Sandboxes, Not Square Boxes

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let the rats run the rat race.

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


Tennis Against the Wall 2

Another tennis video.  Mostly forehands.  Against the wall.

Gusts of ambition.  On a warm summers day.


Tennis Wall

Been playing sports all my life.  Gave up baseball, basketball, bowling, soccer and swimming to excel at Tennis.  Funny thing, my 6th grade teacher also taught tennis at the club and I took clinics from him after school.  Been playing tennis on and off since high school.  One thing you learn over time, the wall is the greatest opponent.  Today decided to try again, give the wall another go at it.  Granted, got my cigar in hand, few volley's, in the blistering heat.  Sometimes I play left handed.  Used to be in pretty good shape, play for hours.

Tennis is the greatest sport, can play your entire life.

And so it goes~!


Synthetic Intelligence (SI)

Plants convert Carbon Dioxide to Oxygen.  We breath Oxegyn and output Carbon Dioxide.  It's a cohesive bond, each dependent on the others.  This is dubbed Photo Synthesis.

We also have Data Synthesis.

Artificial Intelligence synthesis' information to produce results downstream.

Data is the fuel, both real time and historical, gets processed via models, algorithms, deep neural networks, that flow pieces of data up through the layers to derive result.  Results like prediction, clustering, matching as well as actionable items such as avoid car collision, move box from point A to point B, and so on.

Data Input + Data Crunch = Results

It could be aliased "Synthetic Intelligence" or SI.

Synthetic intelligence (SI) is an alternative term for artificial intelligence which emphasizes that the intelligence of machines need not be an imitation or in any way artificial; it can be a genuine form of intelligence.

SI could be embedded within Humans, or within Devices, or within Robotics.  This enhanced intelligence will improve efficiency, the long term memory, association of things, pattern recognition, in other words, "Bionic" enhancements.

These Bionic enhancements could be purchased in the near future.  Want a brighter child, purchase the upgrade.  Want your kid to succeed in life, purchase the upgrade.  Want your children to advance above the herd, purchase the Bionic Enhancement.  Not necessarily physical attributes, such as strong, faster, leaner, but intelligent enhancements.

At that point, if someone had these synthetic advancements, they could surely outperform the average person.  Perhaps an entire college degree in a few days.  Become PhD level intelligence in a few weeks.  Possibilities are endless.

Keep in mind, these synthetic enhancements won't be available at the local vending machine, they'll be purchased from entities for high dollar amounts, for profit.  So those who can afford, will prosper.  Those who can't afford, well, take a guess.

So no only with SI or AI improve the world through intelligent awareness of all things, it can also improve individual people, perhaps through DNA alterations prior to birth, or perhaps upgrades to living people through embedded and connected devices.

The world is changing.  For those that keep up and can afford luxury technology, the sky is the limit. For those who can't, well, perhaps they can look for loose change on the sidewalk to purchase a quick burger.

And so it goes~!


New Azure Project

I've been working for a large insurance company, since March 2017.  Basically, to write SQL statements against Hive database in AWS cloud.

I was informed recently, of a new project and will be transitioning next week.  The new project is located in New York.  The team is tasked with Azure development.  Remote work.

Although its sad to end a contract with a great client, excited to begin new work next week doing 100% Azure.

Will blog more about it as it develops.


Hobbies to Help Relax

Life can get stressful.  In order to unwind, we have hobbies to take the mind off things.  Such as tennis, walking the dogs, walks around the neighborhood, yard work, house projects and movies.

Another thing I like to do is fiddle with the guitar.  Sure, took 2 lessons in 1995, and played the violin as a youngster, I just like to sit out back, listen to nature and strum away.

There's no real method to it, just start playing.  Finger picking style mostly.  Look for patterns, yet every song is unique, couldn't play it twice if tried.  Just a way to pass the time.

What you may not realize, is the tune is created in real time, the next note is not known, until its played.  Complete improv.

Azure Portal Offers Unlimited Options

I perused the Azure Portal the other day.  Much to my surprise, the number of offerings is mind blowing.  There are now buckets of categories, each containing multiple options, across the board, in every direction.

The Cloud has risen.  It's come a long way, years ago people were hesitant to work off-site, house data elsewhere.  Now its a given.  There're just too many options available to build, integrate and support applications in the Cloud.

I've blogged before, about creating a dedicated position that is primarily responsible for keeping up to date on the latest offerings, and assisting the organization on new options.

There's really no way for a single developer to comprehend everything available, while doing their everyday job, and get experience in everything.  Not possible, in this reality.

On the positive note, its interesting to see how each of the technologies is simply a piece of the puzzle.  Did you ever play with Lego's as a kid, or as adult.  Each of the pieces is designed in a way that it fits nicely with other pieces of different shapes and sizes.  What they've done with the Cloud offerings, is creating units of technology that fit nicely with others.

You have data, move it to the Cloud.  Store in a database, flat files, Data Warehouse, Blob Storage.  The data can sit there nicely for a long time, as the costs to store data is not outrageous.  When you need it, use it, in place, by mounting wrappers on top, or move it around as needed.  Analyze it, interrogate, mash it with other data or display it for consumption.  
And there are so many ways to integrate and build systems all contained within the Azure Portal.

A nice thing about Cloud offerings, you can do the work remote.  The data is secure at rest or in transit.
Everything is backed up, and duplicated across clusters for Disaster Recovery.  And there are multiple ways to accomplish the same tasks.  For example, there may be a button to upload data built into the web site, or you could use Visual Studio to push or an API to automate or PowerShell to create repeatable scripts.

There are so many options, you have to bite off a chunk of technology, learn the nuances, and build out from there.  Learn how to integrate other features into the system, to leverage pre-existing patterns.

With that said, you could actually pick a particular technology, become an expert, and base your entire career on that particular niche.  Take U-SQL for example.  Its a newer language, more than a year old now, what does it do?  Well, it allows developers to access data, similar to existing technologies.  Except, it works with both structured and non-structured data.  So that's nice.  And you can parse through data in files, file folders, Blob Storage, Azure Database, Azure Data Warehouse, HDInsight, Hadoop VM using External Tables.

Once you have access to the data, U-SQL allows you to manipulate that data, as in Extract, Transform and Load (ETL), similar to the Pig language of Apache Hadoop or SSIS in MSBI.  And you can mount that data into Tables, or store back into raw CSV files in the Cloud, similar to Apache Hive in Hadoop.

And the U-SQL language is similar to Linq, which is a derivative of SQL, and it's wrapped in C#.  So you have all the power behind the well established language to work with the data.  And you can bring in Windows Functions and create Assemblies for re-usable code.  And it integrates with Data Catalog.

It basically takes a bunch of existing technologies, bundles the together, to create a new and improved language which has tremendous flexibility.  You can run the code locally, in Visual Studio, in Azure Portal, via API, or PowerShell, then store in source code repository.

The reason Hadoop took a while to pick up steam, was DBA's didn't write SQL, Java programmers didn't write SQL and SQL Developers typically didn't write Java.  This tool, solves that problem, by allowing developers to use DBA skills, ETL, SQL Developer, Hadoop, Programming, and Cloud skills.  I believe it has tremendous potential.  

And its cutting edge technology, so there isn't a tremendous amount of examples on the web.  So one could become expert by putting in the hours, and then have a fair amount of projects lined up, to leverage the expert knowledge, use existing code base, and knowledge of best practices surrounding this language.

That's one of the things about technology that I like, things always change, yet build on existing skills.  Cloud technology has gained widespread adoption and road is wide open to carve new paths to solve problems, learn new things and add value to new and existing clients.


URL References for U-SQL Getting Started

Here's a basic list of URL to get familiar with U-SQL, which is Microsoft's fairly new language to access Azure Data Lake.  Sort of a blend of C#, Linq, SQL, Windows Functions and a bunch more:

Get started with U-SQL in Azure Data Lake Analytics

Plug-in for Azure Data Lake and Stream Analytics development using Visual Studio

Develop U-SQL scripts by using Data Lake Tools for Visual Studio


Operators (U-SQL)

SQL Sampling Methods

SAMPLE Expression (U-SQL)

Introduction to the U-SQL Tutorial (version 0.7)

U-SQL Language Reference

Introducing U-SQL – A Language that makes Big Data Processing Easy

Develop U-SQL scripts by using Data Lake Tools for Visual Studio

Analyze Website logs using Azure Data Lake Analytics

Overview of Azure PowerShell

Install Azure CLI 2.0

Accessing diagnostic logs for Azure Data Lake Analytics

Use the Vertex Execution View in Data Lake Tools for Visual Studio