Tableau Collaborates with Google Cloud

October 24, 2013

Considering that Google has a stake in Recorded Future, which has visualization capabilities, this is an interesting development: The Sacramento Bee shares the press release, “Tableau Software Partners with Google to Visualize Big Data at Gartner IT Symposium.” The partnership mixes Tableau’s analytics with the Google Cloud Platform. Recently at Gartner‘s convention in Orlando, attendees were given a demonstration of the project. The write-up tells us:

“Tableau and Google created a series of dashboards to visualize enormous volumes of real-time sensory data gathered at Google I/O 2013, Google’s developers’ conference. Data measuring multiple environmental variables, such as room temperature and volume, was analyzed in Tableau and presented to attendees at the Gartner event. With Tableau’s visual analytics, Gartner attendees could see that from the data created, I/O conference managers could adjust the experience and gain insights in real time, like re-routing air-conditioning to optimize power and cooling when rooms got too warm.”

The project will also be demonstrated at Gartner’s upcoming events around the world; see the article for dates and places (though I’ll go ahead and tell you that Orlando was the only location in North America.) We wonder—is this Gartner/Tableau/Google trio a marketing play, or a significant step forward in data visualization?

Founded in 2003 and located in Seattle, Washington, Tableau Software grew from a project begun at Stanford University. Their priority is to help ordinary people use data to solve problems quickly and easily. The company is fully invested in their own philosophy; not only does Tableau use their own products, but they also rely heavily on data analysis for their business decisions.

Cynthia Murrell, October 24, 2013

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

There Is Much to be Learned about Visual Dating Mining

October 6, 2013

What is visual data mining? I know that data mining involves searching through data with a computer program in search of specific information. I am guessing that visual data mining includes the same aspect except it presents the data using various patterns. Am I right? Am I dead wrong? I do not know, but I do know the way to find the answer is to read Visual Data Mining-Theoyr by Arturas Mazeika, Michael H. Bohlen, and Simeoin Simoff.

Here is the item description from Amazon:

“The importance of visual data mining, as a strong sub-discipline of data mining, had already been recognized in the beginning of the decade. In 2005 a panel of renowned individuals met to address the shortcomings and drawbacks of the current state of visual information processing. The need for a systematic and methodological development of visual analytics was detected. This book aims at addressing this need. Through a collection of 21 contributions selected from more than 46 submissions, it offers a systematic presentation of the state of the art in the field. The volume is structured in three parts on theory and methodologies, techniques, and tools and applications.”

This book usually retails for a whooping $99.00 or $63.91 with the Amazon discount. It is still a hefty chunk of change for a 163 page book, which is why we are pleased to say if you are a member of ISBN Book Funder or OnlineBooks.com then it is available to you for free. Other books are free for members. If that does not appeal to you check our your local academic library.

Whitney Grace, October 06, 2013

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Open Source Says Line Them All Up

September 5, 2013

If you ever wanted to visualize data sets containing up to one million lines of code, the impossible just became a reality without a commercial license. PRWeb has the good news: “Tableau Software Extends Tableau Public To 1 Million Rows Of Data.” Tableau Software is a data specialization company that helps its users share, analyze, and visualize their data. The company has an open source end portal Tableau Public that also allows its users to share their content on blogs and personal Web sites. Users demanded to have the line limit increased and Tableau Software added the one million limit to its public end.

“ ‘Since Tableau Public launched in 2010, we’ve seen an explosion in the number of data sets available on the web for public consumption,” said Tableau Public Product Marketing Manager Ben Jones. “It’s becoming more common for these data sets to exceed one hundred thousand records, so this change allows users of our software to share interactive visualizations of these larger data sets with their readers.’ ”

Some organizations that have big data sets out in the public are: airline on-time statistics and delay causes, US Medicare payments to hospitals, and historical weather station data recorded hourly. As the Internet grows the amount of space needed will grow proportionally and perhaps even larger. Wonder when they will release a trillion lines.

Whitney Grace, September 05, 2013

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Beyond Search

3DEXPERIENCE Platform With IFWE Compass Unveiled by Dassault Systemes

September 4, 2013

An article posted on July 25, 2013 on Market Watch was titled Dassault Systemes Announces Groundbreaking User Experience of its 3DExperience Platform and a New Cloud Portfolio. The French company revealed V6 Release 2014, offering a compact course-plotting interface that straddles the 3DExperience platform on the premise as well as on the cloud. As usual, the developments are ‘groundbreaking’. The article explains,

“This release brings a disruptive new user experience and the value of a business application at every single level of the company, transforming the world of IT platforms,” said Monica Menghini, Executive Vice President, Industry & Marketing, Dassault Systemes. “Our new navigational user interface is so intuitive that we wanted to give it a name: ‘IFWE Compass,’ because in business it is always a question of considering ‘what if’ scenarios to find the right path.”

The IFWE Compass provides an environment for business leaders to visualize their ideas on every level of development and collaborate from a shared cloud. The perks of the new system include Enovia Program Management and Engineering BOM Management, Delmia Assembly Planning and Milling Machining, Catia Concept Creative Design and Solidworks Mechanical Conceptual. The promise is of a holistic approach to information is the aim of the 3DExperience.

Chelsea Kerwin, September 04, 2013

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Big Data Joins The Justice League

September 1, 2013

The Justice League’s headquarters, either the Hall of Justice or the Watch Tower, has state of the art equipment to track bad guys and their criminal activities. We puny mortals might actually have a tool to put Batman’s own deductive skills to shame with big data, says The News Factor in the article, “Watch Out, Terrorists: Big Data Is On The Case.” Big data is nothing new, we just finally have the technology to aggregate the data and follow patterns using data mining and data visualization.

The Institute for the Study of Violent Groups is searching through ten years of data about suspected groups and individuals involved with terrorism and other crimes. The Institute is discovering patterns and information that was never possible before. Microsoft’s security researchers are up to their eyeballs in data on a daily basis that they analyze for cyber attacks. Microsoft recently allocated more resources to develop better network analytical tools.

The article says that while these organizations’ efforts are praiseworthy, the only way to truly slow cyber crime is to place a filter over the entire Internet. Here comes the company plug:

“That’s where new data-visualization technology, from vendors such as Tableau and Tibco Software, hold potential for making a big difference over time. These tools enable rank-and-file employees to creatively correlate information and assist in spotting, and stopping, cybercriminals.”

Big data’s superpowers are limited to isolated areas and where it has been deployed. Its major weakness is the entire Internet. Again, not the end all answer.

Whitney Grace, September 01, 2013

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Beyond Search

Information at a Glance: Quick. Confusion or Clarity?

August 10, 2013

I am not much of an interface person. You can see from the design of Beyond Search. There is a feature which we update once a week or so. There are daily summaries of articles I find interesting and wish to keep in a database. I use the research in my for-fee articles and other writings like my upcoming story for Homeland Security Today about “Cadillac tail fins.” I will explain the metaphor when the story runs next week (August 12 or 13, 2013).

I read a review of Information Dashboard Design, second edition. If you are into user experience or user interfaces, you will want to read the book. I will definitely check it out.

I just wanted to point out that the image from the blog is an example of a “solution” by the book’s author, Stephen Few.

Image source: http://www.perceptualedge.com/blog/?p=1466

I find these types of extremely dense, complicated outputs interesting, not because I use them.

Check out my approach to tabular data. I stick with print outs, usually of chunks of Excel spreadsheets or short write ups with bullets and data in short tables like this one:

image

From the forthcoming monograph Google 20/20: A Prescription for New Revenue, which discusses the trajectory of Google Glass. The author is the Harrod’s Creek recluse, Stephen E Arnold.

If I need to show a point, I use a graphic like a stop light or maybe a thermometer.

The reason for my utter simplicity of approach is that I find the dense, busy, modern UX/UI presentations darned hard to figure out. If a person is under time pressure or does not know exactly what he/she is looking at, the likelihood of dismissing or misinterpreting data strikes me as high. Under pressure, absolute clarity and brevity are required. Fluff is okay in a personal blog, but not when money or lives are on the line.

Now in many vendors’ eyes, training is available online. Even better, a three minute YouTube video will explain “everything” the user needs to know. (Frankly categorical affirmatives about “users” is a questionable assertion.) The idea that an analyst is standing by to help the end user has disappeared like five cent Mars bars.

Net net.

Fancy interfaces do not replace a subject matter expert, an analyst, and a professional working through what the data will permit and how best to present answers to specific questions. Some interfaces are pretty much guaranteed to increase risk and go unused.

Step

Data Visualizations as Fine Art

July 11, 2013

It can be a challenge to visually present data in a way that is easy to understand, yet not snore-inducing. Information Management asks, “Data Visualizations: Do You Prefer Destroyed Farms or Fancy Pies?” In this write-up, Justin Kern explores the intersection between art and data visualization.

Kern has been spending time with a book by Nathan Yau, “Data Points: Visualization That Means Something.” Yau’s examples have inspired Kern, and prompted him to contemplate how familiar works of art might function as hypothetical data visualizations. He notes that designing these aids so that they actually communicate clearly is necessary but difficult in today’s business world, and suspects that artists could help:

“For artists, they’re already expressing interest in data as a medium, and the information management field might be one of the few where they could find such a quick entry into decent paying and intellectually satisfying work. And, whether we’re clear about it or not, CIOs, data managers and business analysts are reaching out for information ‘storytellers’ through visualizations. It wouldn’t be too broad a stroke to paint a scene where ‘corporate art’ is more about exciting, innovative and engaging data visualizations and less about that wrought iron abstract piece forgotten about in the middle of a bank headquarters courtyard. I’m geeked up to see how the art and data worlds will combine to make the destroyed farms and refrigerator pies that usher in a new wave of business understanding with a touch of heart.”

Interesting vision. If this Kern turns out to be barking up a valid tree here, this could become a lucrative avenue for artistic types. Will data visualization classes start popping up in BFA curricula?

Cynthia Murrell, July 11, 2013

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Keeping Up with Popular Culture Google Style

June 25, 2013

Google has done it again. More new features have been released and the article, “Google Trends Now Ranks Most Searched People, Places and Things in 40+ Categories, Releases Visual Trending Product,” shares more details on the search giant’s two new capabilities.

Google’s new charts will be updated every month and they will display the most searched people, places and things in more than 40 categories. The ability to filter by 11 countries is also available and the rankings go back to 2004. The article suggests that PR companies and their customers will find this as a good metric.

We learned more about this new feature in the article:

“Built on top of Knowledge Graph, the data is accurate beyond simply keywords. Google understands the difference between “The Next Web”, “TNW” and “TNW Conference” for example, and therefore the charts are an accurate representation of what is being searched for in both broad and specific terms.”

Google has also added a visual way to showcase trending searches in real time. Keeping up with popular culture is a never ending source of entertainment and now people can keep in Google style.

Megan Feil, June 25, 2013

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Beyond Search

Facial Recognition Software No Help in Boston Bombing Case

April 30, 2013

We must keep in mind that science fiction is one thing, and existing technology quite another. ArsTechnica highlights the difference with, “Boston Police Chief: Facial Recognition Tech Didn’t Help Find Bombing Suspects.” While facial recognition and other cutting-edge software may prove to be important tools for crime fighters of the future, we aren’t there just yet. Writer Cyrus Farivar informs us:

“While the whole country is relieved that this past week’s Boston Marathon bombing ordeal and subsequent lockdown of the city is finally over, Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis told the Washington Post that the department’s facial recognition system ‘did not identify’ the two bombing suspects.

“‘The technology came up empty even though both Tsarnaevs’ images exist in official databases: Dzhokhar had a Massachusetts driver’s license; the brothers had legally immigrated; and Tamerlan had been the subject of some FBI investigation,’ the Post reported on Saturday.

“Facial recognition systems can have limited utility when a grainy, low-resolution image captured at a distance from a cellphone camera or surveillance video is compared with a known, high-quality image.”

This key example illustrates why we think it is important to separate “as is” from “to be.” Forward-thinking is great, as long as we don’t let it trip us up in the present. The article notes that video surveillance was used to pinpoint the suspects—but only with much time and energy (and, I suspect but cannot confirm, large quantities of coffee). It was reported that, for example, one FBI agent viewed a single video segment 400 times in the effort to connect dots and build the narrative that eventually led to the suspects.

The article goes on to discuss Reddit‘s, um, contribution to the manhunt. That didn’t go quite as hoped, and actually interfered with the official investigation. It is important to remember that, though we have many shiny-new tools at our disposal, time-tested investigative techniques (plied by those with actual training) are still at the heart of law enforcement.

Cynthia Murrell, April 30, 2013

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

The Dirty Truth about Data Visualization

March 14, 2013

Data Visualization is becoming the new thing when it comes to presentation, portfolios and even proposals however there is more to this fade than meets the eye. The NetMag article “Seven Secrets of Data Visualisation” provides an informative yet comical view of data visualization and the challenges that developers face. The article gives readers seven dirty little secrets about the data visualization world.

  1. Real data is ugly.
  2. A bar chart is usually better.
  3. There’s no substitute for real data.
  4. The devil is in the details.
  5. Animate only when appropriate.
  6. Visualization is not analysis.
  7. Data visualization takes more than code.

These secrets may be surprising to some but to most people once they think about it they actually make sense. For instance data is what it is. Though users are always trying to find ways to “clean” their data up and make it presentable, it still takes a lot of work to make something out of nothing. Whether it comes down to formatting or using special online tools, users need help to take their data from a bunch of random numbers and figures to something presentable and more importantly understandable. When it comes to animation sometimes less is definitely more. It can be tempting to add lots of animation and special effects to your data but in the long run all it does is add to the chaos. The number six secret is probably one of the most important. Though data visualization in many cases can aid analysis it is not a substitute for data, meaning that it still takes analytical skills, effort and expertise to help bring any data to life. Visualization Developers definitely face challenges and this article definitely lays the little secrets out on the table but it’s hard to call them dirty. One might say just say they hold duplicitous roles when it comes to talking about what really goes on.

April Holmes, March 14,2013

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

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