Friday Updates: Boone, Putting ML on the Back Burner, Embulk, Mandalorian, and A Princess of Mars

Last week my family and I vacationed in a cabin near Boone, North Carolina for a few days. We hiked, visited Grandfather Mountain, made s’mores, enjoyed the hot tub, did gem mining, and generally just tried to unwind for a few days. It was nice.

What I’m working on at Preceden

A few months ago when I was deep into the DataCamp machine learning courses, I wasn’t sure whether after I finished I would keep focusing on machine learning or start spending more time on Preceden again.

It turns out that the break wound up invigorating me to work on Preceden again. For the past few weeks my mornings have been spent almost entirely on Preceden and not on machine learning at all. I don’t regret spending the time getting smart on machine learning – it’s a skillset I’m glad I now somewhat have – but right now I’m just more excited to work on Preceden, so that’s what I’m doing.

I have three big projects in various stages:

  1. Redesign: As I’ve written about in previous updates, I’m working with a designer and front-end developer to modernize the site. This involves migrating over to Tailwind and a lot of other changes to update the appearance of the site.
  2. Data Cleanup & Reactivation Project: there’s a lot of old data in Preceden that doesn’t need to stick around forever. Imagine someone creating a timeline about a divorce back in 2011. Unless the user deleted their timeline or account, it’s still in there. I’m going to build out a system for emailing long-inactive users to remind them it’s in there and say if they want to keep it they just need to log back in. If not, I’ll have Preceden purge their data after some period of time. This should let me both nix a lot of that old unneeded data and also bring back some users who haven’t thought about Preceden in a long time.
  3. Pricing: Preceden’s revenue is mostly from one-time payments. I’d love to figure out a way to get more recurring revenue. Much easier said than done though due to the nature of the tool (most people don’t need to use it very long). I’m playing around with spreadsheet models to figure out whether there’s a recurring revenue model that could work. We’ll see.

What I’m working on at Help Scout

We use a service called Fivetran to get data from various sources (like MySQL, Salesforce, HubSpot, and Mixpanel) over to our data warehouse (BigQuery) for analysis in Looker. Problem is, Fivetran’s pricing model changed this year and combined with heavier data volume it was going to cause our renewal cost to be much higher than in the past.

Most of our volume was from syncing MySQL data over to BigQuery. Our ops team was able to figure out a way to use an open source tool called Embulk to get our MySQL data over to BigQuery, eliminating our need to use Fivetran for it, greatly reducing our bill for 2021.

What I’m watching

Mandalorian season 2 on Disney+:

What I’m reading

A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs (same guy who wrote Tarzan). I read this when I was younger, but saw it sitting on my bookshelf the other day and started reading it again. It’s a fantastic series.

Stay sane my friends 👋

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