Software

6 posts
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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Choosing the right metric reveals the story behind the subway mess in NYC

I forgot who sent this chart to me - it may have been a Twitter follower. The person complained that the following chart exaggerated how much trouble the New York mass transit system (MTA) has been facing in 2017, because of the choice of the vertical axis limits. This chart is vintage Excel, using Excel defaults. I find this style ugly and uninviting. But the chart does contain some good...

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PowerPoint history lesson

David C. Brock writing for IEEE Spectrum delves into the origins of PowerPoint. PowerPoint is so ingrained in modern life that the notion of it having a history at all may seem odd. But it does have a very definite lifetime as a commercial product that came onto the scene 30 years ago, in 1987. Remarkably, the founders of the Silicon Valley firm that created PowerPoint did not set out...

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Excel is the graveyard of charts, no!

It's true that Excel is responsible for large numbers of horrible charts. I just came across a typical example recently: This figure comes from Edward Wolff's 2012 paper, "The Asset Price Meltdown and the Wealth of the Middle Class." It's got all the hallmarks of Excel defaults. It's not a pleasing object to look at. However, it's also true that Excel can be used to make nice charts. Here is...

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Semiotic, a visualization framework

Elijah Meeks released Semiotic into the wild. It’s a framework that allows quick charts but provides flexibility for custom stuff. Semiotic is a React-based data visualization framework. You can see interactive documentation and examples here. It satisfies the need for reusable data visualization, without committing to a static set of charting types. It came out of a need for a data visualization framework that let us make simple charts quickly...

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It’s your fault when you use defaults

The following chart showed up on my Twitter feed last week. It's a cautionary tale for using software defaults.  At first glance, the stacking of years in a bar chart makes little sense. This is particularly so when there appears not to be any interesting annual trend: the four segments seem to have roughly equal length almost everywhere. This designer might be suffering from what I have called "loss aversion"...

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Visualize large datasets with deck.gl

deck.gl is an open source framework developed by Uber to visualize large datasets (mainly geospatial ones, naturally). It started as an internal tool but was released to the public in November last year. Uber just released the next iteration of the package, which handles a bunch more use cases. Bookmarked it. Tags: JavaScript, Uber, WebGL

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Automatic visualization is a bad idea, generally speaking

Plug in any dataset into a magic box and it spits out a lovely visualization you can show all of your co-workers, friends, and family. That’s the promise of a lot of startups, but it doesn’t quite work that way. Ian Johnson explains by comparing visualization the medium to other forms of communication. I want to take a deeper look at why this pursuit of automation is misguided, and in...

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Prophet for forecasting with a lot of data

Facebook released Prophet, which is a procedure to quickly forecast with time series data. Prophet is a procedure for forecasting time series data. It is based on an additive model where non-linear trends are fit with yearly and weekly seasonality, plus holidays. It works best with daily periodicity data with at least one year of historical data. Prophet is robust to missing data, shifts in the trend, and large outliers....

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Now over 10,000 packages in R

There are a lot of R packages, which is why before I implement any chart type myself, I look to see if someone already did it. Recently, the official R package repository surpassed the 10,000 mark. Why so many packages? R has a very active developer community, who contribute new packages to CRAN on a daily basis. As a result, R is unparalleled in its capabilities for statistical computing, data...

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