20 posts
R data structures for Excel users

Introducing yourself to R as an Excel user can be tricky, especially when you don’t have much programming experience. It requires that you switch from one mental model of the data that exists in an interactive spreadsheet to one that exists in vectors and lists. Steph de Silva provides a translation of these data structures for Excel users. Tags: Excel, R

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Microsoft Excel painter

Remember the artist Tatsuo Horiuchi who uses Microsoft Excel to paint scenery? Four years later, he’s still at it. Watch below. Horiuchi is my favorite example of someone who shows that the tool is secondary to what you want to make. Spend less time debating about what software you should use to visualize your data, and spend more time deciding what you want to show. Tags: Excel, paintings, tools

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Data distributed as clipart

Government data isn’t always the easiest to use with computers. Maybe it’s in PDF format. Maybe you have to go through a roundabout interface. Maybe you have to manually request files through an email address that may or may not work. However, this file that OpenElections received might take the cake. It’s a spreadsheet, but the numbers are clipart. City of Detroit produced a lookup tables for its absentee precincts...

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R for Excel users

For Excel users getting started with R, pain oftentimes finds its way into the learning process. Gordon Shotwell feels your pain and provides a primer to shifting to a different approach to your data. At the beginning, when you are trying to accomplish simple things like balancing a budget or entering some data by hand, R is definitely harder to learn than Excel. However, as the task gets more complex,...

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Excel heat map hack

John Nelson from IDV Solutions explains how he uses a Microsoft Excel hack to make geographic cell maps. While pivoting data in Excel, it occurred to me that I could drag the latitude data into the row and the longitude data into the column. The result would be a 1980's-Nintendo-looking chunky cell map (which, if I make the cells square, happens to be a pseudo-equirectangular projection). Low and behold. It's...

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Spreadsheets for life

Planet Money goes back to a 1984 article by Steven Levy that discusses this new thing called a spreadsheet. It was taking the place of the paper version that accountants manually edited, added to, and taped together. From the original article, a fine use of quotation marks: All this powerful scenario-testing machinery right there on the desktop induces some people to experiment with elaborate models. They talk of "playing" with...

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