Insightful Gaming – How Xbox Wins NextGen

I’m pretty stoked about next gen. 60fps? True 4K? SSD? Unreal 5? Ray Tracing? Sign me up. I have a feeling RPGs, stealth games and platforming are going to be huge. We also might see some incredible PC style strategy games finally hit consoles. And maybe, just maybe, a good Superman game. We have three systems: Xbox Series X, PS5, and Switch Pro (come on, it’s a given). In this quickie post, how can Xbox win next gen?

This is nothing more than a wishlist. I am not using any “insider info.” Nope. Just thirty years of gaming, my skills as an analyst, and my thoughts on where the industry is and where it can go. With that mumbo, jumbo out of the way, let’s get down to business.

June Event:

All about the hardware. Xbox Series X. Maybe the cheaper version, Xbox Series S. Elite Controller 2.0. Talk about Game Pass and X-Cloud. Demonstrate how Xbox Live is bigger and better. Then do a full power presentation.

If I were in charge of marketing, I’d press the following: Most Powerful System. Best Online Experience. Best Controller. Full Backwards Compatible. No censorship. Then emphasize Smart Delivery. I’d also ensure the event was only a day or two after Sony’s June event.

Lastly, I’d show-off some 3rd party titles. New Batman from Montreal? Superman from Rocksteady? Cyberpunk 2077? Harry Potter RPG? New Splinter Cell? Talk about how Xbox is the premiere choice for all third party titles. Then announce a bunch of timed exclusives. Hardcore gamers hate them, but it makes a significant impact on the market in general. Also, make the Flight Simulator the showpiece. End the presentation blasting the theme song from the 1990s X-Men animated series – yeah, Sony has Spiderman. We have the X-Men.

July Event

This first one is a long shot, but it makes sense. EA makes most of their money from live services. Live services work well with sport titles and Dice war games. They do not like single player experiences. Xbox wanted BioWare before. Plus, Respawn and Visceral Games would be perfect fits. Lastly, EA has never been a big fan of the Star Wars license. So they can unload it.

So the conference opens up with the announcement BioWare is now an Xbox studio. The Original Mass Effect trilogy, the Dragon Age trilogy, KOTOR I & II and Jade Empire are all being remastered alongside Saber Interactive. 4K resolution. 60fps. New content. Better gameplay mechanics. They show teasers for a new Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Anthem 2.0, and Jade Empire 2. But no rush. They then announce they are making KOTOR III alongside Obsidian.

Obsidian shows off dlc for The Outer Worlds, Grounded, and Pillars of Eternity 3. They also tease The Outer Worlds 2 and Alpha Protocol 2. Sega makes a statement that all of their new games are coming to Xbox: Persona, Yakuza, Sonic, Virtual Fighter, Phantasy Star, Atlas, and Total War. Then Total War announces they are working on a Halo RTS. This is followed by a string of 3rd party exclusives: Alan Wake 2 (Remedy), Marvel vs DC (Capcom), Dying Light 2 (Techland), Scalebound (Platinum), and Elden Ring (FromSoftware). This leads then to showing off a host of JRPGs that are finally coming to Xbox.

The Coalition show dlc for Gears Tactics, and then tease Mech Assault, Gears 6, and Jedi Academy. Ninja Theory show updates for Bleeding Edge, and then show Hellblade 2. They finish with teases for Project Mara and Odyssey 2. Trailers for Age of Empire 4 (Relic), Forza Motorsport 8 (with teaser for a new Forza New Horizons), Killer Instinct (no longer made by Rare), and then a bombshell: Bungie is once again an Xbox Studio. They drop trailers for Destiny 3 and a new IP and they tease they will be tackling Battlefront.

Rare shows off Sea of Thieves 2.0 with NPC crews and a host of improvements and additions. They show trailers for Everwild and Banjo and hint that they are not finished with Conker or the Battletoads.

The Initiative blasts onto the stage with a futuristic spy thriller reboot of Perfect Dark. They also tease they are working on X-Men and Deadspace. Then the trailer for Fable 4 is dropped by Playground Games. This segment is finished off by ReSpawn showing off Titan Fall 3, Apex Legends 2.0, and Jedi Fallen Order 2.

People Can Fly announces they are now an Xbox Studio. They show off a new IP and then tease they are tackling a reboot of TimeSplitters. Cause why not? Xbox then drops teasers for what multiple in-house studios are working on. A nice ten minute showcase of multiple games spread across multiple genres.

We then get teasers for Starfield, a new Witcher game, and that all dlc for LA Noire 2 is time exclusive for Xbox. Larian Studios comes out to say they are now an Xbox studio and Baulders Gate 3 and Divinity 3 are coming to Xbox. And then a partnership is announced: Xbox will be working with Bandai to create a Full Metal Alchemist game. They show off improvements to MineCraft and Fortnite before ending on a full reveal of Halo Infinite.

New weapons, new vehicles, improved melee, dual wielding, more assassinations, bigger environments, better stealth mechanics, and your armor takes on battle damage. You can also smash throw walls and drop a building on enemies – options are almost limitless to how you want to tackle missions. Hundreds of npcs make for huge set pieces. More WOW moments. The banished, the flood, new alien species, massive boss battles, space combat, and awesome Halo music. They reveal the biggest campaign ever with improved multiplayer and even a battle royal mode. 343 Studios then ends with a teaser for ODST 2.

August Event:

Obviously, this is where they should announce the price – $400 for Xbox Series X and $300 for Xbox Series S. They then announce a September release for Series X and a November release for Series S. They wrap it up with a showcase of the return of Summer Indies. A host of indie games will release every summer, starting with a ton of exclusives in August. Lastly, they mention that Game Pass, at least a limited version, will be coming to the Nintendo Switch in addition to Xbox Live for Switch. It’s a rad partnership and gives Xbox some serious momentum.

Summary:

Ok, so 90% of this is fantasy for sure. There could be curveballs, like ZeniMax or CD Projeket Red becoming an Xbox studio. Or maybe nothing happens and we get all hyped for nothing. But this is my wishlist, and I’m sticking to it until my dreams are dashed to pieces.

Spotlight – The Unknown Dad

The legal disputes and drama surrounding the death of a family member never cease to amaze me. One heir search was supposed to be easy: a man married for forty-six years to one woman and four kids. By the time I was done, I located sixteen total children spread across three mistresses in addition to his wife. So yeah, next of kin cases are messy.

This particular case I worked on involved the death of a minor. They weren’t even a teenager yet. The mother, “Jane,” had signed a sworn testimony that she had no idea who the father was. An important thing when it comes to claiming a hefty life insurance policy. Odd as well. Did she really not know who the father was?

I retrieved the birth and death certificate for the minor. Jane had made sure to list the father as “unknown” on both official documents. A geofence didn’t reveal much either. And a sweep of obituaries and memorials gave no mention of the father.

I ran family and probate searches, in addition to a marriage/divorce record sweep, focused on the county Jane presently resided in. She married a man a few years ago, even had more children, but her husband was not the father of the minor in question.

An initial social media search did not provide any further answers. So I kept digging, focusing on Jane’s siblings. And sure enough, one of her siblings posted a memorial video. About eight minutes into watching it, I noticed a 8-10 second clip of a man holding the minor. This man would turn out to be the father.

I went back through Jane’s address history, identified the possible counties she lived in around the birth of the minor, and ran another civi records search. No marriage or divorce records were found, but bingo – a child supper order.

The name of the father was listed on the order. I attempted to contact Child Support, but they are never very cooperative. Instead, I ran a social media on the father, confirmed his social media presence by matching multiple data points, linked him to Jane’s siblings, then reverse engineered his social media profiles so I could find his info on closed source databases.

Jane lived in California. The father was now living on the other side of the country with his wife. He was a registered sex offender (statuary rape between like a 19 year old and a 17 year old). This was likely why Jane thought it wouldn’t be a big deal. And he had been paying child support to Jane for years. In fact, the order was still active. Not only did she know who the father was, she had been receiving monthly checks from him!

So Jane had committed perjury in an attempt to collect all that life insurance. The result, of course, was being charged with insurance fraud. Still, extremely sad that a minor’s tragic death was overshadowed by such pettiness. But such is life.

Spotlight – You Got The Wrong Guy

The feeling hit me as soon as I finished putting in the request. When you have been doing cases as long as I have you learn to act on those gut feelings immediately. It only takes a single hunch to crack an investigation wide open. And in this case, it proved an accused man to be innocent.

So I put the asset and employment searches on hold. I conducted a second, more thorough read of a poorly written police report. The incident was a hit and run. Some damages to a vehicle, but no fatalities. No witnesses. Police looked into the case, but not much had been done. All we had was the license plate of a vehicle and the name (we will call him Jack) and the his alleged address.

The address came back to Military housing. A sweep of the area identified three subjects by the name of “Jack,” but only one had served in the military. A check of his military records showed he served his country for two years. He left the area some 9 months after leaving the military, and moved more than 3,000 miles away. His spouse finished her time in the military just 5 months after he did, and also left the area.

I then uncovered two clues: the vehicle involved in the hit and run had been sold right before Jack left the area. And Jack had bought a new vehicle just a couple months before leaving the area. A vehicle history run on his new vehicle placed that vehicle some 3,000 miles away at the time of the hit and run incident. The history also showed the subject had indeed left the area, and was still the owner of this newer vehicle. Additionally, a vehicle sighting report, in additional to a property deed owned by Jack and his spouse, proved the subject no longer resided in the area of the incident.

I ran the plates of the vehicle involved in the hit and run. I found multiple violations and citings since the vehicle had been last sold with multiple drivers and charges that included not having registration in the vehicle, not having motor vehicle insurance, and not driving with a valid license.

It turns out that Jack had sold this vehicle after leaving the military. His wife and him then moved far away and got on with their lives. However, the people they sold the vehicle to never turned in the paperwork to the DMV. Jack was still listed as the registered owner of the vehicle at the time of the hit and run.

Thankfully, I was able to prove that Jack had no involvement whatsoever with the hit and run. No need for an asset and employment check. He won’t be facing criminal charges or a lawsuit. Instead, we were able to narrow the field of suspects down to three individuals, making the lives of field investigators that much easier.

Morale of the story? Work on your discernment. Go with your gut. Don’t do something if it doesn’t feel right.

AuthorTalk – Update 5.20

It has been said that a people without pho perish. Or was it vision? Or both? Either way, I worked all weekend on a five year plan, spending the better part of a week discussing, researching and considering life in general. It’s been a wonderful time of reflection and I am at perfect peace. Not that everything is or will be perfect, but I’m dreaming big, making goals, and I will finish the fight.

I closed out the 1st Qtr of 2020 by finishing the script for Vehemence Vol 1 and submitted it into the publisher. With the craziness going on in the world right now, I am still awaiting more definite details to flow my way. I’m proud of that story and I hope one day to share it with all of you.

I had to sort out my career and am working on starting back at school in June. With things coming together, I am finally also getting back to writing. The following projects are getting back on track:

A Grim Awakening: a steampunk epic manuscript. Still planning on finishing it this year. Likely late fall 2020.

Fallen Vol 1: is actually 2/3 written. Plan on polishing it up and concluding the first volume this year.

Eliam Vol 1: working on an outline, but I do plan on finishing the 1st volume this year.

Sugar Coated: I intend on finishing spring 2021.

Nebula Vol 1: summer 2021

Singularity: done by the end of 2021.

Other projects are at different stages. Plus I’m still working on advancing to intermediate on guitar and I have a black belt test to prepare for this year. Lastly, I’m super stoked at what the future holds. I’m excited and pumped up and ready to rock. Lots of great books to read, code to learn and skills to perfect. Once I was a jack of all trades. Now I am the master. Or something like that.

Case Study – Data’s Little Bro

Aside from fighting off guard dogs, hiking seven miles a day and navigating backyard death traps, entering accurate data into a computerized device played a key role in meter reading. I should know since I did it for about four and a half years for one of the largest utility companies in the world. It served as my first taste of data entry, but it wouldn’t be my last.

To this point, in my case study series, I’ve discussed a sort of data family: database administration, data mining, data mapping, and data analytics. When people think data, they think data science. What people forget is the importance of good, clean, accurate and efficient data entry. Entering accurate data into a system is an essential task. And I’ve seen far too many get it wrong, whether at the corporate or government level.

When I started working at an investigative firm as a data entry associate, I was met with a curve ball: it wasn’t just data entry. It was comprehensive data entry. I had to comprehend the request I was being asked to enter into the online database. In other words, typing speed was pointless. Accuracy, speed, and thoroughness was everything.

So, I did what I knew best: I asked a ton of questions. I researched the insurance industry. I learned the ins and outs of claims. I broke down “referrals” according to case type, and ultimately developed my own system for maintaining accuracy and speed.

Within a week, I was already hitting double digits a day when the goal had been eight. It wasn’t long before I set records for most done in an hour, a day, a week, a month, a year, and a lifetime for speed and accuracy. I wrote the training manual on the department I wound up supervising for a spell.

I was never the fastest typist. Nor was I the most experienced in insurance. I simply worked my tail off in order to completely transform how an entire department operated.

Never be afraid to take a task others find unimportant and tedious to new heights. Work hard. Stay strong. Set records. Be faithful in the little things. And lay down solid foundations.

Case Study – Intelligence / Investigative Analytics

Over the last seven years, and for more than 12,000+ investigative hours, I’ve worked as a intelligence/investigative analyst. I use both intelligence and investigative because the position goes by either.

Technically, I’m an All Source Analyst because I use both open (OSINT) and closed source data points. An intelligence analyst researches, gathers, and evaluates data from a variety of sources. They specialize in data mining. An investigative analyst works on, you guessed it, investigations.

Typically, there are three divisions: military, law enforcement, and insurance. Often, we use similar databases but with different levels of security clearance. Law enforcement is more concerned with digital forensics and cyber investigations. Military locate and track terrorists. Insurance investigates claims. All three have similar skill sets: we are cyber sleuths. It should be noted that there are also Cyber Security Threat Analysts that are also similar (they search systems and networks).

The insurance side of things deals a lot with insurance companies and law firms, and often works alongside law enforcement. Some of the cases I’ve worked on include money laundering, rape, assault, kidnapping, and shootings. Several of them have gone international (Mexico, Spain, Canada, Guatemala, etc) , and have included all forms of insurance: liability, work comp, property loss, FMLA, and life.

Before I continue, it should be noted that a background investigator is not the same as an analyst. Yes, I may do a simple social media sweep or a pre-employment search, but that’s the extent of what a background investigator does. They collect a bunch of data, but make little to no attempt at evaluating it. They don’t go beyond the confines of a search engine. Additionally, a copy service retrieves documents such as court records, birth certificates, and camera footage from an intersection, but that is only the “other” duties of my job function, and not what I do the majority of the time.

So, what do I do? I piece puzzles together in order to paint a clearer picture. I work on skip traces, SSN traces, heir searches, asset and business searches, employment checks, social media archives (which may include metadata) and criminal/civil checks, and a host of other case types. I launch bank account searches, comb through DMV records, and run vehicle sighting reports. I might triangulate the location of a cell phone or create a family tree in Ancestry.

Yep, I’ve read thousands of police reports, traffic incident reports, birth certificates, property deeds, property transfer detail reports, vehicle titles, death certificates, autopsies, bankruptcy documents, articles of organization and incorporation, statements of info, and marriage and divorce records. I conduct geofences, match data points, and watch body-cam and surveillance footage. I then conclude my findings by compiling a legal document for court purposes.

My toolkit is vast. It includes a host of software and online databases. And it’s not something one ever truly masters. You’re always learning, adapting to some new trend or security feature, and uncovering new methods for solving cases. You’re on the frontlines in combating the $1 trillion a year industry known as fraud. And rarely are two days alike.

Your coworkers have no idea what it is you do. The certificates you get are often the same ones military and law enforcement receives. And you’re even eligible to test for and receive a PI license! It’s a job that includes lots of tech, sometimes being on call for a court appearance, and is rewarding in and of itself. I mean, I get to work on some really interesting cases and see things few others can ever testify of. We see a lot, learn a lot, and the feeling you get when you crack a case…it’s amazing.

So whether it’s a dude claiming to be a vegetable who is using dummy LLCs in a real estate pyramid scheme, another dude who claims to be broke to sneak his way out of lawsuits while he liquids his assets, transferring them to Canada where he happens to be a multimillionaire, or it’s finding a mother pretending not to know the identity of the father so she can collect all the life insurance on her deceased toddler, the cases are never the same.

Eight years ago I didn’t know this position even existed. I was experienced in marketing, sales, writing, customer service, and project management. I started out in data entry, did some editing, and then stumbled into a super fun and wildly different day job. It’s perfect for the writer and mystery lover in me. And I can’t wait to take it to the next level.

Case Study – Professional Writing

Years later, after already being lied to by financial aid, I soon discovered the head of the professional writing department resigned from his duties due to being charged with sexual assault. Apparently, this had been going on for thirty plus years, with multiple accusers, and they failed to mention it in the brochure. It makes for an intriguing conversation starter, but what exactly does professional writing look like?

First, my “writing career” has gone in variety of directions. I wrote award winning short stories while in school. I spent a decade getting articles and reviews published in over a dozen publications. I earned a bit of change as a freelance writer. I even did work as a ghost writer. I made some money, so that makes me a pro, right?

I’ve written detailed essays on retroviruses, award winning poetry, and scripts for television, commercials, game shows, graphic novels, comic strips and even an award winning indie film. On the creative side of things, I also managed to write and self-pub a novel that hit #12 on Amazon. Cool, cool.

I believe the problem with my writing career is just that: for years I played the role of professional writer. Such a generic term. Think on this. On top of everything I’ve listed, I also wrote business plans, marketing plans, press releases, training manuals, legal reports, and code for databases. In fact, I’ve now studied VBA, MySQL, HTML, JavaScript, and Python. Did I mention I’ve also written songs? And I don’t even remember the hundreds of other things I’ve tinkered with.

In one sense, it’s great that writing can be transferred to a number of incredible occupations. I’ve even done copy editing, proof reading and developmental editing. On top of video editing! Yes, the ability to communicate is an essential skill. However, did you see the problem? I sure did. I guess I had been blind to it for far too long.

Yep. Jack of all trades but master of none. Consistently distracted, continually learning, but never coming to a place of sheer satisfaction. And that’s the interesting thing about this case study. Despite the successes, all I hear is the sound of failure.

For a long time I lived life as a conquered of molehills. I hear someone exclaim, “I do sales!” So I go and spend two years, win eight awards, and master the art of sales. Then another guy shouts, “I am a graphic designer!” And I charge into battle, designing 180+ billboards. Then another guy says, “I’m a beast at customer service.” Oh yeah. Well I have six awards and a handful of employee of the year awards at various companies! And that’s how I went about life. Hilltop to hilltop. Conquest to conquest. A pile of worthless rewards and a burned out attitude lacking much passion.

Yeah, I went about writing that way too. Ghost writer, technical writer, copy writer, copy editing, proof reader, marketing, business, publication relations, coding, film, poetry, novels, manga…well, you get the picture I suspect. When you continually hop from discipline to discipline, it’s difficult to mature, to grow, to come to any sort of sophisticated level of understanding.

The haze began to clear when I finished my graphic novel script. It was the proudest I have been of my writing for years. I started to think: man, writing manga, writing novels…those are things I genuinely love. Not so much film or technical writing or any host of things I had worked on. Sure, I could do those things. But I didn’t have the passion for them like manga and novels.

Then I had a talk with a bigwig at a company. A guy who had significant military and business experience. He pointed out my main weakness, perhaps my only weakness, had always been focus. I could do anything…but I lived life like I had something to prove. And I needed to prove it to anybody and everybody. It’s true. I grew up in abusive home. I guess I always felt like the underdog in every situation. When in reality, I need to stop, consider, and focus on on the things I’m truly passionate about. Then set out to master those things.

It doesn’t mean I don’t have hobbies. Martial Arts. Guitar & Piano. Learning foreign languages and gardening. Working out. Fantasy Football. Reading. Gaming. But when it comes to passion, what four things would I narrow it down to?

Well, writing, of course, is number one. I don’t care if I’m never famous. I love it. And I want to focus on manga and novels and maybe a video game one day.

Problem solving is number two. I love investigations. I also love math and data. Teaching is number three. With critical thinking and creative freedom tied at four.

Where does that leave me? Well, I love data analytics and want to master data science. I love investigative/intelligence analyst, and want to continue to master it and possibly teach it. And if I can master the art of being an author, I believe I will accomplish a portion of what I was created to do.

To me, loving what I do will always be more important than the amount of money I make or fame I incur. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll hear those words one day, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Well, I can hope at least. In the meantime, here’s to being a master of a handful of skill sets as opposed to being a jack of all trades.

Case Study – Data Doesn’t Lie

Well, data doesn’t lie unless the data is wrong. I was once delivered a task that seemingly no one else wanted: create quarterly reviews for our top fifty clients, plus a company-wide edition. At the time, the reviews were simply snippets cut out from a report auto-generated by the company’s online database and slapped into a PowerPoint. No one ever double-checked the data and not much thought was out into the presentation.

Personally, I feel PowerPoint is best used for presentations only. I found it restrictive for my purposes. And it didn’t take long for me to notice several inconsistencies in the data presented on the auto-generated report. By the way, this is a key skill for data analysts: the ability to recognize patterns and identity errors. If you enjoy puzzles and patterns, this is the job for you.

The first thing I focused on was getting access to the raw data in the form of Excel sheets. Once I properly organized and sorted the sheets, I went row by row until I was able to identify each and every error within the datasets. Mastering Excel is fundamental for data analytics.

For the first couple of years, I transitioned the final product for reviews from PowerPoint to Adobe PhotoShop. Of course, that was only a stopgap. After I learned the basics of Tableau, the goal now is to generate all quarterly reviews, and other reports, in Tableau itself. This requires me learning Python and R programming, which I am in the process of achieving. Albeit, slowly but surely.

My work on this project redefined the role of data, in general, and quarterly reviews, specifically, for not only the company, but our clients as well. It impacted marketing, sales, and internal review processes. I was able to generate specific charts and data that were used in large sales meetings, outside of just quarterly reviews. For example, I could generate weekly assignment turnaround times or chart usual, but vital statistical information.

We live in the Age of Information, and data is king. Three crucial duties a data analyst must fulfill: gather and interpret data, identify errors, and present the data in a visually pleasing manner. I know it sounds boring at first, but I love it. The raw data helps you get to the root cause of issues and can assist in helping to improve an organization from the inside out. I literally learned this job in the fly, with no assistance or guidance.

So the lesson is simple: never be afraid to take on new challenges. The risk of failure is worth discovering if it’s something you might love. It also reinforced my past experience in journalism with regard to fact checking. I am constantly “fact checking” the data I run to ensure accuracy. It’s crazy to think just how versatile the writing skill set really is…

Case Study – Marketing 101

I once described the definition of marketing as the implementation of effective branding in order to create name and/or product recognition. I argued that people didn’t buy Apple products so much because of clever ad campaigns, but because of name association. You hear “just do it” and think Nike or “loving it” and think of McDonalds. Marketing builds rep and establishes trust.

Of course, the person who asked informed me I was wrong, and that the definition of marketing is sales. Nothing more, nothing less. To this I still say no. Marketing is a sales tool, and the two often work hand in hand, but marketing is a much different beast. In order to prove my theory, I set about to do something my company had never done before: create a marketing plan.

I previously worked on international marketing strategies for Irongrip Barbell and Slotline Golf as an intern. Additionally, I worked as a graphic designer for a billboard advertising agency. I wrote my first business plan at the age of 16, and felt my strengths as an analyst served me well in creating an appropriate strategy for my company that would work in the 21st century.

Any good marketing plan begins with a thorough survey of the current industry. This means understanding current trends, market demographics (and target audience), and conducting evaluations of competitors. This also means identifying current company strengths and weaknesses, and using data to create a vision for where you want to be as a company in the next 5-10 years. Research is king and correctly interpreting data is the difference between success and failure.

Once I laid a proper foundation, I was able to formulate an appropriate strategy that would unfold in a series of well thought-out phases. Like Kenpo, where every belt builds upon the one that came before it, each phase of the marketing plan builds upon itself like a stack of blocks.

Of course, I started with a social media marketing campaign that began with a redesign of the company website, proper execution of SEO, and a complete social media overhaul. At the same time, I worked on an updated design of the logo, and a swath of new material: bi-folds, pamphlets, flyers, business cards, and mailers. I also identified all key conferences to attend, and which ones would be ideal to sponsor. In addition, I updated the event material and mapped out a plan to create a stronger conference presence.

I don’t want to go to into too much detail, but other elements of the plan included press releases, redesigned quarterly reviews, a company newsletter, and new ways to create a tighter sense of community between us and our clients.

I was even allowed to implement portions of the strategy, tracking stats via Google Analytics and other metrics. Data is king, and because I was already becoming versed in data analytics, it proved to be a major factor in moving forward with a proper implementation of my strategy. The results were strongly positive.

I have always felt that a good marketing strategy needs to remain fluid and dynamic. If something isn’t working, you must have the flexibility to adjust as needed. So what are the results of my marketing strategy?

I laid the foundation for a strong social media presence, had several press releases published, wrote a successful newsletter, revamped much of the company’s stale marketing material, and managed to produce an uptick in metrics concerning e-mail blasts.

While I ended up transitioning into intelligence and investigative analytics, the strategy I put into play is only still being realized, years later. It’s crazy to think how ahead of the times it was. A marketing plan that predicted the future of the industry would be almost entirely digital and would be founded upon data. Years later, and that’s exactly where we are. I consider that a massive success in and of itself.

From this project I learned the importance of research, the gathering of data, the proper interpretation of data, and using data to create effective strategies and accurate prediction of market trends. It also became another exercise in the value of strong writing ability as I put together an effective marketing plan, marketing material, newsletters, and press releases.

Case Study – Security Audit

If you don’t know what a SOC 2 Type 2 Audit is, don’t worry because I didn’t know either. I had turned down a position as a permanent copy editor (I wrote the manual for the department and trained a person for the position), instead opting to take on the role of a project manager. It wasn’t long before I had my first massive assignment – do whatever it takes to pass the audit and achieve compliance.

My specific task was twofold: first, I would be writing the bulk of the actual report. A simplified process at this time because I knew all the ins and outs of the company. I wrote training manuals for multiple departments, and had cross-trained for almost every single position. With a strong background in writing, compiling a slick, detailed report turned out to be a breeze.

The second major task proved more daunting: build an internal database for the purposes of housing the HR and IT departments. My background in coding was limited to HTML I played with in high school on notepad and MS FrontPage. I was given no budget, no team, and no guidance for putting together the database. Just a three month deadline. No pressure, right?

The first program that popped in my mind was MS Access since it had sat there on my desktop, collecting dust for years. Access = database, I thought. I discovered I needed to know two programming languages to get this right: VBA and MySQL. I immediately purchased a ‘Dummies’ book, located a handful of forums where database conversations were taking place, and got to work.

I remembered a simple trick clockmakers would use in order to master the craft: take apart the clock and then put it back together again. So, I grabbed a database off the interwebs, broke it apart, examined the coding, and put it back together. This built my confidence up.

Looking back I wish I had done some wire-framing. Although, at the time, I didn’t know what wire-framing was. Regardless, I built a database, from scratch, that housed both the IT and HR departments. I did it in three months while also compiling the SOC 2 Type 2 Audit report. Best news of all? We passed the audit and were granted compliance. At $20k+ you could say it’s the most expensive exam I’ve ever passed.

This would become the foundation for my present study in Python and R programming. It also proved to me that with dedication, discipline, and a deadline, I could accomplish just about anything. Well, almost anything. Lastly, I really don’t like VBA, but it is what it is.