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Google Visualization Tools Can Help You Build a Personal Dashboard

The Google Visualization API is a great way for people to make dashboards with slick graphics based  on data without getting into the fine print of the scripting language  itself.  It utilizes the same tools as Google itself does, and makes visualizing data using API calls to the Visualization API. Thus a real-time customizable dashboard that is publishable to the internet can be created within minutes, and more importantly insights can be much more easily drawn from graphs than from looking at rows of tables and numbers.

  1. There are 41 gadgets (including made by both Google and third-party developers ) available in the Gadget  Gallery ( https://developers.google.com/chart/interactive/docs/gadgetgallery)
  2. There are 12 kinds of charts available in the Chart Gallery (https://developers.google.com/chart/interactive/docs/gallery) .
  3. However there 26 additional charts in the charts page at https://developers.google.com/chart/interactive/docs/more_charts )

Building and embedding charts is simplified to a few steps

  • Load the AJAX API
  • Load the Visualization API and the appropriate package (like piechart or barchart from the kinds of chart)
  • Set a callback to run when the Google Visualization API is loaded
    • Within the Callback – It creates and populates a data table, instantiates the particular chart type chosen, passes in the data and draws it.
    • Create the data table with appropriately named columns and data rows.
    • Set chart options with Title, Width and Height
  • Instantiate and draw the chart, passing in some options including the name and id
  • Finally write the HTML/ Div that will hold the chart

You can simply copy and paste the code directly from https://developers.google.com/chart/interactive/docs/quick_start without getting into any details, and tweak them according to your data, chart preference and voila your web dashboard is ready!
That is the beauty of working with API- you can create and display genius ideas without messing with the scripting languages and code (too much). If you like to dive deeper into the API, you can look at the various objects at https://developers.google.com/chart/interactive/docs/reference

First launched in Mar 2008, Google Visualization API has indeed come a long way in making dashboards easier to build for people wanting to utilize advanced data visualization . It came about directly as a result of Google’s 2007 acquisition of GapMinder (of Hans Rosling fame).
As invariably and inevitably computing shifts to the cloud, visualization APIs will be very useful. Tableau Software has been a pioneer in selling data visualizing to the lucrative business intelligence and business dashboards community (you can see the Tableau Software API at http://onlinehelp.tableausoftware.com/v7.0/server/en-us/embed_api.htm ), and Google Visualization can do the same and capture business dashboard and visualization market , if there is more focus on integrating it from Google in it’s multiple and often confusing API offerings.
However as of now, this is quite simply the easiest way to create a web dashboard for your personal needs. Google guarantees 3 years of backward compatibility with this API and it is completely free.

New RCommander with ggplot #rstats

 

My favorite GUI (or one of them) R Commander has a relatively new plugin called KMGGplot2. Until now Deducer was the only GUI with ggplot features , but the much lighter and more popular R Commander has been a long champion in people wanting to pick up R quickly.

 

http://cran.r-project.org/web/packages/RcmdrPlugin.KMggplot2/

RcmdrPlugin.KMggplot2: Rcmdr Plug-In for Kaplan-Meier Plot and Other Plots by Using the ggplot2 Package

 

As you can see by the screenshot- it makes ggplot even easier for people (like R  newbies and experienced folks alike)

 

This package is an R Commander plug-in for Kaplan-Meier plot and other plots by using the ggplot2 package.

Version: 0.1-0
Depends: R (≥ 2.15.0), stats, methods, grid, Rcmdr (≥ 1.8-4), ggplot2 (≥ 0.9.1)
Imports: tcltk2 (≥ 1.2-3), RColorBrewer (≥ 1.0-5), scales (≥ 0.2.1), survival (≥ 2.36-14)
Published: 2012-05-18
Author: Triad sou. and Kengo NAGASHIMA
Maintainer: Triad sou. <triadsou at gmail.com>
License: GPL-2
CRAN checks: RcmdrPlugin.KMggplot2 results

 

----------------------------------------------------------------
NEWS file for the RcmdrPlugin.KMggplot2 package
----------------------------------------------------------------

----------------------------------------------------------------

Changes in version 0.1-0 (2012-05-18)

 o Restructuring implementation approach for efficient
   maintenance.
 o Added options() for storing package specific options (e.g.,
   font size, font family, ...).
 o Added a theme: theme_simple().
 o Added a theme element: theme_rect2().
 o Added a list box for facet_xx() functions in some menus
   (Thanks to Professor Murtaza Haider).
 o Kaplan-Meier plot: added confidence intervals.
 o Box plot: added violin plots.
 o Bar chart for discrete variables: deleted dynamite plots.
 o Bar chart for discrete variables: added stacked bar charts.
 o Scatter plot matrix: added univariate plots at diagonal
   positions (ggplot2::plotmatrix).
 o Deleted the dummy data for histograms, which is large in
   size.

----------------------------------------------------------------

Changes in version 0.0-4 (2011-07-28)

 o Fixed "scale_y_continuous(formatter = "percent")" to
   "scale_y_continuous(labels = percent)" for ggplot2
   (>= 0.9.0).
 o Fixed "legend = FALSE" to "show_guide = FALSE" for
   ggplot2 (>= 0.9.0).
 o Fixed the DESCRIPTION file for ggplot2 (>= 0.9.0) dependency.

----------------------------------------------------------------

Changes in version 0.0-3 (2011-07-28; FIRST RELEASE VERSION)

 o Kaplan-Meier plot: Show no. at risk table on outside.
 o Histogram: Color coding.
 o Histogram: Density estimation.
 o Q-Q plot: Create plots based on a maximum likelihood estimate
   for the parameters of the selected theoretical distribution.
 o Q-Q plot: Create plots based on a user-specified theoretical
   distribution.
 o Box plot / Errorbar plot: Box plot.
 o Box plot / Errorbar plot: Mean plus/minus S.D.
 o Box plot / Errorbar plot: Mean plus/minus S.D. (Bar plot).
 o Box plot / Errorbar plot: 95 percent Confidence interval
   (t distribution).
 o Box plot / Errorbar plot: 95 percent Confidence interval
   (bootstrap).
 o Scatter plot: Fitting a linear regression.
 o Scatter plot: Smoothing with LOESS for small datasets or GAM
   with a cubic regression basis for large data.
 o Scatter plot matrix: Fitting a linear regression.
 o Scatter plot matrix: Smoothing with LOESS for small datasets
   or GAM with a cubic regression basis for large data.
 o Line chart: Normal line chart.
 o Line chart: Line char with a step function.
 o Line chart: Area plot.
 o Pie chart: Pie chart.
 o Bar chart for discrete variables: Bar chart for discrete
   variables.
 o Contour plot: Color coding.
 o Contour plot: Heat map.
 o Distribution plot: Normal distribution.
 o Distribution plot: t distribution.
 o Distribution plot: Chi-square distribution.
 o Distribution plot: F distribution.
 o Distribution plot: Exponential distribution.
 o Distribution plot: Uniform distribution.
 o Distribution plot: Beta distribution.
 o Distribution plot: Cauchy distribution.
 o Distribution plot: Logistic distribution.
 o Distribution plot: Log-normal distribution.
 o Distribution plot: Gamma distribution.
 o Distribution plot: Weibull distribution.
 o Distribution plot: Binomial distribution.
 o Distribution plot: Poisson distribution.
 o Distribution plot: Geometric distribution.
 o Distribution plot: Hypergeometric distribution.
 o Distribution plot: Negative binomial distribution.

JMP 10 released

JMP , the visual data exploration, statistical quality control software from SAS Institute launched version 10 of its software today.

Source-http://jmp.com/about/events/webcasts/jmp_webcast.shtml?name=jmp10

JMP 10 includes:

Numerous enhancements to the drag-and-drop Graph Builder, including a new iPad application.

A cutting-edge Control Chart Builder to create process control charts with drag-and-drop ease.

New reliability capabilities, including growth and forecast models.

Additions and improvements for sorting and filtering data, design of experiments, statistical modeling, scripting, add-in and application development, script debugging and more.

From JohnSall’s blog post at http://blogs.sas.com/content/jmp/2012/03/20/discover-more-with-jmp-10/

Much of the development centered on four focus areas:

1. Graph Builder everywhere. The Graph Builder platform itself has new features like Heatmap and Treemap, an elements palette and properties panel, making the choices more visible. But Graph Builder also has some descendents now, including the new Control Chart Builder, which makes creating control charts an interactive process. In addition, some of the drag-and-drop features that are used to change columns in Graph Builder are also available in Distribution, Fit Y by X, and a few other places. Finally, Graph Builder has been ported to the iPad. For the first time, you can use JMP for exploration and presentation on a mobile device for free. So just think of Graph Builder as gradually taking over in lots of places.

2. Expert-driven design.reliability, measurement systems, and partial least squares analyses.

3. Performance.  this release has the most new multithreading so far

4. Application development

You can read more here -http://jmp.com/about/events/webcasts/jmpwebcast_detail.shtml?reglink=70130000001r9IP

Interview Kelci Miclaus, SAS Institute Using #rstats with JMP

Here is an interview with Kelci Miclaus, a researcher working with the JMP division of the SAS Institute, in which she demonstrates examples of how the R programming language is a great hit with JMP customers who like to be flexible.

 

Ajay- How has JMP been using integration with R? What has been the feedback from customers so far? Is there a single case study you can point out where the combination of JMP and R was better than any one of them alone?

Kelci- Feedback from customers has been very positive. Some customers are using JMP to foster collaboration between SAS and R modelers within their organizations. Many are using JMP’s interactive visualization to complement their use of R. Many SAS and JMP users are using JMP’s integration with R to experiment with more bleeding-edge methods not yet available in commercial software. It can be used simply to smooth the transition with regard to sending data between the two tools, or used to build complete custom applications that take advantage of both JMP and R.

One customer has been using JMP and R together for Bayesian analysis. He uses R to create MCMC chains and has found that JMP is a great tool for preparing the data for analysis, as well as displaying the results of the MCMC simulation. For example, the Control Chart platform and the Bubble Plot platform in JMP can be used to quickly verify convergence of the algorithm. The use of both tools together can increase productivity since the results of an analysis can be achieved faster than through scripting and static graphics alone.

I, along with a few other JMP developers, have written applications that use JMP scripting to call out to R packages and perform analyses like multidimensional scaling, bootstrapping, support vector machines, and modern variable selection methods. These really show the benefit of interactive visual analysis of coupled with modern statistical algorithms. We’ve packaged these scripts as JMP add-ins and made them freely available on our JMP User Community file exchange. Customers can download them and now employ these methods as they would a regular JMP platform. We hope that our customers familiar with scripting will also begin to contribute their own add-ins so a wider audience can take advantage of these new tools.

(see http://www.decisionstats.com/jmp-and-r-rstats/)

Ajay- Are there plans to extend JMP integration with other languages like Python?

Kelci- We do have plans to integrate with other languages and are considering integrating with more based on customer requests. Python has certainly come up and we are looking into possibilities there.

 Ajay- How is R a complimentary fit to JMP’s technical capabilities?

Kelci- R has an incredible breadth of capabilities. JMP has extensive interactive, dynamic visualization intrinsic to its largely visual analysis paradigm, in addition to a strong core of statistical platforms. Since our brains are designed to visually process pictures and animated graphs more efficiently than numbers and text, this environment is all about supporting faster discovery. Of course, JMP also has a scripting language (JSL) allowing you to incorporate SAS code, R code, build analytical applications for others to leverage SAS, R and other applications for users who don’t code or who don’t want to code.

JSL is a powerful scripting language on its own. It can be used for dialog creation, automation of JMP statistical platforms, and custom graphic scripting. In other ways, JSL is very similar to the R language. It can also be used for data and matrix manipulation and to create new analysis functions. With the scripting capabilities of JMP, you can create custom applications that provide both a user interface and an interactive visual back-end to R functionality. Alternatively, you could create a dashboard using statistical and/or graphical platforms in JMP to explore the data and with the click of a button, send a portion of the data to R for further analysis.

Another JMP feature that complements R is the add-in architecture, which is similar to how R packages work. If you’ve written a cool script or analysis workflow, you can package it into a JMP add-in file and send it to your colleagues so they can easily use it.

Ajay- What is the official view on R from your organization? Do you think it is a threat, or a complimentary product or another statistical platform that coexists with your offerings?

Kelci- Most definitely, we view R as complimentary. R contributors are providing a tremendous service to practitioners, allowing them to try a wide variety of methods in the pursuit of more insight and better results. The R community as a whole is providing a valued role to the greater analytical community by focusing attention on newer methods that hold the most promise in so many application areas. Data analysts should be encouraged to use the tools available to them in order to drive discovery and JMP can help with that by providing an analytic hub that supports both SAS and R integration.

Ajay-  While you do use R, are there any plans to give back something to the R community in terms of your involvement and participation (say at useR events) or sponsoring contests.

 Kelci- We are certainly open to participating in useR groups. At Predictive Analytics World in NY last October, they didn’t have a local useR group, but they did have a Predictive Analytics Meet-up group comprised of many R users. We were happy to sponsor this. Some of us within the JMP division have joined local R user groups, myself included.  Given that some local R user groups have entertained topics like Excel and R, Python and R, databases and R, we would be happy to participate more fully here. I also hope to attend the useR! annual meeting later this year to gain more insight on how we can continue to provide tools to help both the JMP and R communities with their work.

We are also exploring options to sponsor contests and would invite participants to use their favorite tools, languages, etc. in pursuit of the best model. Statistics is about learning from data and this is how we make the world a better place.

About- Kelci Miclaus

Kelci is a research statistician developer for JMP Life Sciences at SAS Institute. She has a PhD in Statistics from North Carolina State University and has been using SAS products and R for several years. In addition to research interests in statistical genetics, clinical trials analysis, and multivariate analysis/visualization methods, Kelci works extensively with JMP, SAS, and R integration.

.

 

Top 5 XKCD on Data Visualization

By request, an analysis of Top 5  XKCDs on data visualization. Statisticians and Data Scientists to note-

1) DOT PLOT

 

2)  LINE PLOTS

3) FLOW CHARTS

4) PIE CHARTS and 5) BAR GRAPHS

I am not going into the big big graphs of course like the Star Wars Plot data visualization at

http://xkcd.com/657/ or the Money Chart at http://xkcd.com/980/ because I dont believe in data visualization to show off, but to keep it simple simply :)

Now I gotta find me a software that can write my blog for me :)

Using Google Fusion Tables from #rstats

But after all that- I was quite happy to see Google Fusion Tables within Google Docs. Databases as a service ? Not quite but still quite good, and lets see how it goes.

https://www.google.com/fusiontables/DataSource?dsrcid=implicit&hl=en_US&pli=1

http://googlesystem.blogspot.com/2011/09/fusion-tables-new-google-docs-app.html

 

But what interests me more is

http://code.google.com/apis/fusiontables/docs/developers_guide.html

The Google Fusion Tables API is a set of statements that you can use to search for and retrieve Google Fusion Tables data, insert new data, update existing data, and delete data. The API statements are sent to the Google Fusion Tables server using HTTP GET requests (for queries) and POST requests (for inserts, updates, and deletes) from a Web client application. The API is language agnostic: you can write your program in any language you prefer, as long as it provides some way to embed the API calls in HTTP requests.

The Google Fusion Tables API does not provide the mechanism for submitting the GET and POST requests. Typically, you will use an existing code library that provides such functionality; for example, the code libraries that have been developed for the Google GData API. You can also write your own code to implement GET and POST requests.

Also see http://code.google.com/apis/fusiontables/docs/sample_code.html

 

Google Fusion Tables API Sample Code

Libraries

SQL API

Language Library Public repository Samples
Python Fusion Tables Python Client Library fusion-tables-client-python/ Samples
PHP Fusion Tables PHP Client Library fusion-tables-client-php/ Samples

Featured Samples

An easy way to learn how to use an API can be to look at sample code. The table above provides links to some basic samples for each of the languages shown. This section highlights particularly interesting samples for the Fusion Tables API.

SQL API

Language Featured samples API version
cURL
  • Hello, cURLA simple example showing how to use curl to access Fusion Tables.
SQL API
Google Apps Script SQL API
Java
  • Hello, WorldA simple walkthrough that shows how the Google Fusion Tables API statements work.
  • OAuth example on fusion-tables-apiThe Google Fusion Tables team shows how OAuth authorization enables you to use the Google Fusion Tables API from a foreign web server with delegated authorization.
SQL API
Python
  • Docs List ExampleDemonstrates how to:
    • List tables
    • Set permissions on tables
    • Move a table to a folder
Docs List API
Android (Java)
  • Basic Sample ApplicationDemo application shows how to create a crowd-sourcing application that allows users to report potholes and save the data to a Fusion Table.
SQL API
JavaScript – FusionTablesLayer Using the FusionTablesLayer, you can display data on a Google Map

Also check out FusionTablesLayer Builder, which generates all the code necessary to include a Google Map with a Fusion Table Layer on your own website.

FusionTablesLayer, Google Maps API
JavaScript – Google Chart Tools Using the Google Chart Tools, you can request data from Fusion Tables to use in visualizations or to display directly in an HTML page. Note: responses are limited to 500 rows of data.

Google Chart Tools

External Resources

Google Fusion Tables is dedicated to providing code examples that illustrate typical uses, best practices, and really cool tricks. If you do something with the Google Fusion Tables API that you think would be interesting to others, please contact us at googletables-feedback@google.com about adding your code to our Examples page.

  • Shape EscapeA tool for uploading shape files to Fusion Tables.
  • GDALOGR Simple Feature Library has incorporated Fusion Tables as a supported format.
  • Arc2CloudArc2Earth has included support for upload to Fusion Tables via Arc2Cloud.
  • Java and Google App EngineODK Aggregate is an AppEngine application by the Open Data Kit team, uses Google Fusion Tables to store survey data that is collected through input forms on Android mobile phones. Notable code:
  • R packageAndrei Lopatenko has written an R interface to Fusion Tables so Fusion Tables can be used as the data store for R.
  • RubySimon Tokumine has written a Ruby gem for access to Fusion Tables from Ruby.

 

Updated-You can use Google Fusion Tables from within R from http://andrei.lopatenko.com/rstat/fusion-tables.R

 

ft.connect <- function(username, password) {
  url = "https://www.google.com/accounts/ClientLogin";
  params = list(Email = username, Passwd = password, accountType="GOOGLE", service= "fusiontables", source = "R_client_API")
 connection = postForm(uri = url, .params = params)
 if (length(grep("error", connection, ignore.case = TRUE))) {
 	stop("The wrong username or password")
 	return ("")
 }
 authn = strsplit(connection, "\nAuth=")[[c(1,2)]]
 auth = strsplit(authn, "\n")[[c(1,1)]]
 return (auth)
}

ft.disconnect <- function(connection) {
}

ft.executestatement <- function(auth, statement) {
      url = "http://tables.googlelabs.com/api/query"
      params = list( sql = statement)
      connection.string = paste("GoogleLogin auth=", auth, sep="")
      opts = list( httpheader = c("Authorization" = connection.string))
      result = postForm(uri = url, .params = params, .opts = opts)
      if (length(grep("<HTML>\n<HEAD>\n<TITLE>Parse error", result, ignore.case = TRUE))) {
      	stop(paste("incorrect sql statement:", statement))
      }
      return (result)
}

ft.showtables <- function(auth) {
   url = "http://tables.googlelabs.com/api/query"
   params = list( sql = "SHOW TABLES")
   connection.string = paste("GoogleLogin auth=", auth, sep="")
   opts = list( httpheader = c("Authorization" = connection.string))
   result = getForm(uri = url, .params = params, .opts = opts)
   tables = strsplit(result, "\n")
   tableid = c()
   tablename = c()
   for (i in 2:length(tables[[1]])) {
     	str = tables[[c(1,i)]]
   	    tnames = strsplit(str,",")
   	    tableid[i-1] = tnames[[c(1,1)]]
   	    tablename[i-1] = tnames[[c(1,2)]]
   	}
   	tables = data.frame( ids = tableid, names = tablename)
    return (tables)
}

ft.describetablebyid <- function(auth, tid) {
   url = "http://tables.googlelabs.com/api/query"
   params = list( sql = paste("DESCRIBE", tid))
   connection.string = paste("GoogleLogin auth=", auth, sep="")
   opts = list( httpheader = c("Authorization" = connection.string))
   result = getForm(uri = url, .params = params, .opts = opts)
   columns = strsplit(result,"\n")
   colid = c()
   colname = c()
   coltype = c()
   for (i in 2:length(columns[[1]])) {
     	str = columns[[c(1,i)]]
   	    cnames = strsplit(str,",")
   	    colid[i-1] = cnames[[c(1,1)]]
   	    colname[i-1] = cnames[[c(1,2)]]
   	    coltype[i-1] = cnames[[c(1,3)]]
   	}
   	cols = data.frame(ids = colid, names = colname, types = coltype)
    return (cols)
}

ft.describetable <- function (auth, table_name) {
   table_id = ft.idfromtablename(auth, table_name)
   result = ft.describetablebyid(auth, table_id)
   return (result)
}

ft.idfromtablename <- function(auth, table_name) {
    tables = ft.showtables(auth)
	tableid = tables$ids[tables$names == table_name]
	return (tableid)
}

ft.importdata <- function(auth, table_name) {
	tableid = ft.idfromtablename(auth, table_name)
	columns = ft.describetablebyid(auth, tableid)
	column_spec = ""
	for (i in 1:length(columns)) {
		column_spec = paste(column_spec, columns[i, 2])
		if (i < length(columns)) {
			column_spec = paste(column_spec, ",", sep="")
		}
	}
	mdata = matrix(columns$names,
	              nrow = 1, ncol = length(columns),
	              dimnames(list(c("dummy"), columns$names)), byrow=TRUE)
	select = paste("SELECT", column_spec)
	select = paste(select, "FROM")
	select = paste(select, tableid)
	result = ft.executestatement(auth, select)
    numcols = length(columns)
    rows = strsplit(result, "\n")
    for (i in 3:length(rows[[1]])) {
    	row = strsplit(rows[[c(1,i)]], ",")
    	mdata = rbind(mdata, row[[1]])
   	}
   	output.frame = data.frame(mdata[2:length(mdata[,1]), 1])
   	for (i in 2:ncol(mdata)) {
   		output.frame = cbind(output.frame, mdata[2:length(mdata[,i]),i])
   	}
   	colnames(output.frame) = columns$names
    return (output.frame)
}

quote_value <- function(value, to_quote = FALSE, quote = "'") {
	 ret_value = ""
     if (to_quote) {
     	ret_value = paste(quote, paste(value, quote, sep=""), sep="")
     } else {
     	ret_value = value
     }
     return (ret_value)
}

converttostring <- function(arr, separator = ", ", column_types) {
	con_string = ""
	for (i in 1:(length(arr) - 1)) {
		value = quote_value(arr[i], column_types[i] != "number")
		con_string = paste(con_string, value)
	    con_string = paste(con_string, separator, sep="")
	}

    if (length(arr) >= 1) {
    	value = quote_value(arr[length(arr)], column_types[length(arr)] != "NUMBER")
    	con_string = paste(con_string, value)
    }
}

ft.exportdata <- function(auth, input_frame, table_name, create_table) {
	if (create_table) {
       create.table = "CREATE TABLE "
       create.table = paste(create.table, table_name)
       create.table = paste(create.table, "(")
       cnames = colnames(input_frame)
       for (columnname in cnames) {
         create.table = paste(create.table, columnname)
    	 create.table = paste(create.table, ":string", sep="")
    	   if (columnname != cnames[length(cnames)]){
    		  create.table = paste(create.table, ",", sep="")
           }
       }
      create.table = paste(create.table, ")")
      result = ft.executestatement(auth, create.table)
    }
    if (length(input_frame[,1]) > 0) {
    	tableid = ft.idfromtablename(auth, table_name)
	    columns = ft.describetablebyid(auth, tableid)
	    column_spec = ""
	    for (i in 1:length(columns$names)) {
		   column_spec = paste(column_spec, columns[i, 2])
		   if (i < length(columns$names)) {
			  column_spec = paste(column_spec, ",", sep="")
		   }
	    }
    	insert_prefix = "INSERT INTO "
    	insert_prefix = paste(insert_prefix, tableid)
    	insert_prefix = paste(insert_prefix, "(")
    	insert_prefix = paste(insert_prefix, column_spec)
    	insert_prefix = paste(insert_prefix, ") values (")
    	insert_suffix = ");"
    	insert_sql_big = ""
    	for (i in 1:length(input_frame[,1])) {
    		data = unlist(input_frame[i,])
    		values = converttostring(data, column_types  = columns$types)
    		insert_sql = paste(insert_prefix, values)
    		insert_sql = paste(insert_sql, insert_suffix) ;
    		insert_sql_big = paste(insert_sql_big, insert_sql)
    		if (i %% 500 == 0) {
    			ft.executestatement(auth, insert_sql_big)
    			insert_sql_big = ""
    		}
    	}
        ft.executestatement(auth, insert_sql_big)
    }
}

Interview with Rob La Gesse Chief Disruption Officer Rackspace

Here is an interview with Rob La Gesse ,Chief Disruption Officer ,Rackspace Hosting.
Ajay- Describe your career  journey from not finishing college to writing software to your present projects?
Rob- I joined the Navy right out of High School. I had neither the money for college, or a real desire for it. I had several roles in the Navy, to include a Combat Medic station with the US Marine Corps and eventually becoming a Neonatal Respiratory Therapist.

After the Navy I worked as a Respiratory Therapist, a roofer, and I repaired print shop equipment. Basically whatever it took to make a buck or two.  Eventually I started selling computers.  That led me to running a multi-line dial-up BBS and I taught myself how to program.  Eventually that led to a job with a small engineering company where we developed WiFi.

After the WiFi project I started consulting on my own.  I used Rackspace to host my clients, and eventually they hired me.  I’ve been here almost three years and have held several roles. I currently manage Social Media, building 43 and am involved in several other projects such as the Rackspace Startup Program.

Ajay-  What is building43 all about ?

Rob- Building43 is a web site devoted to telling the stories behind technology startups. Basically, after we hired Robert Scoble and Rocky Barbanica we were figuring out how best we could work with them to both highlight Rackspace and customers.  That idea expanded beyond customers to highlighting anyone doing something incredible in the technology industry - mostly software startups.  We’ve had interviews with people like Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and Founder of FaceBook.  We’ve broken some news on the site, but it isn’t really a news site. It is a story telling site.

Rackspace has met some amazing new customers through the relationships that started with an interview.

Ajay-  How is life as Robert Scoble’s boss. Is he an easy guy to work with? Does he have super powers while he types?

Rob- Robert isn’t much different to manage than the rest of my employees. He is a person – no super powers.  But he does establish a unique perspective on things because he gets to see so much new technology early.  Often earlier than almost anyone else. It helps him to spot trends that others might not be seeing yet.
Ajay – Hosting companies are so so many. What makes Rackspace special for different kinds of customers?
Rob- I think what we do better than anyone is add that human touch – the people really care about your business.  We are a company that is focused on building one of the greatest service companies on the planet.  We sell support.  Hosting is secondary to service. Our motto is Fanatic Support®

and we actually look for people focused on delivering amazing customer experiences during our interviewing and hiring practices. People that find a personal sense of pride and reward by helping others should apply at
Rackspace.  We are hiring like crazy!

Ajay – Where do you see technology and the internet 5 years down the line? (we will visit the answers in 5 years :) )?
Rob- I think the shift to Cloud computing is going to be dramatic.  I think in five years we will be much further down that path.  The scaling, cost-effectiveness, and on-demand nature of the Cloud are just too compelling for companies not to embrace. This changes business in fundamental ways – lower capital expenses, no need for in house IT staff, etc will save companies a lot of money and let them focus more on their core businesses. Computing will become another utility.  I also think mobile use of computing will be much more common than it is today.  And it is VERY common today.  Phones will replace car keys and credit cards (they already are). This too will drive use of Cloud computing  because we all want our data wherever we are – on whatever computing device we happen tobe using.
Ajay- GoDaddy CEO shoots elephants. What do you do in your  spare time, if any.
Rob- Well, I don’t hunt.  We do shoot a lot of video though! I enjoy playing poker, specifically Texas Hold ‘em.  It is a very people oriented game, and people are my passion.

Brief Biography- (in his own words from http://www.lagesse.org/about/)

My technical background includes working on the development of WiFi, writing wireless applications for the Apple Newton, mentoring/managing several software-based start-ups, running software quality assurance teams and more. In 2008 I joined Rackspace as an employee – a “Racker”.  I was previously a 7 year customer and the company impressed me. My initial role was as Director of Software Development for the Rackspace Cloud.  It was soon evident that I was better suited to a customer facing role since I LOVE talking to customers. I am currently the Director of Customer Development Chief Disruption Officer.  I manage building43 and enjoy working with Robert Scoble and Rocky Barbanica to make that happen.  The org chart says they work for me.  Reality tells me the opposite :)

Go take a look – I’m proud of what we are building there (pardon the pun!).

I do a lot of other stuff at Rackspace – mostly because they let me!  I love a company that lets me try. Rackspace does that.Going further back, I have been a Mayor (in Hawaii). I have written successful shareware software. I have managed employees all over the world. I have been all over the world. I have also done roofing, repaired high end print-shop equipment, been a Neonatal Respiratory Therapist, done CPR on a boat, in a plane, and in a hardware store (and of course in hospitals).

I have treated jumpers from the Golden Gate Bridge – and helped save a few. I have lived in Illinois (Kankakee), California (San Diego, San Francisco and Novato), Texas (Corpus Christi and San Antonio), Florida (Pensacola and Palm Bay), Hawaii (Honolulu/Fort Shafter) and several other places for shorter durations.

For the last 8+ years I have been a single parent – and have done an amazing job (yes, I am a proud papa) thanks to having great kids.  They are both in College now – something I did NOT manage to accomplish. I love doing anything someone thinks I am not qualified to do.

I can be contacted at rob (at) lagesse (dot) org

you can follow Rob at http://twitter.com/kr8tr

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