Friday, November 30, 2012

Sexiest Job of this decade?

What is the sexiest job of this decade?  It's called a Data Scientist. They are few and far between, often have PHD's in advanced mathematics and/or statistics and the thought of Petabytes of raw data turns them on.  Currently, East and West coast major metropolitan areas (i.e. tech company areas), a data scientist is making between $300,000 and $500,000 per year.   I bet you wish you would have paid more attention in that abstract calculus class now!

What is a data scientist you ask?  They take Big Data in its rawest form and create connections, models, predictions - predictive analytics.  Take for example the now infamous story where Target was using the habits of its shoppers to predict based on what was in a woman's shopping cart if she was pregnant or not.  Often, even before she knew herself.  Check out this article to see how and try not to freak out.  The bottom line is that they assign everyone, yes, everyone a customer ID tied to your credit card and other data that you are providing.  They are then mining that data to predict certain patterns one of them being pregnancy.  It turns out that by tweaking the predicative formula they could time a women's due date to within a week.  This allowed Target to send out coupons to the woman at specific pregnancy milestones to earn her business and loyalty.  Coupons for prenatal vitamins, unscented lotion, cribs, diapers, you get the picture.  If this is what can be done with a company not really knowing who you are imagine the data collected about you if you use a customer loyalty card.

If you're interested in learning more details about how a data scientist does this work check out the Forbes article. 

Here are a couple buzz words to learn:
Hadoop architecture -- an open source architecture designed to map, crunch and qualify tons of data
Big Data -- is a collection of data sets so large and complex that it becomes difficult to process using on-hand database management tools
Data visualization -- is the graphical presentation of information, with the goal of providing the viewer with a qualitative understanding of the information contents Examples
Advanced Analytics -- is a grouping of analytic techniques used to predict future outcomes

Monday, November 05, 2012

California Propositions 2012

This is my first big election as an American citizen and I'm taking it seriously.  It is daunting being a California voter.  We have 11 propositions to vote on that are California wide and then in Los Angeles county there are three Measures.  This KQED website has a basic rundown of the propositions.  Here is the basics of my research and while I'm trying to be fair, it is MY blog so there may be bias in these descriptions.  The opinions are my own.  Make your own decisions, you're adults.

Prop 30 - Tax increase for > $250k earners and what is interesting is that no one is talking about the .25 cent sales tax increase it also calls for, this is for 4 years.  The money collected will benefit education and public safety.  In my opinion adding .25 cents to state wide sales tax is too much.  It taxes everyone.  We have the highest sales tax in the country now, enough is enough.  This would raise it to over 10% in some counties.  Oh, and interestingly enough, there is a similar proposition, Prop 38.  If both pass  by state Constitution if proposition measures conflict the one with the most votes wins.  You know that will end up in court.  Sadly amusing.

Prop 31 - is confusing.  In a nutshell it establishes a two year budget cycle and allows for more local monetary control.  Its confusing.  I have no idea how I'm going to vote.  If you look at who is for and against the proposition its even more confusing.  For example, both the democratic state party and the tea party are against it.  Strange bedfellows.

Prop 32 - in listening to the ads this seemed a no brainer to me but after reading the proposition itself it is not so clear.  Yes, unions cannot use payroll deducations for political purposes but it also exempts the "super-pacs" from anything.  It seems unfair to me that unions can do nothing but super pacs can do anything they want if this prop passes.

Prop 33 - Allows insurance companies to give us discounts if we have continuous coverage for five years, BUT it also allows them to raise rates without the California insurance commissioners approval if we haven't had coverage.  The proposition is funded entirely by Mercury insurance.  I think that says it all.

Prop 34 - repeal the death penalty.  It is retroactive.  What you don't hear about is the fact that this proposition creates a general fund of $100 million for law enforcement to solve crimes quicker.  So any savings in court costs goes right back out the door.

Prop 35 - Increases penalties for human trafficking.  This seems a no brainer especially when you see the major opponent to the bill is the Erotic Providers Legal, Education and Research Project Inc.

Prop 36 - Revises the 3 strikes law so that if your third strike is stealing milk you don't go to jail for life.  Seems logical to me.  Basically, the punishment fits the crime.  Violent crimes like murder, rape, child molestation are exempt, meaning its life in prison regardless.

Prop 37 - To label or not to label genetically engineered foods.  It is amazing to me how misleading ads can be.  If you read the measure it is not anywhere near the opponents ads.  Read it and understand it before you vote. Seems clear to me.

Prop 38 - The second income tax proposition - increases taxes on most Californians from 2013 through 2024.  Supposed to benefit education.  You know and I know that they will forget they did this and raise our taxes somewhere in between 2013 and 2024 a few more times, right?  The link at the top has the tax rate chart for each income class.  Generally speaking its somewhere around 1% except if you make < $7,000 per year, then it's zero.

Prop 39 - This is a bit confusing - it changes the way taxes are levied on companies that do business in multiple states. In my 15 minute perusal its not clear to me whether this would be good or bad.  This obviously increases taxes because, let's face it, they never go down; the revenue generated would go to clean energy jobs, training, etc., for five years.

Prop 40 -  This one is just stupid.  It was proposed by the Republicans to get old senate district boundaries put back in place and this proposition was posturing for a california supreme court bid.  The court through out the request and the citizens commission that adjusted the district boundaries based on 2010 census figures stands.  A Yes vote leaves districts as they were decided a couple years ago by the commission.  A No vote means more $ will be spent in courts and for another panel to do the same bloody thing all over again.