Jul 24th 2017 by zmahoor • 82 Questions • 99 Points
My short bio: (to replace the third party one) I've worked at a number of places. I've been a pizza chef, a rock climbing instructor, a white water raft guide on the Arkansas River, and even a Slovakian rock star with a top ten hit in the Czech Rep. I was always into computers so when I came back to the states and finished my degree in info science, I got a job at NASA about three years later, I started as a "web programmer" and left last year (2016) as a "Senior Applications Developer". I graduated in 2007 from CNU (with Randall Munroe, the xkcd guy...) Now I teach Web Fundamentals and run the Washington D.C. branch of Coding Dojo.
http://www.codingdojo.com/washington-dc https://mynasadata.larc.nasa.gov/ https://www.nasa.gov/centers/langley/news/researchernews/rn_makercamp.html https://mynasadata.larc.nasa.gov/oyw/meet-the-team-dan-oostra/
My Proof: http://imgur.com/a/SGnz5
How can you enter the robotics field? Also, how do you find interesting work in that field?
As someone who has never been there, I am genuinely curious as to how your political views align with those of the voters in your district. I can't help but think that a great many folks in a district that went 62 - 31 for Trump may not necessarily agree with many of your more progressive social stances. What is your plan to carry the vote while also appealing to voters with more traditional, socially conservative views?
Hi Tom! I think it's really cool that you are walking all around the world. What's the coolest piece of nature you've seen, and what's the coolest human-made structure you've seen so far? Do you have any plans related to this walk once you are done with it? Thanks!
What are the most interesting insights you've uncovered by tracking our government official's browsing activities?
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?
At the high school level, you can start a FIRST robotics competition project. At university level, you can take robotics, programming, or computer hardware classes. Outside of academia, you can follow other people's robotics projects or start your own!
You're right, the President won my district pretty handily. I think that is evidence of the fact that people are sick and tired of carrier politicians who put the desires of the party establishment and corporate donors ahead of the needs of everyday people. My campaign is about being a representative voice for AR-3 because people are more important than party. I think that message appeals to a lot of folks, regardless of their party affiliation or who they voted for in 2016.
The Paramo in Colombia between La Plata Huila and Popayan was gob-smacking. I felt like I was walking through the spirit realm for three days.
Then a few weeks later I came to Las Lajas Sanctuary which is like something out of LOTR. A river-spanning church which they light up at night. Just insane.
No plans just yet. Hopes sure, but trying to see this walk through first!
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.
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.
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.
Given your experience, what are your thoughts about television cameras in courtrooms? Do they help or hurt the justice system?
Hey Tom been following for almost two years now, since you got savannah, really enjoyed your story so far. Will you come to the city of Nuremberg, bavaria, when in Germany? If so hit me up 😊 save travels!
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.
I don't think I'm going to make it to Germany unfortunately. I will absolutely get there one day though!
And thanks for following so long! Glad you're enjoying it!
What actor has been your favorite portrayal of yourself on television?
How did Savannah fare in the desert? What was the greatest overall difficulty of the desert for you?
Have you encountered any suspicious activity in their browsing history?
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?
I haven’t watched, but everyone says Sterling K. Brown is a better me than me.
Savannah did well in the desert. In north Peru it actually wasn't too hot, then in Lima I had her hair trimmed so she wasn't holding in too much heat.
The greatest difficulty of the desert was probably the solitude. There were times where I felt like I was going insane. My mind was as blank as the landscape. It seemed I thought every thought.
But at other times the solitude was magical. Like throwing my tarp under the stars at night and everything being perfectly quiet. Those were nice nights.
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/?)
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.
For Europe, do you intend to go through every country/how long do you expect this leg to take?
Been following along on Instagram!
I actually still not 100% certain on my route through Europe yet. Right now it looks like the UK, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Italy, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Spain, Italy, Slovenia and Croatia. I think that should be a little under a year. Unless I find a quiet beach town to stay at for a few months...
Does a computer engineering Bachelors lead to robotics? Also, I'd like to do research/design robotic prosthesis and other types of robotics and I've considered getting a masters in biomedical engineering after the CE degree to be able to work in both. Would this sort of degree path be good for robotics?
For federally backed student loans, (a) would you support forgiving all student loan interest, (b) eliminating compounding interest for student loans, and (c) instituting a 3% simple interest rate?
How did Johnny Cochrane change the tone of the trial from murder to racism so effectively?
Just a heads up, look like the Algeria-Morocco border is closed: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Algeria%E2%80%93Morocco_relations
I think getting a master in biomedical engineering would help you with the direction you wish to go--designing prosthetic limbs. Robotics is a huge field; some people are focused on the hardware side while some other researchers are interested in programming/software side. For my Ph.D., I used a humanoid for my research, but we did not build it.
I'm not ready to endorse specifics today, but these all seem like reasonable ideas that should be on the table.
Cochran used the media to change the conversation as effectively as Donald Trump does.
Thanks for the heads up! I had a friend tell me the same a few months back. The plan is ferry to Spain then ferry to the other country.
First, I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for running. We need people on both sides of the aisle who are willing to reject corporate donations and do their best work for the American people. I'm a Democrat and while I may not agree with you on everything, I certainly respect you more than just about every corporate Democrat in office.
Environmental issues greatly affect people across the country, both in rural areas and urban ones. Having clean water and air are basic requirements for a safe and prosperous life. What is your view on climate change, and what do you believe needs to be done about it? Also, what would you do about corporations that pollute the environment and affect public safety?
Thanks for your time.
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?
Would you be so kind as to elaborate about the time a man woke you up with a machete in Honduras?
What kind of porn are they watching?
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.
So I was only in Honduras for five days. Every night but the last I slept in a hotel room. The last night there was nothing around, but I found this two story watchtower-type structure and decided that would be a good place to hide.
I hid my cart then climbed to the second story. All was well and the view of the valley below was incredible. As I started dozing off lights of a truck turned onto the watchtower. Then there were voices and someone coming up the ladder.
I stood. A second later there was a silhouette across from me of a man with a machete. A moment of quiet felt like a very long time, then the silhouette laughed and yelled down to his friend, "It's just a gringo!"
He stepped forward and I saw it was an older man. After rattling off the fastest Spanish I've ever spoken, he said I was fine, but that someone had stolen some cows the night before so he was on high alert. He unfurled this hidden bed and said he was going to stay the night.
I offered him oreos and went to bed figuring have a guy with a machete on my side meant I was safe for the night.
While the types of porn our representatives are watching is definitely entertaining, the real value from getting our plugin on porn sites(and we have it currently tracking on a few) is seeing if Congress or the White House is accessing porn while on the job at all.
Also, our goal isn't to "out" anyone for their sexual preferences-- however it would be interesting to see if their are distinct trends between Congress vs. The White House vs. FCC vs. the public at large, the last comparison of which is something really only the sites that are currently using our plugin can answer.
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.
Do you walk in silence or listen to music/podcasts/books on tape/etc?
Isn't this mostly just tracking what underpaid interns are doing while they're supposed to be running to Starbucks?
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?
Not sure I'd say I style myself after him, but I am always moved by the story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He was a German theologian and pastor who was one of the very few church leaders to speak out against the Nazis. He was arrested for being a part of a plot to assassinate Hitler and died in a concentration camp just a few days before it was liberated. A true hero.
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.
I walk in silence a lot. I like walking in silence for about an hour in the morning. By then I've usually woken up even for music or a podcast. Then I'll probably listen to something for a few hours and stop when the sound gets annoying.
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.
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.
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.
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?
The role of a Congressperson is to represent the people of their district, not impose their personal beliefs or morality on everyone else. I'm committed to being the independent voice the people of AR-3 need.
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.
In the wrong shoes...so much.
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.
Still Brooks Cascadia. They have a new Goretex version too which fit just the same.
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.
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.
I wish. My beard gets so patchy.
Tom! I'm an avid follower on Facebook, and you've inspired me to do some long-distance walking myself - I want to walk across each of the 50 states before I turn 50 years old (my latest being Connecticut).
Have there been times during The World Walk where you've felt stuck uncertain, or in trouble? How did you cope?
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?
Let's fix the healthcare crisis once and for all with Medicare For All.
Let's get money out of politics so that our elected officials will actually serve the people who elect them rather than the corporate donors and lobbyists who own them.
Let's make sure that all people, regardless of race, country of origin, gender identity, sexual orientation, background, wealth, etc. has equal access to liberty and opportunity.
He called me at 3am Pacific Time to tell me he had gotten the role. I chewed his ass out.
Dude. That's an amazing journey! Mad respect. I'm 100% certain you'll reach you'll goal far earlier than 50.
The worst of my doubt came in South Peru and Chile. The desert was really wearing on me and I missed the hell out of my family. Every conversation I had with the locals just felt so pointless. There was never any thought of giving in though. I knew with enough time my mood would turn for the better, just a rough patch.
Yes-- which brings me to point 2:
- 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
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
- 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.
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.
Would like to do something similar, but I'm still young (16) How much has it cost you so far?
Also, do you miss home
Edit: Cheers for the reply, I guess I could do a smaller version, Thanks for your time talking about this, It has inspired me :D
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.
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?
Hey Sarah! Everyone should check out https://brandnewcongress.org/Candidates/sarah-smith. She's will make a great representative of the people of Washington state.
The biggest challenge for me is fundraising in the face of a well-supported incumbent. Congressman Womack is bought and paid for by his corporate donors. Our campaign is people-powered, as yours is. We're not accepting special interest or corporate money, which means we've got to rely on the support of everyday of Americans.
That's the challenge - but the benefit is so important - when we're elected, we'll be beholden to serve the people who supported us, not corporate lobbyists. And that will make all the difference!
Vote Sarah Smith in Washington 9!
You have time. :) I'd guess minus the Antarctica trip I've spent 12-14k a year. Sometimes I miss home, but when I get into wifi a good conversation is only a skype call away.
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.
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...
I've been following you for the last year, very inspiring!!! What's the biggest challenge in having Savannah with you? Also, what's HER biggest challenge? Thanks for doing this AMA! :)
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?
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.
I'm more of a "love your enemies" kind of guy.
I became a defense attorney after the district attorney’s office terminated my employment.
There aren't very many. Paperwork for crossing borders just takes a little consideration. And every once and a while it'll be hard to find a hotel to accept her, but in South and Central America I was always able to convince someone to let her in.
Her biggest challenge was Honduras I think. It was super hot and her paws cracked. I put antibiotics in the cracks and kept her paws in the booties for a few days. Since then though her paws have been like stones.
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--
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.
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
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?
I am prolife, but I think the best way to reduce the number of abortions is through access to healthcare and education. I think the focus of the prolife movement ought to be more focused on these things that have actually worked at reducing abortions rather than overturning Roe.
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.
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.
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.
How much of a language barrier have you faced while traveling? Has that ever caused much difficulty for you?
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
Plus, I co-pastor our church and work a full-time job.
Honestly? I don't watch nearly as much Netflix as I used to. That, and I'm tired a lot. But I can't imagine doing anything else right now.
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.
In Central America it was a little difficult. I was never completely useless in Spanish, but it was isolating not being able to connect on a deeper level with people. It'll be interesting in Africa, Eastern Europe and Asia where I won't have the time in each country to pick up much of the language.
Do you accept the GI Bill?
Matter of opinion I suppose. For me it's a photo of an overturned humpback in Antarctica. It was grazing against our zodiac. I could have reached down and touched it.
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.
Wow. This is incredible! Do you have a smart phone or are you using maps?
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.
Smart phone baby. And thankfully GPS works even without cell service.
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.
Hey Tom! I absolutely love all of the amazing photos you've posted on your Instagram as you've gone on your journey! That being said, which photo do you think is the best one you've taken so far, and why?
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.
Oh man, that's a tough one. There are a ton of photos in Peru that didn't receive a ton of likes because they aren't classically Instagram beautiful, but which I just love because they capture the rawness and feeling of Peru.
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.
Has doing the walk impacted any of your relationships in any serious way at all? Can't imagine it'd be easy sometimes, being away from everyone for so long.
Love your page, cheers :)
Tabs or spaces?
The Walk has been almost nothing but positive. I'm walking and turning over thoughts all day. I have a lot of time to appreciate everything my family and friends have done for me. Also, being away from everyone for two years made me appreciate them that much more.
And thanks! Cheers :)
Tabs of course.
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?
Hey Tom, been a fan since your last one of these!
Anyway, how well do you think you get to know a country and its people and culture by walking through it? Is it more in ways you wouldn't have expected? Less in any way than what you expect?
What schooling did you have and what IT jobs did you work before you landed at NASA?
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.
Glad to have you following!
I'd say much more than flying into a place then going to more touristy destinations. I'm forced to pass through all tiny one-horse towns. I eat at the typical restaurants all the other locals are eating at. In that way I think I get to know a country very well.
At the same time I don't think I get to know a country as well as if I were staying with a family. There is a lot to be learned from wikipedia, but I thinking having a local as a guide explaining the details would be ideal.
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.
What place has the best bathrooms?
Machu Picchu. At least they did. I overheard a guide talking about the bathrooms and holy cow did those things have a view.
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.
Knowing what you know now and looking back on the case, would you have done anything different?
This AMA is the first I've heard of you, but I'll be following your journey now:)
Do you believe that what you're doing would be safe for a female? Have you ever encountered a situation that has made you fearful?
What do you think about the rise in data science a separate degree and field of study?
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.
I've been asked this a few times and really I'm not sure. I think being a female is a very different experience than being a male. I know women have walked around the world before though. Polly Letofsky would be the one to ask!
I've had a few scary encounters, but less than you'd imagine. Most people are good.
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.”
In a certain way yes. I know I want traveling to be a part of my life. But I'm still not certain where I'll wind up after all this. I enjoy photography, I think it comes somewhat naturally to me. But I also enjoy writing, and I don't think it comes naturally to me at all so I really enjoy the challenge.
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.
I see in your infographic that there was an attempted robbery in Panama. Where exactly was it and how did it happen? I currently live in Panama City and if you make your way back let me know so that I can walk with you for a bit. Definitely fascinated by your story!
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?
You mean like crimes against nature? I don’t know. I hope not.
Yeah, it was on my last day in Central America and I was just six miles from an AirBnb I had booked. I was on the outskirts of the city, probably a mile or two from the Bridge of the Americas. I knew for a while I was in a pretty sketchy area. I was hungry and tired though, and once I thought I was through the worst of it I stopped in a store to buy some breakfast. As I sat outside eating it I felt something cold on my neck. I glanced up to see a nasty, red-eyed guy holding a shiv. I jumped up. He came towards me and I backed into the shop. Savannah was tied to the cart. My backpack had my knife and mace and I'd taken it off, it was by my cart. I got backed against the wall. I was yelling at him, he was yelling "shutup!" in English at me. I remember looking for something to defend myself with and seeing nothing but bread around me. "There's nothing but bread!" I thought. Then suddenly the guy took off. I followed and there was a crowd outside. They pointed down an alley. The cops were throwing another guy against a wall and my backpack was laying on the ground (with my passport and Savannah's paperwork in it). The cops must have been there immediately because the whole incident only lasted a minute or so. Big props to those cops saving my butt.
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.
Do you feel the Rodney King beating/LA Riots and elevated racial tensions had an impact on the Simpson verdict?
What is the most beautiful place you've been?
Also, your Instagram is the most amazing page on the internet.
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?
Absolutely. It made the jury more willing to accept the ridiculous idea that LAPD officers framed Simpson.
Yeesh. There are a lot of beautiful places. Lake Atitlan in Guatemala is breathtaking. The paramos in the Andes are surreal. The deserts of Perú and Chile were powerful and harsh. Antarctica was like being on another planet. Each has their own aspects of beauty.
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.
What actor would you have liked to portray you on the television?
What do your meals consist of? Do you keep a cooler of any sort on your cart? Did you ever have any problems in certain countries getting dog food for Savannah?
If I don't come across any restaurants or small stores, a typical day would be a pbj or some sort of bar for breakfast, lots of nuts and snacks during the day, then two pbjs for dinner. I had my stove stolen in Guatemala and didn't get another until Argentina. In Argentina I started making a good amount of soup and pasta.
I don't have any cooler. And dog food has been incredibly easy to get a hold of. Even in the most remote towns there are dogs and dog food. Sometimes it was just a guy with a massive bag of dog food selling it in smaller bags.
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.
I remember reading that your kids did not know you were famous. What do they think of this now that they know?
I would like to hear about Savannah - specifically how would you describe your relationship with your canine friend after spending every hour of every day together? Is there some type of deep understanding or bond formed, do you communicate well? When Trek is over will you keep him/her?
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?
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.
Sav and I are totally synched up. She listens to my slightest command. She is exactly the dog she needs to be. When we're walking she is a trooper and sees each day through without complaint. When I rest, she rests. When I stand, she stands. At night she doesn't like sleeping in the tent (unless it's raining). She patrols the ground immediately surrounding me and barks if she sees something. When I wake up she's there to greet me outside the tent shaking with excitement. I'm protective of her, but also trust her. She could do all the walking without a leash, she'd stay right beside me if off it. I like to have her on the leash in case something startles her though. I'll have Savannah forever. Couldn't imagine it otherwise.
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.
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?
Are you going to walk the Camino de Santiago? If you do I suggest walking the Camino del Norte along the northern coast - absolutely breathtaking views!
Thanks for the tip! The plan now is to follow the Eurovelos. This would mean walking along the south coast of Spain so I'd likely miss the Camino de Santiago.
Get into OOP. Check it out.
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?
Among all the questions mentioned here, there's one that needs to be known by all: is Savannah a good girl? Do help me tell her that she's a good girl. 🐶
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.
I have never watched any of them.
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.
How did they not think of the fact that leather shrinks in the trial?
How do you cross the seas?
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.
How far, if at all, do you think the conversation about race/racism has evolved since the verdict?
Hey Tom. I've been traveling vicariously through you for years. Love your photography.
Just saw the infographic, awesome. You have so many insane sounding moments - "woken by machete", "stop robbery", "knife to the neck". Any chance of a book when you're done? And any chance you'd elaborate on one of those here?
- 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?
It took a few years after the verdict to calm folks down so that we could have a conversation about race, and we did that. And I think things got better when we elected Barack Obama. But now, I feel like it’s 1964 again.
I'd love to do a book when I'm finished. Frankly I've been through so much I don't know how I'd fit it into a single book.
The "stop robbery" is in quotation marks for a reason. I asked a guy in Nicaragua if I could sleep at his brick foundry (basically he had a big outdoor oven and bricks lined up drying in the sun). He said yes. So I laid my tarp there and fell asleep. Around 4a.m. I was woken by a locked being banged around. I sat up and saw three men with a flashlight working on the storage shed lock. After some consideration, I decided I had to do something. The owner was nice enough to let me sleep there, I couldn't stand by while he got robbed. So stood, stuck forward a bit, then lit the three guys with my headlamp beam. My Spanish wasn't that great and they were far away so I couldn't understand them. Savannah kept by my side. I stood in silence, staring at them, knowing my poor Spanish wouldn't give me away as a gringo. They approached slowly and soon we could make out each other. We got talking and they said they were workers (coming to turn the bricks? I can't remember exactly). But a minute later I watched the lock open as a guy finally found the correct key. They thanked me for attempting to stop their "robbery" then I went back to sleep.
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.
Thanks for doing this! Have you talked to Mark Furman since the trial and if so what was the interaction?
Hi Tom! You're very inspiring. I love following you and Savannah and seeing all of your wonderful pictures. What kind of camera do you use to take your shots? Stay safe out there :)
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?
I have not talked or spoken to Mark Furhman since the trial. For obvious reasons.
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?
Been following you for years now! Journey looks incredible! Thanks for sharing it.
Question: what's been your worst or craziest encounter with wildlife while on your World Walk?
Are there any new, growing Web technologies you would suggest getting familiar with for someone already in the field?
Furhman. I'm sure as hell not going to say it was the glove. Duh.
Thanks for following!
I haven't had any encounters too insane. The most memorable was probably in Costa Rica. I woke in my tent in a palm forest and when I sat up there was a tarantula on the other side of my bug net, literally an inch from my eye. In an instant I punched that thing as hard as I could and it went flying out of sight.
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.
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!
I am originally from Cherry Hill, NJ and have really enjoyed following your amazing journey! I love your photography and would like to know how to purchase some shots. Please let me know if there is anyway I could to do so in person in the South Jersey area. Safe travels!!
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)?
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.
What do the think of the theory that OJs son killed Nicole and Ron? Did your office explore this before the trial?
Hey Tom, incredible story and your walk truly is inspiring!
Honest question though: why walking? I mean, you could do a similar trip by biking or driving and seemingly achieve similiar goals of living life to the fullest, so what made you choose walking?
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?
I think the theory that OJ's son was involved in the murders is defamatory and untrue.
Initially it was actually just because I was in high school and had no money. I was looking for cheap ways to travel. Then the idea stuck in my head and I rationalized it, I suppose. I think it's a brilliant way to see the world though. You really get to know yourself and the places you pass through.
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
hey, i'm 18 and just failed at this in europe after 3 weeks. Although i met cool people and learnt a lot, not eating and sleeping rough in cities destroyed me. How the hell did you eat and sleep well enough?
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?
My mama and daddy grew up in the south in East Texas, and my favorite ice cream is black walnut.
Yeah it isn't easy. After two years I'm pretty well trained. Just a matter of finding a good hiding spot and never sleeping in cities unless it's in a room.
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.
What was the most boring section of the walk so far? The most captivating?
What advice or wisdom would you give to someone who wants to do something similar?
Can you sign my comment?
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)?
- South Peru. So much desert. It was still incredible, just tough. And the paramos in Colombia. I was walking through there in perpetual awe.
- You can't walk around the world in a day. You can't plan a walk around the world in a day. It took me nearly twice as long to start this trip as the trip itself will take.
- Tom "the tall gringo with a dog pushing the baby carriage" Turcich
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.
How has the gear you're carrying with you changed over time? Anything you really needed but then realised you can do without?
What is the point of a bootcamp? Why not just use a free online tutorial?
I had two goal zero solar panels for all of North America. They worked great because I was walking with the sun in front of me. Once I was in the southern hemisphere and walking south the sun was at my back so my shadow blocked the sunlight from the solar panels. I wound up giving the panels to a Colombian family then realizing I never really needed them, I could charge my battery when I stopped at restaurants or a hotel.
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.
How do you decide what route to take through a country? Are there particular cities you're trying to hit? What country are you most looking forward to?
Has anyone asked about aliens yet?
It generally involves looking at Google Earth first then asking locals what's best. I wanted to hit Lima because of a friend there, but generally I don't care much for cities. I prefer the small towns to the cities. Right now I'm most looking forward to Croatia.
Only about 100 times... but it's still valid... I dunno.
Hey Tom, friend from HT. Excitied to see what Europe brings! Outside of places you have been and visiting friends or family which place are you most looking forward to seeing for the first time?
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?
Spain seems like an incredible place; the tapas, the architecture, the lifestyle. Everyone I've spoken to who's been there has absolutely loved it.
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.
How are you going to go from England to France, ferry or channel tunnel?
What's your favorite and least favourite local delicacy you have tried so far?
Have a great trip :)
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!
Ferry. The ferry accepts dogs so it should work well enough.
Most favorite: Papusas. Bar none. 25 cents and delicious.
Least: A particular Cuy I bought from an indigenous woman in Ecuador. Staring at that guinea pig's face messed with me for bit.
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.
What places that you haven't visited yet are you most excited to see? And which places have so far been able to take your breath away?
Why does the NASA certificate look like it was made by a 10 year old in Word?
Croatia is top of the list right now. I have lots of family there and have heard it's a spectacular place.
When I first saw Lake Atitilan in Guatemala I literally screamed and whooped. Guards from a national park entrance came out and laughed at me.
LOL, probably was.
Are aliens real?
So many stars at once they felt like a weight on my chest.
Aliens are absolutely real and I know one named Dave.
Tom, this is fantastic and I wish you all the best. I walked the coast of California in 1995 (in a pair of Timberland sandals) and found, for lack of a better word, 'magic' happening after about my second week of walking. I'm extremely curious if you have had any meaningful experiences that just bear no explanation other than that "magical"?
I know, probably a subjective term, but an example: as I was approaching Big Sur I came across a book lying on the side of the road, wrapped in a plastic bag: a biography of Mildred Norman Ryder (Peace Pilgrim). If you've never heard of her, she walked the later years of her life in the name of peace. I still have that book today and the encounter was one of several on my walk which opened my eyes to the mere fact that there is indeed much more to this world than meets the eye.
Best to you, and keep on treading!
Whom would you recommend programming boot camps to?
By far the most magical thing that's happened on my walk was in Perú. I was mentally destroyed after being in the desert so long. I come to this middle of the nowhere restaurant and find on the wall an article of my hero, Karl Bushby. Then I get brought to the back by the owner and shown and note from Bushby nearly twenty years old. Our paths had crossed twenty years apart at this little nowhere restaurant. That certainly gave me the motivation I needed.
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.
Hi Tom! I have been following your journey for a while now and find it very inspirational and motivating and I'm always looking forward to read tour post and see you pictures. I wanted to ask you whatnhas been the most difficult situation you have both encounter so far and also since I'm from Colombia Can you name two things you liked about my country? Thanks
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!
The most difficult situation must have been Costa Rica. The heat and humidity were so insane we couldn't walk beyond 10a.m. I really worried about Savannah there. I knew how much I was struggling and so couldn't imagine how much she was struggling in her coat.
Colombia - The passion for dancing and the Tejo
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.
Been following you for about a year now. Your pictures from South America and Antarctica were beautiful. Just one question:
Did you have to get a certain visa for walking in Europe? I know you can only spend 90 days in the EU within a 180-day span, so I'm curious if you found a work-around to that. Thanks!
What did you enjoy the most in your job ? And what did you least like ?
To the best of my knowledge there's a visa for mainland Europe, then separate ones for Ireland, the UK, and some other countries. I should be able to pass through France, Switzerland, and Italy fairly quickly. Then I'll have to walk from Spain to Croatia on what I have left of the 90 days. The countries are small, but I'll be cutting in close. Once I get to Croatia I'll receive a different visa.
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.
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.
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.
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!
My favorite part is the problem solving part. And doing something that is of actual value to someone else.
What is the most inane standard you had to meet/implement?
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...
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?
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.
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)
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.
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)
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.
If one wanted to create a new and international TMRC around amateur space telerobotics, where would one go for help?
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.
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.
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?
Totally, start here https://scratch.mit.edu/
I'm actually trying to start a local tech/programming club. Any suggestions?
Just fire up a meetup! I'm sure you'll find others in your area.
Why does such an advanced space program use such an irritating font?
Probably because of budget cuts... ;-)