Tag Archives: data


Wow – September already and I’ve not posted since June. Where has the time gone?!

I’ve been busy – a bit of running (not a lot though, I’ll admit) and some changes at work – a new boss, then a new job (doing more stats and analytic type stuff, yes!) and another new boss.


Anyway, around this time I was offered a free trial of lynda.com LinkedIn’s new acquisition. The site offers courses in leadership, management and lots of software programmes (including things for CAD and Photo editing). As it was a free trial I was signing up for; I signed up for a premium account which means access to additional files to download – you can still get your own free 10 day trial.

Courses on lynda.com take the form of video lectures with a transcript – because of this I kind of think of them as MOOLs – Massive Online Open Lectures – there is no interaction via community message boards with fellow students or tutors, you simply watch the lectures and make notes, downloading any reference material if provided. Courses tell you how long they are (I think the shortest I did was about 16 minutes the longest over 5 hours) and material will be broken down into chapters.
There is also no assessment or requirement for interaction – all you need to do is click on every segment/chapter of the video – you do not even need to let it play through, just click on it, and it will count as being completed.


The subjects I looked at were:

  • Leading and Working in Teams
  • Data Visualization for Data Analysts
  • Data Visualization Fundamentals
  • Developing Political Savvy
  • Leading with Stories
  • Business Storytelling
  • Leadership Fundamentals
  • Presentation Fundamentals
  • Developing Executive Presence
  • Building Self-Confidence
  • Stepping up to Leadership
  • Managing and Analysing Data in Excel 2010
  • Thinking Like a Leader
  • Macros in Depth
  • Body Language for Leaders
  • R Statistics Essential Training
  • SPSS Statistics Essential Training
  • Up and Running with R

Some were a lot better than others – the tutor for the Body Language for Leaders stood out for me; so much so I actually sent the tutor an email via her professional website. Leadership Fundamentals also had some great content. The guy on the excel videos (Dennis Taylor) was also extremely good at delivery and I would certainly recommend any course by him; I was also able to preview what was coming up and skip to the areas that I knew I had a couple of gaps in or were in need of refreshing.

So, I guess the more soft skills courses were a lot like going to a seminar – except you can pause and rewind bits that perhaps you missed or want repeated.
The software courses can be useful to work alongside – as it had been a few months since I’d used SPSS last, I borrowed a laptop with it on, found myself a room and worked through the exercises – everything came flooding back (though I admit I didn’t learn much new on that one).

Lynda.com is also fully integrated with LinkedIn so after completing a course you can link it directly into your profile with just a couple of clicks – I did this for a few courses but not all of them.


I can certainly see the value in a business signing up for an account and allowing staff to work on subjects and brush up some skills with Microsoft office or other products, but for an individual learner it isn’t cheap and I am not sure how much you would benefit; is anyone going to hire me on the strength of the fact that I sat through some MOOLs on R, SPSS and leadership? No. But, I did have great fun and did learn quite a few things (note – once your trial is over your access including to courses you have completed shuts off – so make sure you have taken all the notes and downloads that you want!) so I would certainly recommend people signing up to the free trial when they can time it right so they have the opportunity to get as much out of it as possible.



Data Scientist MOOC

Some of you intrepid readers (again, hello mum) may remember I started a MOOC on writing a while ago.  Sadly, work went absolutely mental and I didn’t manage to progress beyond week 3 of 8.  I fully intend to pick it up again in the near future (ah, the joys and benefits of MOOCs!) and complete it.

However; I stumbled across a thread in LinkedIn which pointed me towards a different MOOC site, namely Coursera – this seems to be more US based and is a bit more computer/data-centric.

Anyway, I decided to start out with (because it says 4 weeks and only 1-4 hours a week, so I should be able to manage that) a course called the Data Scientist’s Toolbox, the first of 9 courses in their Data Science specialization. The course will also introduce me to some web-based software called GitHub (I’m sorry, I can’t help but snigger every time I read/write that). Other courses go on to look at R which should be useful; I have currently only used SPSS.

The course starts Monday 2nd February.

Careers Article in March PC Pro

A brief, shameless plug; look who is in this month’s PC Pro magazine!  Every month PC Pro profiles a particular career in IT and this month was the turn of the data analyst:

The article! March 2015 PC Pro issue 245

The article! March 2015 PC Pro issue 245

23 Things – Thing 13 Data

Perhaps surprisingly, I don’t actually have a lot to say about this Thing.

Thing 13 implores you to do beautiful things with data – and suggests online tools you can use to help display your data in an attractive way.  I imagine this might be useful for researchers (who, TBH 23 Things is really aimed at) but for someone in my position who works with quite sensitive data every day, I can’t really start uploading it to websites in order to display it pictorially.

Having said that Tableau is something that I am interested in looking at; other departments hold licenses for it at work (and I am aware of other Universities using it), but it is still too early days for us.  Perhaps I could look at putting some of my running data into it?  That might be a bit depressing though… 🙂

Infographics and Running

I have been playing about with infographics of late but before constructing any sensible, work examples, I thought it would be fun to put together something about my running.

Running infographic

The website is infogr.am and you can easily set up a free account which allows you to create a number of different infographics (some I have demonstrated) and allows you to share them via twitter, facebook, pinterest and apparently also to embed them (but I can’t get that to work on WordPress).  You can also add pictures and videos which I have not tried.  A paid account ($18/month) allows you to be able to download them as pdf, png (for inclusion in documents etc) a couple of few extra styles and real-time updates.  The premium version at $50 a month removes infogr.am branding and allows you to add your own logo.

The site is fairly intuitive but there is no guide – I can’t help thinking I’m missing something or maybe there’s a better way of doing something, but there doesn’t seem to be any instruction in this.

Anyway, what have I learned from this?

  • Less is more!  My infographics are way too busy but, I wanted to show all my running – I wouldn’t produce something so cluttered and busy for work (yes, I know, I just wrote a 60 page report for work…maybe I haven’t quite grasped this less is more thing yet)
  • I have never run a race (or even a parkrun) in January.  there’s a simple target for 2015!
  • I have run two races in a month on seven occasions
  • I have run a race in March every single year (2009 I didn’t start until September) – and if I run a race this September, I will have run a race in September every single year too! (Gets diary out….)
  • There are some other things I want to chart, so I may well produce more infographics soon
  • I need to learn how to embed them via WordPress!