Oh Sh**T we didn’t think you would check our work.

Do you have a workflow to check your work or are you trusting the system because you think it works? One of the most frequent conversations I have goes something like this. Ryan: The best way to accomplish this task is …… some common alternatives you might think work is A B and C but they often fail in silent ways and this is how you know by checking D E F. Frequently I am challenged on my experience with a reply to the effect of “We’ve been doing B for years and never had a problem. I say great I’m always eager to learn how do you validate that works. If you are a betting person what do you think the odds of an answer are here pretty low. Computers and humans are both very reliable one does exactly what it is told the other does exactly what it knows it has to.

Enter Stamford in order to be fair in vaccine distribution they create a data drive algorithm to “do fair” or really delegate the determination of fair to someone else that didn’t know how to check their work. Please when writing software the lives, careers, and economies depend on test your code don’t be these guys.

https://www.theverge.com/2020/12/20/22191749/stanford-medicine-covid-19-vaccine-distribution-list-algorithm-medical-residents

Commitment to diversity in tech

I’m very pleased with the progress tech has made this year, and I say progress, not arrival because change is hard for humans. As a segment of society, I think tech is willfully changing. Every now and then I have something to say on this topic. If it is not personal to me I don’t say much honestly because so much is already said and virtue signaling is a bad look. I commented recently on laziness in ML leading to re-enforced bias. Gatekeeping in tech has been an issue that has personally impacted me. My path to tech was a unique one, I wasn’t a Barista I was a bored C student in an underperforming rural Alabama highschool that learned how to “tech” the business way. I liked solving problems and people would pay me well to solve computer problems so that’s what I learned. I started really small. Networking Mac computers on apple talk using phonenet connectors to solve a problem the poor rural kids I went to school within Skipperville Alabama needed more opportunity to learn to read than their parents could provide them (Thank you Pizzahut). Also thank you one stoplight little town for giving me a chance to get started. My path to IT Started because no one in “tech” was willing to solve the problem. I’ve built a worldwide reputation not on my formal education but on my customer focus. I don’t like the gatekeeping in tech but I also highly value education and well-educated knowledgeable teams I work with. I often find especially west coast tech community members are focused on tech for tech’s sake and that’s great for R&D but it brings solutions to real problems which are where “non-traditional” people like me come in. While I might not be the guy that invents a new way of storing machine data I am the guy you call to build the largest application of that software in the world we can’t do this without diversity.

Lets talk about that phrase non-traditional. Think about the 10 names in tech you can quickly and got find their resume online. I promise you most of them don’t have formal tech education Like me we came to tech not because tech attracted us but the problem attracted us. Yes more people are in tech today because of STEM education but I would argue I am “classically trained” :). Lets work together to solve the worlds problems, I say for 2021 lets turn off the zoom camera. Change how we evaluate resumes to be focused on passion outcomes and less on certifications and degrees.