Viz: Rain in Seattle? Really?

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Today I'm happy to feature a cross-post from my good friend and fellow graduate student, Nicholas Hunt-Walker. He's written a fun post about data and weather, and has some great looking visualizations! The post is reproduced below, but check out his awesome blog: The Roda, The Stars, The Lessons, The Life

Take it away, Nick:

This is my face most days...

Before I moved out here to Seattle for graduate school I was repeatedly warned about how rainy it tends to be out here.  One person even described it as "London-esque".  However, when I first visited back in March 2010 (this becomes relevant later), not only was it barely raining, but it was absolutely gorgeous for each of the 4 days I was here.  I left here thinking, "where's all this rain people were talking about?  It's beautiful here!"

Two years and three months later, I can confirm the well-known Seattle drear.  It feels like it's cloudy more often than not, and it's nearly always wet.  ALWAYS!  Am I just suffering from confirmation bias, or is Seattle's weather always just generally crappy?  Well, being the scientist that I am, I sought to answer these interesting and personally-relevant questions. 

The Reddit Effect

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Today I'm going to discuss my thoughts on a silly topic that has gone by many names over the years. These days I see it dubbed the "Reddit Effect", usually meaning the impact on your website from being posted on Reddit. This has also been called the "digg effect", the "twitter effect", the "stumbleupon effect", the "slashdot effect"...  Basically an explosive increase in web traffic to your blog/site that can cripple servers, and has the same (though accidental) result as a DDoS attack.

Of course, bloggers/writers crave this kind of attention. Your home-grown webpage can suddenly get exposed to 100K viewers overnight, if you can navigate the social media/news network waters. Nobody can sign up for your email list, however, if your discount webserver gets fried under peak traffic load. Thus, it's a sensible and practical phenomenon to study.

Password Strength

Here's a fun and simple experiment I recently did...

Some time ago I started using phases to remember passwords. This can work a couple different ways:
1) use the first letter from every word in a sentence.
Example: The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog = Tqbfjotld

2) use a whole sentence as a password. 
Example: The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog

When I attended SDSU, they required the most obtuse password rules. It was something along the lines of "must have uppercase, lowercase, numbers, and symbols. Cannot use more than 2 of each consecutively. Must be more than 8 characters." Oy...

Race in US Colleges

Be sure to subscribe for updates on this and all my other data analysis projects! 

The Chronicle posted a nice spreadsheet containing race, ethnicity, and gender data from ~4300 institutions of higher education across America. (Note: the article and data file are now behind a paywall, which was not in effect when I downloaded the data set)

It's a really intriguing data set, and I thought it was worth a few minutes of my time to play with it. My results are amusing, but I don't think I've fully captured the rich potential this data has to offer serious researchers.

My first question was simple: what does the most basic racial composition of US Colleges look like?

The Graph that Wasn't There

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Yesterday I wrote a post on this blog that, upon reflection, was far more cynical than I ever intended. I have removed it, not to hide or to acquiesce, but because I have always wanted this blog to be about celebrating science and data and visualization.

Here is the surviving piece of that post, which I will leave as a means to start a conversation (and a future blog post):

Visualization Design: It's not about obtuse color theory, or infographics, or artistic style, or minimalist Tufte chart theory, or fancy-ass 3D plotting with the latest/hottest software. It's about effectively communicating your story to other people.