Tableau Contest – Obesity Stats

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Tableau is a data analysis tool that is relatively new. For those who are familiar with Excel, it’s pivot charts done much better. The professional tool is a little expensive for casual consumer use, but recently Tableau released a free version of the software called Tableau Public. Tableau Public is a fully functional version of tableau, the main limitation is that any output must be stored on the public servers and is therefore accessible to anyone.

This month Tableau is conducting a contest jointly with Read Write Web. They are providing 4 sample data sets and the best interactive visualization will win a trip to the Web 2.0 conference in May.

Since we are familiar with Tableau, a couple of us at work are going to be entering the contest. I will probably create several versions of each set until I get something I’m happy with, but my first stab at these sets is the following:

Also, I plan to post some how to videos on data analysis, including some tutorials on how to use tableau. It’s a really great piece of software and the free public version is going to allow many people to see just how good it is.

Funny Infographic this Week

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This was in the top ten on flowingdata.com this week. It comes from Stephen Tabuman. Here’s the clip:

And here’s the infographic:

megashark-full

Living with passion . . .

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As I write this I’m watching Julia and Julia with my wife Traci. She read the Julia Child book, My Life in France. It seems that when Julia Child began taking cooking classes she found that she really enjoyed what she was doing. I looked up the passage of her describing her experience as she started school, she writes:

I had always been content to live a butterfly life of fun, with hardly a care in the world. But at the Cordon Bleu, and in the markets and restaurants of Paris, I suddenly discovered that cooking was a rich and layered and endlessly fascinating subject. The best way to describe it is to say that I fell in love with French food—the tastes, the processes, the history, the endless variations, the rigorous discipline, the creativity, the wonderful people, the equipment, the rituals.

I had never taken anything so seriously in my life—husband and cat excepted—and I could hardly bear to be away from the kitchen.

What fun! What a revelation! How terrible it would have been had Roo de Loo come with a good cook! How magnificent to find my life’s calling, at long last!

Indeed. This comes on the heels of an idea I read in Seth Godin’s blog a few weeks ago, about our attitude toward our work. He basically asks the question, shouldn’t our work be spiritual:

But isn’t your work spiritual?

I know doctors, lawyers, waiters and insurance brokers who are honestly and truly passionate about what they do. They view it as an art form, a calling, and an important (no, an essential) thing worth doing.

In fact, I don’t think there’s a relationship between what you do and how important you think the work is. I think there’s a relationship between who you are and how important you think the work is.

Life’s too short to phone it in.

If I was convinced that living in this state of engagement was possible, then I don’t think I could stand to do anything with my days that didn’t bring this level of satisfaction. I’m almost convinced.

The more things change, the more they stay the same . . .

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I found this in my morning rotation via Brad Feld’s Feld Thoughts blog. It’s a video of an MIT professor explaining how the university used the IBM supercomputer. So many of the points he makes are the identical problems that designers and engineers site today. It’s quite interesting.

The question that comes to mind is, are these problems fundamental computer issues, or are they fundamental to our paradigm about computing machines. In other words, does the way we thing about computers constrain our ability to use them more effectively.

Paint the House . . . Daniel san

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This coming week my are painting the main floor of our house. This is no small task, we have some tall ceilings and it’s good size house. We’ve taken on painting project several times before, but never on this scale. We got ourselves some long poles, wide rollers, and scaffolding. Here’s a little qik video that shows the house after the primer has been put on.

Media Center PC – Christmas Miracle.

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Christmas brought me a HTPC this year. I used to have a mac mini for this purpose and it worked out quite well. I watched Hulu, movies, Netflix, Youtube, etc. I have tried to find an alternate, as I said in a recent post. Playon or TVerisity can be used in connection with a video game console to watch a variety of internet based media streams. The Xbox 360 has Netflix integration which is really great because some of the media comes through in HD and looks great, and the interface is more TV friendly than using a keyboard and mouse to navigate.

However, the problem with those programs is that they can’t deal with hiccups or breaks in the stream. If the whole program doesn’t come through without a hitch, you have to start the whole thing over again. This got too annoying and I wanted something better. I also wanted to be able to play with some retro console emulators as well as DDR in the front room.

I decided to go with Nvidia’s new ION platform. I had read some good things about video card accerelation with flash video and the dual core 330 atom chip. So, after looking on the local classifieds (here in SLC we have KSL.com – a local news station that has an online classified section) I found someone selling a working HTPC with the ION platform for like $200. This is about $100 less than what it would cost to do the build myself, so I made myself a Christmas present of it.

After installing the right drivers and a little tweaking, I can report that the platform performs quite well. I added a Blu-ray DVD-ROM drive and have now tested it with all the differing media sources that I watch. It plays the Blu-ray discs without any trouble, does DivX and other media formats very well, streams Netflix like a charm and even works with Hulu Desktop and Hulu in Chrome smooth.

I was able to play Hulu and Netflix at the same time, and Netflix still came through in full HD beautifully, though Hulu did get a little choppy. The Hulu performance is perhaps the worst of all these. During commercials and transitions it slows down and drops frames, and though it is usually smooth during most programs there are a few hiccups. The CPU meter jumps between 40% and 60% utilization, so I’m not sure why Hulu isn’t perfect.

All in all I am very satisfied with the platform. Here are the specs:

Zotac ION-ITXF – ION 330 ATOM Dual Core
2GB RAM
80 GB HD
NVIDIA 9400M – also called ION
LITE-ON IHOS104 Bluray DVD Drive

It’s my first experience with BluRay and I have not been disappointed. Even on my 720p TV, the images are noticeably sharper and more detailed. I may have to upgrade my TV to get the full enjoyment out of it.

I am currently running all this in Windows 7. I also tried installing

Great Cereal Flow Chart

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The folks at Eating the Road had a great flow chart for choosing what cereal to eat.

Virtual Chumby

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I have been seeing lots of ‘Chumby’ projects on Make’s blog lately. After doing some research I have learned what a Chumby is and I want one. A Chumby is basically a touch enabled computer that’s built into an alarm clock form factor. You would use something like this to listen to pandora or you’re favorite podcast as you get ready for work, have recipes or games in your kitchen, or you could have live sports scores next to your TV. Whatever internet content you might want in a small screen.

You can go to the Chumby website and create a virtual Chumby, a small bit of code to place on a blog or whatever that gives the same experience. Here’s my virtual Chumby.

I have sudoku, movie trailers, facebook statuses, chuck norris facts, and my twitter chosen as my content. It moves from one application to the next according to a schedule which you set. There are more than 1500 different chumby applications.

Awesome Social Media Demographics Profile

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This tool is brought to you by Forrester research at the excellent social media blog, Groundswell. The purpose of the tool is to understand the social media usage of your customers so that you can better build social media tools that they will be disposed to use. I also recommend the book, Groundswell, to anyone thinking about using social media as a marketing platform.

Xbox 360 Media Centers

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I watch most of my favorite TV shows on Hulu these days. What that means is that I need a way to get my hulu onto my TV in the living room. There are quite a few ways that i have considered doing this. I used to use a Mac mini as a HTPC, controlling it with either a laptop via VNC or using Boxee and the infared remote. This worked out great.

I liked that I had my favorite episode of 30 Rock right alongside The Totally Rad Show. It brings warmth into my heart to combine old and new media. It feels like the world, the way it should be. Anyway, I moved on from the Mac mini and I have been looking to recreate the living room media center experience ever since.

A few weeks ago a friend introduced me to Playon and TVersity. They work both about the same and they both have the same big problem, if you internet media halts for any reason, you can’t navigate back to your place. You usually have to start the show over again. Other than this, however, I am very happy with both. They have a variety of media sources that you can build including Hulu RSS feeds, Youtube feeds, TED talks, etc.

The big kicker is that Hulu doesn’t make the whole experience better. I know that it’s probably not Hulu’s fault as much as it is the networks, but the obvious is going to happen sooner or later. There’s no benefit nor compelling reason to be stuck in a network schedule any more. People want on demand access to whatever show or experience they feel in the mood to watch. We no longer want to tolerate schedules.

Playon and TVersity performed on about the same level. Here are some of my favorite media sources:

Academic Earth
TED Talks
Revision3
Youtube – My Profile
My Hulu Profile

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