at any time and play descent tennis.  Sure the foot work, timing and endurance are slower than expected, but the natural game is still there.

When I was a junior, I stopped all other sports to focus on tennis.  My coach Cid played #1 position for the local university.  Unorthodox, yet fierce.  Had a one hand backhand slice, the ball never rose.  Pin point accuracy.  And used the same grip for both forehand and backhand.  Serve wasn't spectacular, could place the ball anywhere on the court at any time with complete accuracy.  And never missed a shot due to unforced error.

That's the game he taught me.  Minus the one hand slice backhand.  Primarily because I throw left handed and played right hand, so the two handed backhand was better than the forehand.

Every lesson, had to do physical strength exercises.  And consistency.  Hit a forehand crosscourt, inside the singles lines, behind the service box.  25 times in a row without missing, or start over.  Then go down the line.  Then backhands, same thing.  Volleys.  Overheads.  Serves.  And running.

Those private lessons helped to compete with the local community players.  Our coach taught at Nick Bolletteri in Bradenton, Florida.  The best players in town practiced every night after school.

Some of those juniors went on to the pros.  The interesting thing, when you've played at a certain level, you can determine a players ability in a short time.  When I taught tennis for a while, you could pick up players strengths and weakness pretty quick.  Did they have talent.  Were they still getting better or have they plateaued.  Some people get to a certain level, and never get better.  I'm sure the same applies to life.  I think programming is similar.  You can size up a persons skills and depth of knowledge.  Are they keyword specialist, do they have history of proven success, do they avoid work at all costs, are they continuous learners or one hit wonders.

I've played tennis since the 6th grade and got started in computers in the 8th grade.  Quite a long time on both fronts.  I find the similarities are, performing the actions without thought.  In tennis, after you have the skills, you run on instinct.  Maybe true for programming too.  Who knows.

I suppose the major takeaway is this.  You practice and learn for a long time.  Without knowing it, at some point, you have the skills to teach others.  I still enjoy hitting the tennis ball.  And still enjoy solving complex problems.  Just trying to get better, and enjoy the ride.

3/14/2017

AWS Data Lake Hadoop Hive with DBVisualizer Project

About midway through the 2nd week of an 8 week project.  I'm working for a large insurance company located in Downtown Boston.  What technologies am I working on for this project?  I work on Operational Reports for the Actuarial department.  They have a source database, a team that gets the data into AWS Data Lake, Hadoop Hive tables.  We connect using an IDE called DBVisualizer and write custom SQL statements.  Also some Power BI and Tableau development. 

I spent some time researching Hive optimization techniques.  They have partitioning, bucketing, indexing, writing better SQL code, but they also have other options.  They recommend using Sort By rather than Order by, specify the order of your Group By fields, avoid nested Sub-Queries, use Between rather than <= and >=.  

Found a few good links I read:

http://docs.hortonworks.com/HDPDocuments/HDP2/HDP-2.0.0.2/ds_Hive/optimize-joins.html

http://stackoverflow.com/questions/32370033/hive-join-optimization

https://www.justanalytics.com/blog/hive-tez-query-optimization

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/hdinsight/hdinsight-hadoop-optimize-hive-query

https://hortonworks.com/blog/5-ways-make-hive-queries-run-faster/

https://www.justanalytics.com/blog/hive-tez-sql-query-optimization-best-practices

https://docs.hortonworks.com/HDPDocuments/HDP2/HDP-2.3.6/bk_performance_tuning/content/ch_query_optimization_hive.html

Basically its full life cycle report development.  Gather specs, map the fields, write the queries, validate the data with the Business, deploy to production, document, maintain and enhance.   I've worked for an Insurance company before, so I understand the basic concepts such as Inforce, Written Premium, Earned Premium, Claim Payments, etc. 

I do enjoy working in different regions with different clients, people, projects, challenges, scenery and weather.  I guess that's one good thing about consulting, never the same day twice.

And there you have it~!

3/02/2017

Great Podcast on Anthropology and Technology

I've been reading and listening to James Altucher for a long time.  Quite a fascinating person with interesting background and exemplary chess player.

I just listened to a fascinating podcast.  It talks about Anthropology and Technology.  Lots of intelligent discussion on real subjects that will shape society.

Ep. 216: Yuval Noah Harari – The Next Step in Our Evolution

Here's the link: http://www.jamesaltucher.com/2017/03/yuval-noah-harari/?utm_source=linkedin&utm_medium=syndicate&utm_term=noah-harari&utm_content=playbar&utm_campaign=noah-harari

Have a listen...

3/01/2017

Getting Started with Docker

Microsoft now offers SQL Server on Linux.  Now that's big news.  Here's a blog post from the team:  https://blogs.microsoft.com/blog/2016/03/07/announcing-sql-server-on-linux/#sm.00016g1jw81e4bdoku6pmahks7tll

I read this link that has a download available for Public Preview:

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/sql-server/sql-server-vnext-including-Linux



The first step, is to install Dockers for Windows 10 using this URL:  https://docs.docker.com/docker-for-windows/install/


I clicked the Stable channel, downloaded file, ran the install.


Install complete!



Docker has started...


In the task menu, there is a whale, right click to see version and settings:


There are several settings on this page which is easy to use and is similar to the Hyper-V Settings I've used in the past.

From the Advanced tab, I set the Memory to 2816, clicked apply, Docker resets.  As a note, I originally select 4096 and it threw an error insufficient memory.


It sets a default sub-net address, sub-net mask and you can modify the DNS server if needed:


Following the steps from this post:  https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/sql/linux/sql-server-linux-setup-docker we open our trusty Command Prompt, we check the Docker Version to verify it installed correctly (you can also use Power Shell):


Still within Command Prompt, we initiate the Pull request:


Downloading bits:


Extracting:

 
 
Completed, typed in > Docker info
 


Per the instructions on the website, type in:

docker run -e 'ACCEPT_EULA=Y' -e 'SA_PASSWORD=' -p 1433:1433 -d microsoft/mssql-server-Linux

It create a VHDX file which can be opened in Hyper-V on Widows 10:



Looking at Hyper-V, it loaded the new server as MobyLinuxVM:


From within Hyper-V, click Connect:


The VM did not load, so uninstalled Docker (stable) and downloaded the beta version.  Then initiated another pull, this time using Power Shell:


I poked around on some of the Docker blog posts and learned quite a bit.  I will use Power Shell to work on Docker going forward.

In time, I'll go back and get SQL Server working on a Docker Hyper-V VM.  Seems like a cool way to download pre-built containers, distribute and maintain images.

Thanks for reading~!

Mountain Living