Monday, February 28, 2011

Simon Rogers (Guardian) at Strata

I'm still watching Strata speeches at lunch, and I just finished this interesting talk by Simon Rogers at The Guardian.  He's talking about how The Guardian makes sense of big data sets, how they open the raw data to readers, and how they present data in a visualized form to readers.  He mentions the changing role of journalists a few times.  My redux is that in the past, journalists took data sets and asked "the right questions" of the data and presented that -- but now they're able to present views into the raw data that allow readers to ask their own questions.

It would be interesting if this is a sea change in more than just news.  Thinking about operations, we tend to aggregate vast collections of metrics and stats and then present "the upshot" to the customer.  They take our word for it, that the data bear us out, or they ask to see particular subsets of the data.  Are there places where we could give them the full data set, with tools that help them understand it?  Already we directly show them disk space used/free on their NAS volumes ... do we take the next step?

Getting yourself started with Arduino

On of my cow orkers was interested in Arduino, and I'm a fanboy.   So when I got home, I put together a quick "dip your toes in" kit to lend him.  Roughly, it consisted of:
So now he wants to know about good books to get started.  I think when I started, I was just fiddling with parts and relying on sample code on the Arduino site.  But since then I've read a couple of kewl books.  Try these:
And of course, he wants a good starter kit.  I've tried two, and they're both great:
Have fun!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

DJ Patil (LinkedIn) at Strata

Okay, so I just spent my lunch break watching this presentation from DJ Patil of LinkedIn.  It was from the Strata conference, which I thought seriously about attending.  Sending me would have had little value for my company, aside from the fact that we manage similar sizes of data, but I was actually ready to take PTO and fund it myself.

I didn't end up going.  But happily, O'Reilly seems to be putting everything on YouTube.

Fun bit about this presentation, he introduces a new project, LinkedIn Skills.  You can search for any skill and it finds related content on LinkedIn.  What's really interesting to me is that the results show related skills, with a comparison of how each has grown/shrunk compared to your search term.  For instance, if you search for NetApp, you'll see that 3PAR and Compellent are growing even faster.  (Or search for EMC or Hitachi, for the counter example.)  Neat!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My FitBit Presentation at Quantified Self SD

I gave a quick presentation about the fitbit at the Quantified Self San Diego meeting, this evening.  It was fun, because they'd had a presentation on the fitbit already, so they asked me to make mine a review of my own personal use of it.  A technical presentation would've been easier to build, but ultimately it was really fun to reflect on my particular experience.

The first slide is a quick overview of the cute little device.  I shared my own observations on its durability, chatted about how I use it day-to-day, and talked a little about the fitbit web site.  They've really dialed-in the whole website aspect -- I just don't use it, but that's me.  Surprising to some attendees was that since February 11, 2011 they've had a public API, so there were a few questions about that, which I tried to answer as best I could.  My penultimate slide was on ways I think they could extend the device to improve it.  And my final slide was a couple of ways I'd love to see people hack it -- there's plenty of fun stuff in there to mess with, and it'd be nice if a few more folks would take a shot at it.

I'm embedding the slides below, for your viewing entertainment.  And here's a link to the presentation on iWork.  Fun!