Category Archives: musings

Looking for someone to jumpstart your visual analytics project or prototype?

Looking for someone to jumpstart your visual analytics project or prototype?

At BCIT, we have been offering a course on Visual Analytics using Tableau to Part Time Studies students. This course is offered three terms:

  • Winter (January to March/April)
  • Spring (April to June/July)
  • Fall (September to December)

Many students who register for Part Time Studies are working professionals who are taking courses to complete additional certificates/diplomas, or for professional development, or just plain curious.

Students enrolled in the COMP 2256 class learn visual best practices, some data analysis, and visualization using Tableau Desktop. Part of this twelve (12) week course is a term project which requires data analysis and visualization around a topic of their choice. They will need to submit a series of dashboards and a final project report at the end of the term.

The project requires the students to either:

  1. look for a sponsor (could be their employer, a non-profit organization, etc) for their visual analytics project, to be presented to their peers at the end of the term
  2. look for a number of sizable public data sets that they’re interested in, and essentially create dashboards that will support their story

I encourage students to, as much as possible, choose #1. This is as “real world” as it gets. However, looking for a sponsor can become tricky and time consuming for already-working professionals, so I am hoping I can help match up my students to your projects.

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#LikeAGirl – It means … doing the best you can

I really liked the @Always #LikeAGirl Superbowl XLIX halftime commercial. For me, it doesn’t really matter whether you’re male or female. But it is sad that there are still prejudices out there based on gender (among other things), but I hope it won’t stop anybody from trying – to live, to grow, to learn, to reach your dreams, and to do the best you can with anything that you do.

Do you know how DATES work in Tableau? Understanding Continuous vs Discrete Dates

Do you know how dates work in Tableau? It could be tricky, but once you get a handle on it, it can make your Tableau life much simpler.

The first step to understanding dates in Tableau is understanding the concept of discrete and continuous first. These are two very important concepts in Tableau that, if not clearly understood, can definitely cause a lot of confusion (and headaches). It can make you think you’re getting unexpected vizzes or behavior from the application, and that it’s not doing what it’s supposed to do.

A quick Google search lands us the definitions for these two terms:

discrete – individually separate and distinct
continuous – forming an unbroken whole; without interruption

Let’s tie these two terms back to Tableau:

Discrete Continuous
definition: individually separate and distinct definition: forming an unbroken whole; without interruption
blue pill green pill
blue pill green pill
gives you headers gives you axes

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Data Sets for BI/Analytics/Visualization Projects

Just wanted to compile a list of datasets, or sources of datasets, that can be used for BI/Analytics/Visualization projects and explorations (not limited or specific to any tools). These come in different formats, and some may need to be cleaned up. Please do read the restrictions and EULAs that come with each of the links/sources.

This is a work in progress. I  am still updating this post, and will most likely re-arrange or re-categorize the links as I stumble across other data sets.

If you have any that you can share, I would love to add those to this list (and mention you shared it!) – please leave a comment below and I will add them to the list!

Last Updated : February 01, 2015

Canadian Data

US Data

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Microsoft Second Shot through May 31, 2015

Microsoft Second Shot is back for 2015! If you’re planning to upgrade your Microsoft certifications (MCSE, MCSA, MCSD), you might want to take advantage of this insurance. You will be eligible for a free retake (if you don’t pass the first time) if you take your exam between January 5, 2015 and May 31, 2015.

Check all the details here:

By the way, Microsoft has switched to Pearson as a testing provider. You may find that testing centres could be scarce in some locations at first, hopefully that picks up soon!


On Girls, Poverty and Education

I watched two things today that left me both troubled and inspired.

Bill and Melinda Gates

Earlier in the day I watched one of the Top 10 TED Talks for Entrepreneurs in 2014 – Bill and Melinda Gates: Why giving away our wealth has been the most satisfying thing we’ve done.

As of November 2014, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has an endowment of $42B USD towards causes such as:

  • improving health by fighting enteric and diarrheal diseases, malaria, tuberculosis, pneumonia and HIV
  • reducing extreme poverty by identifying and funding solutions that can help people lift themselves up and out of poverty
  • in the US, an education opportunity for all students

I deeply admire Bill and Melinda Gates for what they are doing and how they’re trying to change the world, on how their foundation is trying to look for cure, eradicate diseases that are still killing so many around the world, especially children. Bill and Melinda Gates could have chosen to keep their money to themselves, for their families, but they did not. They have chosen to give 95% of their wealth away to philanthropy, to causes they believe can make a better world, save more people from death, educate more children around the world. Not only this, even their children believe in, and are involved, in the causes they care about. They are also convincing other successful entrepreneurs and power houses to also pledge resources to help continue these causes.

Girl Rising

Later at night, unable to sleep, I put Netflix on and checked out what’s there. I ended up watching Girl Rising – a movie that tells the stories of several girls from developing countries – doing whatever they can to go to school, to learn to read and write, to help change the world. It is very sad and troubling to see that girls are still seen as properties or slaves in some parts of the world. Some girls as young as six (6) years old sold as slaves, as young as seven (7) years old given away (or sold) as brides. Some girls, despite their social status and extreme poverty, believe in the power of education and believe in their self-worth. They fight back, persevere, and fight for their rights. Some literally put their lives on the line in order to go to school. This activity – “going to school” – sadly is probably an activity that too many kids in developed countries take for granted.

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