I get asked about my work and background frequently.  To that end, I’ll answer the ten most commonly asked questions here.

  1. Where are you from? Where do you live now?
    • Grew up in West Fargo, ND
    • Lived in Southern California for over 20 years
    • From 2007-2019 traveled globally, some years more than 50%
    • Moved to Minneapolis, MN to be closer to my family in 2019
  2. What do you do? What is your job?
    • Independent Software Architect, Developer & Educator since 2011
    • Doing contract work for clients globally
    • Client contracts can run as little as 1 day or as long as 1 year
    • 25-50% of my time is non-billable (learning & volunteering).  I wrote about this -> “Learn | Build | Teach”
    • Advisor and board member of CarbonDown.
  3. Who do you work for? Who do you work with?
    • Run my own company.  I work for my customers, rather than for any big company
    • Hire virtual teams (subcontractors) for each contract, usually on an hourly basis
    • Often hire college students, career changers or others who are new to the technology we are working on. I wrote about interviewing -> “Tech Anti-Interviewing”
    • Many people have asked to work with me.  I wrote about my process for hiring interns (any age) -> “Intern with Me”
  4. Are you an employee of AWS, Google, Linked In, etc…? How many people have watched your courses?
    • Was a FTE for Microsoft 2007-2011
    • Am a recognized partner for AWS (Community Hero) & Google (Cloud Expert)  because of my public education work. I am not an employee of either company.
    • Am a contractor for LinkedIn Learning
      • I have created 30 courses on Cloud and Data topics
      • Over 4 million students have watched my courses on LinkedIn or YouTube
  5. What is your educational background?
    • Started college at age 15 (graduated at 19) from University of Minnesota
    • Am a life-long learner and learn new languages & concepts continually
      • New-to-me languages recently are WDL & Nextflow
      • New-to-me concepts include Calculus & Linear Algebra
      • A few years ago a good friend got cancer, after that I started working with bioinformatics teams. I help build efficient, usable cloud analysis pipelines for genomics research, including for personalized cancer treatment.
  6. What advice do you have for me? I am starting a consulting business.
    • Understand work (you get paid) vs. activity (you are doing something)
    • Ask clients to pay you market rate or better
    • Work only with written contracts
    • Start with very short feedback cycles, one week long deliverables is recommended
  7. What advice do you have for me? I am a career changer.
    • Stop watching TV – use that time to learn
    • Work with college students on projects for non-profits
    • Work on projects you care about.  I’ve volunteered on tech projects for…
      • Global Education – MONA Foundation
      • Electronic Medical Records (EMR) – Smart Care in Lusaka, Zambia
      • Technical Education – TKP Java for middle & high school teachers
      • Variant Spark for Genomic Research (ultra-high dimensional data analysis) – CSIRO Bioinformatics in Sydney, Australia
  8. Which should I learn now?
    • Statistics and Machine Learning – 3Blue1Brown is magical
    • Cloud data pipelines and security – build working stuff for non-profits to learn
    • Serverless, possibly Kubernetes – as above
    • Functional programming patterns
  9. Where are you favorite cities and why?
    • Sydney – fun people, beautiful city, did I mention fun people?
    • Berlin – art, music and multiculturalism
    • Santa Barbara – stunning natural beauty, perfect weather
    • Oslo – solitude in a major city, jeg snakke lit Norsk også
  10. Where will you go next and why?
    • Canada – I can drive there easily now, lots to see too…
    • Glasgow – whiskey and search for my relatives
    • Wellington – was in Auckland, loved it, want more New Zealand
    • Perth – must go to anywhere that is nicknamed ‘end of the earth’