How Deep is Your LAN?

If yours' is like most organizations, the LAN filing system is in a constant state of chaos threatening imminent collapse.

The structure starts out ok at the upper levels - where rules exist, but gets more and more bogged down as you dive closer to your department or team's shared folders.

Sometimes, there's absolutely no logic within your department/team folder - it's based on each person's internal logic.

Sometimes, there's too much logic - too many folders to keep going down until you reach the final folder which only houses one document.

This problem of categorical organization isn't limited to business LAN structures, it occurs everywhere humans need to create structure or taxonomies.  (That's because there's two types of humans: Groupers and Lumpers. Groupers like to give everything a group whereas Lumpers like to lump everything together into one group.)

Why does this matter and what does it have to do with Tableau?


Building Dashboards for the Smartphone

This post was originally shared on Tableau's blog.

I rarely get requests for Tableau dashboards on smartphones, probably because they are usually a secondary concern. That is, most business dashboards don’t automatically translate well to the phone format, so they are not high on the priority list. Here are a few things I’ve learned when making these wee dashboards that might be of help to you. 


Dashboard Kitsch

Kitsch (/ˈkɪtʃ/; loanword from German) is a low-brow style of mass-produced art or design using popular or cultural icons. Kitsch generally includes unsubstantial or gaudy works or decoration, or works that are calculated to have popular appeal.

A gnome or two in your garden can be cute, even enchanting. But when you have a whole herd of zombie gnomes on your lawn, you have gone to the dark side, my friend. I'm suggesting that you are dangerously close to becoming a 'Collector'.


Global Human Development and Debt

The United Nations Development Program held a visualization contest last month. The objective was to visualize the Human Development data in infographic or interactive form; displaying country snapshot as well as an overview through time of all countries.  They provided quick access to a plethora of data including the Human Development Index and sub-indices.  I chose to incorporate country debt into the analysis to view the impact of efforts to reduce heavily indebted countries' debt load since 2005.  http://hdr.undp.org/en/dataviz-competition


Drill Down

Have you noticed how rarely you hear the term Data Mining these days? That's because a lot of people now know that it is a complex thing, and not just filtering a pivot table in Excel.

The funny thing is that 'Drill Down' is just the opposite. People ask for it - make a big deal of it - in dashboard building, not realizing that this is a simple thing in Tableau. There's a few ways to provide the 'Drill Down', but it's important to first ask what exactly do they mean by 'Drill Down'. Usually, it's one of three things:


The Elusive Executive Dashboard

Some things you should never, ever, EVER google.

Assless chaps is one and the other is Executive Dashboards.

Both searches may start out innocent enough, but will make you want to tear your eyes out. An Assless chaps search will at least give you a giggle, if not haunt your nightmares for years.

But an Executive Dashboard search will leave you exhausted and diminish your will to live. If you're analyst anyway.

You'll realize that in 2015, at least 20 years into the BI movement, and there's still little in the way of good dashboarding out there and that is the reason why you are always being asked to replicate the crap. Pardon my language, but it's sooooo frustrating. <big whine there>

Since I love to share my misery, let's play Where's Waldo with this search. How many crap dashboards do you have to search through until you find a good one?


The Nuclear Energy Option


The energy demand in developing countries like China and India is growing at a phenomenal pace. At the same time most countries are looking to reduce carbon emissions and their dependence on fossil fuels.

Unfortunately, there's no magical Scotty in engineering with the ability to bend the laws of physics and deliver that power without consequences. There is no perfect option.

I recently saw a documentary on nuclear energy called Pandora's Promise. It made a pretty compelling case for the nuclear option, but I wasn't completely convinced. So, I decided to find some data and look at it myself... because that's what analysts do.


10 Freebie Holiday Toys for Tableau Analysts

Happy Holidays!

Here's a few, very simple, free tools that will help make your
dashboarding work just a little easier.  Click on the images to
go to the respective sites for download.


Playing Nice with Tableau or How to Build a Dashboard That Your Co-Workers Can Maintain If You Get Hit By a Bus

We all like to think we're indispensable at work, but we're not. We're just not.

So get over yourself, Simon.

Have you ever built the most clever Excel dashboard/database/reporting system that you knew would keep you in the money for years?

You know you did, Simon. Yes, and it was forever referred to as the "Simon Chan Report". After the accolades, you settle in to maintain the damned thing, month after month, year after year. And it's taking up a lot of your time because it has become so complex (named ranges, linked fields, complex multi-layered formulas, vba) that any new request for change will take weeks to implement. It really has no business being an Excel report.