Using GitHub

A year or two ago I learned about and started using GitHub. I have not put many of my projects on my GitHub account because some are properietary and confidential and others are not ready yet to be public. In Chemistry class we learned about the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, the idea that observing a phenomena changes it. I believe this is as much the case with software development as it is with electrons. So one of my new resolutions is going to be to do more of my development and projects in the open. Hopefully this will push to me to be a bit more organized, less lazy, and to document more. As a part of that I updated my first repo so that it is easier to digest and included a PDF of the presentation I made to the Civic Hack Night group at SeeClickFix back in March.

I also made my first contribution to another project, known as a pull request, by uploading 2012 shapefiles for Connecticut’s voting precincts. It did not require any coding on my part, but it was a fun milestone to help someone out with their project.

I am currently in the process of reading John Foreman’s Data Smart book so you will soon see some data analysis projects in my GitHub account. Let me know if you have any suggestions for data sets I should wrangle.

How is your e-mail inbox doing?

For e-mail it is both the best of times and worst of times. Tools like GMail and Mailbox make it super-easy to sort and process it. Companies have figured out how to use it in interesting and effective ways like sending me my airline boarding pass or a map of the Uber ride I just took and its cost. I receive some high quality newsletters from Connecticut Mirror,, and Popvox.

Then some companies and organizations are doing a terrible job. Political organizations (and some charities) treat it like a slot machine and every e-mail seems to just ask in a different way to give money. Gary Vaynerchuk would say there are too many right hooks and not enough jabs in those. I like to read them once in a while to see the copy, but I filter them so they don’t hit my inbox.

Sony and Bed Bath & Beyond seemingly send me the same list of products or coupon every week. I just unsubscribed from both of them.

How do you keep your inbox under control? Who is doing e-mail well and who is doing it poorly?

A Note for Those Wishing to Connect on Social Media

So I have not had the time to sit down and write a proper reflective post on 2013. Things have been in flux over the past couple months but I recently was offered the privilege of working for the Connecticut Democratic Party for the 2014 election cycle. While I had spent time extensively searching for legal work, and going to numerous interviews, the market unfortunately did not present an opportunity that fit well with my legal interests and background. I helped out at the state party for a couple weeks leading up to the 2013 election and enjoyed it very much. As the party’s new Deputy Data Director I get to use my technology skills, and many of the analytical and research skills that I honed in law school.

With this new position I have seen an influx of people that wish to connect on social media. I am generally liberal when it comes to accepting requests on social media. My facebook profile is open to the world and I usually use it to disseminate interesting articles. I also tweet interesting articles, but will also use twitter for ranting, (not so) witty comments, and chatting. I also maintain a LinkedIn profile that I don’t post things to as often. While twitter is free flowing I sometimes receive requests on Facebook and LinkedIn from people I do not know. I am happy to connect with and meet new people online if we share interests or experiences, but I will often neglect or reject requests from people I am unfamiliar with.

If you are trying to connect and do not know me, the best thing to do is send a short introduction letting me know why you want to connect when you send your friend or LinkedIn request. That way I have some context for the request and our relationship and am more likely to accept it. However if I don’t accept you do not despair, my Facebook and Twitter feeds are mostly open and you are free to linger as a follower unless you harass me in which case you will probably be blocked.

My Favorite Articles of 2013

Teaching our Children to Code

It is Computer Science Education Week and many of the other blogs and people I follow on twitter have been linking to the video and resources. Codecademy released a neat iOS application as well. However despite all this hoopla I was surprised to learn how far there is to go.

I looked up the statistics for the AP Computer Science A exam in Connecticut for 2013 and discovered that only 413 students took the exam. Among those students only 89 were women. In spite of the hoopla inside the entreprenuerial circles about coding and code education, it does not seem to be reaching outside the bubble.

When I was in high school I got together with a few friends and convinced a science teacher to teach us AP Computer Science so we could take the exam. We gave-up a study hall session to be able to take the class since it was outside the normal class blocks. Sometimes grassroots energy works.

However students are not going to ask for it if they are not familiar with coding. Students need exposure to it through after-school programs or other projects. Schools need to make sure it is an option for them. Otherwise we will conitnue to have a shortage of people with these skills.

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This work by Matt Zagaja is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.