Sit Up Straight!

Computer Posture A Must

…for health.

In all seriousness. When you sit at a computer all day you will eventually realize that it is hard. Most people will tell you that it is a cushy job that doesn't take an effort. We will not go into that right now. What I want to cover is that, while it is part of your daily life, it doesn't have to be. I used to be in the same position. Bad back, and a whole lot more. But while bad posture can stem from an injury, genetic predisposition, or another case, the truth is that most of us just have the bad habit of bad posture.

Still, with time and effort much of what we have done can be reversed, at least that is what they told me. And when I began undergoing physical therapy, however the thing that surprised me the most is that the clinic was and probably still is full of young people exactly like me.

They were mostly guys, most them were there because they have been playing too many computer games or because, like myself use a computer a lot. But it can be because they have an addiction to smartphones or simply work an office jobs etc.

If you choose a career in the tech industry it will happen to a lot of you too… I guarantee it.

I've been trying to not slouch which has made things a lot easier. When I use my computer, I sit up straight and keep my eye level with the top of the monitor.

Any time I have my phone in hand I hold it up near eye level. Looking down at your phone between your legs is the worst thing that you can do for your posture apparently.

Another thing that I learned was that you should avoid sitting in "office chairs" with low backs.

One problem is that because they're common in offices, where your well being is rarely important, that they must be good; they're not. Get a high backed chair that you'd typically associate with executives/ your boss. Try out a few chairs, see which fit your straight back best.

A nearby shop should have a show floor with chairs to test.

The chair I use is a Steelcase Leap, and it cost about a considerable amount, but it was by far the chair I spend the most time in, in the entire house.

I've had it for years, and it keeps my back straight, my arms level, and is over all the most comfortable desk chair I've ever owned. I can sit in it for hours without any back, neck or wrist fatigue.

Because trust me, you will get problems eventually, you can avoid some of them, or you can reduce the damage ahead of time.

It may seem bad, for some people it will be much, much worse.


No Boat Fishing in Miami

Alright, so I have a boat, but I don't always feel like getting it out to go fishing. That is where no boat fishing comes in and there are actually a couple of good places here to do that.

One of them is Black Point Marina in Cutler Bay.

We like to park on the left side of the channel, from there you can walk down the long trail – you can't miss it, it runs right along the channel where the boats taxi out into the bay. Once you reach the concrete walking path that ends continue on until you get around channel. You should see "Number 15-13", you can't miss them they're big red and green diamond shaped signs in the water of the channel.

From here we just cast a line and you'll reel in fish all day right there. They love hanging around the wall drop of the shore and center of the channel.

The places around marinas usually have good places to fish. You may have to walk around a bit to find a good spot, but that's part of the game.

For tackle, get a 7 foot medium/heavy graphite spinning rod. I like the Calico Jacks; I got mine from Dick's for $60. For a reel, get a Penn Fierce 3000 for $50. Put 20 pound mono backing on the reel, and top that with 200 yards of 30 pound braided line (I like Power Pro). At the end of the braided line, tie on 4 feet of 20# flourocarbon, and then tie on a lure. Cheap lures that work really well are 3/8 or 1/2oz white bucktails. I also like Mirrolure Mirrodyne 3/8 oz lures. Another approach you can take is to get some 1/4 oz jigheads and some Gulp shrimp.

With that setup, you can pretty much catch anything in Florida short of an adult tarpon.

Brings your friends, family and some beer, and it is easy to make a day out of it.


Today: ETL

I am going to be looking at different areas of the tech industry and try and shed some light on the different roles you may want to fill. I plan for this to be an ongoing series and see if people are interested in exploring it further.

ETL Developer

ETL developers do DB development, especially in big data. This is a process that requires a lot of planning before moving on to the implementation, so I wouldn't necessarily call it "day to day operations," at least not as a whole.

Let's clear up the terminology a bit, ETL = Extract, Transform and Load. Basically you're going to take data from one source and transform it then load it to another place but that other place is carefully crafted to fit the data and be expanded on when the time comes.

In some case it could be simple, say mapping fields between two databases, but that is rarely the case. Usually the work is more complicated, and an ETL developer performing mathematical operations on some fields, combining it with other data sources, then loading them into a final location.

Size matters here, since you can't look at it as moving small databases around, even in a small company you will be handling many TB of data.

While the size of the company may dictate how much responsibility your job entails, it does not mean that you will necessarily be working with less data.

In a small to medium size companies, the developer could also be the database developer and the ETL developer, with the position rolled into one. A larger company will likely fill the positions with specialized roles like people who only do ETL, people who just do Database development.

Often the Database developer will work with an application developer to develop a database.

The Load

Since the volume of data is so big you will never find the ETL developers working with the data loads manually. In most cases that would be impossible.

Instead you will find them in the heavily invested in the design process using tools that allow them to manipulate the data on schedule. That involves a lot of data modeling due to the size of the job.

Why? Becuse can't just copy and paste your data into SQLite and call it a day when you need to scan a 100 TB of data and actually return meaningful resuls as fast as possible.

People want the data returned from their query, and they want it now.

The team that is responsible for infrastructure and ETL of any big data platform is mainly composed of people with software engineering backgrounds. Most of their time is spent designing the ETL and making sure it is running without error.

And running without error is definitely a aspect that has little room for compromise, you don't want to be exposed to data loss.

As you can see, ETL development is a subset of database development that focuses on the pipeline/tools. This often rolled together, being used to extract data from a data source, transform it into something useful, and load it into a database.

It may sound straight forward but it is more involved than you can imagine.

No matter how you look at it, there are many aspects to overall database development, so ETL is just one part. At a small company, a database developer might do lots of different database development tasks, but at a larger company, they will be more likely to have specific people writing reports, doing ETL, etc.


The Life

Miami has it all. At least it has everything we want. And I might add more. Sure the job market is saturated right now in our indsutry, but it only matters if you are looking for work. Not if you have it.

But it really does have it all.

For use it can be broken into two categories.


Do you prefer nice scenery with few people or a place where you can people watch? Food/drink preferences or none needed?

In Coral Gables theres a bunch of nice small parks also that we like to frequent.

There's one on SW 40th St. and Kinda by University Drive.

It faces a big canal and I've even seen manatees there. The park is tricky to find because the street is weird, but trust me its there.

For people watching or reflecting not in nature, Books & Books (Coral Gables or Lincoln Road. I haven't been to the others), Starbucks at Mary Brickell Village, FIU if you can nab a rocking cabana table, Panther Coffee in Wynwood.

And take a moment and enjoy South Pointe Park. Bayside park is also pretty nice, well, up until you get bombarded by homeless people asking for money..

Then there is the view of downtown from the Children's Museum at night is wonderful.

FOr more scenic locations the AD Barnes North is like a sub park that is on SW 32 terr and 72 ave that is usually empty, faces a creek and is very quiet overall.

Skip the Beach Bonfire (A word of warning)

A lot of people that aren't from around here think that they can just start a fire. Anywhere. And the beach bonfire seems like a good idea.

But wait.

Most places require expensive permits or fires are just simply not allowed.

And before you decide to risk it, I will say that there are zero un-patrolled beaches where you will get away with having a bonfire. Most of them are high risk and it varries from getting hassled, ticketed, or arrested.

If it's a small fire and you're not an asshole the police officer may just tell you to put it out, but you risk a lot depending on their mood.

A big fire?

You're gonna have a bad time.

There's a spot in Biscayne National Park that allows for fires along the bay, which is what we did when I was in high school. But you still always had to watch out for the cops.


Do you like good sushi? I love it, and thankfully Miami has some great places. My personal favorite is Katana on 71 st in Miami beach is good cheap sushi.

You sit around the sushi bar and sushi comes floating around on boats. You pick up whichever you'd like. Still, be warned, if you don't time it right expect a 30-45 min wait. If you fail to get in you just need to walk around the corner, there you will find an awesome little Thai place with fantastic sushi.


He Graduated!

It's Official

So we can safely say that he is done and done. And with that my husband has finally finished school and it is time to celebrate his success. I am really just so happy that he finished. It has been a little bit of a bumpy road. And not that a little challenge isn't something to shy away from or anything, but I can't say that it hasn't been hard. It has put a lot of stress on the family since we have been raising his daughter from a previous marriage and it was some adjustments since she was from out of state.

That is to say that Miami was a little bit much for her in the beginning and it took a while to get adjusted. This along with other distractions has created a bumpy road and he actually took a couple of years off of college so that he had more time to concentrate on his family responsibilities and such.

But at the beginning of last year he sat back down and got busy studying for his business management degree. He had been on hiatus for close to five years, putting it on hold in 2013 with the intention of starting again in 2014 when things got worked back out. But like many things in life that didn't happen quite like he expected. (Though it is admirable that he was able to continue because according to this: "In fact, approximately 75 percent of students who enter college will drop out during the first year. Few students who drop out eventually finish their education.") But just because we don't plan for something, it doesn't mean that it isn't just as good, if not better.

Everything works out for a reason. And while we might not be able to comprehend that reason at first we can look back and be pleased that it did.

Corman McCarthy once said: "You don't know what worse luck your bad luck saved you from."

And while few of us really have what we could call bad luck, his words are true along any scale. With the point of being gratitude for the know, and respect for all the different ways things could be worse.

His Graduation Party

And we all have a lot to be grateful for. And that is why his mother and I will be throwing him a sort of surprise graduation party. While, I say "sort of" because he knows that we plan to celebrate it but just not that it is going to be so big, nor so soon.

It's Big

I realized that the idea of just a close family get together was going to be too small. Not that the celebration would be too small, but that if we included everybody that would be "eligible" to come it would be far bigger than a home celebration. And it is a big day.

That is why I plan to do it more like a big party. Lots of friends, family, food and beer. There will be invitations, mainly since I want to get them, but also it should help his mother and me juggle the guest list. Something that has grown from day one. I still haven't found the right cards yet, but I am sure that it won't be hard to find some that fit. From what I have found, you can get them done and sent in a day. The only thing that we need to do is settle on a card and there are lots of them to choose from.

First it started out as family, he has a big family, mine is moderate, but not many of them will be invited. We're including my brother and his wife in the celebration but that is about it.

Most of his relatives live here so they will all come. And our group of friends will also probably make time.

Outside of that he has mentioned that he would like to invite a few people that he met while in college. Right now I think that our guest list consists of about fifty people. Give or take.

We're going to have his party before his actual commencement. So yeah, he will be celebrating his graduation before he actually graduates.

His commencement is in the middle of December and he thinks that the graduation party will be the next day. But the thing is, with it being in the end of December he would have a lot smaller turn out, which is why we have planned for the end of November. And while I realize that it is just a couple of weeks away, it is not so short notice.

Business As Usual

And once that is all over it will be back to business as usual.

Right now it is pretty safe to say that there will not be any big changes on the horizon. We've gone through enough of those already, lord only knows. But right now we are well positioned. My job has left me exhausted more than a few nights recently and it doesn't look like they will be getting any easier in the near future. And hubby is in a good spot at work, just that now that he has graduated and has the paper in hand he will be able to negotiate more when it comes time for promotions.

He has already made himself indispensable, and that in a corporate culture that says everybody is expendable.

No, as it stands he is only geared to go up from here and that is what the point was.

He has been so busy with his studies, work, and family that he will be if he just get to decompress. I think that the average college student is oblivious to how good they have it. They, for the most part only have the study, maybe some work. Once you get older things get harder to balance because you keep adding to the plate. And that is probably why so many people who were on their way to graduating college and stop like my husband did just end up skipping it.

For him, that could have very well been the path he took. But we encouraged him to keep at it. To continue what he started and to finish. To get his diploma. Because no matter how hard it was getting there it will always be so much better once you have it. Sorry, I am sure that you can see that we did quite a bit of motivation.

But it is all true.

And when you have people who support you, who love you, and want to see you succeed, you aren't only hurting yourself if you don't finish. You are letting them down as well. Because they were there with you semester after semester.

Next Move

Once things have had a chance to settle down a little bit we were planning on making another big move. And find a house to call our own. We've been in a condo since we got married, and while it is in Coral Gables, we would like to have a home. But since we've set the budget at /-$300k there isn't much in our price range in Miami proper. For that you will be lucky to get a dilapidated shed and not much else. Granted you are able to find a decent condo for that price. Our place cost noticeably less and it is in a decent neighborhood, and we even have two bedrooms.

To be honest Miami real estate is very expensive, much higher than the national average, however, you can still find nice town houses in areas like Doral for that budget. But that is all something for another day.


Is An Associate’s Degree Worth It?

While, I will say that I know some, not many, who have only pursued an Associate's Degree working as programmers, they all got in to the business at the end of the 90s to the early 00s. Most of them landed jobs in big corps looking for people as that was a time of expanse. Today, that has changed a lot and I don't know what the job market is like where you are. Then there was little saturation, while today there is a lot and it it is quite possible that the market is sufficiently saturated with people with 4-year degrees that in your area, a 4-year degree is necessary. But that does not mean that that is the case for everywhere, nor, is it always true.

What that translates to is that an Associate's Degree is only worthless if somebody else has a degree that trumps it.

I can't speak for your situation, but knoing the ciriculum I feel that there are only four classes that are essential if you pursue an Associates Degree.

They are:

  • Algorithms
  • Data Structures
  • Software Design & Architecture
  • Theory of computation

One thing that taking the courses, getting the degree, and proving that you are compitent is all about is, dedication.

Companies want to know that you have what it takes, and quite frankly, unless you are a whizz and impress somebody in the company, somebody in HR won't really care.

But if you go the route of Associate's you should learn everything that you can on your own. VMWare, is easy to learn, but most companies will be looking for people comfortable with the tech. And if you don't make the effort to learn it, you won't get exposed to it with the above courses.

If you make the effort to expand your knowledge, you can learn just about everything else on your own and usually do with or without a degree, however the aformentioned courses would be the most important in school.

With that being said, have some personal projects and you may be on par or a little ahead of the average Compute Science undergrad in the job market, however it will probably affect your negotiation or consideration for some jobs with inflexible requirements.

Still, I wouldn't worry too much about it since there are a lot of jobs out there, and employers are well known for asking for the moon when it comes to entry level jobs.

Just make sure that you have a good understanding of what the job market is like in your area. Then be well aware what is needed in your area to get your foot in the door and make sure that you hit the right beats, otherwise you will be the odd one out that HR skips over becuase you don't fit their criteria. And beleive me, you need to hit the right notes with them.

As an example, of this I've seen them do things like skip an applicant with a Phd in hardware engineering becuase it was a computer science post and they didn't have a computer science degree. I wished him the best.

Getting your foot in the door is the hard part, but once you are in, if you have the fundamentals down and are a good fit, you shouldn't have a problem.