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Meet Mike, a senior developer at BoldIQ…and a geek

GeekWire’s Monica Nickelsburg featured our very own Mike Christensen in Geek of the Week:

Mike Christensen is a life-long software engineer — a career that began remarkably early. While most of his kindergarten peers were mastering their ABCs and 123s, he was programing his first computer to count to 10.

When he was 18, Christensen began working for Microsoft as a software engineer. After his 11-year tenure there, he began pursuing his passion for machine learning.

“I spent three years trying to teach a computer how to understand recipes; what they taste like, if they’re sweet or spicy, would you make them for breakfast or dessert, what ingredients you’d need to buy, etc.,” he said. “This involved natural language parsing and artificial intelligence.”

That startup, KitchenPC, didn’t find the right fit in the consumer market, and Christensen decided instead to open-source all the technology behind the project. He now works for data solution startup BoldIQ. He balances his highly technical work life with CrossFit, hiking, and travel.

“I love nature, and I love helping elephants. (I’ve adopted about 20!) I’ve hiked everywhere from the Pacific Northwest, California, Arizona, Alaska, Hawaii, Peru and Hong Kong,” he said. “I have a hiking bucket list a mile long.”

Meet our Geek of the Week, and continue reading for his answers to our questionnaire.

What do you do, and why do you do it? “I’m currently a Senior Software Engineer at BoldIQ. We optimize things – in other words, we take your problem, look at all your data, take into consideration all your constraints and then use software to figure out the optimal solution. In aviation, we can find optimal crew schedules that eliminate unnecessary flights. In ground transportation, we can figure out what order you should pick up and drop off packages. We can continually optimize these scenarios as conditions change or new data comes in.

I do this because it lets me explore so many different and fascinating industries. I also think as businesses scale, a lot of unnecessary waste is created. This waste can have an adverse effect on the environment. Plus, when the engineer in me sees something that’s inefficient, I can’t help but want to fix it.”

What’s the single most important thing people should know about your field? “Data is messy! So many problems could be solved in an elegant and straight forward manner, if only the data was clean, accurate and organized. A lot of the problems I face involve teaching a computer how to interpret what a human probably meant, and not look at things as either a zero or a one. Most frustrations people have with computers or technology can be traced back to different ways of thinking. As technology truly integrates with our daily lives, I think this will be the number one problem to solve.”

Where do you find your inspiration? “I’m a UI geek. I’m always checking out futuristic user interfaces in movies, and I’ve been known to try to emulate them in my own products.”

What’s the one piece of technology you couldn’t live without, and why? “My smart phone. I have no idea how I got through 30 years of my life without one.”

What’s your workspace like, and why does it work for you? “Lots and lots of monitors. Both at work and at home. I also keep my desk immaculate and free of clutter. I work best without distractions.”

Your best tip or trick for managing everyday work and life. (Help us out, we need it.) “Find hobbies that balance out the technical aspects of your job. My love of hiking helps prevent my life from becoming too one sided. Getting in touch with nature allows me to see the earth as a whole.”

Mac, Windows or Linux? “As more applications move into the cloud or become web based, I see less and less distinction. I use all three.”

Kirk, Picard, or Janeway? “Picard. I believe Voyager would have been a single episode under Picard’s crew. Ok, maybe a season finale cliff hanger.”

Transporter, Time Machine or Cloak of Invisibility? “Transporter for sure! I think of all the places I could travel to, mountains I could climb, and restaurants I could dine at. Plus, I’ve already had a Cloak of Invisibility; I call it my high school years.”

If someone gave me $1 million to launch a startup, I would: “Investigate the viability of using unmanned aircraft to stop poaching and protect endangered wildlife.”

I once waited in line for: “I tried to get Mariners postseason tickets in 2001. The media was there, pretty much making fun of everyone crazy enough to stand in line. I never did get tickets.”

Your role models: “Bill Gates – one of the smartest men alive, and he created an entire industry. There’s a lot of billionaires that just want to see how rich they can get. Gates is devoting his life to eradicating disease, eliminating third world poverty and improving education. He’s using his geek skills to accomplish all of that.

And, Nathan Myhrvold. Sure, the patent system is screwed up and this guy takes full advantage of it. However, he’s a polymath of da Vinci caliber. He not only started Microsoft Research, he’s been everything from a paleontologist to a world class barbecue champion. He’s searched the skies for extraterrestrial signs of life, created lasers that can zap mosquitoes and researched geoengineering techniques to end global warming.”

Greatest Game in History “Tetris. It’s a deceptively simple game with an absolutely fascinating history.”

Best Gadget Ever: “TiVo/ DVR has changed the way we watch TV. Time slots have very little meaning anymore. I’m also really loving the Amazon Echo (I now own two). It’s the first device that’s actually made me feel a real human interaction with a computer.”

First Computer: “TI-99/4A. Though I was never cool enough to have the ‘Extended BASIC’ add-on.”

Current Phone: “Nexus 6. I find the Android platform much more open and configurable. I can get things working exactly the way I want, though sometimes it takes a bit of work. The Nexus doesn’t have a lot of the ‘bloatware’ associated with manufacturers like Samsung and HTC.”

Favorite App: “GPS Navigation, such as Google Maps. It’s gotten to the point where it works so well and is so seamless, we forget how much awesome stuff is going on behind the scenes.”

Favorite Cause: “David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. They rescue orphaned elephants and help combat poaching in Africa.”

Most important technology of 2015 “The Cloud. We’re now finally seeing devices as a commodity, and real innovation happening on the back end.”

Most important technology of 2017: “Mining an asteroid would be pretty cool. I think this will be key to eventually building large objects in outer space. Another technology I’m interested in is self-driving cars, which I think will come in several stages. Eventually, I don’t think there will be a need for everyone (or even most people) to own a car. There will be a network of cars, some owned by companies such as Uber and some owned by private individuals. You’ll be able to lease time on that network for your transportation needs. After your car drops you off at your favorite restaurant, it will drive around tending to other passengers and then pick you up when you’re done. Things like parking will be a thing of the past, and only an exact number of cars will need to exist to meet demand. Concepts such as ‘rush hour’ will also be made obsolete, as this network can be optimized intelligently. In fact, BoldIQ has some real potential to make this a reality.”

Final words of advice for your fellow geeks: “Connect what you are truly passionate about to what you are good at. Don’t focus on what jobs will make the most money, or your career will turn boring.”

See the source with pictures and all

Three Signs Your Big Data is Going to Waste

Big data is everywhere. Entire companies have sprung up saying they can produce it, mine it, slice it, dice it, present it, sell it, and even make predictions based on it. And just about every company is examining how they can leverage their data to reduce costs, increase productivity and produce new revenue. Companies are spending a lot of time, effort, and resources to find that holy grail of data.

Even though data mining and analytical tools have the ability to potentially predict some sort of future, these are no more than diamonds in the rough. Data pros know they are worth something to their operation (potentially a lot), but most people don’t know what to do to turn that data into action. It’s rare to find an organization that is not wasting the true potential of big data. How do you know if your company is wasting this diamond mine?

Here are three signs:

  • Your data can’t answer the questions, “What do I do now?” “Which of my resources do I deploy for what demand to get the most out of my operations from a customer service and profitability perspective?” Predictive analytics focus on a potential future. But what about the right now? When you turn data into action through optimal decision-making, this data becomes much more valuable and productive
  • You can’t react to disruptions in real-time. Operations should be able to adapt in real-time to produce the best possible outcomes given changes and disruptions that occur. When something breaks down in your resource chain, or when new demand comes in, the data at your disposal should turn actionable and provide you with updated operational plans.
  • You rely on human intuition vs using data to make intelligent, informed, and integrated decisions. Even with the best big data and predictive analytics systems, many companies are still using intuition to make their final operational decisions. This is very limiting and does not maximize the value of the data available. Our human minds can only retain and analyze so much information at once, and do so in a consistent, scalable, and repeatable manner.

If your data is not working for you in real-time, all the time, dynamically generating the most optimal decision for your operation at any point in time, regardless of changes and disruptions, then it’s time to rethink your data strategy.

Smart Cities under construction

No car ownership, no waiting rooms, instant transportation / deliveries, and more by Pam Baker at FierceBigData

Smart cities, aka Intelligent Cities, may sound futuristic. Actually, most of the technology needed to make them happen already exists and is being deployed to varying degrees in cities around the globe. In the not-so-distant future, the Collaborative Economy, sophisticated automation technologies, the Internet of Things and big data will converge to make everyday life very different than it is today.

Don’t worry, we’re not all going to suddenly give our cities a makeover, Jetsons-style. Instead, these technologies are embedded in things we already have – like cars, bridges and roads, smartphones, lightbulbs, just about everything actually.

To give you an idea of how our ordinary cities will start their journey to smartdom, take a look at the infographic below by BoldIQ. It’s all about personally owning very little, sharing almost everything and optimizing everything we do through the use of smart data, real-time analytics and automation.

Odds are that your own city is waking up now, sensing things – such as movement and user demands it once was blind to – and beginning to respond. That will increase over time as existing technologies are plugged in or modified throughout your area.

Pretty cool, huh. We are the masters of our world and our technology proves it. Of course, new tech is being developed every day, but you have to admit this is an impressive start towards a brighter, better future.

See the full version

BoldIQ and the U.S. Army’s 2nd Ranger Battalion

BoldIQ supports the special operations warriors of the 2nd Ranger Battalion at the annual ‘Ranger Regatta’

While we are in the software business, and they are a special operations Army battalion, we have a lot in common, especially when it comes to our people. Both BoldIQ and the Army Rangers require of their team members, personal excellence across many attributes and to be extremely proficient in complex operations.

We are proud to support these great soldiers and their families.

For more information about the Ranger Regatta, click here.

BoldIQ Reveals Vision of Tomorrow’s On-Demand City

We live in an on-demand world defined by smart mobile devices, big data and the sharing economy, but today’s on-demand world is still supply-driven – constrained by the availability of resources and the intelligence of our decision making. But what if those constraints disappeared?

In just a few years, our definition of “on-demand” will be a moment in history. Thanks to the expansion of real-time dynamic optimization technologies, “on-demand” will be truly “demand-driven” – instantaneous, efficient and without wasted resources.

Imagine a demand-driven smart city with fewer cars and autonomous vehicles, no parking lots, rapid deliveries (many by drones) and efficient at-home medical services. How will this be possible? Check out BoldIQ’s new infographic, which sets the vision for how dynamic operational optimization software can make “Tomorrow’s Intelligent On-Demand City” possible today.

View this infographic here.

BoldIQ Sets Vision for Tomorrow’s On-Demand City Using Technology of Today

BoldIQ, Inc. a global provider of dynamic real-time optimization software, today shared its vision for tomorrow’s on-demand city, leveraging the technology of today. With dynamic real-time optimization software, the way we experience the world will transform, from healthcare and transportation, to deliveries and staffing, as illustrated in this infographic “Tomorrow’s Intelligent On-Demand City.”

BoldIQ asserts that today’s on-demand world is defined by smart mobile devices, big data and the sharing economy. However, the world is still supply-driven, constrained by resource capacity, antiquated scheduling technologies and inefficient decision-making. Dynamic real-time optimization can eliminate those constraints by taking all operational, financial, regulatory and environmental aspects into account in real-time, all the time.

The infographic depicts three scenarios that demonstrate a new way to experience on-demand, enabled by dynamic optimization, including:

  • Demand-Driven Staffing and Scheduling. Scheduling staff efficiently while maintaining a healthy work-home balance for the team is a challenge. With disruptions to staff availability, changing schedules and demand, to regulatory and operational constraints happening each day, businesses must be able to adapt in real-time. BoldIQ’s vision is for the right employee to be connected with the right task within seconds.
  • Demand-Driven Healthcare and Transportation. Healthcare and transportation both operate under complex regulatory constraints and continuous changes to availability and demand. BoldIQ enables a future where healthcare services could be delivered at home when needed and a network layer that would enable the right transportation.
  • Demand-Driven Repair and Delivery. Delivery requires the consideration of demand, resource availability, and vehicle maintenance and of course changes in weather and traffic. BoldIQ imagines a future where deliveries go off without a hitch and a system that can quickly react to vehicle breakdowns so there is little disruption to the delivery schedule.

“Organizations can implement technology available today that will transform how we experience healthcare, delivery, home services, and transportation,” said Roei Ganzarski, president & CEO of BoldIQ. “We can create an exciting, more efficient and truly demand-driven world that leverages new advancements. Picture delivery drones, driverless cars for transportation versus car ownership and at-home care at a push of a button. Tomorrow’s on-demand city is possible today.”

BoldIQ’s technology has helped its customers in complex business environments drive significant increases in productivity, decreases in operating costs and increases in their revenue-generating capacity.

To see this city in action, view or download the infographic “Tomorrow’s Intelligent On-Demand City.”

BoldIQ at New Tech Seattle

Roei Ganzarski shared BoldIQ’s vision of a true on-demand world with the New Tech Seattle audience Tuesday evening. The future of on-demand is one where companies are not constrained by resources, or antiquated scheduling capabilities. A world in which companies can meet their demand in real-time, all the time, with maximum efficiency and minimal waste. BoldIQ offers that future today.

BoldIQ CEO to speak at New Tech Seattle on June 16th

New Tech Seattle

Tuesday, Jun 16, 2015, 5:00 PM

Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center
201 Mercer Street Seattle, WA

271 New Techies and Friends Went

RSVPs are OPEN at https://events.bizzabo.com/NTS0615 – NOT on this page, which incorrectly shows RSVPs as “closed.”Join us to experience Seattle’s most active tech community, and it’s largest and most fun monthly event!New Tech Seattle brings together smart, fun, innovative people with a ‘give first’ community attitude. Our members come from acro…

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BoldIQ Strengthens Core Team

BoldIQ shared that it filled three key roles, appointing Alex Panov and Mike Christensen, as Senior Software Engineers, and Olga Lepekhina, as Software Test Engineer.

“We are very excited that Alex, Mike, and Olga have joined the BoldIQ team,” said Roei Ganzarski, President and CEO of BoldIQ. “They each have a proven track record in their field that will benefit our customers. The addition of these accomplished team members strengthens BoldIQ as we continue to grow and provide value in the market place.”

Alex Panov has over fifteen years of software development experience including roles at Microsoft where he worked on JavaScript runtime and Automation systems, ORC Software, and ABB. Alex earned both a Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree in Computer Science from Moscow State University.

Mike Christensen has over seventeen years of professional software development experience, including eleven years working at Microsoft. He has founded and worked at various startups, and consulted for both large and small technology companies.

Olga Lepekhina brings extensive test automation experience to BoldIQ. She most recently worked at Vertigo Software, testing a variety of video applications including: the March Madness player for CBS, the Emmy-nominated Vancouver Olympics, and other events for NBC, and Microsoft’s PDC 2010 Conference. Olga earned her degree in Mathematics from Moscow State University.