The Inquisitive Anthropologist

Software Developer. Social Scientist. Innovator.

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What’s Data got to do with it?


I love me some data.

I can’t seem to help it. Maybe it’s all those years working in a data company. It could be that statistics was one of my favorite classes (nerd, I know). It might have something to do with Data science being the sexist job of the 21st century. Although I really think its more like this.

But mostly I think its just so much fun to play with.

Which is why I feel that I spend so much time trying to convince people that they can and should learn more about data. Especially, since there are so many people who are working with it anyway. I recently wrote an article about Data and Anthropology, to make other anthropologists aware of their close relationship to data science. As a former data and business analyst, I have seen the great influence that understanding and analyzing data can have on the bottom line, and your career.

Wanting to be a better data analyst...

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Being a junior developer is awesome, amazing, and scary at the same time. I often say that I feel like Harry Potter.

At Hogwarts, (a.k.a. your job) you are just a little wizard.

You can’t cast spells properly, you fall of your broom. Just when you think that you finally got it, there is a puff of smoke instead the awesomeness that you thought you were creating. But…

When around the muggles, you are a LITTLE WIZARD!

You can see the world through code like you are in the matrix. You actually understand why that button on their site isn’t working, and can fix it. You might hold the secret keys to the internet.

The dichotomy of this experience can give you whiplash.

But in addition to that, it can be quite uncomfortable. Because in one part of your world you are amazing, a genius, inspiring. But in the other part, you are coming up short, taking too long, asking too many...

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Today is my 1 year anniversary of becoming a programmer.

After 1 year, I can say that I have learned so much…and have much left to learn. But this is a celebration, so I will reflect on how far I have come. Since this is also this blogs anniversary, I think it would be best to demonstrate my growth through words.

Words I didn’t know 1 year ago

  • git/github
  • devops
  • font awesome
  • travis ci
  • terminal
  • aws
  • ecma
  • asset pipeline
  • DHH
  • nginx
  • bash
  • heroku

Words that I thought I knew, but really didn’t

  • rails
  • ruby
  • javascript
  • programmer
  • software engineering
  • client
  • service
  • api
  • check-in
  • pair programming
  • python
  • scripting

Words that I did know, but took on a whole new meaning

  • problem solving
  • easy
  • hard
  • programming
  • engineer
  • hacker
  • geek
  • code
  • teamwork
  • sleepless
  • perseverance
  • impostor
  • teacher
  • maker
  • writer
  • curl
  • gem
  • migration

This is a small sample, but a good representation of how far I am from...

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What Does it Mean to be T-Shaped?

In a world where career, job and purpose are interchanged as we go from position to position, it can be hard to describe who you are in 2 pages or less. I have a little experience with this problem, and I am not alone.

As a member of the millennial generation, I have come to accept that I will not have the same job–or even the same career for more than 5 years. This also means that I can’t rely on a job title, or particular industry to define my career and what I offer.

So how should you aggregate your experience and skills into a cohesive offering?

This is where the concept of being T Shaped comes in. In general, you want to have a depth of skills, and also a breadth of skills (hence the T shape). Thinking of your skills this way can help provide a guidepost to how you present yourself, and what skills you would like to deepen or broaden in the future.


Seems like a lot...

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Computer & Social Science: A Love Story


I am often amazed at the shock that an anthropologist is also a web developer. I get questions like this often,

“Why did you make the the change?”
“Wow that is so different?”
“Why would you want to be an anthropologist? Software Developer? (take your pick)”

What I don’t get is, why does everyone think it so different?

Its really not. In fact, I would say that the two disciplines need each other. The minute computers start interfacing with humans, computer science and social science collide. Actually, it is way before that. As long as there are people that design and build the hardware, and design and build the software, there is a human element. In the scope of history, computing is yet another tool that humans have used to extend themselves in the world. There is a whole theory behind it. The short version goes:

Human makes hammer to be an extension of arm and force.

Human makes...

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Who Wants To Be A Security Princess?

I am taking a course on Web Security at cause deep down hacker is an unofficial title I wouldn’t mind having ( the good kind of course :) ). I am surprised by how much I like it. I think its the fact that you have to be clever and you have to think like a human and a programmer that makes me so intrigued. Then I found out that you can actually do this for your work. Some of the ones that do go by hired hacker, but there are some others that actually get called princess.

Who wouldn’t want princess to be the official way you get addressed at work?

After doing some googling I found that Parisa Tabriz gets to have business cards with a title like that. Makes you rethink how that would play out in the business scence a modern day version of American Psycho. Also makes me think a little harder about building up more skills in this area. I am always interested in how people...

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StarTalk Radio and The Battle of Intelligence


If you know me, the you already know that I heart Neil DeGrasse Tyson, as well as all things Cosmos. I was afraid that when I started downloading this podcast that I would officially turn into a major geek. Instead, I found a podcast that is intellectual as well as really, really funny.

There is a lot of geeking out on all things science and engineering. One recurring guest is Bill Nye! This is like my childhood coming into my radio on the daily. I am even a bigger geek than I thought I was. I get to learn new things (my favorite pastime) while also laughing on the way to work. What I didn’t expect to learn was that

It seems like intelligence isn’t all that valued in society.

If so, then those of us who like to increase our smarts wouldn’t be in such a minority. I wouldn’t encounter people who as me “Why do you have to keep learning new things?” as though I am wasting time with...

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Put In Your 20 Hours

As a person who loves learning, but doesn’t love feeling stupid, I harbor an expensive habit.

Not just expensive cause learning can cost you, but expensive in the emotion it takes to keep going. No one wants to have those bad days where you feel like everything that you are doing is wrong. As a result, I am always on the hunt for new ways to help myself keep on learning.

I was skeptical when I heard that the notorious 10,000 hour rule could be distilled down to 20 hours. That seemed to be a gross misstatement. Being the scientist that I am, I had to see it for myself. To my surprise I found that there are some things that sound like myths that can turn out to be true.

Apparently we have all been gossiping about getting our 10,000 hours and deluded ourselves into believing that was the minimum for success. In fact, learning new things is way more attainable than that. It can...

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Data Science: Both Big & Thick Data


During my drive home fighting through traffic I listened to the latest episode of the Talking Code podcast. This episode was all about data science; what it is and how you can get some. It brought me back to the original reason why I wanted to learn to code in the first place.

I wanted more tools in my anthropological toolkit. I wanted to use my skills of analysis and assessment in a larger way. Being and anthropologist taught me how to understand every data point in context. Being an analyst taught me how to visualize this data and query this data in ways that companies could respond to. Learning to code would complete the trifecta that would prime me to be an awesome data scientist, and therefore innovator.

It all started with a little love for statistics.


I first found statistics in high school. I was good at math growing up, loved algebra (even taking my algebra class in...

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What is HAProxy?


This is a thing that a few months ago, I didn’t know existed. It is used in some of the biggest and busiest sites, like Twitter, Github, Stack Overflow and Tumblr.

The last few weeks trying to learn to use it has been a hard uphill climb for me (blackjack style).

I would not call myself an HAProxy expert, but I at least know what it is, and that is an improvement. In case you may want to know what it is, so that you don’t stay clueless as long as I did, this post is for you.

HAProxy (pronouced H-A-Proxy) is a free and open source load balancer.

This basically means that HAProxy sits in front of your servers and moves the data request around so that no one server is overloaded. The main point is to keep your site up and running beautifully without users wondering what is happening behind the curtain. So that if a server goes down, or some major catastrophe happens, HAProxy will...

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