December is always an interesting month. Analysts, software companies and journalists post a ton of predictions, reviews and opinions to celebrate the start of the new year. 2012 is not different. Here are a a few posts that I highly recommend reading.
Most influential visualizations
Tableau Software without a doubt knows a lot about data visualization techniques. That’s why I happily viewed one of their new presentations out on Slideshare. It’s called ‘The 5 most influential data visualizations of all time”. Some of the featured visualizations have been discussed by Stephen Few and Edward Tufte, but it’s well worth spending a few minutes reviewing and thinking about how they changed the course of time.
Are you ready for some hilarious reading? Well, here it is. The good folks over at the Simply Statistics blog compiled a number of data visualizations that appeared on Fox News (don’t worry – this is NOT about politics). Most of the featured charts are flawed from a technical point of view, but it turns out that they do an excellent job of communicating the intended message (which can be very different from what the actual data says….). Read with a smile but don’t loose focus on the idea that there is an important message! Most of us strive to produce visualizations, dashboards and reports to provide an accurate portrait of reality. But we can also twist this around and do the opposite: confuse and mislead. You might also want to take a quick look at the comment section of that blog entry. That’s where the post starts getting political.
Nucleus Top Ten Predictions for 2013
Nucleus is one of those research houses that produces very interesting reports. I don’t always agree with the stuff that they write, but it is certainly amongst the most tangible in the industry. Their 2013 predictions don’t disappoint. And guess what – BI is on top of the list. The remaining predictions represent a mixture of different trends – most of which affect analytics to a certain degree. In any case, the free report is well worth a five minute investment. One of my favorite statements is: “It’s time to make sure HP has signed its organ donor card.”You can download the free report from the Nucleus website.
Greetings from Shanghai. For the past seven days, I have had the pleasure of working with the thought-leader, book author and consultant David Parmenter. He is also known as the King of KPIs based on his best-selling book Key Performance Indicators (KPI): Developing, Implementing, and Using Winning KPIs. David and I have been traveling through Asia to speak at various IBM Finance Forums and to meet with great customers. Most Asian IBM Finance Forums feature David Parmenter as the external keynote speaker this year. As part of his presentation called ‘The CFO as Chief Performance Officer’, David urges the audience to spend more time reading and studying the great business thinkers and writers. He goes further in his presentations and presents the audience with a few specific recommendations. I thought it might be worth sharing these.
This device is almost as polarizing as American politics. Crazy! I spend close to 200 days on the road per year and to me, this thing is the best thing since sliced bread…well…almost. I am talking about the Kindle – Amazon.com’s eBook reader. We are in the middle of the holiday season and many of us still hunting for presents. Many of us have to read a ton to stay current with business practices and we also travel. As a result, I wanted to share some thoughts about the Kindle. I have had one for a long time. Since the very first version. It is an amazing, yet extremely boring piece of technology. I do recommend it to anybody who likes to read and travel.
This Kindle is amazing because it allows you to read books on an electronic device that doesn’t feel like one. The Kindle is as light as a small paper back and the screen looks and feels like a real book. When you first read something on the Kindle it feels almost fake. Yes, the screen does look that real. Start reading something on a Kindle and you will notice that it ‘disappears’ within a few seconds of reading. You just become one with the content. Just like with a real book. And you can read it anywhere. The screen is just as good as any book. Event at the beach.
The Kindle is extremely light. You can hold it easily. It is actually a lot easier to hold than many books. I have read books on a plane (less space needed), on a train, on a ship, in a car, in a bed, at the coffee machine and on the beach. It simply feels really good in your hands. Much easier to handle than a book. Seriously.
And then there is the capacity. I used to travel with a bunch of books. No more. Books are heavy. eBooks typically don’t require much storage and the Kindle can easily hold 100s of books. Perfect. Think about going on vacation. One tiny device instead of 5 hard-covers.
You see a book and you want it. The Kindle allows you to download books instantaneously. Once again…great for traveling. And they are typically pretty cheap.
NOTES & HIGHLIGHTS
One of the best things about the Kindle is the ability to highlight sections, to annotate them and to bookmark pages. The kicker is that you can download the highlights and annotations to a PC or MAC. Extremely useful for business books. I love having a txt file with all my highlighted and annotated sections. It is perfect for sharing with friends & colleagues or to use stuff for presentations.
Some people thought that the iPad would kill the Kindle. Not really. The Kindle is like a real book. The iPad is icing on the cake. The Kindle App works extremely well. Books synchronize with the Kindle so you can read books on both devices. In terms of actual reading, I do not like the weight of the iPad. It is quite heavy. And the screen is not suited for reading outside. There is too much glare. BUT the iPad works extremely well for certain graphics-intensive books. Reading business or photography books on the Kindle is a real pleasure. So the combination between both is great. But the iPad is definitely not a Kindle killer to me. On the contrary: it really enhances the Kindle experience.
THE BORING STUFF
Did I mention that the Kindle is extremely boring. Perfect. It looks a bit dull and there isn’t much you can do with it. Sure. You can browse the web but it is a poor experience. There are some games, but they suck. Really boring. Some bloggers have called that the biggest flaw of the device. One magazine was disappointed that the Kindle wouldn’t support Voice over IP. Hmm. Not really. When is the last time, we placed a call using a book? The Kindle’s lack of functionality is its greatest asset: it retains the real character of a book. I sometimes read on the iPad at night. But guess what: I end up checking email, looking at Twitter, surfing…it is just too tempting. That doesn’t happen with the Kindle. It is a real eBook! And that is awesome.
The 3G version of the Kindle allows you to go online pretty much anywhere around the world. That means you can access social websites like Facebook and Twitter. There are some countries on this planet that do not like social media and they block access. Not with the Kindle, apparently. When I traveled to China I noticed that I could get my tweets. At first I thought that it must have been a mistake. But when I returned from the trip, I found some reports that confirmed my suspicion. (see…the Kindle is revolutionary!)
Honestly, there isn’t anything worth writing about. The Kindle is that great. Sure. It could look a bit nicer. I certainly do not like the fact that I have to turn it off during take-off and landing. But I honestly don’t care. The Kindle has allowed me to read a lot more than I used to. And it is really fun and extremely comfortable. Hope you are enjoying your eBook readers as well!