Let’s talk about data

Introduction

I decided to write a series concerning data. Nowadays, most of the buzzwords in the IT world are big data, data science, artificial intelligence, etc. All of them put in value data. It is starting to be as expensive as black gold, some people claim it is more expensive, you can google or duckduckgo “data is the new oil” to read some news articles. We can notice that all newspapers and media are talking about the misuse of data that we generate and offer for free on the internet. Although I am not going to discuss the last point, but it is a fact that we are living and it can change our life for better or worse.

This blog post was meant to be just informative about the series, then I said you should learn at least one thing. So, do you know the difference between data and information? If yes, skip this part and go straight to the next part.

What does data mean?

According to Cambridge, data is


information, especially facts or numbers, collected to be examined and considered and used to help decision-making, or information in an electronic form that can be stored and used by a computer.

dictionary.cambridge.org

Well, this is a typical mistake where data is confused with information.

Oxford dictionaries has a better definition, data is defined as


Facts and statistics collected together for reference or analysis -; – The quantities, characters, or symbols on which operations are performed by a computer, which may be stored and transmitted in the form of electrical signals and recorded on magnetic, optical, or mechanical recording media.


Oxford dictionaries

This is similar to the definition of data by some scholars. You can read their definitions in this study Conceptual Approaches for Defining Data, Information, and Knowledge, written by Chaim Zins

We can understand that data itself is not significant.

Data is NOT synonym of information

Information Is something that is understandable and can inform us about something. When data is set and presented in a given context, it becomes useful and called information; information is inferred from data.

Example:

Let’s say: Robot,112, C, Baby. These data aren’t useful and do not inform us about anything. However, if I say the company Robot sold 112 units of the product C. All the customers are persons who have at least one baby. Right now, with the given context the data become somehow useful. Robot is the name of the company, C is the product, Baby is a tag that let us categorize the customers and 112 is the sold quantity for this category (it may be the total, we don’t know).

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It is important to understand the basic definitions because later on it becomes more complex with tens of technical words that you can encounter and this can lead to confusion.

In this series, we will go through different topics where data is the core of the business/subject

Data Preparation

Data sampling

Data in BI / ETL, data mining, data science, Big data, AI.

Data quality, Data maintenance, Data governance

To be honest with you, I was going to write only about data preparation and data sampling because it is the most underrated part and everyone is focusing in creating a good Machine Learning model and solving the problems of humanity with Big Data while with prepared data. The most important stage during the process of data is the preparation stage. It takes a lot of time, and if it is not well tackled, everything can go wrong.

The series will contain some theory and practice using different tools.

That’s why the list is not complete and not in order. I will post a content table that will have all the links. I may not be posting in right order, because something has to be explained before moving to the next step or I feel the urge to explain it.

Who is the series intended for?

The blog posts are useful for anyone who is dealing with data such as data scientists (1), BI developers (2), software developers (3), etc.

(1) And (2) are the people who are using the data as input and get us as output knowledge and wisdom. *They are not the only ones in this category.

(3) They may design databases and work with data a lot in the product life cycle. *They are not the only ones in this category .

Why a blog

Source: pixabay.com

Why a blog?

Writing articles is so important for self-development for different reasons. First of all, it helps me with improving my writing skills, learning new words, and learning new stuff. Actually, I am my first reader, so I write about things that I find interesting, or I did struggle to learn it/use it since no useful information were available in the internet and I wanted to save people’s time. Also, I may write articles that is recommended or requested by the community.

Moreover, it encourages me to read more books (different genres) and read articles in order to get inspired by other writers and improve my vocabulary. Meanwhile, I found out that it let me decrease the amount of time that I used to spend in social media.

What kind of content?

The content of this blog will be mainly technical; it can be general engineering hacks or algorithms, and it can be also about a specific tool/software or programming language with its specifications which my not be transferrable as it is due to the details.

Meanwhile, I will be writing in Medium all the life style hacks, city guides for travelers and personal activities.

When

To keep up with what’s going on in the world and motivate myself to write more often, I will make my best to post twice a month (maybe more when I have free time). 1 article for 15 day because I write them when I commute to work and finish them during the weekend.

Free resources to Kickstart your journey with Microsoft technologies

In this article, you will gain access to many resources that you may didn’t know about it before. It is useful for students or anyone who wants to learn MS technologies. 

I have heard this sentence many times: 

I would like to learn new technologies, but I don’t have money to pay for a private courses or online education platforms.  

Well..  That is not true. Nowadays you can learn everything for free with only access to the Internet. There are many platforms sponsored by NGOs, Universities or Companies like Microsoft. 

Let’s go through the resources provided by Microsoft and its partners that will help you learn mainly .NET technology :

MVA will be deprecated by April 30, 2019 (update march 2019)

Microsoft virtual academy or MVA has been around for years. Basically, it is a free online school that provides different courses covering .NET and topics related to Microsoft products. Whether you are a beginner or intermediate level or advanced, MVA has something to offer. Moreover, if you have a problem learning in English, you can search for courses in your native language. 

To help you choose the right courses, MVA offers different Learning Paths and suggests some starting points for students, developers, etc.

To conclude, this platform is helpful for anyone interested in .NET Technologies.

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Microsoft AI school, launched in 2017, is one of the latest learning platforms offered by Microsoft. It is designed to help those who are interested in Data science and Artificial Intelligence to improve their skills. AI School has different courses with various levels. You can also find AI demos with code source in github. If you don’t know where to start, the platform will help you choose the learning path using the path builder, which is a real example of the implementation of Machine Learning to create magic tools. 

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Microsoft Learn is the newest learning platform added to the Microsoft family. According to the article that introduced Microsoft Learn, 
all content is organized by a learning path. For the moment, there are different paths to learn Azure, Windows development, and Business applications such as Power apps, Power BI, etc.

Microsoft Learn is replacing Microsoft Virtual Academy starting from January 2019.

If you are interested in other products rather than Azure and Business Applications, this is not the right place, but it will 
have for sure others learning paths in the future.

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Microsoft Tech Academy  is another learning platform by Microsoft where you can follow different pathways and customize it thanks to 4 filters : Product, Audience, Level and Partner.

The Tech Academy is part of the Tech Community  platform , which is a great place to find blogs, communities and community events around the world. You can also join a community and talk to many experts. 

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If you love shows and videos, then this was made for you. Channel9 offers amazing content in a format of shows / podcasts / discussions and videos from different Microsoft events. In fact, Channel 9 is behind all the live streaming of Microsoft events such as MS Build, Ignite, etc.  It has content in 41 languages. Moreover, you can download the videos in different formats (MP4 different qualities or audio MP3)  and most of them have captions in different languages. They also provide links to download the code samples from github. 

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Microsoft has also many channels on YouTube. Whether you want to have just an idea about the product, learn some ad-hoc or go through demos and workshops.  Here is a list of some channels :

Microsoft mechanics  youtube.com/OfficeGarageSeries

Microsoft Ignite  youtube.com/MicrosoftIgnite

Microsoft Azure youtube.com/windowsazure

Xamarin youtube.com/user/XamarinVideos

Power BI youtube.com/mspowerbi

Microsoft Visual Studio youtube.com/VisualStudio

Linkedin Engineering youtube.com/LIEngineering, check also their website engineering.linkedin.com

And the list goes on.

 

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Now let’s see what Microsoft partners offer for free.

A great online school called edx.org offers many courses related to anything you can think about (I guess so :D).
According to their website, they have more than 19000 courses from 100+ Universities, companies and NGOs. You can attend all the courses for free. You only pay for the certification if you want to have it. 

Microsoft has different courses in edx.org. To check it, go to edx.org/school/microsoft

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Datacamp is an awesome platform to learn data science. They have different plans including a  free plan that offers 7 courses monthly and 100+ of practice challenges. Moreover, Microsoft offers different courses in partnership with Datacamp where you can practice for free.

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Pluralsight offers yearly subscription with “35-course limited library benefit” for students with Azure student subscription. To learn about this benefit, please read the dedicated help post here.

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eBooks

If you are book fan, check out the free eBooks from Microsoft. Another free eBook provider is goalkicker.com : they have many eBooks covering different technologies. Many experts volunteered to create good content that you can learn and share it at no cost. 

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We went through the different websites and platforms that are providing content, but what about the tools ?!well, I did not forget about it 😉 

 Microsoft Imagine

Formerly known as DreamSparkMicrosoft Imagine provides students with a set of software and tools for free. To obtain them, you need to create an account with your student email or verify your account using a Code provided by Microsoft (Contact Microsoft Student Partners in your University/Country or the regional Microsoft office to help you with it).

The same platform may offer you more if your school has a web store subscription, you can search it here, if it is not the case, try to convince your school to join the program. For more details, please check this link.

Github student pack 

Github gives you the opportunity to shine with 25 premium tools for 0$. You only need to verify your account with a student email. If you already have an account on github, just add your student email in your account settings. 

Azure for students 

You can claim 100$ credit in azure without a credit card. There are also many features for free such as Machine Learning Studio.

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The list may not be complete, I will try to update it and provide you with interesting resources to build your career 🙂 

Feel free to reach me by email or on twitter @Sahbi_Mohamed