data science

Importing fixed-width files with {palmerpenguins}

Gentoo penguins in Antarctica, walking along a “penguin highway”, a path that joins the sea and their nesting area on a rocky outcrop. Who doesn’t like penguins? They have a quirky charm, and are an amazing demonstration of the power of evolution: they fly but only underwater, and are adapted to thrive in some of the harshest climates on Earth. The {palmerpenguins} R package contains data collected at the Palmer Station on Anvers Island in the Antarctic.

Same name, different bird

Originally posted to, 2019-06-02 What do we mean when we see a bird and say that it’s a robin? A simple description would be a small brownish bird with a red breast. But that’s a superficial description, and when we say “robin” what we mean depends on your location; you don’t have to look very closely to see that the European and American robins are fundamentally different. The European robin (Erithacus rubecula, pictured above) is an Old World flycatcher, catching insects on the wing.

Book review--Storytelling with Data

by Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic (2015, Wiley) Originally posted to, 2016-03-06 One of the great strengths of R is that there are some robust (and always improving) packages that facilitate great data visualization and tabular summaries. Beyond the capabilities built into the base version of R, packages such as ggplot2 (my favourite), lattice, and vcd and vcdExtra extend the possibilities for rendering charts and graphs, and a similar variety exist for reproducing tables.

Always a learner be

Or, another thought provoked (History 5702W) At one point during during the seminar of authoring tools in the History 5702W seminar (see Reflections on History 5702W), the discussion turned to complexities and difficulties associated with learning all the new tools available to researchers. Examples raised in the conversation included the myriad flavours of markdown, the additional layers of pandoc, the variety of tools that allows various reference styles to be incorporated, ad infinitum.

Reflections on History 5702

I had the pleasure of speaking to the History 5702W graduate student seminar at Carleton University in Ottawa this morning (2016-01-25). Led by Dr. Shawn Graham, the seminar is on "Digital History (or, an introduction to hacking as a way of knowing)". My presentation covered three different research projects I've been involved with in my professional life at BC Stats, British Columbia's provincial statistics bureau. My intention was to introduce the students to the fact that the methods they are encountering in their digitial history class are being applied in a variety of contexts outside the academy.