That time of year again – IBM Champion nominations

Every year IBM recognizes people for their outstanding work to aid and support the technical IBM community. It’s a prestigious honor and a way for us all to thank those in our community that tirelessly help others. After all, it’s often forgotten how much people do for each other above and beyond their normal day-to-day job. That total stranger that answered your question on twitter which helped you solve a problem, the blog post from someone across the globe that set you on the track of success, the volunteers organizing the user event where you met your peers and the speakers at those events that helped you expand your knowledge. All of that is often done by people who do not necessarily get payed for those things but do it simply to help others. It’s because of the people who do all that that this community is strong and living and it is something we need to cherish. So if you feel someone directly or indirectly helped you, or the community this year, in a way that goes beyond and above their normal job then think about nominating them to be an IBM Champion. https://www.ibm.com/developerworks/champion/nominate.html

And if you wonder who the IBM Champions have been in the past take a look at this overview:

 

Tableau & MakeOverMonday – Learning new skills

For the last few months I’ve been steadily training myself into a new skill: data visualization. As data analytics is an ever increasing part of my job and something I’m highly interested in, it makes sense to do so and after working with Watson analytics it seemed logical to also explore Tableau. I have to admit I love it as it lets me be creative as well as forces me to deep dive into data, patterns and processes to fully understand the data you are working with. But learning a new skill and new software can be hard and apart from using some online materials I found, the thing that really helped me learn this new skill was to be challenged and use it hands-on.

Hello chicken and egg story: As you can’t get hands-on experience without doing it and you can’t get jobs to do it if you don’t have the experience….

So while searching for ways to get more hands-on experience I stumbled upon this tweet about a #makeOverMonday challenge and got intrigued. It’s organized by two people from the Tableau community who, each week on Sunday, select an article or online publication that has some sort of data visualization in it. They provide a link to the article as well as a data set with the data used in the article on a designated website. Everyone who is interested can then take that and make their own viz with it. The goal is to either redesign and improve the original visualization or do something totally new with the provided data and visualize that in a data dashboard or data visualization. You post your result to Tableau Public as well as tweet it with the hashtag and at the end of the week the organizers write a recap of that weeks entries and provide information on things they found great or not. It’s a fantastic way to learn as you can see what everyone else is doing, can ask questions or feedback and see multiple ways of what is possible with data.

It’s also fun as you never know what the topic and data set is going to be about and they really can be on nearly every topic imaginable. Ranging from the percentage of people who report reaching an orgasm by sexual preference (no kidding!) to March Madness in USA Basketball (I had to brush up on my sports knowledge there) to NHS doctors’ prescription data.

Those that I did can be found on my public Tableau profile.  Although I haven’t been able to do them every week I do enjoy making them as often as I can. It is intriguing to see what you can do with data and how visualizations can help get insight into whats going on. I look forward to making many more!

Some of the ones I did so far….

Is Brexit causing the UK economy to slip?
Size matters, which diets have the most followers?
Bicycle theft in England & Wales
  Internet users per Region/Country world wide
  Sydney’s public ferry system
NHS data: China’s Vitamin C monopoly
Robots taking over
March Madness: Underdogs versus upsets