Data Analytics & Python (Cross Post)

Crosspost – This post first appeared on Python Data as Data Analytics & Python.

Data Analytics & PythonSo you want (or need) to analyze some data. You’ve got some data in an excel spreadsheet or database somewhere and you’ve been asked to take that data and do something useful with it. Maybe its time for data analytics & Python?

Maybe you’ve been asked to build some models for predictive analytics. Maybe you’ve been asked to better understand your customer base based on their previous purchases and activity.  Perhaps you’ve been asked to build a new business model to generate new revenue.

Where do you start?

You could go out and spend a great deal of money on systems to help you in your analytics efforts, or you could start with tools that are available to you already.  You could open up excel, which is very much overlooked by people these days for data analytics. Or…you could install open source tools (for free!) and begin hacking away.

When I was in your shoes in my first days playing around with data, I started with excel. I quickly moved on to other tools because the things I needed to do seemed difficult to accomplish in excel. I then installed R and began to learn ‘real’ data analytics (or so I thought).

I liked (and still do like) R, but it never felt like ‘home’ to me.  After a few months poking around in R, I ran across python and fell in love. Python felt like home to me.

With python, I could quickly cobble together a script to do just about anything I needed to do. In the 5+ years I’ve been working with python now, I’ve not found anything that I cannot do with python and freely available modules.

Need to do some time series analysis and/or forecasting? Python and statsmodels (along with others).

Need to do some natural language processing?  Python and NLTK (along with others).

Need to do some machine learning work? Python and sklearn (along with others).

You don’t HAVE to use python for data analysis. R is perfectly capable of doing the same things python is – and in some cases, R has more capabilities than python does because its been used an analytics tool for much longer than python has.

That said, I prefer python and use python in everything I do. Data analytics & python go together quite well.

 

Revisting my Savi 745W headset

Plantronics Savi 740

Savi headsetIn February 2012, I posted a review of a new headset that I had just purchased. The review, titled Plantronics Savi W745 headset – a review, provided a quick overview of the 745 headset and I gave it the following recommendation:

This headset is easy to setup and is crystal clear.  Highly highly recommended. If you have multiple devices like I do, check this headset out…it is worth the money. More than worth the money.

I just wanted to do a follow-up to that review. Here we are a little over 4 years later and the Plantronics Savi W745 is still going strong without a single problem. The headset has survived a move from Dallas to Tulsa, it has been dropped many times, thrown across the room (accidentally of course), had water spilled on it (more than once) and it just keeps working.

I’ve got the headset connected to a Cisco SPA525G VOIP phone, my macbook pro via a usb cable for Skype /facetime calls and my iPhone via bluetooth. When I get a call on one device, all I have to do is hit the ‘answer’ button on the headset and I’m connected.

I couldn’t be happier with the money I spent 4 years ago….and I’m quite surprised that an electronic device purchased 4 years still works.  That’s actually the sad part isn’t it? I expected to get about a year out of this headset and was happy when I got 2…but 4 years of daily use is phenomenal in the world we live in today.

To second my review from 4 years ago…if you are looking for a headset and have multiple devices, get this Savi headset (or an updated model if they have one…but I don’t see any new versions out there).

 

Changes

tulsa-skyline1_duskMy wife and I just moved to Tulsa from Dallas.

I keep getting the question of “why?”  My answer?  Because we could.

I was born and raised in Oklahoma and have lived in Tulsa before.  When we started thinking about places to move, Tulsa kept jumping to the front of the line. I have friends and family in and around Tulsa with most of my family back ‘home’ (about an hour from Tulsa).

So..we sold our house in Dallas and moved to Tulsa.   It’s been a bit of an adventure because we haven’t been able to close on our new home yet so we are staying in a vacation home we found on Airbnb (great service).

The details of the move aren’t important, but the rental we are staying in is important because it is a few blocks from a building with the name “Statsoft” on it. I’ve heard of Statsoft before, but couldn’t quite place them so I took a look at their website to see what they are about…because…you know…I’m a bit of a geek when it comes to statistics and software.

I landed on Statsoft’s site and immediately landed on this quote:

Just because data analysis can reveal interesting trends doesn’t make those trends useful to your business.

What a great line…and one that is very true.

Data means nothing unless you understand its context and how it might be able to help your business. The next line on that page is:

Good data and sophisticated analysis only get you so far. For your best decisions, you must be empowered to interpret and act upon your data trends in a manner relevant to your business goals…

Perfectly said. I’ve been looking for ways to say the same thing as simply as they have.  Funny how a move to a new city and a completely random opportunity to notice a sign on a building helped me find a great way to describe analytics and data.

More on the Tulsa move:

Over the next few weeks, I’ll slowly be transitioning all my contact info to Tulsa, but for now you can still reach me with my Dallas phone numbers, etc.   As time goes by, I hope to share a bit about the technology and data culture in Tulsa…keep an eye out for more on that front.

Plantronics Savi W745 headset – a review

This is a product review of an item that I recently purchased from Amazon. The links below are Amazon Affiliate links. I have not been compensated for this review.

I spend a lot of time on the phone. I use three different phones during the day…my desk VOIP phone, Skype and my cell phone.

I’m a big fan of the ‘hands free’ approach to using the phone. I use a headset for my desk phone, another headset for my Skype phone and yet another headset for my cell phone.

The desk and Skype headsets have been wired while the cell phone headset used bluetooth.

So…imagine the tangle and the mess of 2 wired headsets and a bluetooth headset on my desk.  It wasn’t pretty.

Then…I ran across a new Plantronics device that promised to combine all three headsets into  one.  Oh the promise! 🙂

The device, the Plantronics Savi W745 (amazon affiliate link) (there are other models too…not sure of the differences) looked excellent…so I picked one up to try. I also picked up the APC-40 Savi Cisco Electronic Hookswitch Adapter (amazon affiliate link) so i didn’t have to use the mechanical lifter for my phone.

When I got the headset, I followed the instructions (yes…I read them…or more appropriately…I looked at the pictures in the instructions) and connected everything up.

I half-expected this thing not to work.  Every other time I’ve used a Plantronics wireless headset for a phone, I’ve ended up screaming obscenities at it and getting rid of it.  Not this time…thankfully.

The hookswitch adapter connects the headset to my VOIP phone. A USB cable connects the headset to to the computer/skype.  Bluetooth connects the headset to my cell phone.

Now…I have one wireless headset for all three phones…and it works perfectly.  I can use this headset and seamlessly switch between the desk phone, skype and my cell phone. In addition, when a call comes in on any device, the included Plantronics software will mute iTunes for your (if you tell it to) so you don’t have to fumble around to mute your music.   Also, This headset integrates with quite a few different software products if you use something other than Skype.

This headset is easy to setup and is crystal clear.  Highly highly recommended.

If you have multiple devices like I do, check this headset out…it is worth the money. More than worth the money.

Oklahoma State Football – Conference Champs (woot!)

Sorry folks…I have to go off-topic to say “Congrats” to the Oklahoma State football team.  No lessons learned in this post…I’m just happy to be able to be gloat over the accomplishments of my favorite college football team.

I’m on Oklahoma State Fan. Always have been…always will be.

I love the school and I love the teams but I especially love the football team.  Throughout most of my life, Oklahoma State football has always been an average team with some years better and some years worse.

The last few years have given OSU fans something to be hopeful for. It started with Les Mile’s being hired in 2001 as head football coach…the team started a nice climb above mediocrity and since Mike Gundy took over in 2005 the team has done quite well relative to Oklahoma State football history.

This year…the Oklahoma State Cowboys football team won a Big 12 Championship for the first time.  That’s quite an accomplishment considering the other teams in the conference (e.g., University of Oklahoma, University of Texas, etc).

This Conference Championship is something that every OSU fan should be extremely proud of…and to win the championship in such convincing fashion as they did by beating the OU 44-10 in the Bedlam game made it even more special.

I am disappointed that this team doesn’t get shot at playing for the National Championship. I’m disappointed that the voters chose to put Alabama at #2 rather than OSU…but…that’s what happened.  Is Alabama better than OSU? Who knows. Is LSU better than OSU?  Who knows.  I do know that I would have loved to have let the teams see for themselves via a playoff system…but that won’t happen anytime soon.

When the final rankings came out this past weekend and OSU was ranked #3 in all polls, many OSU fans were outraged that LSU would be playing Alabama for the National Championship.  Many OSU fans were (and are) angry that the SEC has 2 teams in the championship game, especially given the fact that LSU and Alabama have already played this year with Alabama losing in a low scoring game.

There’s been a lot of name calling and finger pointing…and it bothers me.  On many message boards and facebook pages over the last few days, OSU fans have been bashing the SEC, Alabama, the BCS system and anyone else they can point a finger at for ‘causing’ OSU to miss the National Championship game.

The reality of the situation is that the OSU football team lost to Iowa State.  Iowa State was an unranked team.  Many voters could not let that go when they cast their final ballot.   Its pretty simple. I dislike the fact that 2 SEC teams are playing for the National Championship…but it is what it is.

Even though the team isn’t playing for the title, its been a great year for OSU football. I’m excited that my team is 11-1 this year rather than 9-3 or 4-7 that I’m used too.  I hope Coach Gundy and the rest of the coaching staff can keep the team improving.

The future looks good for OSU football…but fellow OSU fans…please take a step back and control your emotions.  Stop trying to place blame where it doesn’t really belong and let’s get ready to cheer on the Cowboys in the Fiesta Bowl against the Stanford Cardinals.  Should be a good game.

Now…back to regularly scheduled blogging… 🙂