Visualizing Data

Visualizing Data

When I was in the Army, there was a surprising amount of focus on the presentation of the intelligence we gathered. In the beginning, I was frustrated. I was young and could not imagine why it mattered so much that our presentation to the higher-ups had to be as clear and simplified as possible. It seemed like a waste of valuable time. I remained skeptical until I started comparing our work to that of some of the other units. It became blatantly obvious how well-manicured presentation of information can help inform the reader quickly and effectively. Since then, I fell in love with the process of synthesizing information into presentable formats.

infographic
Early infographic I made on censorship.

In my current job, that has translated into learning to use Tableau Public. It is free. It is flexible. And it is powerful. It allows you to visualize data by dragging certain elements into the worksheet. The best part of Tableau is the video tutorial library. The community is helpful, but when you are starting out, the tutorials are priceless for understanding how to take advantage of Tableau flexibility.

Tableau Training
Tableau’s video training site

The HUGE limitation is the lack of private storage options. If you use the free versions, your choices are to start from scratch later or save information publically to cloud community. If privacy is an issue for you, you can take the hard road, make graphics and clip the images for use in different apps. You won’t be able to manipulate the graphic later, but once you get used to using the program, retracing your steps will often not be terrible.

vengage
A quick snapshot of Vengage’s infographic templates

Another interesting option for pumped-up visuals is Vengage. It is not as powerful as Tableau, but it has infographic templates to model yours after and myriad options for visuals. The free version maxes out at 5 infographics. Depending on your needs, that may be enough. Often, because of my desire to tinker and limited budget, I often find myself bouncing between programs I have access to in order to take advantage of each ones particular strength (e.g., Publisher’s set to transparent feature, Powerpoint’s fill a shape with image options, or Canva’s free elements). It can be a bit taxing, but it can create great results.

I’ve gotten better at creating visuals that tell a story, but it takes a good deal of practice. I’ve learned the most by keeping an eye out for impressive visuals and analyzing their components. Hopefully, these tools can help you tell a story you need to tell.

-Cas

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Cryptojacking

Cryptojacking

It has been a while, I know. For that I am sorry. Dee is taking a short break, and I was at a loss on what to talk about next. There is no shortage of tech and tools, but I haven’t had the chance to tinker with many new ones. Interesting developments like the Ethereum fork in response to a Parity hack had plenty of coverage by individuals who are more knowledgeable than I. Also, debates abound about how deeply librarians really need to understand blockchain. I think it is uncontroversial to say* that librarians need to at least have it on their radar. So, this post is going to cover cryptojacking. Continue reading “Cryptojacking”

Keep it private

Keep it private

As part of starting my new job, I had to set up my new computer. Doing this always reminds me of the things I take for granted. The set up of my desktop, the icons pinned to my taskbar, and the extensions on my browser. However, the shake up in my complacency also made me reevaluate what privacy measures I’m taking. I did some research, and while not a ton has changed, there are some new developments. So, for this short post, I give you a annotated list of privacy extensions, apps, and programs you should know about if you don’t already.

Privacy badger – A browser extension created by EFF that blocks third party cookies.

HTTPS: Everywhere – Another browser extension created by the good folks at EFF. This one makes sure that your communication with major sites is encrypted using https regardless of whether the site defaults to http. Continue reading “Keep it private”

Librarian Lightning Round

Librarian Lightning Round

For the next few weeks, we will interrupt our regular posting schedule for what I’m referring to as a series of lightning posts, which is short posts published more often. A bit of context first. I recently attended the American Association of Law Libraries Annual Conference. Different talks highlighted a number of tools and programs that don’t warrant long elaborate posts. I have convinced Dee to join me in posting short evaluations/explanations of these tools on a weekly basis until we cover them all. Then it will be back to our regularly scheduled blogging.

Some of these tools you may know already, some you may not. You’ll find a list of what we plan to cover below, in no particular order. Could you go out and research them all on your own? Of course. But why spend all your valuable time when we can do the work for you.

ReadClearly, WriteClearly, BeelineReader, Compressor.io, Wave Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool, The Noun Project, PermaCC, Page Vault, Kahoot!, & Slack.

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-Cas