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Update on Ember’s Data Science Journey – January 10, 2019

Well, I knew it was going to be slow, and that is part of why my plan is a 20-year plan instead of just a short-term plan. The fall was particularly difficult due to a couple of issues at work and two conferences that I absolutely loved, but that took time away from the already 60-hour work weeks that I needed to be putting in.

In October, the first test of the MITx/edx class on probability
that I was taking fell on the same week as the first IBM Gold Consultant summit at the IBM lab in Markham, Ontario. I have been pushing IBM for this event for several years, as they’ve offered one for Db2 for z/OS for years. I’ve dreamed of visiting the Toronto lab for at least a decade, and it was really a dream come true to be in a room with the top 20 consultants in the world for Db2 on LUW, along with the developers I’ve met before and only heard about. The ability to really interact with the people who actually write IBM was amazing. An actual visit to one of the Labs that held the machines they code Db2 on had huge grins on all of our faces, too.

Participating in that 8 hours a day and then trying to keep up with the work I actually get paid for around the networking in the evenings left nearly no room for studying, and my grades started to show it. I realized that I was taking away what little time I had with my family for the class, and that the spike at work was temporary and would be ending around the end of November. So I dropped the class.

I was hoping they would offer the same class in January and I could pick it up again, but alas, they don’t offer it again until May. I was actually really enjoying and learning from the class and found it delightfully challenging. I found topics in the Gold summit that tied in and there were things I understood better from the little classwork that I did.

Since the starting class of that MicroMasters isn’t available until May, I have found a different MicroMasters through UC San Diego
to try out until then. It starts with a class that draws on some things I already know – Python for Data Science
. I started using Jupyter Notebook for some of my work on database performance and health checking nearly two years ago, so I have some foundation in Python. I’ve found the first week of the class to be much easier. Whether that is better or worse I’m not sure yet. But it feels more like something I can accomplish. It is also self-paced. I thought I would benefit from a bit more rigidity in the schedule, but working it in with a full-time job an a family, I’m finding the ability to work ahead a benefit in the first week or two of the course, anyway.

The MITx probability class had more points for “classwork” – answering questions with multiple opportunities while working through the material. And also more points for “homework” – problem sets to be completed each week, also with immediate feedback. The UC San Diego one doesn’t have these, and instead depends on projects and tests exclusively for the grades, so we’ll see how that works. After having started the other probability class, I’m very interested to see how the probability and statistics class for this MicroMasters goes.

In any case, I’m back in the saddle and studying again after taking December to rest and recuperate. I’m also finding time to blog again, which was very challenging in September, October, and November.

I’m still committed to my data science journey, I just have to remember to give myself a break for the times I need it. I’m also still committed to still blogging about and presenting on Db2 topics. A colleague and I are putting together a day-long introduction to Db2 for the IDUG North American Technical Conference in Charlotte, NC in June.

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