New Year Revolutions

Good times and bum times, I’ve seen ‘em all
And, my dear, I’m still here
Flush velvet sometimes
Sometimes just pretzels and beer, but I’m here
I’ve run the gamut, A to Z
Three cheers and dammit, C’est la vie
I got through all of last year, and I’m here
Lord knows, at least I was there, and I’m here
Look who’s here, I’m still here
  - Stephen Sondheim
It has been a wonderful year. Nothing got broke that couldn't be fixed,
no one went to jail and no one died. The world kept turning and my family was funnier than ever.
This has been my standard for success since raising a teenager.

It was a great year work-wise.  Maybe the best ever.  I had many terrific clients and the work was so collaborative and rewarding.  This is mainly attributable to Tableau and the way that you can build dashboards with people.  It's unlike the standard BI process of requirements gathering, data herding, mock-up, build, test... etc.  All of those elements get done, but I think it's more like a Maestro session or data journalism. The design is driven by the audience, questions, AND what's in the data.  I guess it could be similar to agile BI - but I've never seen the agility in any BI project - just a LOT of rigid process and process to monitor that process.  Note to BI:  In the sage words of Pappy O'Daniel,"We ain't one-at-a-timin' it here. We're MASS communicating!"  That is, we're not manufacturing widgets, we're communicating information.

Being made a Tableau Zen Master was an absolute shock and honor.  At the Tableau conference this year it was a real treat to meet so many of the people that I've been following or connecting with for years.  (My family is a wee bit concerned about my 'on-line friends', not understanding that a tribe can develop through a shared obsession with a software program.)

I'm not one for making New Year's resolutions (I once resolved to be nice, but it didn't take), but life continues to revolve and evolve and so too will I.



My heart belongs to this little guy and in the spring, I will get to share it
with his new brother or sister. I'm blessed.  Isn't he just too cool for his shoes?!!!
You know, there's a lot of bad press for teen moms, but in my case I think it was a blessing.  I still have working knees that enable me to chase and wrestle this little guy like I did with his dad.


According to family, I spend an unnatural amount of time on the computer and I must admit that since discovering Tableau I don't read for pleasure very often anymore.  So this year, I shall re-read some of my old favorites (free and online) to maintain my faith in humanity:

To Kill A Mockingbird
The Death Of Ivan Ilych
The Grapes Of Wrath

I've never read Don Quixote (loved the play) so I think I might do this on-line course at OpenYale as well.
“Do you see over yonder, friend Sancho, thirty or forty hulking giants? I intend to do battle with them and slay them.”  ― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote


Dan Roan Napkin Academy
My obsession with Tableau will continue to keep my mind busy and out of trouble. Last year at this time I decided to focus on design.  I felt that I was in a rut, that most of my vizes looked alike, especially at work.  There's nothing wrong with having a style, but when all your dashboards follow a script then the storytelling isn't really happening, is it?

To help unlock myself I took Dan Roan's online drawing course, Napkin Academy and it was fantastic!  I highly recommend it for analysts, it is so applicable to data visualization work:
  • Solve any problem with a picture
  • The 5 focusing questions
  • The 4 steps to visual thinking
  • self portrait
  • The 6 ways we see (and show)

This year I'm tempted to learn R.  Tempted, but not quite enthusiastic yet.  I understand stats, I've taken a lot of courses (demography) in grad school, but rarely had use for them at work.  Last year my decade old student version of SPSS died (thanks IBM).  I wasn't that upset because the only thing I'd used it for was regression analysis in horse racing.  Here's the rub.  Stats are time consuming.  I'd have to pull out all my old books to refresh my brain and I rarely play the ponies now, so I'm not that motivated.

At least I wasn't until I read Boran Beran's post on Sentiment Analysis with R in Tableau.  Bloody brilliant, huh?!!  I'm thinking sweet tweet analysis!  Boran has done a few posts on R and they're very easy to follow.  To get up to speed with R there's some great 2 minute tutorials by Anthony Damico at twotorials that I might start.  There's also Code Snippets for help and Rstudio has a nice interface.

I still don't sound convinced do I?  Maybe I'll find something else (oh, look at that shiny data over there) that will attract my attention, but even if I don't tackle R this year, there is more than enough cool things to learn with Tableau.  Someone is always coming up with a great new approach or viz or design that will trigger me - "ooh, that would be a perfect way to visualize my data".

So that's it - heart, soul and mind covered for 2014.  Did you notice that I left out body... maybe I'll exercise in 2015 if I have time.

Happy New Year folks!  Here's wishing you and yours plenty of belly laughs in 2014.