Categories ▸ Nerdery
I am stuck at home sick today, so I decided to provide a relational analysis of the Stats Package Wars that have been bubbling away for the past week.
True in all its details.
If you want something slightly more constructive, consider Data Visualization: A Practical Introduction, or The Plain Person’s Guide to Plain-Text Social Science.
I was asked to give a short talk in my Departmental Proseminar yesterday on the topic of giving presentations, and specifically about making slides effective.
There is more than one way to give a good talk, and there is more than one way to make “good slides” or—better—make good use of slides and other material you might want to show people. So the things I’ll talk about and especially the specific techniques I’ll discuss are selected from many good ways to present yourself and your work.
Update: Since writing this post, I repeatedly tried to delete the offending review from my profile, but Google Scholar kept re-inserting it as part of its automated trawl through its corpus of articles. The robots were determined to grant me these citations whether I wanted them or not. Finally, in January of 2018, John Fox got the citations he deserved and the error was fixed. True to form, the correction appeared out of the blue and its rationale was completely opaque.
Here are two small sites I made recently, and which I may continue to tweak and expand. The first, plain-text.co, presents “The Plain Person’s Guide to Plain-Text Social Science”. It is designed to address some questions about managing research and writing projects in the social sciences using plain-text and free or mostly-free tools like Emacs (or other text editors), R, pandoc, and make. The second, vissoc.co which I’ve mentioned before, compiles notes from a short course in data visualization I taught last semester.
The FBI obtained a court order requiring Apple to unlock an iPhone 5C belonging to the San Bernardino killer. A public letter from Tim Cook lays out the grounds for Apple’s refusal. The debate about this conflict is developing quickly on both the technical side of things and the public policy side.
As a sidelight to this debate, I want to ask why is it that Apple, of all companies, is the one taking such a strong stand on this issue?
In the next week or two I’ll be talking to some social science students about tools for doing research and writing up results. Over the years I’ve accumulated various things on the topic, ranging from bits of advice to templates or things I use myself. My focus is on managing the various pieces of the work process in plain-text, especially when it comes to writing code you can read later, and keeping track of the work you’ve done.
This week’s ATP episode covers the tide of complaints about Apple’s software quality problem. There’s some good sputtering from John. The gist is that niggling software problems have become much more pervasive, even as dramatic events like full-on application crashes are rarer. An important secondary point is that, partly as a consequence of the ubiquity of cloud services and partly as a result of Apple’s choices in software design, when these errors happen they often present themselves to the user in an especially opaque way.
Continuing my nonremunerative career as an IT Analyst, I updated my Apple Sales plots to the most recent (end of 2015) round of quarterly data. These plots were originally inspired by Dr Drang, and the trend for the iPad (shown below) continues to confirm his views. I also took the opportunity to clean up the code a little, and to fix a small problem in the earlier versions. The x-axis of the “Remainder” panel didn’t line up properly with the line plots above and below it.
Marissa Mayer’s performance as CEO of Yahoo has been criticized by various people. Yesterday, Eric Jackson, an investment fund manager, sent a 99-slide presentation to Yahoo’s board outlining his best case against Mayer. Paging through the presentation/hatchet-job gives some insight into what passes for analysis in the world of corporate investment and finance. I’m not too interested in the details. From a design and communication point of view, though, the slides are generally terrible.
I’m teaching a short graduate seminar on Data Visualization with R this semester. Following Matt Salganik, I wanted students to be able to submit homework or other assignments as R Markdown files, but to have a way to make sure their R code passed some basic stylistic checks provided by lintr before they submitted it to me. Students write .Rnw files containing discussion or notes interspersed with chunks of R code.
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