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December 17 2012

Four short links: 17 December 2012

  1. TraceKit (GitHub) — stack traces for Javascript exceptions, in all major browsers.
  2. SCADA Manufacturer Starts Own Anti-Malware Project — perimeter protection only, so it doesn’t sound to my inexpert ears like the whole solution to SCADA vulnerability, but it at least shows that one SCADA manufacturer cares.
  3. Platform Competition in Two-Sided Markets (PDF) — The economic effects of multihoming are fascinating. (via Tim O’Reilly)
  4. Silicon Valley Straps on Pads (WSJ) — SF 49ers hiring tech people to do what Harper Reed did for Obama. Interestingly, the tech people are the ones who must see what can be done, though they’re slowly working on the rest of the org: [W]ith scouts “what we found is we have to push them to dream even more, because usually it’s like, ‘OK, we can do that for you,’ and it’s done overnight.” Now, he says, scouts are far less shy about seemingly impossible technological requests.

June 15 2012

Visualization of the Week: A whole new way to look at the NBA Finals

Sports and data go together like defense and championships and hot dogs and baseball and cliches and sports references. Yet, many of the visualizations of all that great data tend to be on the dry side — boxy strike zones and field goal ranges and the like.

But then there's this: The New York Times teamed up with professor Kirk Goldsberry (@kirkgoldsberry) to visualize the shot selection and success rates of the NBA's Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder. They also visualized shot data for each team's stars.

For example, here's how LeBron James and Kevin Durant measure up:

LeBron James and Kevin Durant shot selection visualizations
Shot selection and completion visualizations for LeBron James and Kevin Durant. See the full interactive version.

The real kicker — and this is something I wish more visualization creators would do — can be found in the brief analysis accompanying each visualization. It's one thing to see a visualization about LeBron James' shot patterns, but it's infinitely more interesting to see that visualization, read about what it's showing you, and then understand that visualization.

Be sure to check out the full series and read the associated article.

(H/T to DJ Patil and Zach Will.)

Found a great visualization? Tell us about it

This post is part of an ongoing series exploring visualizations. We're always looking for leads, so please drop a line if there's a visualization you think we should know about.

OSCON 2012 Data Track — Today's system architectures embrace many flavors of data: relational, NoSQL, big data and streaming. Learn more in the Data track at OSCON 2012, being held July 16-20 in Portland, Oregon.

Save 20% on registration with the code RADAR

More Visualizations:

March 08 2012

Strata Week: Profiling data journalists

Here are a few of the data stories that caught my attention this week.

Profiling data journalists

Over the past week, O'Reilly's Alex Howard has profiled a number of practicing data journalists, following up on the National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting's (NICAR) 2012 conference. Howard argues that data journalism has enormous importance, but "given the reality that those practicing data journalism remain a tiny percentage of the world's media, there's clearly still a need for its foremost practitioners to show why it matters, in terms of impact."

Howard's profiles include:

Strata Santa Clara 2012 Complete Video Compilation
The Strata video compilation includes workshops, sessions and keynotes from the 2012 Strata Conference in Santa Clara, Calif. Learn more and order here.

Surveying data marketplaces

Edd Dumbill takes a look at data marketplaces, the online platforms that host data from various publishers and offer it for sale to consumers. Dumbill compares four of the most mature data marketplaces — Infochimps, Factual, Windows Azure Data Marketplace, and DataMarket — and examines their different approaches and offerings.

Dumbill says marketplaces like these are useful in three ways:

"First, they provide a point of discoverability and comparison for data, along with indicators of quality and scope. Second, they handle the cleaning and formatting of the data, so it is ready for use (often 80% of the work in any data integration). Finally, marketplaces provide an economic model for broad access to data that would otherwise prove difficult to either publish or consume."

Analyzing sports stats

The Atlantic's Dashiell Bennett examines the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, a "festival of sports statistics" that has grown over the past six years from 175 attendees to more than 2,200.

Bennett writes:

"For a sports conference, the event is noticeably athlete-free. While a couple of token pros do occasionally appear as panel guests, this is about the people behind the scenes — those who are trying to figure out how to pick those athletes for their team, how to use them on the field, and how much to pay them without looking like a fool. General managers and team owners are the stars of this show ... The difference between them and the CEOs of most companies is that the sports guys have better data about their employees ... and a lot of their customers have it memorized."

Got data news?

Feel free to email me.


June 02 2011

Strata Week: Hadoop competition heats up

Here are a few of the data stories that caught my eye this week.

Hadoop competition heats up

HadoopAs the number of Hadoop vendors increases, companies are looking for ways to differentiate themselves. A couple of announcements this past week point to the angles vendors are taking.

Infrastructure company Rainstor announced that its latest data retention technology can be deployed using Cloudera's Hadoop distribution. Rainstor says it will improve the Hadoop Distributed File System with better compression and de-duplication, and it promises a physical footprint that is at least 97% smaller.

In other Hadoop news, MapR revealed that it will serve as the storage component for EMC's recently announced Greenplum HD Enterprise Edition Hadoop distribution. EMC's Hadoop distribution is not based on the official Apache Software Foundation version of the code, but is instead based on Facebook's optimized version.

In an interesting twist, MapR also became an official contributor to the Apache Hadoop project this week. As GigaOm's Derrick Harris observes:

More contributors [to Hadoop] means more (presumably) great ideas to choose from and, ideally, more voices deciding what changes to adopt and which ones to leave alone. For individual companies, getting officially involved with Apache means that perhaps Hadoop will evolve in ways that actually benefit their products that are based upon or seeking to improve Hadoop.

OSCON Data 2011, being held July 25-27 in Portland, Ore., is a gathering for developers who are hands-on, doing the systems work and evolving architectures and tools to manage data. (This event is co-located with OSCON.)

Save 20% on registration with the code OS11RAD

Visualizing Facebook's PHP codebase

Facebook's Greg Schechter offered an explanation this week of how and why Facebook built a visualization project in order to better grasp some of the interdependencies among the more than 10,000 modules that comprise Facebook's front-end code.

Facebook has been normalizing its PHP usage, particularly as it relates to managing modules' dependencies. With its new system, when a module is written or modified, other modules that are directly dependent are fully determinable. This makes sure that circular dependencies are avoided.

But graphing this with a classic "arc-and-node" graph visualization won't work at Facebook's scale, so at a recent hackathon, the company came up with a better visualization method.

Screen from Facebook PHP codebase visualization
Screen from Facebook PHP codebase visualization. See more here.

This method divides the information into layers, where each row represents a layer and a layer's modules are dependent only on modules in the rows below it, and are depended upon only by modules in the rows above it. The visualization also colors modules more darkly if they have more dependencies.

A few screens showing the visualization are available here. Unfortunately, the full tool is only available internally for the Facebook engineering team.

Visualizing Shaquille O'Neal's data

In honor of the end of Shaquille O'Neal's 19-year NBA career (an announcement he tweeted yesterday), data journalist Matt Stiles has created an interactive visualization of the star's stats.

The visualization was created using data from and the Many Eyes data visualization tool. The Atlantic's Alexis Madrigal used the tool to take a look at Shaq's shoddy free-throw record.

While Shaq's career — and now his retirement — provide ample data for off-hand curiosity, the merging of sports stats and visualizations also opens the door to broader opportunities and new kinds of data products.

Shaq three pointer graph
Because few things are funnier than a center lofting three pointers, this graph matches Shaquille O'Neal's age against his three-point attempts. He hit a high-water mark (the big dot) at 23 when he attempted two three pointers and hit the only three of his career.

Got data news?

Feel free to email me.


June 17 2010

South Korea: Tensions Went Under World Cup Anesthestia

By Lee Yoo Eun

The sharp tension between two Koreas which had been escalating ever since the sinking of a South Korean warship by a supposed North Korean torpedo attack have momentarily numbed by high emotion that only World Cup can bring. South Korean blogs are now inundating with heartful comments on North Korea's soccer match against Brazil and lauds to a North Korean star player, Jong Tae Se, shoving politics aside for a moment.

Yesterday's match between North Korea and Brazil was an unpredictable twist, where North Korean soccer team, who numbered as 105 in FIFA rank scored a goal against the World's number one Brazil team, losing the match only by 2-1.

South Korean blog space were filled with lavish praises on North Korean team whom fought unexpectedly well against any one's odd. Koreans, who fully understands how overwhelming for Asian players to compete against relatively taller and experienced European or African players who came from traditionally soccer-strong countries, have expressed their sympathy and support toward North Korean team. According to the Asiatoday newspaper, even South Korean President Lee Myung-bak reportedly said that he wished North Korean team to win.

A bloger named Duizilland commented on his blog that he was moved by North Korean players, whom despite their unfavorable physical structure and lack of World cup experience, summoned every strength they have to fight against a truly formidable opponent. 

 북한은 전 세계의 축구팬들에게 약팀이 보여줄 수 있는 모든 것을 보여주었다…소위 축구 강대국들 입장에서야 따분하기 짝이 없는 결과이겠지만 우리 입장에선 아무리 축구 외적인 문제에서 정치, 역사적 불협화음을 빚어도 결국 같은 Korea 라는 대승적 차원에서 상당히 고무적인 현실이다…난 오늘 남북간 정치적 관계를 떠나 축구팬으로서 피파랭킹 105위의 북한 선수들이 피파랭킹 1위의 브라질을 상대로 펼치는 투혼에 너무나도 감명받았기 때문에.

North Korea exhibited all the characteristics a weak soccer team has in front of all the World soccer fans…This (match) would be an extremely boring/insignificant result for countries with strong soccer teams, but this shed lights on the fact that we indeed belong to same Korea, although there is ongoing cacophony in politics and histories and other non-soccer issues…I, today, as a pure soccer fan with no political interests, was reallly moved by the spirit the North Korean players whom ranked as No. 105 in FIFA has shown against the FIFA rank No.1 Brazil team. 

A photo of Jong Tae-Se (taken from Duizilland blog) , North Korean team's ace uncontrolably sobbing just before the start of the match had been breifly posted on a front page of the FIFA official homepage and is now circulating over numerous South Korean blogs.  Jong told later local media that he was so overwhelemed by the fact he is finally standing at the World Cup stadium with World's best soccer team.
Jong Tae-se, spelled as Jeong Dae-se in South Korea and Chong Tese in Japan, is an outstanding football player from North Korean national soccer team. Jong is often called as 'People's Rooney', his nickname made from the combination of Rooney as in the famous English football player Wayne Rooney and ‘People' from North Korea's official name, the Democratic 'People' Republic of Korea.

A Naver blogger Zzub 33 commented on his blog that he was deeply moved by Jong's tears.

궁극적으로 한민족이라는 까닭에 북한의 선전을 기원했지만, 객관적인 실력과 주변의 평가에 너무 긴장되기도 했습니다.그러다가 브라질과 북한의 국가가 흘러나오고 양국 선수들이 경기를 시작하려고 할 쯔음에 뭔가 찡-해지는 느낌을 어떻게 할 수가 없더군요. 보는 이마저 찡하게 만든 정대세 선수의 눈물은…인상이 깊더군요.

I prayed North Korea to fight well, as we(South and North Korea) are one nation eventually, but at the same time I got extremely nervous because I know the North Korean team's actual ability and people's (professional) evaluation on it…As national anthems of Brazil and North Korea were heard and two teams are getting ready for the match, I felt something, a strong emotion which I cant just get rid off. Jong Tae Se's tears have touched the audience… that was really impressive. 

Even though, Jong Tae-se was born in Japan and played in Japanese soccer league, he had the South Korean citizenship which he inherited from his parents. Jong later discarded his South Korean citizenship to join North Korean soccer team.

A blogger ‘Tweewg' wrote on his blog that soccer transcends the nationality.

이 경기의 포인트는 여러가지가 있다.그중에서도 단연 한 가지만 꼽으라면 인민 루니, 정대세 선수이다…외국인이 아닌 우리의 눈에는 그가 광장히 독특한 이력을 가진 선수다. 간단히 말해 정대세는 한국 국적이다. 그러나 일본에 살고 있으며, 북한 국가대표로 월드컵에 나서고 있다. 전세계에 전무후무한 국적을 떠나 사는 곳을 떠나 그는 소속팀을 정한 것이다. 그의 정치적 입장도 사상도 나는 잘 알지 못한다…축구는 스포츠다.

There are highlights from this match…To name one, it is the People's Rooney, Jong Tae-se…To us Koreans, his resume is quite perculiar. His nationality is South Korea, but he lives in Japan and playing as a North Korean national soccer player. This is unprecedent case on global level for a guy to choose his team regardless of his nationality and residency. I dont know well on his political stance or ideology…The soccer is just sports.

There are extreme hardliners from the other side expressing their repulsions on people's friendly attitude toward North Korea, South Korea's official state enemy. But as the World Cup came to momentarily embraces the politics, purely soccer-wise encouraging comments on North Korean players will likely to continue throughout June.

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