Blog

One thing at a time.

I love learning new things, and I’m always looking for ways to get better at learning new things. Whereas a lot of people stop deliberately learning new things once they graduate from whatever formal level of schooling they’ve made it to, I’ve had the good fortune to have the time, energy, and inclination to be able to continue to invest in learning new things, and recently I’ve been...

Being Bad

I have spent a lot of time in my life being scared about being bad at stuff. I think most everyone feels that way about at least some things, but because I had built a lot of my personality and how-I-present-to-the-world around being smart and having it together and being considered a responsible human being. And those things aren’t bad in themselves! Being a responsible human being has its...

Advice for Getting into Data

Last week one of my friends wrote me an email looking for advice.  Here’s the body of the email: is there a basic way to teach oneself basic data management or even just database access skills? Like SQL? Don’t wanna learn to code, just to look at DATA I’ve included my response to them below in case it’s useful to anyone else: Okay, if you’re looking to get into data and...

2021 Goals and Resolutions

Well, 2020 sure didn’t go exactly as planned, but I was able to make progress on some of my goals in a way that I feel proud of. Here’s what I’m looking forward to in 2021: Personal: Reading a lot of books. I’ve got a fair amount of English-language non-fiction covering a range of public policy, science, and biography that I’m pretty excited about. I’ve also...

2020 Achievements and Reflections

Well. 2020 sure has been a weird year. At the beginning of the year I kicked off this blog writing about my 2020 resolutions which were: Become fully fluent in Spanish Learn to dance Salsa Write more blog posts Read a lot of books I also had personal goals of learning to play the guitar and playing more squash. With the exception of Salsa dancing and squash-playing, which more-or-less went out...

Are Data Catalogs Curing the Symptom or the Disease?

Data catalogs are the hot new thing in the data space. Lots of people are starting companies to solve the problem of “data discoverability” and lots of investor money is flowing into those efforts. While I’m all for more people innovating on tooling in the space, I’ve been a bit skeptical of a lot of these tools and so I want to use this blog post to try to put into words why that’s the case. The...

Spades and Good Game Mechanics

Those who know me know that I am not very much fun at parties.  One of the many reasons that I’m not very much fun at parties is that I am very particular about the types of board and card games that I like to play. There are a few games that I really love, and a whole lot that I can’t stand — instead of ranting at my friends at the party I figured it’d be more fun to try to lay out what I think...

Code Documentation

A few years ago I had the pleasure of working with an extremely talented software engineer who would frequently post the same two-word comment at different points in my pull requests. Those two words: “basmati rice”. This engineer was referring to this timeless tweet: Code comments pic.twitter.com/2KDRdfFE9u — Michael Koziarski (@nzkoz) November 30, 2014 And he was noting that I had made a change...

TDD for ELT

I’m a big fan of test-driven development for lots of reasons. In addition to helping you clearly define your goals in advance and encouraging you to write as little code as possible, I love the documenting nature of tests. If your project is well tested, you don’t need documentation (at least for other developers) — they can simply look at the tests and observe the enforced behavior of the code...

The Most Important Thing in a Move

People ask me a lot about my move from New York City to Mexico City. I made the move two years ago, when I was 30 — I moved from NYC where I had a big professional and friend network to Mexico City where I literally knew no one and I didn’t speak the language. I’m very happy to report that I’m two years into the move and I couldn’t be happier. However, I talk to lots of other foreigners who have...