Speaker Interview: Cody Ashe-McNalley

Savoring every aspect of technology, Cody Ashe-McNalley has progressed from newbie to capable programmer and sysadmin, now working at UCLA. Cody's talk, "Little Big Data," will be held on SCALE 13x Sunday at 1:30. The SCALE Team caught up with Cody and talked to him about his presentation.

Q: Can you please introduce yourself and tell me a little bit about your background?

A: I’m from Southern California and have wonderful family and friends. I've been fortunate to spend a decade in data science, scaling up Linux at UCLA and USC.

Q: I saw you are giving a talk on Little Big Data. Without tipping your hand on the actual talk, can you give us an idea of what we might expect?

A: On a large scale data become abstract but yield insight through statistical power and streamlined algorithms. Yet accumulating and maintaining data requires attention to detail and a variety of tools. Just as Linux offered users an accessible, hands-on entry into the “Big Iron” world of Unix, free software provides platforms and programs ideal for all stages of Big Data analysis and storage.  These have helped my team in the development of a new research repository, the Pain and Interoceptive Neuroimaging (PAIN) Network and Repositories (http://painrepository.org).

Q: Over the past few years the term "Big Data" has been misused, abused and has transformed into a buzzword for the media. What are your thoughts on the term "Big Data"?

A: Big Data has become shorthand for machine learning, predictive data analysis, and big business.  This leads to misconceptions about what we can and cannot do with data; about how to approach data analytics and storage; and about the hardware and software required.  I hope to clarify these issues in my talk.

Q: Is this your first visit to SCALE? If so, what are your expectations? If not, can you give us your impressions of the event?

A: SCALE is my favorite conference; I’ve attended for many years. I just ride my bike over.  Initially I found it intimidating even as a local, but SCALE has become so inviting my whole family now attends.

Q: IT is an ever changing industry, every year there is another new specialty to focus one's career. For someone like yourself who specializes in a particular field, could you give some advice for aspiring Junior Admins who are interest into getting into your line of work?

A: SCALE has proven a touchstone for career development.  I read widely then every year I find the current trends coalesced in the halls and booths and talks.  I leave reassured and reinvigorated.

Q: Is there anything else you'd like to add that the people at SCaLE would like to know?

A: I'm a homebody and will try to watch SCALE via the webcasts.  The energy on the screen always draws me in and I rush over.

[SCALE Team interview by Sean McCabe]