May review and finding the coding language that was right for me

I want to use my monthly reflection post on a couple of topics before looking at the goals for 2017 and whether I’m on track. There was quite a lot that happened (and didn’t happen), but I’ll go through those at a later time.

Here’s the April review
Here’s the March review
Here’s the February review
Here’s the January review
Here’s the 2016 review

The biggest development this past month was my continued journey with Microsoft Excel, LibreCalc and Google Spreadsheets.

Early on in the month, I continued to learn Javascript, but it was a grind as it had been the previous months. In April, I learned about different functions I could use to call up stats from my Capcom Pro Tour database easier.

As I continued to work through it, something hit me. Excel is my language! I just never realized it.

I’m in Excel/Libre/Spreadsheets everyday. I know the basic functions, how to move numbers around, how to track data, etc. Why don’t I just learn as much as I can?

It was time to get good at Excel, like, legitimately good, professionally good. I’ve messed around with spreadsheets for almost 20 years, and I knew how to do just enough to where people would come to me for advice. But that can be said for a ton of people.

I need to put myself ahead of the pack.

There is an organization that offers Microsoft Office certification. Earn the certificate, and Microsoft officially recognizes you as a pro or expert with their products. The certifications can be for all of Microsoft Office or for specific elements.

I only wanted Excel, so I made it my goal to get certified in Excel. Went on Udemy and bought a $10 course on Excel certification. There was a lot I already knew, but there were quite a lot of things I didn’t know.

For about a 10-day span, I grinded through that course and then put as many functions as I could that could be used in my Capcom Pro Tour database. I asked myself how I could streamline information.

Here’s what came out of those 10 days: a lot of time saved.

I’ll give you some examples.

As part of my workbook, I had one main sheet with the raw data. Let’s say I wanted to find out how someone played overall or compared to someone else (the common example I gave everyone is, “How does a batter do with a runner on second base?”).

I had a second sheet of similar data but only to be used to sort. Then I would take what I wanted out of the sorted rows, put that into a third sheet that had calculations on the ready, and paste the rows in to get the stats I wanted. This was the only way I knew how to pull data for each individual or situation.

If it sounds like a lot of work, it was. And it turns out a lot of it was un-necessary and inefficient. Using several functions built in, I could get my answer in seconds instead of minutes without potentially deleting data.

Last month, I created a chart within the raw data that allowed me to see all of the numbers. But that was inefficient, and it slowed the whole workbook.

During my 10-day blitz, I created a splits chart on a separate sheet. It would allow me to see players’ results based on the round and the score. All I had to do was type their name into one cell. That cell triggered the action of another cell, which then triggered the action of about 50 cells, which showed their stats. The work took hours, but anytime I wanted a player’s stats, the results came in seconds.

The second sheet of data that I used to sort and the calculation sheet were no longer needed.

Then I learned how concatenation works in spreadsheets, and that allowed me to add even more tables to my splits sheet.

Suddenly, if I had a question about a player or an overall stat, it took minutes to come up with the formula, implement the formula for all players and then get my info.

With that knowledge, I created other sheets based on other questions I had.

One of those was “Who does well in the clutch?” Clutch stats vary upon sport. The NBA has clutch stats (the time in the final 5 minutes of a game if both teams are within 5 points). MLB calls it “high leverage,” so it might not be the ninth inning. NFL usually draws anything from the fourth quarter and overtime.

But there was nothing designated for fighting games, at least Street Fighter 5. With the numbers I had and the improved ability to call situations with ease, I decided to come up with it. Clutch situation had to be a moment attainable by any player but definitive enough to where it wasn’t happening all the time.

I came up with several ideas and ultimately stuck with this scenario: a clutch situation is when both players are at less than 25 percent health in a round where at least one player is on match point.

That was definitive enough. At most, a clutch situation could happen six times in a match, but in many cases it could be just once. The stat showed the players’ ability to win when it mattered, be it closing out a match or avoiding a loss when the margin of health was close.

It took about an hour to come up with the formula and create the table. Once it was done, I could call up clutch stats within seconds.

How about tracking wins and losses in a sheet based on the score in a game? Done.

Time average based on the round? Done

Past results based on the score at that moment? Done.

My beliefs were confirmed during a meetup in Santa Monica midway through the month. I chatted with Liz, the leader of Learn Teach Code L.A., about what I had put together, and I was able to explain it in simple terms.

Liz then introduced me to a lady who lived in the South Bay, and I started chatting about how I was leveling up in Excel while asking her what she wanted to ultimately learn.

Explaining all of my Excel work felt second nature to me. It was as if Excel was really my language. For other people, it’s HTML/CSS, or Javascript or Python or something else. For me, I get a thrill working with data in Excel and talking to people about it. Excel doesn’t scare me, and I hear from people that it scares them a lot.

A week later, I did an impromptu presentation at the Uncoded weekly meetup just to get an idea of what I could do better, if anything. The guys there provided quite a lot of suggestions, some that I have done and others I might have to wait on.

The only thing left is to get certified. There are two tests: a general professional test, and the expert test. I will take the general test first (this weekend, although it should have been last weekend) and then use the next month or two to study for the expert test.

If I fail, I get one opportunity to retake it.

My goal in May was to get through Javascript30. I didn’t accomplish it but I plan to eventually go through with it. For now, I’m wanting to level up in Excel because I believe it’s the language for me and I see plenty of opportunities.

Birthday thoughts

I mentioned last month that my birthday was coming, and I had a couple of plans. Well, my initial plan fell through, and then Plan B wasn’t going to happen.

Had lunch with a longtime friend, Rosa, and her son Arlo in San Diego. It was my first opportunity to meet Arlo, and he was such an awesome kid. I also hung out with one of my brothers for a few hours afterward.

The next day, as I continued to grind through Excel training and my workbooks, I asked myself, “Why didn’t I do more?”

No, I’m not talking about going to Houston again or do something insane. But I was wondering why I was so reserved about my birthday.

I think I know the answer, and it’s two parts:

1. What happened in 2010.

2. I programmed myself to not care too much, because if I cared, then it’s immediately seen as a selfish move, and then people say I’m selfish and then they laugh or look down on me, and then I lose potential deals, and … OK it’s not that extreme, but it’s there. That’s why I always worked or hid my birthday as best as possible, or stayed silent about the actual day.

No, I’m not going to suddenly put my birthday on Facebook or other social media sites and start doing birthday weeks/months to celebrate, but I’m also not going to run away now if people want to know about my birthday.

In the future, I want to make sure I actually do something, be it with friends, family or solo. We’re only going to get about 100 of these birthday celebrations if we’re fortunate. It’s time to make the most of the ones coming up.

Goals for 2017

OK let’s look at the goals for the year and see whether I’m on track.

Work

— Reach at least $2000/monthly combined in the online and content marketing businesses by February (not close now but making progress). From there, grow by at least 5 percent each month.

For some weird reason, there were quite a few sales that fell through early in May. I guess it happens. Toward the end of the month, I made a huge sale, almost $800.

So the sales total for the month was almost at $1,200 which is great. Still looking at this as a secondary option, not the main.

— Begin reaching out to companies looking for copy editors and get to freelancing.

It was a mix of people coming to me for small gigs and me continuing to reach out. This was much different than six months ago, when it was all me.

I’m continuing to grind and build up my base here, and I’m grateful that I’m receiving more opportunities.

There was a tech hiring event in downtown L.A. (at a brewery) early in the month, and I attended thinking that maybe there would be someone looking for a freelance writer. I was so out of place.

When people checked in, we were asked to put a sticker based on one of four categories: sales and marketing, front-end developer, back-end developer, other. I was in “Other,” and other in this case meant “You’re not really going to get anywhere in this hiring event but maybe if you have charm and good looks you can wow someone.”

I tried to interact with as many people as possible, and even that was a turnoff once I said I was a freelance writer. Now, when people talk about why ‘brogrammers’ are terrible to work with and talk to, I know exactly why.

I can’t remember the last time I went to a hiring event, and that one will probably be the last.

— Be the official statistician for one major esports event

I sent out a couple of feelers to see if there was any interest, and there was. It might not be June, but I think as my databases continue to fill up, it will give me more confidence to pitch.

Perhaps after Evolution I will start hard charging tournament organizers to see whether I could be of help.

Workout

— Get up to 10 miles running per session (currently at 8.5)

Still at 8.5, and I slacked this month.

There was one run toward the end of the month where I felt sluggish and uninspired. From there, I told myself I was going to do better. I installed Runkeeper to track my progress and made a better effort to find time to run.

I haven’t had a bad run since, and although I’m still at 8.5 miles as my longest, longer runs will soon be coming.

My goal for this month is to rack up 100 miles running and have a run of at least 9 miles.

Personal

— Post on social media less and stay away from getting the Twitter/Facebook dopamine. I noticed the more I was on social media, the lonelier and less happier I felt. This is going to be a key for me in 2017. I remember the days when it was easy to tweet my thoughts 100 times without blinking. Let’s get it to once a day, if that.

Tweets in May: 180
Tweets in April: 310

This surprised me. I felt like I was on Twitter much more this past month than anytime in the year, and yet I barely posted.

The posts were mostly about fighting game stats, and people really enjoyed it. I didn’t tweet much about anything else.

Maybe I was on Twitter much more, but instead of actually tweeting, I was looking for the dopamine effect to hit me. To combat this, I’m going to mute a lot of the accounts I follow and see whether that tips me to be on Twitter less often.

— Attend one out-of-state tournament that I haven’t been to before

It might be late in the year for this.

— Read at least 10 books. My book reading in 2016 dropped BIG TIME from the previous two years, and I need to get this back up.

I read one book, “The Little Book on Digital Marketing” as part of a project.

I have completely slacked on this when earlier in the year I was definitely flowing through books.

= = =

It was an eventful May, and I believe June will be just as action-packed. I’m ready to take it on.