Photo Break – Myrtle Beach

MyrtleBeach-9Over the Christmas/New Year holiday period, I was in the Myrtle Beach, NC area visiting with family, and enjoying a few 65-70 degree days. I snapped this image looking out at the Cherry Grove pier at sunset  on one of the days there. I really liked the way the lamp lights reflect in the ocean.

What is a data scientist?

What is a data scientist?

Quick post today – crazy busy this week with the Memorial Day holiday, a major software upgrade at my job, and a lot of other things all coalescing at once.

  • A data scientist is an individual, organization or application that performs statistical analysis, data mining and retrieval processes on a large amount of data to identify trends, figures and other relevant information. – Technopedia
  • A data scientist is a data analyst who lives in California – Josh Wills, Sr. Director of Data Science at Cloudera, at a Cloudera Users Group Meeting in Southfield, MI on 5/22/2014


Public Data Sets

3d database structureIf you are just starting working with Hadoop and Big Data, you may be at a loss for data to experiment with. Luckily, there is an abundant supply of freely available data sets on the Internet. Here I will highlight a few of the sources I have found out about, and I’ll add more as I find them.

InfoChimps is a company of data scientists, cloud computing and open source experts who provide solutions for their customers to make Big Data platforms. They provide over 11,000 freely available data sets for you to download. Everything from an Excel readable list of crossword puzzle words to UFO sighting data sets are here. Continue reading “Public Data Sets”

Gimp 2.6 Cookbook

   GIMP 2.6 Cookbook

   by Juan Manuel Ferreyra

   Packt Publishing © 2011

   As part of PACKT’s cookbook series, this book is written to provide straightforward instructions for
working with many of features in GIMP.


This is a basic – do this, do this, do this and it looks like this – book. As the author states at one point it is not a reference manual. Each chapter is grouped into related tasks, although one task doesn’t always feed into the next. In that respect, you probably won’t read it from cover to cover, but when you want to achieve a certain look in your images or create a specific type of image. Throughout, the user is encouraged to try out different options and see what the ultimate outcome will look like.

As when using a real cookbook, some experience is expected. The author of a real cookbook isn’t going to walk you through how to boil water if its needed for a recipe. In much the same way, the reader of The GIMP 2.6 Cookbook is expected to know how to use certain basic functions in GIMP. Things like how to create a new layer, and how to switch foreground and background colors. Unfortunately, the publisher has marketed this book as suitable for even the relative novice. It really is not.

There are some areas where someone familiar with the basics will be left scratching their head, wondering what exactly they are supposed to do. (One example in chapter 1 involved the Path tool. If you aren’t really familiar with it, then trying to implement what is presented will be a challenge.) In other areas the book spends several pages going over some very rudimentary tasks, like rotating or cropping an image.

On the plus side, there are some handy tips sprinkled throughout the book. The explanation of Alpha Channels on page 58 is succinct and very clear, and in the filters chapter, there are several warnings to be careful when choosing certain options. Although these tools are marked with a special border, I wish they had been indexed as well.

But the big question for all books like this is: How useful are the recipes? In this case, some are very useful others are not. Recipes for working with HDR, removing objects from a photograph, and several of the web design tips are very helpful, while ones detailing how to add graffiti and most of the chapter on filters are less so. Often the recipes offer some interesting looks, but I was stuck with the idea that “gee that’s kinda cool but what would I ever use it for”.

Recap: Although marketed as a book that even newbies can use, its really more for experienced GIMP users. There are some good nuggets of information sprinkled throughout this book, but the organization makes it hard to find them. Overall there is no clear vision for what the book was intended to be, which results in it veering from too complex, to too basic and back again.

Three out of 5 Wilburs