Fo-R-Sight

A very successful friend who is now the regional director of one of the biggest freelancing websites in the world encouraged me to try R and Hadoop in addition to my Python and Drupal pursuits. He says that with the boom of big data, these skills will become like wine over time. This is what has been eating up all of my time and my life lately. This thing he recommended is probably the best advice of 2014 for Helena.

I was deeply inspired by how he (friend) managed to make things work on his end, so I took his advice and I embarked on a different course of intellectual exploration. I do it during my free time (FYI, I don’t really have one so I am hacking my life to fit it all in! Good luck to my optimization efforts!)

Now, I shall name this post Fo-R-sight, because my attempts to learn R programming is exactly that: a foresight into the future with the data of today.

Forgive the pun; I have been rushing all weekend to finish my basic data science course work.  My eyes are all bleary from the information overload and I am just sitting here, thinking about the marvels of learning from an international university from the comforts of my home.

This month, I believe I hit a personal development milestone when I started learning the basics of R while learning everything else. It’s not yet at par with the world-shaking levels of data that the world’s awesome data scientists are able to manage now. I’m just a tiny mole in the computing universe, and I will always be so. But I’ll be the most awesome  mole I can be, for sure. 

It’s just good enough to make me happy and I find myself very willing to sacrifice a lot to do this. I just know how much I wanted it when I fought to make time for it despite the fragile nature of my schedule.

And now I have new people I want to emulate, career-wise. Years ago, people would ask me who I would like to peg myself as becoming. I have no answer. Now, I have people I look up to, blogs I am subscribed to almost religiously, and things that I want to do with my time. I now view time differently, not as something to be used for lounging around, but something that I should maximize so that I can do as much positive change to the world as humanely and digitally possible.

I used to be so lost. I went to different jobs, swam in office politic shark-infested waters, waded in the worst of my personal issues about myself… And finally, I got to this peaceful and stable point where I can say that I know my game plan for the next five to ten years. I am actually happy at where I am now, professionally. It’s not even about the position; it’s more on the research problems that I am assigned to solving.

Additionally, I thought I was already smart enough with math from engineering, only to find out in my current job that I know nothing and I am such a huge and dumb ape all this time.

LiDAR data makes use of higher-than-vector math and I need to up my game, sharpen my saw, and hit those books. I love it. I love the rush, that adrenaline-boosting intellectual rush that comes when I discover new things to develop from my computer… I hate the tiny things that take me away from my exploration like the usual work politics and inefficiencies, but it’s a painful part of the package and I have to accept that, nay, embrace that on a daily basis so that I can keep doing what I am really doing.

Another prolific friend once told me: “we have our day jobs, and we have the real second job that goes beneath what people see.” I totally agree.

In my job, I had to handle a great amount of high-level matrices to automate certain processes. So learning R for my pet project is like a cherry topping to a wide cake of learning.

R is quite adept at handling matrices. It can do so many things. It’s so powerful that sometimes it scares me. Python also has its own suite of awesome things like Geopandas and other data science-related libraries and I have more than enough to play with at this point in time.

I missed writing so much and there is an overflow of things I wanted to write about. I just could not consolidate them as neatly as those R data frames so it’s a giant dump of things on a blog post before the work grind eats me up again on weekdays.

There’s a bright data-driven future up ahead. 🙂

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