December Writing Challenge Day 4: I Was Today Years Old When I Learned…

(This week’s post originally appeared on THWACK.com as a comment during the 2020 December Writing Challenge.)

As people who have made our career in IT, data drives our decisions. It is often the way we best understand the world around us. And, I’ve found, it’s a source of clarity, if not comfort.  For some, seeing the daily COVID-19 statistics creates a rise in anxiety. For me, at least, knowing them gives me something tangible to hold onto. Those numbers remind me that information about the pandemic is know-able. It exists. And if that exists, then solutions do (or will) exist as well.

In the early days of the pandemic, I found that the sources of data were both disparate and sometimes conflicting. Gathering that information into a single place was time-consuming. And so I did what I would with any tech challenge: I automated the hell out of it.

From cron jobs that pull down the data from a github repo; to spreadsheets with embedded API calls to remote web services, this event has caused me to grow my skills in ways I would never have pursued otherwise. I might wish I’d had a better reason to learn them, but I cannot deny that the techniques I’ve learned will come in handy in a (please God) better future that lies ahead.

Screenshot from 2020-12-04 14-45-42.pngCounty statistics  

Screenshot from 2020-12-04 14-46-11.pngOhio statistics

Screenshot from 2020-12-04 14-46-39.pngWorld statistics

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