4/18/2018

And in other news, Tennis

I picked up a tennis racket in 6th grade.  Been playing ever since.  The last year, I played at one of the local clubs.  Got included in some weekly doubles matches, which was nice, as many players there from years ago when I played competitive.

Although I won the winter singles league 4.5, I got waxed in the club champion tournament, glad I entered though, gave a good fight.

I decided to cancel the membership recently, as I wasn't getting much time of the courts, and it was kind of expensive.  I got a call to play at the city club from a player I've known for a while.  We played a good first set, tied at 3-3 went on to win.  Next set, same thing, tied 3-3, then went on to loose.  Suppose I simply tightened up towards the end.

Reason being, I'm not in great shape, not competitive shape.  These guys play a few times a week.  And its a new generation, as none of them remembered me from before, which is good and bad perhaps.  Afterwords, I learned that several players are 5.0 or were 5.0 so splitting sets wasn't all too bad for first time.  One guy said I serve like a right handed McEnroe, never heard that before.

The tennis community really is a small world.  After sitting out for a decade, then playing at a club for a year, its still good just to get out of the house and bang the ball for a while, as I work out of the house and never leave except for doctor appointments, errands, food shopping, restaurants and attending soccer matches.  So its one thing I can do solo, get good exercise and socialize.  This club, you pay per match, so its cost effective and they have good players, maybe I'll play again, hopefully!

And there you have it~!

How Did You Get Here

In all fairness, I didn't talk much.  Usually under my breath, some sarcastic remark, finding humor in everything.  When growing up, when the newspaper arrived, I reached for the comic section first, with age, Business section was next.

I remember, college, pledging the fraternity, we'd get assignments to clean the fraternity house, they assigned me "spec patrol" every time.  Pick up specs of dirt from the carpet, that's how much they believed in my abilities, hard to mess up spec patrol.

Upon graduation, with a degree in Anthropology, no business experience, during a recession, I had no prospects for a good career.

So I took temp jobs at minimum wage day jobs, until landing a part time job, as my mother knew the hiring manager where she worked.  It wasn't until a few years later, after a few jobs, my manager sat me down as I was transferring to new job within the company.  Enjoyed working with you, you may not believe this, you are the smartest person I've ever met.  No kidding.

That initial jolt of confidence, fueled the storms of low wages, low impact, low on the totem pole for years.  At some point, I wasn't the one asking questions, I was answering them.  People were looking to me solve their problems.  And salary began to reflect.

When asked to teach on online course, I first disregarded.  I have no experience teaching courses, I usually don't speak in pubic, and what would I teach.  After getting past the jitters, I created the entire 4 hour course in less than a week, from initial design, to structuring the outline topics, to installing software and filming.  Granted I didn't sell a ton of courses, yet it was another boost to the confidence.

Earlier this year, I was promoted to Lead Data Analytics Consultant, and that's where I'm at today.  Although I know the various cutting edge technologies, I never got real world experience, in regards to Azure, AWS, Machine Learning, IoT, Artificial Intelligence, BlockChain, although I have one Big Data project under the belt.

My current contract consists of writing SQL statements against Hive database in AWS.  It's sort of the bread and butter of career, getting numbers to match.  It's sort of like picking out specs of data amongst the carpet, sort of like spec patrol.  See, they did know my career path way back in college, just took me a few decades to realize.  Epiphany.

I've had this blog for about 10 years, I wrote auto-biography a few years back on Amazon, except I pulled it off the market, I once interviewed at Facebook and Amazon, yet stopped mid-way as they required relocation, and I got married later in life.  Having started with computers in 1983, things sure have changed quite a bit, yet, in some ways, they haven't.  Still requires logic and command prompts.

And there you have it~!

Massive Data Breech of Significant Proportions

There's a lot of commotion in the news, justly so, regarding data privacy.  Many corporations are selling data.  Some of this data could be considered private, as in medical, as in perhaps Hippa data.  That's sort of a no-no.

You have to look back at the Equifax data breech, to realize the implications.  Before doing reports, I approved loans, as in reading credit reports for Equifax, TransUnion and TRW.

Credit reports tell us everything about a person, their shopping habits, payment records, previous address', any bankrupcy/foreclosure/unpaid student debt, etc., in a nice, easy to read format.  I could ask the customer their basic demographics over the phone, enter into the mainframe terminal at my desk, and pull the credit report, have a decision with an average talk time of under 2 minutes.  That's average, meaning many calls were under 2 minutes.

What does the app + credit report tell us.  It tells us their potential repayment probability, plus, throw in some good old fashion experience plus hunches, into the credit decision to approve or decline, you'll receive a letter in the mail in to 7 to 10 business days explaining the reason why.  

Of course, there were over-rides to the system, but not many, maybe 10%.  So we agreed with the computer model 90% of the time.  And the model bounced up the demographic info such as age, address, length of time on job along with credit report and spit out an answer almost immediately.  It would compare against a model of past customers and their payment history.  We do the same thing now, yet its called data science.

My boss said, from reading the customer's credit report, you should know if they drink whiskey, beer or milk.  In other words, we should have a good picture in our minds of who this person is based on the credit report and demographics.

Back to the main story, with a data breech of credit reports, that data can be constructed to form a financial picture of every person in that data set, not to mention all the credit card info, loan info, social security numbers, address and previous address, alias, you name it.

Its a massive breech of significant proportions.  And that data is swimming through the hands of dark web, being sold and resold.  How about that, food for thought.


And so it goes~!



What Day and Time Is It

How do you track time in the database.

You could base off the timestamp of the web user, which could vary drastically across the globe and different time zones.  You could determine their time zone and subtract Greenwich Time Zone as an offset.

You could base off the time zone where the server resides, except if its in the Cloud across multiple locations, then what.  You could base the time off the store that a person is physically in at the time of transaction.  How about call centers, could be in variety of locations across the country or globe or span multiple time zones.

What time is it.  What day is it.  These seem like easy questions, yet the more you dig into it, the solution varies greatly and requires a systematic consistent architecture that spans the globe.

And so it goes~!



Madness to the Method

I thought everyone noticed these things.  Like when the car odometer has a unique number like 123,456 or you glimpse at the digital clock at 12:34.  Or sometimes you see 9:11 and get a sinking feeling in the stomach, premonition of bad omen?

How about organization, do other people group their socks together according to color, or stack t-shirts based on sports team or brand, or have some unique way of stacking junk high to the ceiling.  People think it's merely chaos, yet there are patterns to the clutter, that only the stacker is aware.

Call them idiosyncrasies, eccentricities, oddities, perhaps there's a method to the madness.  Or as one person once said, a madness to the method, either way you slice it, every person is unique and has their way of doing things.

And so it goes~!

For Data to Truly Become Valuable

Data is the new Oil.  Data is the new Gold.  Data is the new energy from the Sun.

If so, why haven't citizens latched on to something of such great wealth.  Seems only business' and organizations are reaping benefits of connecting the dots through data to find insights.

Why haven't average Joe's reaped the benefit of data intelligence.

Primarily, they don't have access to their own personal data, yet their data is everywhere.  People don't know where there data is, how to access it, how to consolidate it and how to report on it, to gain insight.

If data is going to really grow into its hype, it needs to trickle into the living rooms of everyday people.  Then, it will truly be of value to everyone.

Currently, only business' are reaping the rewards, using the people's data, sometimes, without their knowing.

And so it goes~!

Throwing in a picture of a deer, cute!



4/13/2018

Who Could Ask for Anything More

People often ask me how I met my wife.  And I tell them, I used to hang out at the jail during parole day, scouting out a future mate.  No but seriously.

I was living in a rental villa, after selling my second home.  I had resigned from my job, to do nothing.  By doing nothing, I did websites for people and taught tennis, nothing lucrative.  And I spent my time down at the marina with the local yocals.

During my free time, I sat out front, watching the world go by.  My neighbor, would walk her dog each day.  A Golden Retriever named Maddie.  That dog pulled Karen every day, over to see me.  I'd pat Maddie on the head and talk with her.  I'm on vacation this week I'd say.  Next week, same thing.

A group of us residents decided to walk down to the marina to see the free concert.  Just before heading out, we all looked up, a double rainbow.  We proceeded the mile walk down to the marina and listened to the music.  The other lady hooked up with some friends and it was just me and Karen.  Hey would you like a hot dog and soda?  Sure.

And we proceeded to eat our dinner, down at the marina, listening to music, watching the sun set.  Afterwords, we began the mile walk home, just the two of us.  We talked the entire way home.  Then we each went to our villas, side by side, it was about 9pm.

I saw that a movie was playing, knocked on my neighbor's door, hey would you like to see a movie?  Now?  Yes.  And so, we went to the late movie.

The next weekend, I had a team tournament in Orlando, we made it to the playoffs, I asked Karen if she could watch my cat.  As I was heading out of town, there was something on my windshield.  A card wishing me good luck.

At the hotel in Orlando, I mentioned to my roommate about the card, he said that one might be a keeper.  So we had our first date the following week, at the steakhouse.

At the time I didn't have much going on, career wise.  I was spending my days and nights down at the marina loitering with the folks telling stories, fishing, doing nothing.  Karen figured I didn't have any money since I wasn't working, said if I need an extra room to stay, she had one.  I don't think she knew I had enough cash saved up to purchase her villa outright, and I had a private banker at the time from savings and selling the houses.

So when I had nothing, she didn't seem to mind.  Sure, I had a few dozen address' over the years, didn't know much about my past.  Just someone to spend time with, do things and be ourselves.  Shortly after, I broke my lease early, moved to her villa, and soon proposed.

They say you should purchase a ring 2 and half your monthly salary, so I purchased a diamond.  Then, they said you need a ring to put the diamond.  Then you need to purchase wedding bands, so little did I know about these matters.

Karen and I have been married for a while now.  The last 3+ years there have been health problems.  Still we enjoy spending time together, travel, attend sporting events, restaurants, cabin in the mountains.

Who could ask for anything more~!

4/12/2018

Compete with Autonomous Beings

Autonomous Intelligence is the future.  And here's why.

When you look at any product or service, the most expensive part of the equation is human capital resource.

In ongoing effort to reduce costs and increase profit, from caveman days to printing press to steam engine to factor lines to personal computer to now, the bottom line is what counts.

When you consider movies based on the future, we see some patterns emerge.  Let's take Star Wars as example.  You have some humans directing things from above, and you have Android beings carrying out orders.

Androids are portrayed as non gender specific, they don't use toilets, they don't stop during the day at the bank to do withdraw, because they don't purchase goods or services.  In fact, they own no belongings, which prevents money flowing into the economy on buying goods and services.

In fact, the only things that belong to an Android is their shell or hardware, the software used to run the thing, and its energy supply.

No sick days.  No insurance.  No bathroom breaks.  No maternity leave.  No pensions.  No yearly costs of living increases.  No Unions.  No nothing.  A fixed asset with predictable life span amortized over time with some ongoing maintenance.

How can humans compete with that.  This is just one scenario based on one movies series.  Obviously there's some wiggle room for error and standard deviation.  However, suffice to say, from a cost savings benefit, humans may be sent out to pasture with the printing press, steam engine.

Perhaps time will tell.

4/11/2018

Train Legacy Programmer or Bring in Expert

Hey there's a hot new technology.  Cutting edge.  Seems really cool.

Yet you work full time for an organization.  That organization doesn't jump into cutting edge technology for variety of reasons.  So you continue to work on code that was hot 5 years ago.

And then, you get wind that a new project is starting.  They'd like to use new technology.  Does the org let you get your feet wet and tackle the new project with new technology.

Or do they bring someone in from the outside that already has experience.

What do you think?

Train legacy programmers or outsource cutting edge technology.

How does one get experience using new technology without having experience using new technology.  That's another age old question.

From what I've seen, some people claim to have experience when they don't.  Others have experience, yet if you look under the hood of code at their "experience" project, its a nightmare.  Yet they get the work, at much higher rate, and the full timer gets to support the app after its thrown over the fence.  And get the bugs out, down the road.  While the guy / gal who wrote it is long gone, making hefty chunk of change.

This is an age old question in the industry and affects lots of programmers.  Yes, the full timer has some degree of stability and job security, steady paycheck.  It's a question each full timer must ask.

And so it goes~!

Go Deep or Wide

We all know what we know.  Some are good at what they do.  Yet that's all they do.

The best baseball player in the league, may not know how to balance a checkbook.

The best financial guru may not be a great tennis player.

We know what we know.

You know.

It's when you realize how much you don't know that you become aware.  Once aware, you realize just how big the world is.  And how much there is to learn.

We cannot know everything.  Yet we can learn about what interests us.  Or what's useful to fortify our position.

This surrounds the age old question.  Do we focus on specific items to learn to become expert, or do we go wide and learn a little about a lot, high level knowledge.

One thing to keep in mind, if you go deep on specific topic or area, when things change, you are no longer the expert and have to re-learn.  If you go wide, you never become expert in specific thing.

So expert level in specific niche, or high level knowledge about lots of subjects.

And there you have it~!

4/10/2018

Sports Prepares Us for Adult Career Life

When you play sports the goal is to win.  Could be individual sport or team sport.

When you play individual sports, like swimming or tennis, your individual effort determines your outcome.  That means you two things: nobody to lift you up & nobody to pull you down.  Yet, you may be part of a team that plays another team of individual events.

When you play a team sport, you have members of your team, each with different positions such as baseball or soccer.  Everyone knows their assigned responsibility and work as a unit to overcome the opponent.

People who grew up playing sports, in my opinion, have something extra they bring to the workforce.  Workers who play or played sports have mental toughness.  That toughness shows through in their everyday work, as well as crunch time when pressures rise.  Like a big deadline, big demo, big sales call.  Sports players tend to rise to the occasion and push the nervousness to the side in order to take care of business.

Team players also know the goal is to win as a team, such that, you help out when possible and ask for help when needed.  There are small battles that need attention every day, but the end goal is to win the effort.

Sports players also tend to bounce back after tough days as they know we all have hiccups along the way.  The trick is to view the event, learn from it, and move on.  Tomorrow is another day.

I remember working in the branch of a finance company.  One day I did particularly well and sold a lot of loans, to exceed the monthly quota.  Next day, the boss said yesterday's sales are over, today is a new day, start from scratch.  And that's the mentality you need in the workforce, never rest on yesterday's wins, never accept defeat from yesterday's loss.  Next day start anew.  To bring your A-game.

People that grew up playing sports tend to have a good attitude in the workforce overall in my opinion.  Sports can teach us a lot about the business world.  Playing sports in youth prepares for the battles of life, this includes 40+ year career.  Do you witness this in the workforce - yes or no?

4/09/2018

You Never Know What You'll Find

I've been going to garage sales and flea markets since early teens.  Its amazing what you can find there.  Quality items good prices variety like you've never seen.

We attend garage sales every Saturday.  Set aside specific amount of money, get in the car, head out to fun and adventure.  When the lot of ones are used up, we go home.

And bring our haul into the house, amongst the piles of clutter from Saturday's long ago.

Its surprising to see the variety of items.  And each garage sale is different.  Never the same twice.

The one thing you get good at, is assessing the quality of items as you drive up to the sale.  Within a few seconds you get a feel.  What is the condition and location of house.  What items are for sale.  How are they arranged.  What do the sales people look and act like.

You get a glimpse into people's entire lives by looking at their stuff.  One thing you tend to see, which may surprise people, is most people have basically the same stuff.  Except the richer neighborhoods simply have nicer stuff, nicer toys, better quality.  The stuff is basically the same however.

There is so much to purchase you have to become selective.  Just because the price is good, you may not need that item, so you pass on it.  How many can openers does a family need.

Its fun to talk with the sales people, get a glimpse of who they are, where they are in life, with their items providing a snapshot of their entire lives.

At some point, you look at all this stuff, and realize, stuff is okay, but the world has more to offer than stuff.  Like the movie Brewster's Millions in the 1970's, the main character has to spend gobs of money within time frame, if completed, he gets even more gobs of money.  So he throws away the money at frivolous items, expected to decline in value.  What he learns is spending money, although fun at first, is not really fun.

There is more to life than just stuff.  But going to sales is a good hobby.  And guess what, you never know what you are going to find.

And so it goes~!

You Are a Solar System

You are a planet.  You revolve around the Sun.  You have moons and satellites.  Bet you didn't know that.

Your Sun is your energy source.  Which supplies energy and helps growth.

You have Moons that orbit you.  Moons for Health.  Moons for Finances.  Moons for Family, friends, spirituality, personal development, etc.

Each Moon varies in size, based on personal  bias and needs.  Likewise, each Moon varies in distance from you, depending on how much attention you pay it.

How often do you visit each Moon, tend to it, till the soil, water the crops, reap the harvest.  Do some Moons get ignored over others, vacant and abandoned.

Perhaps the size and distance of each Moon, affects the tides and moods of your life, like the tides of the Ocean rise and fall.

Perhaps our thoughts are stored in the dark matter that surrounds your Solar System.  Keeping tabs of all your thoughts, actions, from birth.

You yourself are an ecosystem, a Solar System, out in the wilderness of the Galaxy, interacting with other Solar Systems.

Each day, your Planet continues its journey around the Sun.  Your Moon revolve around your Planet.  And each day your Solar System revolves around the center of the Universe.  All connected.  Same matter that exists in the Universe exists in your personal Solar System and makes the content of every atom everywhere.

And so, are the days of our lives.

4/06/2018

Real Time Learning

With the advent of cloud architecture, we no longer do specific things.  We do a variety of things in variety of ecosystems for a variety of clients doing a variety of offerings.

So you work with data.  You may build and design databases.  You may load databases.  You may report on databases.  You may build cubes.  You may build solutions using web based product.  You may build solutions using on-premise products.  You may build build hybrid solutions across variety of vendors and variety of technologies.  You may work with relations databases.  You may work with pair valued databases.  You may work with large data sets, location data, disparate data sets, you may work with graph databases.  You may embed your solutions within other applications.  You may build dashboards that pull data across the internet.  You may scrape data from the web in real time.  You may build models stored in the cloud.  You may call other people's models.  You may build machine learning applications.  You may build Artificial Intelligence applications.  You may do all of the above a pieces of each.

You no longer simply do a specific thing.  You do many things.  And those many things will evolve and change over time.  We are working in a moving environment.  Things are changing in real time.

When someone asks if you have x years in specific technology, that's really not the question.  The question is how do you apply past experience to latest technology.  Because nobody knows every technology.  And even if you did, it's already changed.  Specific years is outdated.  Real time learning is where its at.