Name That Baby!!

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In 2014, when my wife and I went to the hospital to have our first child, we were all packed up and as prepared to go as we could possibly be. Living just a few blocks from the hospital, the option was available for me to swing home, with ease, if needed. But, nonetheless, the bags that would accompany us sat, packed in our spare bedroom, for the better part of two weeks. However, as prepared as we were with packing, we were equally unprepared in another major part of this whole baby having process…what the hell would we name the baby??? As there are few surprises in life, we chose not to find out the sex, though everyone assured us we were having a boy. So, needing both a girl and boy name, over several months we periodically looked up lists of baby names and talked about which ones we liked or didn’t like, but never seemed to gain much ground. Finally, the day was here and as we rushed out the door, our list was still incomplete, consisting of a single maybe for a girl name and exactly zero boy names. Well, as it turns out, we wound up having a beautiful baby girl and our maybe name, Ruby, seemed to fit her perfectly. Whew, crisis averted!!

Now, as 2017 comes to an end and we usher in 2018, we are expecting our second child in just over three weeks. And here we are sitting in the same situation. Once again, not wanting to find out the sex, this time we’ve been able to muster up one boy name, but zero girl names!! So, how does any of this pertain to Tableau and/or Data Visualization? Funny you should ask…

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Why the Viz?

After going through the same song and dance we went through in 2014, I decided to leverage my passion for Tableau and Data Viz as a new way to approach searching for baby names. Having lost track of how many times I’ve Google searched phrases including “baby names,” it seemed only right to try and make the process more simple and fun. Eventually, I landed on the Social Security Administration website, where I was able to find data on the top baby names, by decade. After narrowing down my list to go back only to the 1920s, as opposed to the 1880s, I began gathering the data.

How Can it Help?

The process of picking out baby names may be easy for some, but very difficult for others. For us, it has been the latter for a few reasons that I won’t go into. Either way, in our situation, my wife and I both tend to stay away from the ultra popular names of today, as we prefer classic names that are beginning to come back in a small way, especially for girls. This is how we landed on Ruby, which also happened to have some meaning to us. So, with these thoughts in mind, I wanted to trend the popularity of baby names over time and use that to determine if the criteria are met for a specific name.

How Does it Work?

Dating back to the 1920s, a lot of names have landed in the Top 200 most popular baby names for a given decade. So, with so many names to weed through, I needed a way to filter down the options of what was viewable at a particular time. Thus, the viz is basically useless without the first of three dashboard actions;

  1. Name Begins with Filter: Including an A to Z list on the lefthand side of the viz allows the user to filter to names that begin with a desired letter. Once a letter has been selected, the second and third dashboard actions come into play.
  2. Name Rank Trend Highlights: Hovering on a girl name will highlight the name rank trend below, while hovering on a boy name will do the same for the boy name rank trends.

Once your name is highlighted in the line chart, you will see its initial Top 200 Rank, as well as all subsequent ranks, allowing you to easily see if the name has increased or decreased in popularity. Here’s a quick example; Although the spelling is different, the name Brittany entered the Top 200 in the 1980s, ranking #21 among girl names. By the 1990s it had climbed to #7. And then in the late 1990s, Britney Spears  became a thing and by the 2000s the popularity of the name Brittany had plummeted to #189. Coincidence? You be the judge.

My hopes are that this viz can be helpful in several different ways, regardless if you like popular names, classic names or anything in between. Thank you for reading, now GO NAME THAT BABY!!

 

Viz What You Love: Part II

cmavizJust over three weeks ago, I posted a viz about Notre Dame football, supporting it with a blog post called ‘Viz What You Love,’ professing and detailing my love for the Fighting Irish football program. A few days after that post, I shared a viz outlining the history of the CMA (Country Music Association) Awards Album of the Year winners. Having grown up in the middle of nowhere, literally, in northwestern Minnesota, sports and music were two of the things that became very important to me early on in life. While, my desire to be active and competitive fire were fueled through sports, music was always there when it was time to relax, study or have fun. I love several genres of music, but where I grew up, country music was big and it has always had a place in my heart. My first ever CD was John Michael Montgomery…no seriously!! And my first ever concert was Tim McGraw, way back when his only hit was “Don’t Take the Girl.” The point is that I love country music and that one really fun way to continue improving your Tableau skills is to produce data visualizations about things you love. I like to call this “Viz What You Love.” Part II is about my CMA Awards 51 Albums of the Year viz.

When I first saw Sean Miller‘s ‘The 100 Greatest Metal Albums of All-Time’ viz, I was blown away not only by how cool it was, but also by how much information was right there at my fingertips. Now, while I’m not a huge metal-head, I’ve listened to enough to know many of the artists and albums on the list, among them Black Sabbath and Ozzy Osborne. The very first thing that caught my attention on Sean’s viz was the range of energy in Black Sabbath/Ozzy albums vs. those of Slayer, which is all energy, all the time. I hadn’t heard much Slayer before, so pulled them up on Spotify. You could say their music is…aggressive!! Anyway, I thought Sean’s viz was awesome and I wanted to try something similar from some music more familiar to me. The first step would be to find a data set…well wouldn’t you know Sean also blogged about his viz and included a sweet little trick you can do in Spotify to capture several different attributes. Thanks for sharing Sean!! Here’s the link he included in his blog that helps you sort your music, so you can then throw it into a spreadsheet and start visualizing. This process is much more seamless than I was expecting, so that was a pleasant surprise!!

As for song attributes, I chose beats per minute, energy, acoustic and popularity. Being country music was my choice, I thought valence may also be interesting, but it didn’t tell the story I was hoping for. I included all songs from each album, because I wanted to see any clustering, especially on the low and high ends of each attribute category. For instance, a majority of two-time Album of the Year award winner, Charlie Rich’s music is low energy and highly acoustic, while recent two-time winner, Chris Stapleton offers a wide variety on his albums. The extreme unpopularity of country music from the 60s through the 80s is clear, save a few notable exceptions such as Merle Haggard, Kenny Rogers and Willie Nelson. There’s a gradual increase in popularity, the newer the music is and neither of these facts are a huge surprise when you think about the demographics of Spotify listeners. I’m really going out on a limb here, but my hunch is that more millennials are using Spotify than senior citizens. I mean, my dad certainly isn’t on Spotify…can you get Spotify on a track phone??? Wait, is it track phone or TracFone? Ah, who the hell knows, the point is not many millennials are listening to Ronnie Milsap, Alabama or George Strait, but they damn well should be!! Ok, here’s what I like about the viz;

  • Like I mentioned earlier, I’m a fan of including all songs on the dot plot, as the clustering of songs within an album is interesting to see.
  • I would have never chosen these colors on my own, but a quick Google search led me to colors associated with each genre of music. So, I chose four related to country music and feel that they actually look pretty nice together, thanks in large part to the dark blue background.
  • I think the highlight actions work well, as you can hover on a song under one column and easily see where that song falls in the other categories as well.

I hope you enjoyed reading, now go out and Viz What You Love!! Thank you again for the inspiration Sean, this was a really fun project!!

Feeling Thankful

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With the way this past Wednesday started, I couldn’t have imagined it would turn into such a special day for me. Only after several snooze buttons did I finally drag myself out of bed to begin the day…my wife and daughter both still sound asleep after a late night run to the ER, which saw us return home at 1:30am, after finding out our daughter had double ear infections and pneumonia. Poor little girl. So, as my wife stayed home with her for the day, off to work I went. It was just a typical Wednesday until sometime after lunch when I decided to find out what was happening on Twitter and…HOLY SHIT!! To my absolute delight, I had been selected as a Tableau Public Featured Author!! The feeling was amazing…I was thrilled!!

So, now nearly a week has passed and I’ve had some time to process this first big Tableau/Data Viz achievement. Since deciding, nearly eight months ago that it was time to join the Tableau community and begin leveraging Tableau Public to build an online portfolio, I’ve been inspired by countless people, vizzes, tweets, blog posts, videos, etc. At this point, I feel it’s necessary to share some of these inspirations with those who may have begun their journey a little later than me. So, the following post is a recap of my last seven and a half months, pointing out key moments along the way. It is quite aggressive with the links, but that is intentional, so that every important piece of inspiration is just a click away.

Springtime – Getting Started

On April 26th, 2017 the Twitter account @JtothaVizzo was created. This would serve as the main way in which I would stay connected to the community. My first goal after creating the account was to find and follow the most influential people in the community, so I could begin learning from the best. Tableau Zen Masters and Tableau Ambassadors were top priority. A day later, this tweet by Andy Cotgreave led me to the mentioned blog post by Mark Edwards, where he discussed the importance of building a Tableau Public portfolio in order to develop your skills and become involved in the community. After reading Mark’s post I came across one from Eva MurraySo you want a job as a Tableau Developer? Umm, yes please!! Eva is wonderful and her post is loaded with great advice for anyone interested in landing that first job…or next job for that matter, using Tableau.

My next stop would be #MakeoverMonday led by Eva and Andy Kriebel and on May 1st, I submitted my first #MakeoverMonday viz. Today, I consider #MakeoverMonday the single biggest factor contributing to my growth. And if you’ve regularly read my blog, you know I haven’t participated every week since joining. Even in the weeks when I’ve failed to participate, I’ve learned through studying the work of others and reading feedback via Twitter. Including #MMVizReview in your Twitter submission also offers a fantastic opportunity to get feedback directly from Andy and Eva, via their weekly webinar. Also on May 1st, having heard a lot about the book in recent months, I ordered The Big Book of Dashboards. If you haven’t, ORDER IT NOW, as it is worth every penny!!

Summer Months – Text, Hurdles and Football

On July 5th, I read a great blog post from Pooja Gandi called Let’s talk about text! In the post, Pooja shared a handful of neat text box tricks that she uses in almost all of her vizzes. I had always admired the beauty of Pooja’s work, so needless to say, when she shared this post, I was thrilled!! After failing to find a data set I felt comfortable with for the second 2017 #IronViz feeder contest, on August 6th, I entered my first #IronViz submission, as part of the third feeder contest. For me, entering the contest meant clearing a big mental hurdle and you can read more about that here. I was feeling very confident following my #IronViz submission and the positive feedback I received, so when Sean Miller tweeted out on August 14th, that he wanted to start a Tableau Community Fantasy Football league, I was all in. I felt it could be a great opportunity to make some connections and have a little fun all at the same time. THE data LEAGUE features some pretty amazing people!! But, we won’t get into how my team has performed…

Fall is Here – Blogging, Goals and TCTUG

After at least a month or two of kicking around the idea of starting a blog, unsure whether or not the timing was right, on September 19th I decided to just do it. That night, I chose my platform, purchased my domain, picked the theme, design and all that good stuff, and also published my very first Data Viz blog post. Jeff’s DataViz Journey was born and I had officially cleared another major hurdle!!

Having goals is very important. Writing them down is even more important. Until October 23rd, I had been terrible at getting my goals out of my head and onto paper. On the Subject of #VizGoals by Mark Edwards helped me turn the corner, get them written down and start focusing on them. The very next day, I went out and bought a notebook, where my goals and many other viz related things (blog post ideas, viz ideas, viz sketches, etc.) now reside. On October 25th, I read Learning Tableau by Jeffrey Shaffer. Please read this as well!! Jeffrey’s post has a ton of information for those looking to get started in the Tableau Community. Blogs, Social Media, Tableau User Groups, Videos, Books, Trainings…you name it, it is likely in here!!

In November, somewhere around a two-year hiatus, I once again attended a Twin Cities Tableau User Group Meeting. If you have a TUG in your area, I highly recommend attending, if you can work it into your schedule. I happened to be off the day of the November TCTUG meeting and things fell nicely into place, so I attended. My goal is to attend future meetings as frequently as possible. Yours should be too.

It was very rewarding to see Paul McHale’s November 16th blog post Learning from the Tableau Community in which he thanked me for providing him with the inspiration to share his work. In his post, Paul said he related very strongly to my blog post, ‘Overcoming the Fear to Share.’ It was great to see my blog have a positive impact on someone else in the community. That’s what it’s all about!! On November 24th, the day after Thanksgiving, I felt extra thankful, as Simon Beaumont mentioned me in a #TableauFF tweet. Simon, thank you again for the mention, it is greatly appreciated!! For quite awhile, I had been seeing #TableauFF on Friday’s, but never really understood what it meant until recently. For those who are unaware, it stands for Tableau Follow Friday and is a hashtag used (on Friday’s) as an opportunity to find and welcome new members of the community.

Winter – A Great Start

Alicia Bembenek’s December 3rd blog post, Who Else Wants to Up Their Blog Game? really hit home with me. My blog was closing in on being three-months old and although I did have six posts and counting, there was something I didn’t have…ANY SORT OF SET PLAN!! With a list of potential topics, a plan on when to write will be essential if I’m to be successful.

And on December 6th, Tableau Public recognized me as one of ten new Featured Authors and for that I am extremely thankful!! Congratulations to the nine other Tableau Public Featured Authors as well, I am honored to be a part of this great group!!

Thank you for taking the time to read, my hope is that you’re able to take some information and inspiration out of this post and apply it to your own Data Viz Journey!!