My Coding Addiction

I love coding. Good thing too, given that our Custom Data Mining service requires it, among other skills. In this post, I discuss my rediscovered love of coding.

Back in the early 1980s, during my undergrad years, I studied Mathematics, with a major in Computer Science. I was a geek, through and though, speaking only in the languages of math and code (and basketball).

After acquiring a masters in the same field, I faced a cross-roads: continue on to do a PhD in Math/CompSci or branch out? I chose the latter path, and entered law school in 1988.

In law school, I learned to read and write. I also lost my hair and farsight during those years. I attribute these losses to all of that endless reading.

Over the ensuing decades, my work life wandered through law, the Internet, and then consulting. Starting in 2008, my consulting career began with a focus on patent services.

A few years ago, I approached a long-term client for whom we'd been providing our patent services. I said we'd be happy to help on more of the same, but I also asked whether he had any other kind of projects, as I was getting a little bored with the patent work.

He asked: "Well, what else can you do?"

I answered: "Before I was a lawyer, I was a computer scientist."

And thus was born our Custom Data Mining service. The client had some data that was piling up in his departmental "closet", and some pressing business questions, the answers for which were locked inside the data.

This work required three areas of expertise:

  • business
  • statistics
  • coding

Business expertise is required to understand the full context of the client's question, and to guide the investigation of the data.

Statistics is required because in data science, the business requirements and answers are communicated in the language of statistics.

Finally, coding is required to apply the statistics to that data.

Starting on the data mining project of this client, I needed to choose my coding platform. Since (outside of some web development) I hadn't coded in a few decades, I chose the platform I had last used in the 1980s: bash, along with R for statistics.

After this first data mining project, I switched to Python for this work. Beyond data mining, we use Python also for developing our website, generating key parts of the offering memos of our patent brokerage service, and teaching coding to our home-schooled child.

But returning to that first bash/R project, I recall one Saturday morning sitting at our family breakfast table. I had my laptop and was planning on fixing a bug in my code before heading outside to do some work on our land.

My wife and child were leaving that day for activities that would occupy them until the early afternoon. I was still at the breakfast table when they left the house.

In what seemed like no more than a few minutes, the two of them came back home and found me still at the breakfast table with my laptop.

My wife asked: "What have you been doing all this time?"

I said: "Coding. What brought you guys back so soon?"

When she explained the time, I suddenly realized that over four hours had passed and I hadn't budged an inch.

This is how I rediscovered my love of (addiction to?) coding.

Oh well, there's worse things than being addicted to necessary aspects of your work, right?