Book Review: Numbersense: How to Use Big Data to Your Advantage

Numbersense: How to Use Big Data to Your AdvantageNumbersense: How to Use Big Data to Your Advantage by Kaiser Fung

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There are so many ways the numbers may be skewed. With the right data transformation, exclusions or imputations, the numbers can be manipulated to tell the story the researcher wants the data to tell. Always check raw data, the assumptions and methods used to transform or normalize the data and the statistical techniques selected to analyze the data.

The book gives many examples of data manipulated for some advantage, law school deans fudge the numbers to get higher law school rankings. Groupon shows the benefit of advertising with them, but Groupon looks at the number as a whole and does not break out current customers that take advantage of the discount from those that are net new customers.

The epilogue shows two data challenges I am very familiar with. To bad he does not have any quick fix for these: How do you get one system to accept the dates from another system as a date variable, not text or numeric? How do we categorize thousands of keywords into useful groups in a reasonable amount of time, especially considering these are always changing?

Fung reminds us that big data has nothing to say about causation, many things are correlated without one causing the other. He also demonstrates how statistical significance does not prove the results are important, tiny numbers with little real impact can be statistical significant.

Overall, I think the book was a good read. It had great examples for social data, marketing data, economics data and fantasy football.

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Book Review: The Hard Thing About Hard Things

The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy AnswersThe Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book had great insights for people around start-up or tech companies.

He also talked about, as a tech company, how hard it is to stay ahead of the competition. He emphasized that a tech company should strive to have a product that is at least 10 times better than your best competitor and he gave a wonderful example of how he saved his company through discovering and delivering what the top client would like from the product.

There were some interesting thoughts on when and why to sell you company -if you are number one and the market is growing, you should not sell at any price, think Google.

The book talks about how companies should take care of its people, products and profits in that order. First and foremost a company should be a good place to work to recruit and keep the top talent.

The book was mostly aimed at CEOs…such as how to find, hire, assimilate and fire executives. But he also discussed the importance of building an overall good corporate culture, the importance of communication and regular one on one meetings.

It was a good read for anyone working in a company that is going through a large amount of change.

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Book Reivew – This will make you smarter

This Will Make You Smarter: New Scientific Concepts to Improve Your ThinkingThis Will Make You Smarter: New Scientific Concepts to Improve Your Thinking by John Brockman
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I really felt this book needed an editor. It was made up of lots of short essays, some good, some really bad. Even if there had been some rating on each essay so you can skip some of the poorly written ones would have made this book better. I did learn some new words, like kakaonomics…but overall this book is not worth the read.

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Book Review – Waiting for Your Cat to Bark?

Waiting for Your Cat to Bark?: Persuading Customers When They Ignore MarketingWaiting for Your Cat to Bark?: Persuading Customers When They Ignore Marketing by Bryan Eisenberg
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book has been on my To Read list for a long time. There were a lot of good points in this book. I like the three questions to always keep in mind: Who are you trying to persuade? What action do you want them to take? What do they need for them to feel comfortable taking that action? I also like the phases of the process they describe: Uncovery (which is supposed to mean that you understand you business, the selling & buying process and create personas for your customers), wireframe, storyboard, prototype, develop and optimize.

But a lot of let downs as well. This book has way a lot of made up terms like uncovery. Most of what is covered in this book just barely touches on the subject and then points out how great they are at it. It felt like on big advertisement to hire them. Also the book really only covers the first phases of the process they describe. The other 5 phases only get the last 20 or so pages in the book are and only briefly mentioned.

It is worth a read, but I felt the authors should have gone into more depth on subjects and covered the other phases. Clever title that did not quite deliver.

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Book Review – One Hundred Years of Solitude

One Hundred Years of SolitudeOne Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

One Hundred Years of Solitude follows one very strange family. I thought it had some characters were great. The beginning of the book had beautiful language and was the best part. But the more you read, the more you have to keep flipping to the family tree to figure out who they are talking about, because the there are so many characters with the same or very similar names! Even though it was a bit difficult to read, this is one of those books that is definitely is worth reading once.

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Yarn Along 4/23/2014

Blue Diary

This week I am reading Blue Diary , by Alice Hoffman.  I finished one square of my Yurt Throw, which means I only have one square left to go!!! Then I have to block them, sew them and add the border.  The finished blanket should look like this pattern/progress chart.




I also made a lot of progress on the baby blanket, Anna’s Owls.  I really like how this one is coming out.  And using thing bulky yarn makes it knit up super fast!

Book Review: Advanced Web Analytics

Advanced Web Metrics with Google AnalyticsAdvanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics by Brian Clifton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Published in 2012 and it is ALREADY out dated. :( That is web analytic though. There is however a LOT of really great basic information here that is still very relevant. I like that he discusses not jut reporting, but proper coding and set up which is critical for good reporting.

It was a great refresher as I start to build out a new web analytics dashboard. I agree with the author that for reporting out, you ha to have a dashboard outside of you analytics platform to share with marketing and upper management who will not access that type of tool.

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A whole lot of knitting going on

Wow, I got a LOT done this week I think!!!

I finished my cowl for my turquoise set and I really like how it came out!!!  Once it was finished it relaxed and got more slouchy.  :) And I think I have enough yarn over for some fingerless gloves. But hopefully it will get warm around here soon and I won;t need gloves till next year.

And I started on a baby blanket for my boss, due in August and it is a boy.  I love the owl pattern I keep seeing, so I am doing a variation of it.  I changed it up and it is going SO fast.  I am using Lion brand Wool Ease Thick and Quick.  Then I changed that pattern to 5 x 5 owls and added one owl in the center.  Based on my swatch, it should come out to 36″x36″.

I love how cute this is looking!

So it should end up looking like this, where the big Os are owls and the xoxox’s are seed stitch:


And I have just 3 squares left to go on my yurt throw!!!  I finished just one sqare this week, bu I am getting closer.  Now I just have to order some yarn for the border and figure out how to ad that to this monster!

This weekend, we took the dog to her favorite park where she loves to chase the squirrels.  Lucky for them, the are much faster than she is.  There were finally a few little signs of spring around here and the birds have started to return to the city.

Book Reivew: The Probable Future

The Probable FutureThe Probable Future by Alice Hoffman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I kind of like this book, even if it was a little cheesy. It had a bit of romance, of handful of family dysfunction and a touch of magic :)

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Block & Redesign

I have not been knitting much, so I know I have not made much progress.  This week I started reading The Probable Future and I am almost finished with my Cowl!  I think I just want to make it a little longer so it will slouch a little more.  :)  The cables for this pattern are from the pattern Alokananda Beret, I had tried to make the scarf, but it kept curling, so I decided to just knit it in the round and make a cowl.


For my Yurt Throw I am working on, I had been really concerned that the blocks were coming out to be very difference sizes.  So I decided to try blocking a few to see if I could get them to be at least similar in size and it worked!!!!

The only problem is these squares ended up 35×15, not 9×9 like the pattern calls for.  I realized that with squares this size the blanket was going to be HUGE.  So I changed it from 7×7 to 6×6 which will make it 78×90 before the border, a very good size.  I also fond by making it smaller, that i am almost done!!! Only 4 squares left to make!!!  So here is the new redesign:




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