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Data Viz Done Right

September 27, 2011

Is your work hard or challenging? Don’t ever say hard (it’s a weasel word)!

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Ted Cuzzillo over at datadoodle posted an intriguing cliche on his latest blog postTed said “Simple is hard.”

I immediately recalled a conversation we’ve had with our kids and their Target teachers (Target is the gifted program in Georgia).  In the Target classrooms, the students are not permitted to say something is “hard”; they say that it’s “challenging”.  This struck me as a bit revolutionary in the use of those two words.  Many of use them interchangeably, but should we?

Definitions (limited to those that pertain to this conversation):

hard
1. difficult to do or accomplish; fatiguing; troublesome: a hard task.
2. difficult to deal with, manage, control, overcome, or understand: a hard problem.

challenging
1. offering a challenge;  testing one's ability, endurance, etc: a challenging course; a challenging game.
2. stimulating, interesting, and thought-provoking: a challenging suggestion.
3. provocative; intriguing: a challenging smile.

Read them again. I find the subtle differences fascinating.  My “work” is incredibly challenging, but is it hard?  I love that I get to test my abilities everyday.  My work is stimulating, thought-provoking and intriguing.  Why would I ever say it’s hard?  Maybe that’s why I don’t see my work as “work”.  It’s fun and it’s CHALLENGING.  The challenge is what makes it fun.

At our house we have a couple of weasel words: hard and try.  We do our best to never use these two words because, in our opinion, they’re cop out words.

Think about this when you say something is hard.  Are you convincing yourself that the task can’t be done? 

When you say you’ll try to do something, do you really mean it?  How about saying “I’ll do my best”?

Change your vocabulary and see how it impacts your performance.

September 16, 2011

State Polygons in Tableau – A must have, useful, simple template

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I recently read a post by Albatrosa Analytics that included a map of the continental US with the states shaded.  I’ve see many people do this in the past, but the data set created by all of the points was HUGE.  Now with the polygons feature of Tableau you can easily create a shaded map.

In the viz below, I’ve used the data blending feature to combine the polygons with data by state.  I can see so many uses for this.

Download the data for creating the polygons here and the sample state data here.

September 2, 2011

Join us at the September Atlanta Tableau User Group Meet-up

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Please join Mischa Uppelschoten of UPS and Dan Murray of Interworks as they host the Atlanta Tableau User Group on Wednesday, September 21 from 2:00 - 4:00 pm at UPS.

This event is a time to share, listen, network and discuss experiences and opportunities with other Tableau users.

Information:

  • Wednesday, September 21 from 2:00 - 4:00 pm
  • UPS, 55 Glenlake Parkway NE, Atlanta, GA 30328

Agenda:

  • Introductions / Networking
  • Webinar – Tableau @ Oxford University: A Classic Tale of “Land & Expand” – Andy Cotgreave, Tableau Software
  • Break / Networking
  • Exploratory Vitas: Ways to Become Acquainted with a Data Set for the First Time – Hands-on activity – Dan Murray, Interworks
  • November Meeting Discussion

Bring your laptop equipped with Tableau because this will be a hands-on session.