Finances: Marvin’s first skills

With Marvin’s core architecture designed, I started developing the framework.  The framework itself is intended to handle multiple use cases, from supporting personal information to provide contextual experiences to controlling devices.  Marvin’s key differentiator is that it is powered by data, rather than a simple trigger based on an action.  This is why the core of the framework contains APIs that handle data and extends itself into building out analytics.  Behind the scenes exists an ETL process that feeds into various services, including machine learning.

I’ve been feeding the last 7 years of financial data through to Marvin’s core databases, with just over 9000 transactions. The transactions look something like this:

Date Description Original Description Amount Transaction Type Category Account Name
6/22/2017 Ooma OOMA, INC 08887116662 CA XX.XX debit Home Phone Smart Cash Platinum Plus MasterCard
6/22/2017 Costco COSTCO WHOLESALE W159 AJAX ON XX.XX debit Home Supplies Smart Cash Platinum Plus MasterCard
6/21/2017 Transfer to Chequing TRANSFER OUT XX.XX debit Transfer General Savings
6/21/2017 Transfer from General Savings TRANSFER IN XX.XX credit Transfer Chequing
6/20/2017 Costco COSTCO WHOLESALE W1128 OSHAWA ON XX.XX debit Groceries Smart Cash Platinum Plus MasterCard
6/20/2017 Costco WWW COSTCO CA 905-264-8337 ON XX.XX debit Sporting Goods Smart Cash Platinum Plus MasterCard
6/20/2017 Taunton Endo TAUNTON ENDO OSHAWA ON XX.XX debit Doctor Smart Cash Platinum Plus MasterCard

These transactions provide a very good base for generating some initial learning models. By including credit or debit, dates, retailers, amounts, categories for purchases and labels, it enables various types of skills to be identified.  These skills help me understand my finances better while also helping me improve.

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Communication is key. Why you should work on effective communication.

Several months ago, I had an employee review. I was relatively new at Avanti at the time. There wasn’t a whole lot at the time they could provide on my review.  I did however get very valuable advice.  Advice that I’ve taken to heart. I need to improve my communication.

I’m coming out here by saying my manager was absolutely right. I’ve known all along that communication was one of my weaker qualities. The fact that someone has finally told me that I should improve was welcomed. For those of you who do not know me, I thrive on criticism. Constructive criticism of course.

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Find me on User Experience Stack Exchange

I’ve recently joined the User Experience chapter of Stack Exchange. Though I’ve been on for only a week, this is a community I am excited about joining.  It is a terrific community for exchange knowledge and providing answers to questions on user experience.

I’ve been getting a lot more requests lately by email for User Experience questions which I am happy to answer. However it you are comfortable, posting on Stack Exchange would allow others to use the feedback myself and others of the community provide to help with user experience.

Check out User Experience on Stack Exchange or my profile.

Looking to get my PMP and need some advice

I’ve been looking to get my PMP for quite some time now.  I think the best time for me to do that would be now.  I’ve gotten a lot of suggestions so far on my Facebook on some possible local options I can take including Cheetah Learning and University of Toronto.

I am wondering if others have some suggestions. I would prefer cheaper options and ones that would allow me to do this as soon as possible. Many of the options that are available will take me up to the end of summer or later before I can get my PMP. Online may be more work, something that isn’t a problem for me.

This is something I am looking to get to not only boost my chances of new employment, but as valuable knowledge I can bring to wherever I go next.

Hello world! An update from me!

I haven’t posted in a while. I know.  Its been quite an exhaustive past few months, but I’m still alive and kicking.  I’ll post a very short summary of what I’ve been up to since March.

Social Game Universe and the Lightning Platform are now powering a live CBC TV show called Over the Rainbow.  Over the Rainbow is a production which asks the audience to pick their favorite Dorothy.  During the show, viewers get to follow along with their computer or mobile device, interact with the TV show and vote at the end of the episode. On the 8th episode, one Dorothy will be cast to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s production of the Wizard of Oz.    This project was a true test to Lightning’s scalability and prowlness, achieving higher amounts of users per minute than we’ve achieved with Dirty Dancing, running on less servers.  The average API call executed in 30ms (0.003 seconds) which really isn’t too shabby when you are seeing such a high number of users, a number I am hoping I can disclose in the near future!

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Pelland.me now with Open Graph “Read” support!

As of today, pelland.me has been upgraded with the ability to keep track of all the articles you read. I’m looking to add some more actions in the near future and make the actions better associated with the interactions you are performing in this blog. To start, you only need to Login with Facebook.

If anyone feels I should post a tutorial or perhaps a plugin for this, let me know in the comments.
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Now accepting subscribers

At this point, I have a rather small audience following my posts.  I’d love to grow that number and create some more interactions between my posts.  This is why, today, I have added the ability to subscribe to my blog by email and through Facebook Subscriptions, a new feature which they released this week.

My posts are often written in such a way to entice feedback and create a discussion.  I am hoping to expand on that with subscribers as I move forward with my work / research.

 

Scaling – boy I’ve matured

Sometimes I like to think of the past as a good example of how much I have learned.  Scaling is a particular domain that I have learned a lot over the past year.  2 years ago, I had always assumed that scaling merely consisted of upgrading servers.  The concept of putting servers together to work side by side was baffling to me.

I do like to poke some fun at my past, only because today I am proud of my accomplishments, proud to say I have scaled a product that can easily handle hundreds of thousands / millions of users with a very small pool of servers.

However, the point of this post is not so much to poke fun at myself, but to teach some of the places I have made mistakes and how to get around them.  Of course, without giving some of my secrets or the key to making extremely responsive APIs, like igapi.

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Evolution of Facebook Apps

I must admit, building Facebook apps is certainly not what I had envisioned I would be doing some 5-10 years ago.  What surprises me even more is how much such a platform has evolved. Nowadays, it seems that you need a degree in social behavior, be a marketing genius, along with a PHD in software engineering.  Nothing is as easy as it was, but I do like challenges.

Back when the platform just came out, I could bang an app out within a day, send some invites to friends and put links up on various websites, next thing you know I had thousands of people in my app.  One at it’s peak reaching 800,000 Daily Active Users.  Whatever happened to those days?  I miss them!   Getting those kinds of numbers on new apps will likely run you a few hundreds of thousands of dollars.   It is a shame, because now the smaller guys have absolutely no chance to compete with the bigger guys.

The complexities and the level of detail required to make a game or app function are also astonishing. Thankfully for me, I grew up with the platform and consider myself to know many of the dos and don’ts (there are a lot).  Apps and Games that you want to be successful require the love one mother would give to any child (Happy Mother’s Day Mom).   You want success?  Well you need to focus on user messaging, social behavior, providing value to your content and giving continuity to your game.  Don’t try to silo those 4, because there is a LOT of overlap between them. Continue reading…