Launch, grow, and unlock your career in data

June 29, 2010

3 Legs to Extraordinary Success

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If you haven't read it yet, I highly recommend the book "48 Days to the Work You Love" by Dan Miller. Dan and his book have made a huge impression on me as I pursue my passion in visual analysis. I also highly recommend that you follow Dan's blog. He always has incredible advice.

His recent post, Go ahead - Astonish me, has three critical questions to ask yourself if you want to achieve extraordinary success. Ask yourself these questions. Separate yourself from the crowd.
  1. What are deeply passionate about?
  2. How can you do that with excellence – perhaps better than anyone else?
  3. What’s your economic model. How are you generating income?

June 21, 2010

Map: Where Americans Are Moving

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Jon Bruner from Forbes published a pretty cool interactive map that shows the comings and goings of Americans. The map you see below is from my home county. Given that I meet people from all over the country here, I'm not surprised in the least at the flow of people.

Click on the map and you can interact with it yourself. If you want to do any further research, the outbound data can be found here and the inflow data can be found here.

June 18, 2010

Keeping Mark Annotations with Tableau

When I was presenting at the Atlanta Tableau User Group meeting yesterday a question came up that I wasn't able to answer. Being as determined as I am, I was scanning the Tableau forums for a solution and ran across an idea from Joe Mako that I thought would work and, eureka, it worked perfectly.

Here's the problem and the steps to solve it.

On this first screenshot below, note how the mark is annotated. Also note that Customer Segment is on the Pages shelf.

I would expect the mark to go to the same point (Feb 2008) when I go to the next Customer Segment, but it disappears. The point only displays when you are on that specific Customer Segment.

Here's how you make it work.
  1. Remove Customer Segment from the Pages shelf.
  2. Place Customer Segment in the Filters shelf and select all values.
  3. Show the Quick Filter for Customer Segment.
  4. Change the Quick Filter to a Slider.

When you annotate the mark again and scroll through the records using the Slider Quick Filter, the mark annotation remains.

June 17, 2010

Something's missing

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I like the message in this graph, but the chart itself is missing something very fundamental...the scale. How can we possibly compare values without the scale? The scale could be 0-1, it could be 0-1,000,000,000 or it could be 500-1,500. Who knows?

June 15, 2010

Atlanta Tableau User Group June Meeting

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June 17th ATUG Meeting -- In Person

Who - All ATUG members and guests
What - Live and in person ATUG meeting
When - June 17th from 1pm to 4pm
Where - Norfolk Southern building located at 1200 Peachtree St NE. Atlanta, GA 30309 -Peachtree room


Check in with security on the way into the building for a guest pass

  1. Data visualization - How the mind perceives data - Martin Click UPS
  2. Best practices built into Tableau - Andy Kriebel - Coca Cola
  3. Hands on training with Bullet Graphs - Dan Murray - Interworks inc.
-- Bring your laptop and Tableau with you --

June 7, 2010

Visualizing the BP Oil Disaster

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Try this to give yourself some real perspective. Courtesy of FlowingData. Try it yourself here.

June 1, 2010

What business intelligence is NOT

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I received the latest newsletter from BeyeNETWORK today and what immediately caught my eye was the article by Richard Herschel titled "What is Business Intelligence?" The article goes into all of the typical discussions about BI:
  • Is it part of Knowledge Management?
  • Should Business Intelligence be included in the information systems field?
  • Is Business intelligence a system, environment, a solution, and/or an offering?
  • Is it a combination of statistical and data-mining capabilities?
Before providing his own "definition" of BI, Herschel states "Data and analytics are together the foundations of business intelligence." I believe that data is an important part of the backbone needed to get at the intelligence, but I don't believe it is foundational to the definition itself.

The author would like us to consider an alternate definition:

    Business intelligence is the application of data, technology, and analytics to gain insight and knowledge that enables decisions about people, processes, products, and services that yield positive economic outcomes.
I don't understand why people continually try to define business intelligence when it has already been done. The Gartner Group coined the term business intelligence in the mid-1990s and defined it as follows:

    An interactive process for exploring and analyzing structured and domain-specific information to discern trends or patterns, thereby deriving insights and drawing conclusions. The business intelligence process includes communicating findings and effecting change. (Source:
There are clear distinctions between the definitions. Herschel insists on bringing data and technology into the equation when they have nothing whatsoever to do with deriving insights and drawing conclusions.

Please, please, please, stop re-inventing the wheel and causing even more confusion. It's madness already, another spin on the words is only going to make things worse.