Monday, July 28, 2014

Review: Communicating Data with Tableau by Ben Jones, O'Reilly Media

Ben Jones provides a great introduction to Tableau, a software tool used for working with a wide variety of data sources. The easy to follow tutorials cover some realistic scenarios for exploring and presenting data. Along with the Tableau specific content, Jones gives some general suggestions for how to approach data presentation, and tips for making the data more engaging.

I would recommend the book to anyone interested in working with data because it provides a feeling of how Tableau can be used for quick exploration and presentation. A programming background is certainly not necessary for enjoying this book.

The book is not intended to be a complete reference, but it does provide some additional resources (training videos, tutorials, blogs, etc.) for learning more about Tableau features.  

At this time, Tableau version 8.2 is available for download with a free 14 day trial period from Tableau Software.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Review: Just Enough Math by Paco Nathan; O'Reilly Media

Not Enough Math, Simple Examples.

In this video series, Paco Nathan attempts to relate how data can be structured to take advantage of advanced math and open source tools.

Although the videos touch on some useful areas of interest, the content didn't meet my expectations with respect to explanations of the math involved and the examples are overly simplistic at less than 50 lines of python code each.

After mastering the examples, it is hard to see how a business person would make the leap to implementing data workflow based on various open source tools without knowing anything about how the underlying math works.  

On the plus side, the videos list links to additional resources (books and papers) for more details. Also, the historical context to the math concepts is given in many cases.

The videos are divided into 4 sections: Abstract Algebra, Linear Algebra, Bayesian Statistics, and Optimization. A book by the same title is due out in the summer of 2014.

In summary, my preference would be for more information regarding the math and more realistic examples.