Analytics Camp 2013 – Brain Friendly Presentations

May 4, 2013 1 comment

Session 3 of Analytics Camp 2013 for me is Brain Friendly Presentations with Sidd Chopra

Chopra is an experience speaker with toastmasters. Once worked at SAS.
Started with several slides from the O-ring analysis of shuttle booster rockets. Finally, the outcome of the Challenger explosion. “PowerPoint makes us stupid” Gen James N. Mattis.

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This session is a little different than the “normal” unconference in that he has prepared well.

Sometimes the visualization fails to tell the story. We have got advanced in how we present data, but our brain can’t process it. Our brain needs explanation. Shows different size pizzas and asks which is bigger, by how much?

We spend a lot of money developing products to visualize data, but the flatter graphic may be clearer.

We go back to what is the question we are asking. How do you decide which type of visualization to use? what decision needs to be made? Who decides that?

Brains are focused on things that it finds interesting. It gets analysis paralysis at a molecular level. Wired to find out what is important and then details. We hide conclusions many times to show the data.

Chart suggestions – A Thought Starter

Q: What is the purpose of the brain? A: to control movement.

Example of a sea sponge with brain set solely to find a place to land. It then eats its brain.

What decision makers fear. They don’t like surprises. They want clarity, warnings of threats. They want an Easy Button. Data visualization should provide easy way to visualize what they want. We often overload the audience with data dumps. It is our objective to make their decision makers life easier.

I’m only responsible for what I say, not for what you understand. This is what we have been saying rather than the apposite.

Decisions need to be made.

But our brains are flawed. They process information differently. People aren’t color blind, they perceive colors differently.


Biases. Shows the innocence test.


They have a 3 day workshop that they teach on how the brain works.

Told the Richard Feynman story about testing the O-rings on the shuttle disaster and how powerful the demo was for everyone. The folks could understand it.


Brains are designed for efficiency not accuracy

We are not logical decision makers

you are competing for mindshare

confusion never sells but simplicity does

Categories: Conferences, Meeting Notes

Analytics Camp 2013 – Data Visualization

May 4, 2013 1 comment

Session 2 I attended was a panel discussion on Data Visualization. There was some confusion in that there really wasn’t a defined leader at first. What happened next is part of the unconference magic. People started sharing their experiences and at least 6-8 people were giving some really good information.
Spotfire was mentioned as well as Tableau. Tableau was thought to be a little difficult to share with clients. The on-line demos were good in Tableau and shared with the cloud. You have to be careful not to use confidential data.
SAS is represented so there was discussion of their visualization applications. There seems to be a lot of new applications coming out.
JMP was discussed (SAS).
What are some of the free data visualization software packages? You can google for those and there are some good ones.
Many Eyes from IBM was mentioned with the caveat that you have to upload your data so proprietary data is problematic.

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Discussion on medical data and depending on difficult data to make decisions. There are many problems. Difficulty of doing no harm. One issue is what information did they have before.
Discussion of what types of graphics will actually present your idea the best. Stephen Few and Edward Tufty. Tufty does one day workshops.
“Don’t show your client something that you can’t do in crayon.”
How to deal with multiple axes with different scales. It can be misleading.
Book: Back of the Napkin was mentioned.

Q: How do you validate data visualization graphics? A: validate the data before you visualize. Also, presentation can affect what people see in the visualization. They might interpret the graphics and come to conclusions that might not follow the data. Of course, the visualization may also give you insight that you can’t perceive from looking at the table of data.

Wordle was mentioned as a word visualization tool.

Categories: Conferences, Meeting Notes

Analytics Camp 2013-05-04 Data Built to Last

May 4, 2013 1 comment

1st Session: Data Built to Last with Melinda Thielbar

She’s a data scientist in the RTP area.

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Three things: Actionable, Verifiable, Repeatable.

1. I wish I knew this. This is what I would do if I knew this.
Who is fraudulent? How can I stop them?

2. What do I know now?
Technical process is taking the thing you wish you knew and turning it into what to do now.
You need a feedback loop from what you wish you knew and what you know now. (agile process methods?)

Take action and see if it worked. First verification should be cheap before you go wild.
A/B testing-cheap way to run experiments.
Build a process for the end user so you don’t have to babysit them.

Repeatable: use programmers to build something that is repeatable.

The Endeavor Blog is a good resource.
A learning resources page is on the wiki. There is a Coursera class on data analytics.
Follow hmason on twitter Hillary Mason. starts you with statistics.
More resources and web sites on the analytics camp wiki.

Categories: Conferences, Meeting Notes

Function Pink Meetup 2013-04-11

April 11, 2013 Leave a comment

Defensive SASS Modular Styles for the modern web John Long @johnlong

John was introduced by meetup rangler Les James. He started out by explaining that he would be mainly talking about modularity in SASS. John works at UserVoice. and writes for fun at @thesassway “the latest news on sass + compass”.

He started out talking about an example of 10k line css file he had to rangle. He got interested in using SASS due to the complexity of working with such a large file.

His examples are out on a site is his first example

Worked with child selectors and the code gets very complicated.

Ex. adding classes to menu bars.

ex adding more ultra modular approach.

dont think in terms of selectors. think in terms of objects.

Parent-child pattern..tableview, tableview-item, tableview-item-cell. example. he uses multiple classes within the class field to get better modularity.

Plural Parent Pattern .faqs, .faq, .faq-title as an example

Parent-child used to declare (not enforce) object hierarchy for the dom.

subclassing-.item, .ticket-item, .article-item

uses for examples.

subclasses used to declare that one object should inherit from the other.

contextual classes .item, .ticket .item, .item .title

difficulty with this is that someone could come along and define “title” and everything goes out of whack.

subclassing is almost always better.

Is there a penalty for using many classes, probably not.

make code clear, avoid premature optimization in css for performance.

Modifiers: use for state is-selected, is-active, etc. has-menu, no-border, no-margin, etc. other: primary, secondary, etc.

generic modifiers: .is-hidden {display: none !important;}

the ampersand operator is a general modifier.

specific modifiers: use nesting and the ampersnad operatior

modifiers: used to change attributes or state on an existing object.

modifiers vs subclassses

Naming scheme

objects tend to be nouns, child  noun-noun, subclass adjective-noun, modifiers prefix-adjective or adjective.

modular typography

compass is a open-source framework for Sass

@import “compass”

@include “global-reset”

reset vs normalize

reset-zeros out styles on all elements

normalize-normalizes styles across browsers so that all browsers share a simliar stylesheet.

some surprises-

don’t stule with IDs or tags (classes are better)

contextual styles are mostly evil (avoid nesting)

more markup and less styles (often much easier to maintain),,, is the presentation.

I give his presentation a thumbs up.

His slides are available.

His code examples are also available.


Categories: Meeting Notes, Programming

Ruby Brigade Meetup 2013-04-09

April 11, 2013 Leave a comment

Introduction, jobs, old leader moving on, new leader of the meetup group is coming in. Cheers for the guy who was the past leader. He mentioned the PyCon controversy and the response the RB group will have. He introduced Brandon Mathis who will be doing the intro presentation, “So … you want to be a Ruby Programmer.” @brandonmathis

Many of the attendees are new to Ruby as it should be. Strictly focused on the language alone, not the other issues like Rails, pair programming, agile, etc. Long intro to the Triangle.

Philosophy of Ruby: he has a fetish for Ruby language. Three basic rules to writing Ruby code, Readable, Minimize Confusion, Make the Developer Happy. Quote by Russ Olsen.

Ruby reads like a sentence. Example of a while loop with a counter.

5.times { puts “odelay”}

Coder speech, language of our thoughts.

Challenge to read code from 5 days ago. Write 100 lines, save it, and look at it again in 5 days and tell what every line does. ([roger] not sure this is true.)

There are at least five different versions of Ruby in the wild. Max started on it in the early 90s. Last release was out 45 days ago. Single pass virtual machine. version 1.9 came out 2 years ago. He is a jRuby advocate. jRuby runs on the JVM which helps when bringing it into enterprise situations. Java devs are less excited about versions that are not compatible with the JVM. Tightly integrated with Java.

MRI is another flavor of Ruby. Ruby 2.0.

Rubineous(sp?) C++ bytecode implementation.

MacRuby is another one. Write Mac applications for the Mac store. Objective-C.

RubyMotion – $150 iOS applications in Ruby.

Basic tools to maintain versions of Ruby.

rbenv- Helps you install different versions of Ruby depending on what version your client has installed on their systems.


Homebrew- Mac package manager.

Ubuntu has excellent package manager.

git- number one tool for source control.

Gems- libraries written in Ruby.

Bundler- it’s a gem.

Put a list of links for Resources. He will put links on the meetup site.

Did some examples of coding features in Ruby. Everything is an object ([roger] like C#).

Categories: Meeting Notes, Programming

Moving Books Into my New Home Office

December 14, 2012 Leave a comment

Moving Books Into my New Home Office

All inspections are done on the home addition. Another coat on the hardwood floors and boom.

Categories: Personal

Concrete Work Progress (Day 3)

October 26, 2012 Leave a comment

Our addition is going well now. It has been a very long haul and is at least a month behind due to weather delays. We are starting to get excited about getting the rest of it completed.

Concrete and Driveway Progress 2012-10-25

Concrete and Driveway Progress 2012-10-25

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