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December 30, 2010

UK University Elitism? Independent vs. Free Meal Students – Part 1


This is part one of a two part analysis of private education in the UK.  The chart below was published on Flickr by li_jacq.

Two simple improvements:

  1. A bar chart would be more effective than a column chart because you don’t have to turn your head to read the labels
  2. The data should be ranked.  This seemingly sporadic display does not provide any insight

I pulled down the data to reconstruct the chart.

UK Elite Universities

As you can see, I’ve made the adjustments I noted above and now you can make more sense of the data.

My curiosity is leading me to look into this further.  My questions include:

  1. Why are only 16 universities listed?  These don’t represent the top 16 for this measure, so what’s their significance versus the others?
  2. What’s the relationship between Independent and Free Meal school students?
  3. Does the region of the UK impact anything?

I’ll answer these questions and more in a future post.

December 24, 2010

You know you’re a viz nerd when…

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…you wife sends you a link to a chart she thinks you’d like.

Author Kevin Drum: “Speaking of tax cuts, I thought everyone should see a nice picture that compares the Obama position with the Republican position. As you can see, under the Obama plan (in blue) everyone gets a tax cut.”

Here’s the original article if you’re interested.

December 22, 2010

The Cola Wars: Don’t Take on Coke

There’s been a buzz around town about the increase in Coke’s (NYSE: KO) stock price over the past several months.  Coke is THE symbol of Atlanta, so naturally there’s a huge interest in their success and the demise of the main competitor.

If I may digress, you can pinpoint the turnaround on March 5, 2009 with Muhtar Kent’s inspiring letter to shareholders.  Mr. Kent’s first job with Coke was in 1978 as a driver and he has risen steadily through the system to CEO and is deservedly compensated quite handsomely ($19.6M in 2008, $14.8M in 2009).  According to the AJC, this could buy you 1.5 personal jets, 109.5 houses and 192.25 luxury SUVs.

When measuring Coke’s performance there’s only one large competitor (yes, I’m intentionally NOT mentioning their name).  I created the dashboard below to do some basic analysis, plus I wanted to get some practice with parameters in Tableau.

Some basic things I see:
  1. The New Coke disaster in 1986 didn’t hurt as much as you would be led to believe by the media (it tasted terrible!)
  2. Coke’s stock is up 85% from a two-year low point in March 2009
  3. Strictly based on price, Coke has been getting killed by its main competitor since 2003, but has effectively closed the gap
  4. When I looked at closing price and shares traded vs. the main competitor, it looks like there is an inverse relationship.  I created the dual axis chart as another way to make this comparison
With Muhtar’s passion and the resurgence of the Coke brand, Coke is poised to stomp the competition!  Don’t be like Richard Branson; he learned the hard way that you don’t take on Coke (anyone remember Virgin Cola?).

Finally, I was given a 6-pack of glass bottles to share over the holidays.  There is a photo contest for the best holiday celebration including these Cokes.  Any ideas?

Shake Up Christmas!

December 9, 2010

It’s cold here in Georgia, but how about Britain?

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According to the Guardian Data Blog on December 1st “The freezing weather, which fell to -20C in parts of Scotland, continues to severely disrupt travel across the country.  The problem is the ground temperature is lower than the air temperature [which] makes thawing difficult.” 

This impacted me since the Manchester United vs. Blackpool match was not shown on Fox Soccer Channel.  Apparently Blackpool doesn’t have an underground heating system to keep the pitch from freezing.  It stinks when you set your DVR and get some other crappy game instead.

The Guardian presented the data via a Google map, which is not surprising since this is such a simple way to present the information.  The problem with presenting the data this way is that you can’t determine how cold it really was nor how much the weather changed; the data is represented merely as points on a map.  If you look at this map, it could mean just about anything: vacation spots, lighthouses, you name it.

Guardian Cold Weather

I wanted to understand how the temperature changed day to day from December 1-3.  I wish they posted the data for more days so that I could see what happened over the weekend as well (to justify the game getting canceled).  I loaded the data into Tableau and changed the measurement to be the change from day to day.  This means that December 1 doesn’t have anything to compare to. 

It’s incredibly clear that there was a bit of a warm up in many places in the UK with the exception of the northwest.  However, the temperature dropped dramatically on December 3, but with a warming occurring in the northwest.  Scroll through the days to see it for yourself.

December 8, 2010

Downloadable US population data by zip

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I’ve been working on a project that would benefit greatly if only I could get my hands on population data by zip.  The new data blending feature is a fabulous way to combine data across disparate data sources. It took me a while, but I found what I was looking for and have uploaded it to share with you all.

You can download the data via Google Docs or Dropbox.

Fields included: ZCTA, Zip, Population, Housing Units, Land Area (Sq Mtr), Water Area (Sq Mtr), Land Area (Sq Mi), Water Area (Sq Mi), Latitude, Longitude

Population Data Sample

The data is courtesy of the Census 2000 U.S. Gazetteer Files.  There’s lots of other useful information from the 2000 census on this site as well.


P.S. Data blending in Tableau has rocked our world!  The time this one feature alone has saved us has more than paid for our licenses.  Download a great on-demand training video here or go to page 17 in the “what’s new” PDF.

December 2, 2010

Movies, movies, movies – The best of all time

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We’re all familiar with the blockbuster movies from our own generation, but what about all time?  I downloaded the data from Box Office Mojo to find out.  The data I’m using is inflation adjusted.

Immediately jumping out to me:

  • There was a large increase in the number of movies in the top 100 from the 1930s to the 1970s.  This isn’t very surprising given the growth of the industry as a whole.  Click on the 1970s on the bottom-right bar chart; there were some awesome movies that decade.
  • There was a big dip in the 1980s.  Did the awful music of the decade play a part?  It’s a good thing Steven Spielberg and George Lucas were pumping out movies.  They basically owned the decade.
  • Interesting in the 2000s is that most of the movies in the top 100 have lots of special effects
  • From the sparkline I see that all but five years between 1963 and 1984 are below the average gross earnings.  But, what’s most surprising to me is that this list of five includes "The Empire Strikes Back”, “Return of the Jedi” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark”.  I would have never guessed those would be below the average.
  • In the top 5, I still haven’t seen “Gone with the Wind”, “The Sound of Music” or “The Ten Commandments”.  I fall asleep every time I start watching them.

What do you see?

NOTE: See a similar post by Ross Perez on Tableau’s blog for the highest grossing movies since 2001.

December 1, 2010

Tableau: The perfect blend of productivity, happiness and features


Today I attended the Information Management webinar “The End of BI as We Know It: A fresh look at what business analytics means for today's organizations” and Mark Madsen from Third Nature presented a fabulous slide that I just had to share.  For any of you that use Tableau, I know you’ll agree with where Tableau sits in my mind.  (Note that I added Tableau to the chart, not Mark.  I’d hate to get him in trouble.)

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UPDATE (12/1): I have posted the presentation from the webinar -

UPDATE (12/2): The webinar recording is now available -