• Nov

    PASS Summit

    Author: Ruby; Filed under: Fun Stuff, IT; Tagged as: , , , ,

    Recap coming shortly, but in the mean time, a little bit of sun in the lobby of the PASS Summit :)

  • Aug

    Infographics have become a common means of presenting information to people in an easy-to-understand visual format. But this ubiquity doesn’t mean that an infographic always means what a viewer might presume it to mean at first glance. Consider the following map of the United States.

    Recently, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released this, and a number of other maps, showing what the summer climate has been doing recently. Unsurprisingly, the media quickly picked up on the dramatic story. During an interview with Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Kai Ryssdal, senior editor of public radio’s Marketplace program, made the following observation, “This has been, as you know, the hottest summer on record in a lot places in this country.” On NPR’s news blog, “The Two-Way,” their piece on the heat starts out with “The all-red map tells the story.”

    But does it?

    If you look at the same data on the regional map, you see plenty of the nation sweated through a warmer than normal July. But the heat wasn’t record-setting in any single given region. The “118” that shows up on the national map is nowhere to be found on the regional one.

    The statewide map is different again. We can see even more of the variation in the average temperature for July. And we see that across Virginia, it was hot – the “118” re-appears, although not so hot as to push the entire southeast region of the NOAA map into the red. In fact the mountain west seems to have a higher average temperature. We can also see that the “Near Normal” and “Above Normal” temperatures dominate states in New England, the Gulf Coast, the Southwest and the West Coast. People in these areas may have been surprised to learn that the summer had thus far been unusually warm.

    And when you boil the data all the way down to the divisional level, the red spreads out to scattered parts of the country, but we learn that parts of Washington (like the Puget Sound area), Oregon, California, Texas and Louisiana had below normal average temperatures during July. (Don’t worry; we got ours over the first few weeks of this month.)

    The contiguous states are divided into a total of 344 divisions. In all, 17 of these divisions, spread out over 12 of the 48 states, experienced record high average temperatures last month. While that means that a lot of people were looking for ways to stay cool, especially when you consider that Chicagoland is in one of the record-setting districts, many parts of the country, while warmer than normal, avoided pushing into new territory.

    The culprit is, of course, averaging. Both spatially and temporally.

    As an example, I’ve created a simple chart that measures a fictitious “Salamander Index” over a span of 15 years. The area being measured is divided into five separate regions – and the orange line on the chart represents the average value of all of the regions for that point in time. By year 15, the average is at record levels, yet, as you can see, only the East Region is in record territory; all of the other regions had scored higher on the index than that in the past – in some cases significantly so. In fact, although it isn’t immediately evident from the chart, the South Region (the violet line), which spends much of its time above the overall average, is at slightly below its average level, as across all 15 years, the South Region scores an average of about 31.8.

    So it’s important to remember that while infographics, especially simple ones, make data easily digestible, they don’t always provide as accurate a picture as it might seem at first glance.

    (Thanks to Aaron for the guest post!)

  • Mar

    SQL Server, Denali!

    Author: Ruby; Filed under: Articles, BI; Tagged as: , , , , , ,

    Denali, in an evaluation version, has been out for a little while now. I even have a copy on my computer and I’m working one of our analysts to learn the ins and outs- fun stuff!  According to Microsoft, though, the official release will hit shelves April 1st.  I’m not quite sure why Microsoft chose to release Denali on a day that’s well known for Google hi-jinx (Google Paper anyone?) but I’m sure they have their reasons.

    Get the evaluation version here, and check out Brent Ozar for some useful information here. Find out more information on the release here.

    1 Comment
  • Jan

    Happy Holidays from Piraeus!

    We had a busy holiday season here, but not too busy that we forgot how to have fun :) We hosted a Mad Men themed potluck, complete with cocktails. It was great to see everyone dressed to the nines. Thanks for playing along!

    1 Comment
  • Nov

    Trees and Infographics

    Author: Ruby; Filed under: Uncategorized;

    Here at Piraeus we aren’t starting to deck the halls before Thanksgiving, but a co-worker did send this interesting tree-related infographic my way and I thought I’d share it.

    Just last night I had a rather lengthy conversation about the old-growth trees along the Olympic Peninsula. According to the Peninsula Daily News (from 2/2011), the Olympic National Park sees around 3,000,000 visitors annually, though there’s debate about the traffic counter’s accuracy.  Are you one of the 3 million?

    I wonder if anyone has tried to see all of these old trees. I suspect there’s a dendrologist somewhere with it on their bucket-list :)

    1 Comment
  • Oct

    Happy Halloween from the Piraeus Data crew :)

    There were more costumes too, and some brilliant karaoke by even our newest crew members. Fun was had by all!

  • Sep

    It’s on like Donkey Kong!

    I know, I know, old news. This happened in Paris already.

    But you know what? Post-it wars are fun. I saw an angry bird up in the window across the street and then noticed the space invader a few floors up and Pac Man a few doors over. We just had to join in.

    Turns out it looks like the folks over at Health Solutions Network started with Pac Man and Runic Games did the space invaders. PlacePlay followed suit, setting off the folks across from us, and now there’s a smile face above them.

    I hope this keeps going.

    Thanks GeekWire, for getting this rolling with your article here with original Pine Street Space Invader attack .

  • Sep

    Most people I know have a wordpress or blogger site at this point. My family even has one going that includes emergency contacts, updates on health and new family photos from weekend excursions to keep those of us away from the East Coast in the loop. The templates are easy to use and you don’t have to be a programmer to add a slide show or link back to an article. Remember an earlier day, one that included GeoCities? I have to say I’d completely forgotten about GeoCities, but then I stumbled across this visualization this morning, via Mashable. I like the idea of “The Deleted City” being an enormous virtual city that never really existed, but sort of did. (Video via Mashable)

    Deleted City

  • Sep

    I remember the Math Olympiad and the Science Olympiad in high school, but for some reason I never thought of the practice continuing out of the classroom.  Since school is supposed to prepare you for the real-world, I don’t know why I was surprised to come across this project from Charlotte, North Carolina.

    Welcome to the Business Intelligence Olympiad! Every two years, starting in 2008, the city of Charlotte pits business unit teams from different city departments against each other to address a fictional problem with analytics and data sets.

    I’m sure the competition leads to plenty of laughter and good-hearted competition, but according to the article I read, it’s also created an environment where “a lot of information that previously had not be [sic] shared is now shared regularly between BI analysts throughout the city.”  The competition in 2010 included a fictitious hurricane that bore a striking resemblance to Irene.

    “The underlying benefit was with Hurricane Irene coming up the coast almost on the same track as the theoretical Hurricane Vixen from December, teams were more used to looking at contingencies and how they affected portions of their business,” [manager of data administration for the city of Charlotte] Raper said.

    As far as I know there isn’t something comparable in Seattle, but maybe there should be. Is it time for a BI Olympiad with data from the viaduct?

    For more about Charlotte’s Olympiad, see the original article from govtech.com here.

  • Aug

    Piraeus Summer Picnic

    Author: Ruby; Filed under: Fun Stuff; Tagged as: , , , , ,

    The teams here at Piraeus put in a lot of hard work, so it’s nice that we can also hang out together. We had our summer picnic on Friday and our fearless office manager managed to pick just about the nicest day all summer. The food was great, we had balloons and music, a little bit of ladder golf and a little bit of swimming. Most importantly, some really great people!

    Oh yeah, and water balloons. I forgot how much fun water balloons are! I’ll update the slideshow as I get more photos.

    1 Comment