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OtherMy name is Rustic Bodomov and I'm a Hollywood Stuntman. I make filmmaking tutorials for people who want to do action scenes, and one of them was on the front page today! AMA!

Jul 22nd 2017 by kellock71 • 20 Questions • 57 Points

UPDATE: I've landed and can start answering again

UPDATE: I'm boarding a flight real quick-- The plane should have wifi on board, so I should be back online in 5-10 minutes

Update: about to take off. Airplane mode engaged

Here is my proof: http://www.speaktogether.org/blog/my-reddit-username-is-mfworks

Here's the main page: https://www.congresswebhistory.com

Here's a little bit about the project: https://www.speaktogether.org/blog/we-built-a-tool-that-gets-congress-browser-history

Louise Matsakis also covers it really well here:

https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/7xp4gy/how-to-track-what-congress-is-doing-on-the-internet

twitter: @mfeldspeak facebook: https://www.facebook.com/speaktogethernow

Some background about me: I'm a 24 year old software developer in Research Triangle Park, NC. I founded Speak Together a year ago to build software to change the models citizens can use to reach out to their govt.

last year I got involved in the fight to repeal NC HB2 (the notorious anti-transgender bathroom law that was passed here in North Carolina) and quickly became jaded by how difficult and inefficient it was to learn about the activities of the state legislature and communicate at all with my representatives.

I found a few friends who had felt the same way as me, and we've been building software to try to make that process easier. One of them, violetnekos, is also on the ama.

Ask Me Anything!

Q:

Why did you want to become a stuntman?

A:

Who do you think was the most credible witness in the trial?


Q:

Hi! Thanks for doing this. Here are my questions:

  • What do you think is the mistake people make the most learning web development?

  • Do you prefer (teaching) front end or back end development or both, and why?

  • Favorite Editor/IDE?

A:

What are the most interesting insights you've uncovered by tracking our government official's browsing activities?


Q:

Great question! There's a 2 part answer..

Part 1: Ever since I was about 5 years old I remember deconstructing action movies in my head. I was obsessed with Jackie Chan movies, and when I turned 10 I started reading everything I could find about Bruce Lee's training methods. Bruce Lee motivated me to get into Martial Arts when I was 12, and propelled me to train hard in Parkour when I turned 16.

Part 2: I was studying Architecture at the University of Dundee in Scotland, and spending way too much time making youtube videos with my friends. We were doing parkour videos, action comedy skits, and eventually I stumbled onto an online forum called "Stunt People". The forum was filled with indie stunt performers and filmmakers who were all posting their own fight scenes, and that motivated me to start making some fight scenes also!

I soon found that I had a knack for action.. so I took a year out from college and worked at a call center while continuing making videos (on another channel). Then, one of my friends from my home in Pittsburgh decided to move to Hollywood to be a stuntman, and I followed him on a whim! Saved up money for 3 months, and moved out here.

Best decision I've ever made :)

A:

Philip Vannatter.


Q:

A mistake that I've seen, and this goes for web dev or for programming in general, is that people get too focused on some resource rather than just coding. The only way you can learn to do web dev is to learn about it and do it. Trying to find the best program or best book, that will just waste time. Find some coding projects you can contribute to and like... then go for it.

I really like teaching and doing backend stuff, really because I love the magic in it.

My favorite editor is vi, but for web stuff, I'm using atom lately.

A:

Right now we are focused on testing the technical aspects of our tool and data management pipeline. We are trying to hit the sweet spot of a few different targets before we release it to the public: 1. The tracking code installation needs to be as simple as possible. We want to keep it to a piece of javascript code you can drop in to your frontend, with no server-side dev.

  1. It needs to be robust enough that it can't easily be disabled. This actually conflicts with our client-side only goals, because the more we allow for server-side implementation, the more it can circumvent methods to disable it.

  2. It needs to leave as minimal a privacy footprint as possible. We want to avoid sucking in any non-government data, and that means putting a lot of code in the tool that makes it bulkier and more vulnerable to disabling.


Q:

Have you ever had to use your stunt skills in a real life situation?

A:

Given your experience, what are your thoughts about television cameras in courtrooms? Do they help or hurt the justice system?


Q:

Where do you see NASA going? By this, I mean, better funding and better missions, or cuts to funding for certain sectors, and not as many missions? What are your thoughts on future missions, such as the Mars mission/s, and/or the unmanned missions to both Jupiter and Uranus?

A:

TL;DR: We don't have a way to track anything, we hope large content publishers will add our tracking code because net neutrality, despite it compromising their user's privacy. AMA


Q:

Wonderful question!

I have saved myself numerous times falling over, tripping, and falling off my dirt bike. One time I was riding a bicycle to the autoparts store with a beer in one hand..I tried going off a curb, and the front wheel accidentally turned sideways, which sent me flying forwards.

Luckily I was able to roll out of it and stand back up to take a sip... then I look over and there's an old man walking a dog staring at me, lol.

Fighting wise, I have not had to use those skills. Fortunately :)

A:

I think cameras in the court room are a mistake. I think they have a way of reducing a serious somber proceeding to a reality TV show and a mockery of what a trial ought to be.


Q:

I see NASA a bit differently, especially from the funding and mission side of things. For me, the goal of NASA has always been to create explorers and to make people want to learn about discovery. I personally am an "ah-ha-aholic." It's even better to give an ah-ha moment to someone else. But, at the end of the day, I believe NASA's mission is, and always will be to support people to become more curious--and to provide them with the inspiration to move the ball forward.

A:

Where we see the largest value for our tool(beyond its efficacy as political protest) is if we can get it on a large swatch of online news site. It would be interesting to see where swaths of representatives are getting their news: How many get everything from Breitbart/Infowars? How many from Mother Jones, or the Young Turks? We can also use referral headers to track whether people are following specific sites, or if they just read what pops up on, for example, their facebook feed


Q:

Did you see Sam Hargrave give a breakdown of a fight scene in Atomic Blonde? He gives a great overview and even gives a few secrets, like glass poppers and dropped frames in editing. Thanks for the detailed response on your original post. I know camera moves and angles help sell the shot. What other techniques can you use to help make a stunt look even better?

A:

What actor has been your favorite portrayal of yourself on television?


Q:

What do you think of the over saturated developer bootcamp environment with Dev Bootcamp and The Iron Yard both shutting down in the last couple weeks?

A:

Isn't this mostly just tracking what underpaid interns are doing while they're supposed to be running to Starbucks?


Q:

I did see that!! Sam did a wonderful job, and I even learned some stuff from him! That guy is amazing, and is one of my biggest inspirations. (He was the first stuntman I ever met, when he doubled Joel Edgerton on a movie called Warrior, in Pittsburgh)

To answer your question: Other than camera work, you are relying on the actors and performers who are around the actor. Just like Sam mentioned in his breakdown, it is the whole team working together to "play to the angle" that sells the action.

Also, if you're hypothetically one of the stunt performers on the outside of a multiple person fight, your #1 job is to make the actor look good.

More stuff to help sell stunts: Sam basically covered it.. hiding pads everywhere you can, using VFX to remove pads and wires. I've also seen some people use a little baby powder to make a kick that connects look good!

Another cool trick is for those slo-mo face punch closeups. You can start 2 inches away from the face, and punch through without much force but it will look just as good :) (if you can picture Rocky..though I'm not sure if that's how they did it in Rocky per se)

A:

I haven’t watched, but everyone says Sterling K. Brown is a better me than me.


Q:

I'll first mention that I've met folks that worked for both those boot camps and I think the instructors and staff I've been able to interact with are incredible people who are invested in their students. I think that as this young industry continues to grow, we all have to be careful not to grow too fast and to stay focused on making people successful.

A:

Also, just because interns exist doesn't mean reps are immune from tracking. The irony here is that the ISP privacy law was based on the legal argument that ISPs are not utilities, and so are exempt from regulations that apply to utility companies.

If that's so, then congress should be able to work around having to use the internet (and being tracked on it) in the same way they expect us to, and not have it impact their job.

If they can't, then it's a pretty clear indication that ISPs are providing a public utility, and should have to safeguard our data in the same way utilities do.


Q:

What's your worst injury?

A:

Thoughts on Faye Resnick?


Q:

I'm a college dropout who way after the fact fell in love with Data and became an analyst. To what extent can a boot camp lend credibility to a resume with 'some college'?

A:

I was an underpaid intern on the hill, can you please delete by browser history.

Interns need some help, they are the ones opening up the Hustler magazine every month.


Q:

Nice one!

I have been very fortunate so far (knocks on wood) and have been able to do my job safely for the most part.

The worst injury I've ever gotten from stunts was when I first moved out to LA. I made some other newbie stunt friends and a group of us (like 10 guys) decided to do an underground style fight scene/short film. So we found a location, which was an under-construction parkour gym..

The place where they were going to install the "foam pit" was still empty, and looked like a fighting pen.. so we covered the floor in cardboard to make it look "hard". In retrospection, I wish we'd have put 1 inch mats under all of the cardboard..

Anyways, I was doing a move where I do a spin hook kick and my opponent comes under and sweeps my leg out from under me, which sends me flying. I practiced it on a sprung floor perfectly, but my newbie brain forgot to realize I was now on concrete.. anyways, I freaked out in the air and came straight down on my shoulder. It separated for a second, then went back to normal.

I had to finish the fight scene though, so I was just wildly swinging my arm around.. when I went home, I put it in a sling and iced it.. then I couldn't lift my arm past shoulder height for about a week, until I went to Hot Yoga for 7 straight days. That stuff works MIRACLES!!

Full movement is now restored in my shoulder (luckily) and it has been 6 years since that incident.

Thanks for the question!! (My 2nd worst injury story isn't as cool..)

A:

LOL. LOL. Laughing my ass off.


Q:

I believe that programming boot camps are the trade schools of today--they are designed to give you skills that you can apply immediately. I don't think that any degree or credential is worth much if you can't actually do the work that you're being paid to do. I worked with quite a few people at NASA in the data center with no college but had a lot of skills and experience. A boot camp credential proves you can work hard, learn new things, and that you are invested in yourself.

A:

Yes, we actually created a tool for just this purpose. email me at [email protected] and I can get rid of all your tracked data for you.

In a broader sense, this kind of participation from non-reps in Washington is incredibly helpful. One of the easiest way to improve the accuracy of our data is just to opt out all the interns that work there. If you are intern, hit me up at [email protected] and we can auto-filter out any of your browsing history.


Q:

lol makes sense. was that in real time? when you mimicked being hit by a car

A:

Is it true that OJ could come out publicly now and say "yes, I did it. I killed them both" and nothing could be done about it?


Q:

/u/JavierLoustaunau

He might seem as well-intended, but make no mistake, he's trying to attract you to buy his bootcamp. Almost all of the AMA's are to promote something.

No sensible company would ever consider hiring you with only these "bootcamps" and they're usually seen as waste of time ['cause they are].

These are the people who didn't make it in the industry and are back at teaching and they might be good, but understand he's doing this AMA to promote his bootcamp.

He will say that "no, I wanna help", but get real.

What you need to do is get some fucking books, follow the codex and start doing stuff right away, then optimize, ask for opinions & code review and move on from there.

Actually, fuck the books, just follow any tutorial and then search for specific stuff.

Publish your work under a portfolio and if you're skilled enough, sky's the limit.

Please don't get involved with any bootcamps or so called "zero to hero" programs.

Treehouse is a great resource, honestly, if you wanna get up-to-date information and be part of a big, active community.

I haven't used it myself, but I did teach myself html/css/js*jquery in the span of 2 weeks, where I was able to write my tiny own bootstrap, optimize CSS for heavy cpu renders and other arcane things. It's all in putting in the hours, nothing else.

It took me a lot to understand the floats and how everything flows in a row, so, you'll have lots of WHAT-THE-FUCK-WHY moments, after which you'll still be confused, but don't worry, in time, it starts to make sense.

A:

Will we track what interns are doing on their way to Starbucks? Yes, we will probably catch some of that. We have filters and can analyze the data to parse some of that out.


Q:

That particular example was sped up just slightly, on the vfx shot. The part on the ground was real time.

I've actually did it a second time with a friend of mine, and this one was not sped up. Hit happens at 0:11 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SsB3kqIfasc

A:

Yes, that is true. He has been found innocent, and to prosecute him again in state court would constitute double jeopardy and would be precluded by law. Did I say innocent? I meant not guilty.


Q:

Yep, I am trying to attract you to a boot camp if it's right for you...

"Boot camps" have been used by everything from losing weight to becoming a good person.

But don't put words in my mouth sir. These are your opinions.

A:

step 1: you send a request to a web page that has one of these tracking scripts on it

Step 2: the server responds, and your browser then downloads the web page you are trying to view (including the plugin)

Step 3: the script then runs on your machine (within your web browser), and sends data about your browser (and cookies, and some other info) to another server that stores that info


Q:

What do you do spescifically as a stunt coordinator, and what are the differences between working on a music video and a feature film? Thank you for the AMA!

A:

How did Johnny Cochrane change the tone of the trial from murder to racism so effectively?


Q:

Hey there, thanks for doing an AMA. This is my first question in an AMA ever! and it's because I'm an aspiring web developer :)

Could you share your "AHA" moments that significantly improved your understanding and/or changed your perspective on web development? Ideally a moment for each of the basic languages, HTML, CSS, Javascript :)

My learning progress has been up and down because I'm constantly doubting myself. Whatever code I write, I know it could be written better -- and then I don't get anything done because I keep revising the same code. Also, everyone seems to have a different view on "best practices" in terms of code structure, organization, and functional vs imperative -- and I can't find my own comfort zone. I think I just need something, or some concepts to "click" in, so I can discover that comfort zone.

A:

Will we track what interns are doing on their way to Starbucks? Yes, we will probably catch some of that. We have filters and can analyze the data to parse some of that out.


Q:

Hi Fred, thanks for the interesting question!

I do not promote myself as a stunt coordinator, though I've done it several times.. but I can surely explain to you what the job entails!

The Stunt Coordinator is the head of the stunt department. Think of it as the Action Design department. The stunt coordinator gets a script, and goes through it while making a "stunt breakdown" which lists every stunt and action sequence. Depending on the production, he will either get more or less input (action movies that do well usually get a lot of creative input from the stunt coordinators: ie John Wick, where the directors were both Stunt Coordinators in the past)

Then after several production meetings, the coordinator puts together a roster of all of the people in the department and brings them on board.

The Stunt Coordinator hires the Stunt Performers, Stunt Riggers (people who specialize in setting up advanced rigs, like flying and superpower movie stuff), and makes sure they have all of the necessary equipment for each of the Action Days.

On the day of the shoot, the stunt coordinator is there to set up the stunt and make sure everyone is ready and knows what they're doing. He/she will also usually be safety-ing the pads and standing by in case of injury. When everything is set to go, the stunt coordinator is the one who usually yells "Action" on the stunt.

After the stunt/action sequence is finished, the coordinator makes sure everyone is safe, and checks with the director if he got the look he wanted.

Again, depending on how involved the coordinator is in the production.. he/she may want to sit in on parts of the editing process, to make sure they stuff looks good.

There have been several projects I've worked on (and it happens all the time) where we KNOW the camera got some amazing footage.. but it got butchered in the edit. (This is why if I ever DO coordinate something, I usually insist on getting final say on the action edit).

Hope that answers your question! _^

A:

Cochrane used the media to change the conversation as effectively as Donald Trump does.


Q:

Hello GiantQtipZ: Thank you. I appreciate the thoughtful remarks.

I can really only echo what protect-the-zebras has posted before me. That advice is solid as it gets. One of the biggest AHA moments was that I could do web dev for a living. That was a while ago of course.

Some of the folks that I work with have kinda thought I'm a jackass because I'll sometimes send out something to the other instructors about grit. But I've seen some people succeed with pure determination and time on station. Were they the best programmers I've ever met? 6X or whatever? Definitely. They did it long and hard enough until they were great--then they took a break.

Those AHA moments will come--but only if you keep working at it. My AHA moments might be your laughable ones. Don't compare yourself to other people's "best practices"--you can't code exactly like anyone other than yourself. We all have totally different backgrounds and experiences. Coding is writing, and expressing yourself. Your first projects are going to suck. But, if you're humble and you're willing to learn from your mistakes. You're golden. Good luck my friend.

A:

In the same vein, our tracking tool has the ability to utilize unique info about each persons user-agent(among other techniques) to help weed out the interns from the administration

Beyond that, there are a suite of data analysis techniques that can further narrow the scope of who we are looking at.


Q:

Thank you so much! Very interesting

A:

What was the reaction of your family and friends after they learned you had taken the case?


Q:

What are NASA's coding standards like? I've seen some of their electronic hardware standards and they're pretty extreme. Was it difficult to accomplish projects? what about debugging? Does NASA have any open source projects that the public can contribute to?

A:

Ah, maybe my question was unclear. I don't doubt that you can see that e.g. 1000 different people are behind one IP address, but how can you tell which are interns and which are members of Congress? Google analytics doesn't really know the answer to that either.

Cookies and browser fingerprinting can help you tie two different web requests to the same browser, but they don't tell you who is using the browser, right?


Q:

you're welcome, thank you!!

A:

I didn’t really have any friends outside the DA’s office. And a lot of those friends were supportive while others, even though they were prosecutors, went about the business of stabbing me in the back every chance they got. But that is the nature of lawyers — to consume their own.


Q:

Check out https://www.nasa.gov/offices/oce/functions/software/index.html the office of the Chief Engineer deals with all software releases. Now like I've mentioned before... there's a loophole for websites and databases.

A:

Yes-- which brings me to point 2:

  1. In aggregate, members of Congress are going to have different patterns of internet use than interns. As our data grows, this disparity should become more clear.

There are numerous techniques to be able to capture this trend, but I'll mention a few here, as well as some links to good descriptions of them

K-means clustering:

Decision trees: these would work insofar as we choose some function of the data(or metadata ) that correlates well with whether or not the user is a representative, and minimizing the entropy of that function. The tricky part is figuring out a function that would be an effective differentiator.

These are both techniques that can operate using only unlabeled data, meaning that we don't have any browsing history that we know comes from either an intern or a congressperson. Which segues into part 3

  1. If a representative (unlikely) or an intern(more likely) is willing to let us tag their history, we can use that data to greatly inform how we differentiate between interns and reps.

Ultimately, there is no surefire way to completely eliminate intern data. However there are a number of techniques we can is to narrow the scope of our data and ensure that our analytics are as targeted as possible.


Q:

What goes into you everyday training routine?

A:

If you were walking down the street and saw OJ or he approached you, how would you feel? What would you say?


Q:

My dream goal is to make it as a software engineering intern at JPL. I have no degree in it but I'm currently gathering experience at a decent firm and learning on my own. Any ideas/tips you can throw my way would be GREAT. :)

A:

Have you encountered any suspicious activity in their browsing history?


Q:

Great question!

My routine varies from week to week, because I'm constantly learning different skills. Some weeks I'm focused on fight choreography, others I'm rock climbing, and yet others I'll be riding dirt bikes, etc.. but here is the basic structure.

Also, when I'm working, it's usually long hours (5am call times, etc) so I don't get to train much.. but on the days that I'm not working..

I wake up around 6 am (aiming to get it to 5 am soon), and hop in a cold shower. That jolts my system awake, after which I meditate and write out my to-do list for the day. Then I do a morning workout, which is usually solo. After that, I do whatever work needs to be done for the day (computer work, sending resumes, making videos), then I do my afternoon training, which is either skill development or weightlifting (modified bodybuilding).

MORNING WORKOUTS: In the morning I stick to some form of Intense Cardio/Calisthenics workout. Sometimes I run the hills by my house, followed by a pushup/pullup/burpee circuit. Other days I will hit the gym and run on the treadmill, then row, then bike, then do some full body circuits with free weights.

WEIGHT WORKOUTS: When I'm in a bodybuilding cycle (I usually go 3-4 weeks at a time, then take a break for a week), I will split my lifting into 4 days. Chest/Tris, Back/Bis, and Legs/Shoulders x 2 days. I've been finding my lifting workouts too brutal recently, since I was sore on the job, so I've started modifying them into full body workouts that just focus on one of those groups slightly more than the other.

SKILL DEVELOPMENT: For skill development, this ranges wildly depending on who is available to work out that day! I usually go to a gymnastics gym at least once a week to keep my tricking (flips, kicks, twists) skills sharp. There are several fight choreography groups that train every week, so I'll hit them up. If my rock climbing buddy is available, we will hit up our favorite spots near Santa Monica.. and I'm currently looking for people to start training in Tactical Movement

MARTIAL ARTS: Thought I'd add this, too! My background is in competitive Judo (7yrs) and TaeKwonDo (4yrs) but since I moved to LA I've been focusing on training fight choreography, which molds several styles together... but recently my friend Justin Gant (he's also in my tutorials) and I started training in Jeet Kune Do, and so we'll do that twice a week!

Sorry if the reply was messy.. trying to answer honestly! lol. My training feels all over the place, but the wake-up times, cold showers, and training 2x per day stays consistent!

A:

I wouldn't feel anything one way or the other. I sure as hell wouldn't be afraid of him. I'd probably tell him to get the fuck off my sidewalk and take his ass across the street.


Q:

Don't forget that JPL is essentially owned and operated by Caltech. Check out contractors like Raytheon and SSAI. Also, every year in San Fran during the second week in December there is AGU, one of the largest science conferences in the world. If you can make it there, you'll meet hundreds of interns and NASA employees, contractors you name it. You'll definitely meet folks from JPL.

A:

I'm not really in a position to talk about the data we've collected so far, we're actually treading carefully around what/how we release the data we collect (1/?)


Q:

Hi! Can I ask, what was your first experience with filmmaking? Does it date back to child times or did you get into it when you got older?

A:

How do you feel on the whole 'if the glove doesn't fit, you must acquit' saying? Do you think they could have made a better rhyme?


Q:

Except for 2017 and 2018 AGU is moving because of construction at SF's convention center. This year the conference is in New Orleans. Otherwise, yep, SF in December has many many NASA and JPL people in town.

A:

Have you encountered any suspicious activity in their browsing history?


Q:

My very first experience in filmmaking was when I discovered youtube and wanted to make a video! Here is the first video I ever made actually, before I even had a video camera.. so I made a stop motion video (I was 16yrs old): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rkoS2V-aNag

Then, I was making parkour videos for a while.. and started experimenting with actual scene structure when I was in college. I started a comedy channel with some friends of mine, and called it Kouro Media: http://youtube.com/kouromedia

Then I moved to LA and worked as an editor for a friend of mine for a while, before returning to my own youtube channel. Here is the most recent re-incarnation of the stop motion concept :) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=waGg29jwa3Q

A:

Well, quite honestly, I did not appreciate at the time the impact that little ditty had on the jurors. I thought it was a kids rhyme for idiots, to be honest, but it was effective.


Q:

Thanks... it's been a two years since I've been:http://fallmeeting.agu.org/2017/welcome/

A:
  1. The more data we release earlier, obviously, the more Congress will be able to react to those releases and mitigate their exposure. Similar to how investigate journalists frequently operate-- if they find a potentially interesting story, they don't publish immediately. They'll keep pulling threads while staying low key to try to get as complete a picture as possible.

If we find an interesting trend in the data, and then release it immediately, we could be tipping our hand to Congress, early, and they can react and change their browsing patterns accordingly. So we're erring on the side of keeping our info quiet for the time being to try to gather as much unfiltered behavior as possible.


Q:

what are the easiest stunts that look impressive, and the hardest stunts that don't get much credit from the audience?

A:

What is the greatest public misunderstanding about the work of a prosecutor?


Q:

NASA always has the best booth at AGU. It's fantastic.

A:

Have you encountered any suspicious activity in their browsing history?


Q:

Wow, really cool question!

I think it depends on the stunt performer, but for me the easiest things to do are martial arts flips and jump spin kick to moves. Also, when I get to do Wirework and fly around, that's pretty easy because I'm basically in for the ride.

I have to think about the second part! Brb

A:

I think it has more to do with prosecutors in general. I think it is a mistake to assume that because someone is a prosecutor, that he or she is somehow more honest or has more integrity just because they are a prosecutor. Most of the prosecutors I know are good people who are committed to protecting us from those who would prey on us. But these days, I sometimes run into prosecutors who just don't seem to have the character we used to have 20-30 years ago. People need to understand that prosecutors are lawyers, and like my grandmama once told me, a law degree is a license to lie.


Q:

That's one thing I miss a great deal... meeting with the public at AGU every year and hanging with my friends from JPL and other places. Make sure you guys goto AGU and get your famous calendars... I think one year we gave away 20000 calendars.

A:

"3." The issue with having raw data, and with releasing raw data, is that one we hit a critical mass, it gets frighteningly easy to "de-anonymize" the data. That is-- use it in conjunction with public domain info to start to build browsing profile, and attach those profiles to public figures.

Jessica Su, a computer scientist at Stanford actually did this with some sample data, and showed how easy it is to do-- http://randomwalker.info/publications/browsing-history-deanonymization.pdf

We don't want to release this data and then have the internet collectively weaponize this data against our representatives. So we need to be really careful with how we use it.


Q:

As a no-budget filmmaker, is there such a thing as low-budget stunts?

Eg stuff that looks cool and adds production value, but is still perfectly safe and affordable?

Conversely, is there a stunt that stunt people hate doing?

A:

Hi Christopher - had you been a criminal defense attorney at the time, would you have had a problem defending O.J.?


Q:

What do you think about flat earthers and how they believe NASA is in on the whole conspiracy to make people think the earth isn't flat, and have NASA guards posted at the ice wall that circles the edge of the earth, and magnetic waves that erase your memory if you somehow make it past the guards?

A:

Are these people on "interesting" (cutting edge, hip, avant garde, risqué) sites a lot or are they checking AOL or CNN/FOX/MSNBC.

Are any of them (what ~%) researching policy positions in a meaningful way?


Q:

Hey, great question!

Simple falls, where you can frame out a crash pad or mattress that's on the floor, are good for low budget projects. You shoot the fall, them a pickup of the actor hitting the ground (from like 1ft up). Learning how to do some simple fight Choreography is also good!

Car Hits.. stunt people tend to hate car hits, lol

A:

No.


Q:

Well... I usually tell them to buy a go-pro and a zero-pressure balloon. You can fly the go pro up on the balloon to about 100K feet, and then you'll be able to see the curvature of the earth... Go empirical on them... plus you probably could do this experiment for under 500 bucks... Make sure you get some radar reflectors on your balloon though, and I think you need to check with the FAA.

A:

Getting our tool on major news sites is a long process that we are currently working through.

However, govtrack.us has some very informative policy and bill information, and publicly releases(some) of the real time data of what Congress is visiting on their site. Very cool way to see what bills congress is interested in on a given day--

Https://govtrack.us


Q:

Did Sterling K. Brown contact you or attempt to meet you before his portrayal in the most recent tv series?

A:

I have almost zero programming experience, but enjoyed my short experience with Python. I am interested in learning more, so my question is: How much Kerbal Space Program do you play at NASA programming bootcamp?


Q:

You're designing your code to be portable so that other groups can also use it to increase transparency in regards their governments.

Have you had any conversations in regards how non-American implementations might differ? I'd imagine Germans, French, let alone Turkish, Chinese or Saudi Arabian implementations of this would provide different – uhh – insights.

Is what you're doing portable enough to work in more repressive nations? Not that the US is all that now (sadly), but I'd imagine Turkey would present very different challenges.

Are you planning on having some kind of starter pack for non-profits in foreign locales, both to run the analytics and also basics on how to reach out to their local journalists so news can get out for their findings?

PM me if you'd like some suggested articles on how journalists might protect themselves when they're in a hostile environment while they're doing their important work. The EFF, Privacy International and the Freedom of the Press Foundation are excellent sites with many resources, FWIW.

A:

He called me at 3am Pacific Time to tell me he had gotten the role. I chewed his ass out.


Q:

I'm a big fan of KSP and I played it way more when I was at NASA than now. :-( At the bootcamp we want you coding not playing games...

A:

Really, really cool question.

The code would be super easy to implement for any world government, and one of our hopes when we make it open source is that people can take it and modify it to those ends.

The key in our case(and govtrack's, and CongressEdit's) is that the WHOIS records of the IPs that belong to the House, Senate, FCC, and White House are in the public domain. I'm not sure if the same is true for other countries.


Q:

Thank you so much for doing this Ama!

My question is, you mentioned you were the prosecutor in the OJ Simpson case but that you now work as criminal defense attorney.

What pushed that shift from prosecutor to defense attorney?

Also, after OJ was found not guilty how did that effect your career moving forward?

Thanks again!

A:

How did you land up a job in NASA and what were the requirements? (University, Experience etc) Also, this is my first time asking a question so forgive me if I did anything wrong.


Q:

I have a lot of questions but I'll limit myself to two lol

What advice do you have for an aspiring data scientist? And what projects would provide proof to an employer that I can do the job? Thanks

A:

I became a defense attorney after the district attorney’s office terminated my employment.


Q:

Well, aside from always wanting to work at NASA I got my chance through networking. A friend of someone who worked there found out I was looking for opportunities and put me in touch. When I interviewed they were looking for someone who knew how to work with sql databases. I knew a little and I got hired! It was a lot of luck and timing.

A:

What advice do you have for an aspiring data scientist?

Most of the other data scientists I know are self-directed one way or another.

The first thing I did was get familiar enough with python that I wasn't tripping over my own code when I wanted to start working with data. I went through code academy's python course, then did some hackerrank data structures problems with python.

After that I went through and read about a lot of the basic DS implementations and did a version of my own. I started with probability and statistics, then went on and wrote a basic python implementation of nearest neighbor, multiple(and polynomial) regression, decision trees, a basic feed-forward neural net, k-means and hierarchical clustering and a few others

After that, I definitely recommend kaggle. I don't do a lot of competitive coding, but kaggle has a ton of open data sets so you can dive into a project about whatever data interests you. I did a couple projects on beer types and brewing distros, and now I'm working through the 2016 election data.

My biggest piece of advice would be not to sweat a lot of the more hyped stuff(neural nets, SVM, etc.) because 90% of the time you're going to be able to do really, really cool stuff really easily with way simpler DS solutions.


Q:

Is Fred Goldman's mustache as intimidating in real life as it is on TV?

A:

As a computer science student, my dream is to be working for companies like NASA or SpaceX. Is there anything else I can be doing now that will set me up for a career in the aerospace industry?


Q:

I have a lot of questions but I'll limit myself to two lol

What advice do you have for an aspiring data scientist? And what projects would provide proof to an employer that I can do the job? Thanks

A:

Fred's mustache is created by God as the eighth wonder of the world, and there's something about Fred, that when he talks, you want to listen. He is a straight-shooter. He never minces words. And he is as good a man as his mustache looks on television.


Q:

At NASA Langley they have a number of internships available. LARS is one of the more popular ones. I agree with some of the comments below though... networking. There are many ways to get involved. Also, get involved in some of NASA's mentorship programs.

A:

I will continue to answer this question, but need to refresh the page real quick and make sure I'm answering other q's as well :)


Q:

Do you feel OJ really put forth his best effort when trying on the glove? To me, it has always appeared that he bent his hand just enough to prevent the glove from sliding on.

PS - Loved how honest you were after the parole hearing the other day!

A:

So is it possible to get ahold of some of this jerky?


Q:

If you're tracking what the White House is doing on the internet, how much time does Donald Trump spend on Twitter?

A:

Thank you. And no, he played around with it and tried to avoid making it fit. I hoped the jury would recognize that, but they couldn’t see it, because they didn’t want to see it.


Q:

I make it mostly in the fall and winter... maybe when I retire I'll try my hand at trying to sell some of it. My base marinade/cure is 50%soy sauce and then 50% Worcestershire sauce, after that I find the hottest hot sauces and then add as much as I think I can handle.

A:

95% of his time-- he's even on it while he sleeps, somehow.

full disclosure: we're not(yet) on twitter, so we don't really have any info you don't have


Q:

Hello Mr. Darden. Thanks for doing the AMA!

My question is in regards to the suitcase that was in OJ's custody on the day he arrived from Chicago; later, Rob Kardashian walked away with it. I'm not asking for speculation on what was in it, but rather curious how big of a focal point it was for the prosecution team to obtain it? Do you think the state could have gotten the contents of the suitcase? And finally, how do you personally feel about about potential evidence walking out the front door for the "Trial of the Century"?

Thanks.

A:

Do you accept the GI Bill?


Q:

Hey guys –

Great work and best of luck. Just wanted to let you know we're cross-posting this over in r/Privacy, so hopefully you'll get some questions from them as well!

Do you think that if Congress people find themselves under the same lens they're trying to turn on us, they'll re-consider their views on privacy? I'd like to believe so – self-interest does wonders for one's clarity of thought – but this hope is tempered by the rank hypocrisy that fuels much of Washington.

A:

Every time I see video of Simpson handing the Louis Vuitton bag to Kardashian, it makes me sick. We never learned the contents of the bag. I brought Kardashian to the Grand Jury and asked him about the bag under oath. There's nothing more I could say about that.


Q:

Of our locations, only the Seattle (HQ) dojo accepts the G.I. Bill. We are still working to get all of our centers approved to do the same.

A:

I can't remember who specifically this was, but someone I follow on quora said it really well:

We're probably not going to change the minds of any of the hard-core anti-privacy individuals(i.e. most of the people who voted for this law).

But in some ways, we're not really trying to. We are trying to educate around them. They may not change, but I'm sure there are plenty of people in their constituencies who do care and just haven't heard about what is going on. We are trying to reach them, because if they know about this law and are angry about it, they can reach out to their reps about it. And if their reps don't change, they can vote them out.


Q:

What was your relationship with Johnnie Cochran like after the OJ verdict?

Edit: Spelling

A:

Seems to be the trend. You want more business, I would recommend getting this done as there are tons of vets that would love to have more options.


Q:

What are some the websites you have on board already? Is reddit one of them?

A:

When I began my solo practice as a criminal defense attorney, one of my first clients was a man referred to me by Johnny Cochrane.


Q:

Being a vet myself I was excited to hear about this. In the military we did boot camp style learning cycles when we had to cross-train into different roles. You can also use the GI bill to pay for commercial pilot licenses.

A:

No Reddit right now, I'm not being super open about which sites we have so far, because they are few enough still(only 20) that Congress could just firewall access to all of them and then we're hosed for this phase of our release(testing our plugin)


Q:

If you could not be an attorney, what other career would you consider?

A:

No offense to OP, but please don't use your GI Bill benefits on something like a coding bootcamp. Please use it to get a real education.


Q:

Sorry if I missed something obviious, but is your tool working with Reddit?

A:

Politics. I'd run for President of the United States. Except I might lose because I'm over-qualified.


Q:

No offense taken. But a coding bootcamp is like a welding class in some ways (no offense to welders). It's just the beginning of the journey, not the end.

A:

I would loveee to have our tool on reddit. They aren't returning my emails :/


Q:

What are your thoughts about him recently making parole?

A:

Tabs or spaces?


Q:

How much data do you have and how do you store it?

A:

I fully expected that he would make parole. It was kind of nice seeing him in handcuffs and knowing he was in prison all those years, but I understand the Nevada parole board’s decision.


Q:

Tabs of course.

A:

More data than I expected, less data than would be maximally effective.

We store it using an enterprise db that's been professionally configured for security. That's all I really feel comfortable saying about it


Q:

As a professor, would your students try and make references to the OJ case in their papers? Would it get them extra credit or would you flunk them? =P

A:

What schooling did you have and what IT jobs did you work before you landed at NASA?


Q:

How long do you give it before task force operatives take you out?

A:

My students made references to the trial in my Trial Advocacy class. It's a great teaching example and I was fine with students referring to the trial, so long as they didn't say "the glove did not fit."


Q:

I studied information and computer science. I did a lot of freelance work and I also worked as a systems administrator for a few years after I got out of school.

A:

If anything happens to me the data in its entirety will be released by an anonymous entity from an undisclosed location


Q:

Loved your quote (paraphrasing) "OJ may have been a model prisoner but he's far from a model citizen." Priceless !

Moving forward, what advice would you give to other prosecutors trying similar high profile cases against celebrities? How can we preserve objectivity without making a mockery of the legal system?

A:

Hi there! I am a Computer Science student in his 4th out of 5 years of study. Although I find my major interesting and enjoyable (at times), I find that I truly struggle with programming. I am at a level where they expect too-tier coding skills from me and each semester, my lack of experience is causing me to struggle more and more. For someone who is in as deep as myself and who does not wish to leave my study, what advice do you have to get me back on track and more proficient into coding? Thanks for any response!


Q:

I think that it’s important to have available to those prosecutors a mental health professional and someone to manage the media and social media. I think that will help a prosecutor stay grounded and focused. If it’s going to be a long trial – 8 moths, a year — I think it’s important to have a nutritionist available. By the time the Simpson case was over, I’d lost more than 20 pounds and 2 teeth, had 4 root canals, and God knows what else.

A:

First of all you have to be honest with yourself about how much time you're putting in. If you're doing just the minimum then that's not enough. Learning to code comes from putting in time. I sometimes have to do things at least 3x to figure it out for real. Don't beat yourself up--Don't compare yourself to others--Keep solving problems and challenging yourself.


Q:

Knowing what you know now and looking back on the case, would you have done anything different?

A:

What do you think about the rise in data science a separate degree and field of study?


Q:

I would have done lots of things differently. First thing I would have done differently was to not announce beforehand that I intended to arrest O.J. By signaling to him that he was going to be arrested, it allowed him to get into his Bronco and take us on that slow speed Bronco chase.

A:

It makes sense that the more data we collect the more that we are going to want to figure out what to do with it. In terms of that field of study, I think that it’s the new gold rush. There is so much “raw” data out there that we can’t even imagine what to do with it. Data Scientists are people that can prepare data in a way that can help people understand problems. In relation to problem-solving, data science is key and I believe the field will continue to grow and gain popularity. “A story is just data with a soul.”


Q:

arguably one of the strangest things ive ever seen on live tv. the whole thing was a goddamn circus from start to finish. how glad we're you when the trial was over? did you take a long vacation to decompress from it all?

A:

Why does this feel like an ad?


Q:

I tried to take a year off and decompress, but during that time, they fired me. And that was one hell of a vacation.

A:

Well, I don't get paid any extra for answering questions, and I was really thinking with all the news about dev-boot camp and the Ironyard. If anything I just wanted to get in front of people and answer questions if they have any. So, ad? Maybe, from some people's perspective--but it's just where I work.


Q:

Do you think OJ will commit more crimes once he's released?

A:

Regardless of a college degree, coding camp, or self taught, what valuable advice will you give to those trying to break into the Web dev/tech industry?


Q:

You mean like crimes against nature? I don’t know. I hope not.

A:

Be passionate about it, prove it by building some things that you really love--do things well, and focus on making a contribution. You'll get noticed.


Q:

Do you feel the Rodney King beating/LA Riots and elevated racial tensions had an impact on the Simpson verdict?

A:

What does Dan feel that CodingDojo has that other cheaper/free courses do not have?

What was Dan's favorite/most memorable day at NASA?


Q:

Absolutely. It made the jury more willing to accept the ridiculous idea that LAPD officers framed Simpson.

A:

I think the main benefit for attending Coding Dojo or any other paid boot camp is that you have other people trying to achieve the same goal as you are. At Coding Dojo our goal is for you to become a self-sufficient developer. One thing about programming is that you have to code to get good at it, there are no shortcuts. We create a space for you to code as much as you can, provide you with projects and problems to solve, and people to help you learn. We don't steal learning opportunities.

As for my favorite day while at NASA, it was probably when I was able to goto Alaska and work with the Yupik tribes, the project was to bring NASA data into their schools. On that trip, I got to spend a day exploring glaciers near Whittier, AK--that was amazing.


Q:

What actor would you have liked to portray you on the television?

A:

But that's what every boot camp claims.

How do prep your students for tech interviews?


Q:

I don't know. I think that Sterling K. Brown is now me for the ages. I wrote the best book for that trial. My book was on the New York Times best seller list at #1 for weeks. However, no one in Hollywood discovered just how good it is. I think that 20 years ago, Denzel Washington would have made a good Chris Darden. I think that Tyrese Gibson would make a good Chris Darden if the series focused more on my personal life than my legal life. But I do hope one day somebody does do a movie about me and my life, perhaps just to enrich my children, if nothing else. But so far, people just steal my words and my images and don't even fucking bother to buy me a two-piece chicken snack at Popeyes.

A:

Our career services staff have our students do mock interviews, they give suggestions on their presence online and on paper. We also try to give them confidence and build them up--to that end we do algorithms every morning on whiteboards, with the focus on being able to solve problems in front of people and communicate those solutions clearly.


Q:

I remember reading that your kids did not know you were famous. What do they think of this now that they know?

A:

One thing about programming is that you have to code to get good at it, there are no shortcuts

I believe this to be true. Coding Dojo claims 20 hours for 20 weeks is adequate to become a self-sufficient developer. How many of the 400 hours is spent learning a classroom environment vs hands-on programming?


Q:

They don’t like it at all. They see and they read the social media and the comments that people make and they’re hurt by it.

A:

You're thinking about the online program. The expectation is different for the onsite camp. There students spend up to 12 hours a day coding with demos and short lectures all through the day. Some days more than others. It depends on what the cohort is struggling with.


Q:

You're probably sick of dealing with the OJ case after all these years, so I'll ask something different.

What your favorite TV show?

A:

I'm currently in the last year of my physics Master and looking to get into a simulation/visualization-based field (for example game engine development). Can you recommend what I should focus on getting experience in or maybe a path for someone "fresh on the market"? Based in Germany if that's relevant.


Q:

Gunsmoke. The episodes get better after you've seen them 60 or 70 times.

A:

Get into OOP. Check it out.


Q:

Hi Christopher - There seem to be a ton of docudrama TV shows about the trial and OJ in general, especially lately. Do you ever watch any of them? If so, what do you think of them?

A:

How often are you attacked for having a part in "covering up the flat earth"? You must be very strong if you are able to battle gravity as well as carry the weight of such a vast conspiracy on your shoulders.

For the record the earth is not flat its clearly a cube and thats why they think its flat.


Q:

I have never watched any of them.

A:

Hilarious... I got to meet Neil Degrasse Tyson one time at an ASP conference.... check out what he says: https://twitter.com/neiltyson/status/887467861119205376 I've been attacked more because people believe that contrails are evil.


Q:

How did they not think of the fact that leather shrinks in the trial?

A:

As someone in the industry and has works with Code School graduates, do you believe they are as qualified as their associates who pursued and obtained a 2-4 year degree?

Do you believe that some Code Schools (or trade schools as you called them in an above post) are much better than others?


Q:

I take responsibility for the glove issues, so if there is any blame or fault to be assessed, it fell on me. And it should be assessed to me because I'm the only one strong enough to carry that burden.

A:

My opinion on this is that they have different goals. Colleges have been more aligned with giving people the big picture and giving you some exposure to the skill you're learning. As for being as qualified, I've met CS college grads who didn't code much at all as a student in a 4year--and couldn't solve FizzBuzz if you asked them... but they know a lot about the history of programming and computers. But, then I've met bootcamp students who don't know anything about Alan Turing or Moore's Law, and they are really talented coders. They are fundamentally different IMO. I believe that like everything else, some schools and bootcamps are better than others... of course they are. But I also believe that you get what you put into both of them. It's more important for you to focus on you and what works for you best and your conditions.


Q:

Thanks for doing this! Have you talked to Mark Furman since the trial and if so what was the interaction?

A:
  • How do you feel about the current craziness in the Javascript library wars?
  • Do you ever feel that most of programming is simply: Identify Data, Get Data, Store Data, Process Data, Present Data and that if you can grasp those concepts, then programming is pretty much trivial (aka semantics)?
  • Do you feel if the US does not seriously start teaching more tech/math/science in schools then we as a country are doomed?
  • Do you ever worry about security in your projects and if so, how much does that influence hamper your creativity?

Q:

I have not talked or spoken to Mark Furhman since the trial. For obvious reasons.

A:

A colleague gave me a book that taught me a lot about design patterns. So when it gets crazy, I just try to remind myself that it's the concepts that matter. There are more than one type of burger places out there... and there are more than one JS lib... the best one is the best for the job you're tasked with.

In a lot of ways yes. Problems that people want to be solved can sometimes get mundane and follow the pattern you're describing. If programming something can make someone's experience better I'll do it. Even if it's a little boring. Even though I might get lost in the code, it's still cool to see someone benefit from a clever program.

I don't think that we are doomed just because of one thing. As far as teaching and the specific subjects go, let's start treating our teachers and scientists like rock stars. When our culture swings a bit more towards the value that is created in our professors, teachers, instructors and mentors. I think we'll be fine. Think about it this way, remote sensing has been around for what... like 70 years? We are at the very beginning of the Einsteinian era in relation to science. I think there is way more ahead.

Of course, I worry about security. In fact, my co-worker was freaking out when he saw my "proof" for this AMA. He's the one that made me take a pic of my NASA award with my user name. I've studied photography as well... I thought it was like science and art mixed together and I loved that. I sat through a lot of brutal critiques from my peers for a while. Being creative is being courageous. No one likes it at first.


Q:

Hi Christopher! Which do you think was more harmful to the prosecution's case: having O.J. try on the gloves (which ended up not fitting), or the fact that Mark Furhman was exposed as a racist cop who very likely planted evidence?

A:

I have very basic coding experience from my time in high school. Now I am a middle aged man who is interested in taking it up again and possibly switching careers. What has been your experience in teaching older students? Any success stories?


Q:

Furhman. I'm sure as hell not going to say it was the glove. Duh.

A:

Okay, first of all we have quite a few students that are in your shoes. I'll say that for some folks it's harder than others... Overall though older students have way more skin in the game, and they work hard. That's been my experience. If you look me up on LinkedIn and PM me there, I can point out a couple of folks that have done well... but I'd say they were probably superstars before they came to us. If you think that programming is something you'll love doing then I think you should go for it.


Q:

what first got you interested in law?

please ask the assistant who set up the lighting rig in your bedroom to also make your bed!

A:

Are there any new, growing Web technologies you would suggest getting familiar with for someone already in the field?


Q:

I grew up at a time when there were a number of public trials involving civil rights leaders and what were referred to as "black militants." So there were a number of political trials and I knew how important the law was to the black community, and I admired those lawyers who took those cases, and I wanted to be one of them.

A:

Look at how much snapchat charges for a filter... I think companies like facebook are all over that. You should check out some of the facial recognition tools that are out there and running great in the browser.


Q:

What do the think of the theory that OJs son killed Nicole and Ron? Did your office explore this before the trial?

A:

What advice you give to someone who is a professional developer (1 year into my first job) with a BS in physics who wants to work for NASA one day (in development or engineering)?


Q:

I think the theory that OJ's son was involved in the murders is defamatory and untrue.

A:

Network! Get out to some science related conferences where you know NASA will be at: AGU (American Geophysical Union), ASP (astronomical society of the pacific)-- start with the big orgs!


Q:

What's your favorite flavor of ice cream?

A:

Why do you feel like anyone can program? The vast majority of those who graduate from boot camp can't think critically, and programming requires many years of practice to master fully. Do you think you are giving people false hopes?


Q:

My mama and daddy grew up in the south in East Texas, and my favorite ice cream is black walnut.

A:

I don't really feel like anyone can program, and I do my best to make sure that people know that programming isn't the career for everyone. I don't like how bootcamps do advertise salaries and stuff like that... If it's any consolation, I try my best to help people decide if they are really right for a bootcamp style learning experience. That starts with finding out if they are doing it for the right reasons. Money is great and we all need security. Check out what James Gosling says about it... he created Java: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r19P3y1VBiw


Q:

At what point in a career would you recommend attending a programming boot camp? Is is enough to understand what variables, functions, classes etc are and how they work or should participants go in with a lof of hands-on experience already to really get the most of it?

Bonus question: How many times did you have to clarify that you're not an astronaut when you told people you work for NASA?

A:

Lot's of our students don't necessarily understand variables, functions etc... I think when you decide that it's something you really want to do, then go for it. Figure out it programming is right for you. Don't think about salaries or anything. I know that's generic advice but I don't suggest our program to anyone who hasn't spent some time deciding they love to work with computers. As for the bonus... haha--many many times... They especially got confounded when I told them I was in an Earth Science part of NASA. I got the alien question a lot as well.


Q:

What are the coding languages that you know? How did you learn them and how are some of the ways to practice them? Where do you think is a good place to start learning code(i.e. "beginner languages)?

A:

I started with C++ but that was only because the college I went to taught that as our first language. It's object oriented and like zeinoth is saying it's more important to understand the concepts and knowing how to apply the language you know to solve a problem. Also, if you want to develop games then you need a language like c++. Once you learn one, it's way easier to do things in others. I play codewars when I have time just to keep sharp and solving new problems.

A lot of programmers believe that python is a good starting language because of its syntax and widespread use. We start with that in the dojo.

Right now I'm into a bunch of languages, and I've forgotten more than I probably know now.


Q:

My friend currently is working as an intern developing some wikis for NASA! He says there are some hidden neat Easter eggs that some developers leave on some of the pages. Can you attest to that?

A:

Hmmm... I've not heard that one... I'm geeky enough sometimes to do stuff like that but I never did.


Q:

What is the point of a bootcamp? Why not just use a free online tutorial?

A:

I'd say that it's a place where you go and work out with other people and to leverage other people's knowledge. I don't think there is any magic or anything special that we do other than try to coach you and motivate you. Bootcamps aren't for everyone, and people quit. I think of it like a long training camp where you set some goals and go and work out until you are strong. If you can learn by online free stuff, it's out there and can totally work. Other people just like the environment.


Q:

I'm a high school senior, and I wanted to know if a computer science degree or an aerospace engineering degree is preferred to be a developer at NASA?

A:

I worked with a woman at langley who has a degree in Math, and I have to say she's probably one of the smartest and best programmers I know. I also know a geology major that's a front end dev... so while it will help get your foot in the door... If you can do the job people will give you a shot if you can get in front of them. Generally speaking though, employers could use more math people... at NASA and everywhere else.


Q:

Has anyone asked about aliens yet?

A:

Only about 100 times... but it's still valid... I dunno.


Q:

Do you ever worry about reaching a tipping point where teaching people to code ends up more driving down wages than getting people into well-paying jobs?

A:

I've never thought of it because I think that the number of people retiring soon is going to cause a greater demand in programs those folks were working on. I read a quora question the other day that got answered with something like COBOL still being used all over the place and that there are tons of people leaving COBOL based jobs. We can look at a lot of job figures but I think that there is solid demand for coders for at least a good while.


Q:

Why does the NASA certificate look like it was made by a 10 year old in Word?

A:

LOL, probably was.


Q:

Yo. How much experience do you need before going into a boot camp? Thanks!

A:

We require that you have looked into programming, know that you will enjoy it and are passionate about learning. a little background information is suggested but not required. we believe we can teach anyone how to program and start from the basics


Q:

Are aliens real?

A:

Aliens are absolutely real and I know one named Dave.


Q:

Whom would you recommend programming boot camps to?

A:

I guess I don't do that very often, especially considering my current line of work. But there are a ton of people that put all boot camps into the Devry/ITT boat without considering that some people actually do have integrity-- I'll get on with the answer:

I almost never know who is going to be successful. We as an org have tried to figure it out and, I've reached out to people like Angela Duckworth, a Stanford professor working with UPENN has been trying to figure this out. This is a cool talk if you have 6min: https://www.ted.com/talks/angela_lee_duckworth_grit_the_power_of_passion_and_perseverance

So, if I had to go out on a limb--and put my reputation and integrity on the line. I probably would only recommend a boot camp style path to those who I could objectively identify the presence of grit in their character... and this would be super hard to do in an interview, right. And, so I guess I wouldn't recommend it to many. My job though isn't necessarily to pick people, I'm just a coach and a mentor. I can guide people, I am a good leader.

In many ways, I work with people that would have been successful with or without me or my boot camp. I would recommend that if you really really really want to code, you don't need a boot camp. We just assist you in that journey.


Q:

Thanks for this AMA! Hopefully this question isn't too late for you to notice, it'd really mean a lot to me if you could answer.

In the fall I'll be a senior in high school. I'm currently the president of my school's FRC team, and have done the majority of the programming for the past few years. I'm really interested in getting into software engineering, the specifics of which I'm not certain. To best ensure success in the coding industry, what types and levels of education and skills should I acquire now and in college to keep myself viable and marketable?

Again, thank you so much for this opportunity!

A:

nuclearwombat--so when you get into school, make sure you check out ACM- it's the association for computing machinery. They have chapters in quite a few universities and colleges. That will get you around people like you.

Aside from that, just keep your chin up--have fun with it and take your time. You've got your whole life and career ahead of you. Make good relationships with your classmates. They will be your co-workers and friends forever.

Your best skill is to remember you're always going to have to learn something new. Don't get bored with that don't become a C-teamer just because everyone else is doing it.

Last but not least, do what you really enjoy doing--don't ever let the haters get to you.


Q:

What did you enjoy the most in your job ? And what did you least like ?

A:

I enjoyed the freedom to greate almost anything I wanted within the scope of Earth Schience and Data Viz. I got to hang out with some great people and travel all over the place. I've been to every state besides Hawaii, and 23 different countries. What I didn't like is the paperwork... lots of that. Oh, and meetings.


Q:

You're my hero now. Where can I join?

A:

USAjobs.gov for NASA jobs, there are tons of great ways to get involved with comp sci and developing... pick one.


Q:

Applying as a developer for NASA, do they put you through a hardcore code challenge?

Were there positions the focused on a specific discipline, for example front end web dev? Looking though some openings at JPL I only see fullstack positions.

A:

During my first interview, I sat with a senior dev and she quizzed me on sql queries and how much I knew about postgres. They had already checked my references and I had a bunch of work online back then. I didn't get any code challenge at all. They were more interested in my team mentality and how coachable I was. There are definitely positions that are advertised as hard-core but unless you're working with flight or some hard core engineering group you'll probably have a lot of freedom to do things the way you want. At JPL they have a science education outreach team there--get it touch with them. There's a guy named Peter Falcon that is on the SMAP team and he will know a lot of places to find some jobs. These guys do science reporting work as well so they are the front facing guys in the org.


Q:

Great! Thank you for the info, lots of good advice I'm seeing here. Thank you for taking the time out to speak about your experience.

A:

You're welcome. I'd post Pete's email here but you can find it online if you google SMAP + his name. Good luck! Remember that a lot of times the job requirements are written to conform with a contractual agreement rather than by the actual daily duties you'll be doing. And that the person that makes the hiring decision is rarely the person who's writing the job advert. In the interview, the main thing is to be confident and don't oversell. If you don't know something, say, "I don't know." and move on. I asked a candidate just last week to define a: "associative dangling pointer", just to see if I could get them to say it.


Q:

Is there an ancient alien civilization on Mars?

No for real tho

A:

Yes, there are probably Martians. Ancient? Obviously.


Q:

What's your favorite part of working as a developer? I'm currently a student and intern at a software company learning and I'm loving it so far! Thanks!

A:

My favorite part is the problem solving part. And doing something that is of actual value to someone else.


Q:

Do you really use Chrome Ultron?

A:

No.


Q:

I'm an engineer and I lost my job, and I'm sort of in a rut. I have a biomedical engineering degree and I have worked in mechanical and manufacturing.

Any advice or info on how to switch my trajectory towards NASA?

A:

Sorry to hear about that. Make sure you start looking at the jobs on USAJobs.gov--You could also look at other groups like USGS and NOAA as they work a lot with NASA. I know it sounds a little desperate, but post some NASA stuff up on your social media and let everyone you know that you want a job working for NASA because it's your passion and dream job. You never know who people know. I got my start through this path...


Q:

Thanks for the advice. This is legitimately helpful. I appreciate it. Hope I didnt come off as dower, I'm hopeful and I have some back up plans. I will put your advice to action.

A:

I didn't think you were a downer at all. I remember feeling pretty down on myself between jobs in the past. It happens to us all, in that we all find ourselves unemployed from time to time. I think you're doing the right thing and deciding now that you have the opportunity to make the most of it and start vectoring in the direction that you want to make a change for something that you've always wanted. Don't sell yourself short now that you're out of work, or at the very least hold off as long as you can until you've really decided what it is that you want to do.


Q:

Is 41 too old to land a Jr dev job if you completed a bootcamp? Would a bigger company or a smaller company/start up be more likely to hire someone my age? And last.. what are the best US cities for someone like me? Thanks!

A:

Nahh... 41 is the new 21. If you have some skills and are willing to get paid a bit less at first--people want people who can do what they say they are going to do... but you know that. I think that any cities that we don't hear about like Cincinnati or Tulsa, or Grand Rapids, but have great economies and people are going to be where I'm putting my money soon.


Q:

What is the most inane standard you had to meet/implement?

A:

Every time someone would try to hack one of my sites--this would usually be on a friday afternoon, weekend or holiday--I would get a huge 100 page report of literally dozens of "vulnerabilities". We could start there but it would take forever. They were usually security related... but there was one time that I spent more than a week working with a scientist who couldn't decide what color blue was the best...


Q:

[Serious] What are the potential effects of a zero-gravity environment on natural breast enlargement, and what efforts are currently going toward researching this cause?

Thanks, huge fan.

A:

So, what you're asking is really does skin get looser or stretch less in a zero-g environ? There has to be a bunch of research out there considering the amount of money spent in this area. I, however, don't know of any studies currently in progress on this interesting topic.


Q:

How did you come to be a web developer for NASA and did it require more qualifications beyond web development knowledge and experience? -Current CS student

A:

Well... first I let people in my network know what I wanted to do. I talked about NASA and eventually I got my shot. Luck and communications... goto places where you'll meet NASA employees. Every year they do some outreach things like NASA's Day of Education--And most centers have an open house annually.


Q:

Thank you for this AMA!

My family is going to the Kennedy Space Center next month. Is there a hidden feature of that place that you most highly recommend families to check out, that few people know about?

A:

Hmmm... I'm not aware of anything... "secret" necessarily... but make a whole day of it. I would say though that don't miss the VAB and the bus tour... the rocket garden is awesome... I dunno... if you know someone with a CAC card they can get you on.


Q:

My question might be none of your concerns but there it is : I will enter a french engineer school in IT in September, and we have to go like 6 months in any enterprise for our final year, so do I have any chance to be accepted at Langley NASA center ?

A:

Sure! you should talk with some of the ESA folks and the CALIPSO project... CALIPSO is a joint mission and I'm sure there are ESA folks involved. Get some guys to send you some recs.


Q:

If you had the ability to do so: would you mandate that schools offer Java or some programming language to count as a foreign language credit? I'm talking jr high/high school.

A:

Yes. I think that we need more computer science and programming in our schools. the kids love it and are totally in position to be the best programmers we've ever seen. Plus, they are smart, have time and energy to solve the really hard problems.


Q:

Do you have to be an American Citizen to work for NASA in Computer Science? (my country doesn't have a huge space industry, although with RocketLabs its getting there)

A:

You don't, there are plenty of foreign nationals that are working at NASA. Again... check out USAjobs.gov and also look at people who are winning technology contracts. Each NASA center has it's own subset of contractors.


Q:

Nasa has great snaps. Who's takes all snaps?

A:

Those images are processed by the guys/gals at NASA EO. Great folks.


Q:

Any thoughts on Iron Yard announcing they're closing yesterday? They are/were a pretty big outfit in the southeast.

A:

Yeah--it's sad... one of their DC recruiters contacted me right when they went public with this--to divest some of their students to us and GA. She didn't tell me why, but just that it was out of their control


Q:

Are you a spacex fan?

A:

Yeah I'm a big fan of SpaceX and Blue Origin--I'm amazed by their innovations.


Q:

Are you the reason NASA's website is the only government website that doesn't look like the CSS was written in under 5 minutes? (Supposed to be compliment)

A:

That's funny because I was one of the first devs to try to use drupal. They hated me for that. I hated myself for that as well on some days.


Q:

If one wanted to create a new and international TMRC around amateur space telerobotics, where would one go for help?

A:

There is a guy named Nick Skytland that is a tech evangelist--his group runs the Space Apps Challenge. He'd be a good guy to get in touch with.


Q:

Also, what kind of drone(s) do you fly?

A:

Right now I have a couple, but the best one is the DJI phantom 3 pro. I am primarily flying that... I did break the gimble on it though so it's going to be a pricey fix.


Q:

Do coding bootcamps really exist with guaranteed jobs at the end? I never finished my degree and I'm in a really bad situation financially.

A:

I do believe that there are some camps out there that promise some kind of job. I wouldn't work for one that did though. They usually have a bunch of strings attached. It's about you... if you love programming and you are willing to code and learn, then maybe you have a good chance... but lots of times people who are great technically fail because of other things... like they can't work well with others or whatever. Soft skills are super important as well.


Q:

Question, got a nephew who expressed interest in learning code, is there a resource you would suggest for a 14 year old kid to learn?

A:

Totally, start here https://scratch.mit.edu/


Q:

I'm actually trying to start a local tech/programming club. Any suggestions?

A:

Just fire up a meetup! I'm sure you'll find others in your area.


Q:

Why does such an advanced space program use such an irritating font?

A:

Probably because of budget cuts... ;-)


Q:

Why does your bio talk about you in the third person?

A:

Yeah, cause I'm a redditor noob... I'll fix it. [edit:] I fixed it and re-wrote it.


Q:

How do you make friends?

A:

2cups of flour, 1 T of sugar, Water, 5 eggs, and beer. Mix and bake.


Q:

Do you use google ultron?

A:

Nope--but i do have a soft place in my heart for comodo icedragon


Q:

So this camp, does it boot from drive, USB or CD?

A:

It's a network boot so via network card.


Q:

Is it difficult to program and teach in zero G?

A:

Nope. It's super easy.


Q:

I have been interested in getting into a coding bootcamp, but it seems like there is an overwhelming concensus on the web that these things are a scam and you're better off with book learning.

Are there any good ones out there that you can rep in addition to your own? What do you have to say to these naysayers of coding bootcamps?

A:

All I can say is these boot camps are things that you get what you put into it. In other words... Boot camps are definitely not the panacea for learning. Everyone is different and there are plenty of people who join up on these types of things that absolutely shouldn't.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion and when I first found out about the coding boot camp model I wasn't sold. When I went to train, I learned some things when I went through our boot camp, just so I could experience what people go through. That was an eye opener. The other thing that got me wasn't the curriculum or the facilities... it was the students. These guys are experts in all these other things coming in to learn. They were invested not in me, or the school, but in themselves.

What would I say to the naysayers? Sure: Are there bad schools, bad people and bad whatever out there? Of course, there are. Someone told me one time though, that I can always find bad stuff about something if I look hard enough for it. It was at a point when I was totally skeptical about religion... I wanted to throw it under the bus and I did in a lot of ways... but even though I had bad feelings about it, there were good things that come from it. My advice would be to do what you think is right for you, go out and meet the people that are working in the bootcamp you're looking at. If they suck--move on.