Interview with Matthew Topol

0
46
Matthew Tapol

Matthew Topol is the author of In-Memory Analytics with Apache Arrow. We got the chance to sit down with Matthew and find out more about his experience of writing with Packt.

Q: What are your specialist tech area(s)?

Matthew: Distributed Systems Architecture, Data Processing, Computational Analytics

Q: How did you become an author for Packt? Tell us about your journey. What was your motivation for writing this book?

Matthew: Packt reached out to me after my presentations at the Subsurface conference on Cloud Data technologies. After a bit of back and forth, and the encouragement of my friends and family, I decided to go for it and try writing this book. My motivation was two-fold: I’ve never written a book before, so I was excited at the prospect of being published, and I really do want to spread awareness and understanding of Apache Arrow as a technology. I see it as a really important next step in Data Processing and Analytics.

Q: What kind of research did you do, and how long did you spend researching before beginning the book?

Matthew: I’ve been working with Apache Arrow for a number of years. So before beginning the book, I did a few things:

– I re-familiarized myself with the Apache Arrow documentation and where people have requested more information / documentation.
– I spoke a lot with my co-workers and colleagues about areas that they felt were lacking information or documentation and generating ideas on what to cover.
– I googled around for a lot of different existing articles and blog posts about Apache Arrow, seeing what they covered, what they didn’t cover, the tone they used, and so on.

Q: Did you face any challenges during the writing process? How did you overcome them?

Matthew:

Let’s see, I caught Covid and I got hospitalized with pneumonia in a different state while visiting friends. Thankfully the folks at Packt were very understanding for me to recover from these.

More directly, it was a challenge juggling writing with my full-time job and familial obligations. There was the need for a lot of understanding from my family for the time I was spending writing, and lots of support and encouragement from them too. It was also difficult coming up with various code examples and scenarios to utilize. Figuring these out was an exercise in patience and time. Playing a video game to get my mind off of things and then coming back fresh, or otherwise making sure I took breaks and didn’t burn myself out. Overall, it’s been a really positive process.

Q. What’s your take on the technologies discussed in the book? Where do you see these technologies heading in the future?

Matthew: Apache Arrow is fast becoming the Go-To technology for any sort of data processing and computation. My take is that it’s pretty much the future and has a great group of core engineers along with a large and growing community of people interested in it that I’m a part of. Everyone involved is passionate about data computations and analytics so it’s really a great community to be part of. I only see this continuing to grow and evolve over time with more and more integration. I truly believe that Arrow is going to become the industry standard.

Q: Why should readers choose this book over others already on the market? How would you differentiate your book from its competition?

Matthew: There isn’t any competition. 🙂 This is the first book I’m aware of that specifically covers and focuses on Apache Arrow.

Q. What are the key takeaways you want readers to come away from the book with?

Matthew: The key takeaways I’d say are:

– Apache Arrow as a technology may seem complicated but it’s actually, at a high-level, pretty straightforward and easy to wrap your head around.
– Even if you’re not an engineer writing software, knowing about Apache Arrow can help you choose the right tool for the job as a Data Scientist or otherwise.
– Becoming part of the community is the best way to get any interests you have addressed by the technology.
– Always keep learning and challenging yourself

Q. What advice would you give to readers learning tech? Do you have any top tips?

Matthew: Keep learning, keep challenging yourself. Find what you’re passionate about and go after it, read about it, practice it, find articles and interesting things. Let your passion drive you to keep learning and using something and you won’t go wrong.

Q. Can you share any blogs, websites and forums to help readers gain a holistic view of the tech they are learning?

Matthew: The best view is to just go to arrow.apache.org and the github repository at github.com/apache/arrow. Otherwise, simple google searches will provide lots of articles of people using it.

Q. Do you belong to any tech community groups?

Matthew: Not particularly, I mostly flit around between different groups. It’s only recently that I’ve become noticed a lot more due to my presentations at the Subsurface conferences. I guess the Apache Arrow development community is probably the only group I’d say that I’m formally involved in.

Q. How would you describe your author journey with Packt? Would you recommend Packt to aspiring authors?

Matthew: I think I would definitely recommend Packt. It’s been quite the journey, but it’s also been fun. The people I’ve worked with at Packt have all been exceptionally friendly, helpful, and informative. Starting from the point where I didn’t know if I’d be able to pull this off, and now hundreds of pages later, I’m looking at it being published soon. This is, frankly, amazing!

Q. What are your favorite tech journals? How do you keep yourself up to date on tech?

Matthew: Google. Haha. Seriously though, random articles, people at work, Facebook. I just periodically look at what is interesting to me or is recommended by my colleagues. There’s a ton of interesting information out there and I have enough connections and friends who are interested in tech that it’s not difficult to find new things and keep up to date on various advances.

Q. How did you organize, plan, and prioritize your work and write the book?

Matthew: Organization isn’t my strong suit honestly. Comes with the ADHD. Honestly, it was just a matter of setting things aside when I could, finding whatever time I could get myself to commit to, and just hunkering down to do it. Just kept moving one chapter at a time until I got to the end.

Q. What is the one writing tip that you found most crucial and would like to share with aspiring authors?

Matthew: Find your voice and stick to it. Stay true to yourself when writing, it makes it easier.

Q. Would you like to share your social handles? If so, please share.

Matthew: https://github.com/zeroshade

https://twitter.com/zeroshade

https://www.linkedin.com/in/matt-topol-92390533/

You can find Matthew’s book on Amazon by following this link: Please click here.

In-Memory Analytics with Apache Arrow – Available on Amazon.com