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Webscraping using iMacros

The noted Diamonds dataset in the ggplot2 package of R is actually culled from the website http://www.diamondse.info/diamond-prices.asp

However it has ~55000 diamonds, while the whole Diamonds search engine has almost ten times that number. Using iMacros – a Google Chrome Plugin, we can scrape that data (or almost any data). The iMacros chrome plugin is available at  https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/cplklnmnlbnpmjogncfgfijoopmnlemp while notes on coding are at http://wiki.imacros.net

Imacros makes coding as easy as recording macro and the code is automatcially generated for whatever actions you do. You can set parameters to extract only specific parts of the website, and code can be run into a loop (of 9999 times!)

Here is the iMacros code-Note you need to navigate to the web site http://www.diamondse.info/diamond-prices.asp before running it

TAG POS=1 TYPE=DIV ATTR=CLASS:paginate_enabled_next










and voila- all the diamonds you need to analyze!

The returning data can be read using the standard delimiter data munging in the language of SAS or R.

More on IMacros from



Automate your web browser. Record and replay repetitious work

If you encounter any problems with iMacros for Chrome, please let us know in our Chrome user forum at http://forum.iopus.com/viewforum.php?f=21

Our forum is also the best place for new feature suggestions :-)

iMacros was designed to automate the most repetitious tasks on the web. If there’s an activity you have to do repeatedly, just record it in iMacros. The next time you need to do it, the entire macro will run at the click of a button! With iMacros, you can quickly and easily fill out web forms, remember passwords, create a webmail notifier, and more. You can keep the macros on your computer for your own use, use them within bookmark sync / Xmarks or share them with others by embedding them on your homepage, blog, company Intranet or any social bookmarking service as bookmarklet. The uses are limited only by your imagination!

Popular uses are as web macro recorder, form filler on steroids and highly-secure password manager (256-bit AES encryption).

Facebook and R

Part 1 How do people at Facebook use R?

tamar Rosenn, Facebook

Itamar conveyed how Facebook’s Data Team used R in 2007 to answer two questions about new users: (i) which data points predict whether a user will stay? and (ii) if they stay, which data points predict how active they’ll be after three months?

For the first question, Itamar’s team used recursive partitioning (via the rpartpackage) to infer that just two data points are significantly predictive of whether a user remains on Facebook: (i) having more than one session as a new user, and (ii) entering basic profile information.

For the second question, they fit the data to a logistic model using a least angle regression approach (via the lars package), and found that activity at three months was predicted by variables related to three classes of behavior: (i) how often a user was reached out to by others, (ii) frequency of third party application use, and (iii) what Itamar termed “receptiveness” — related to how forthcoming a user was on the site.


and cute graphs like the famous




studying baseball on facebook


by counting the number of posts that occurred the day after a team lost divided by the total number of wins, since losses for great teams are remarkable and since winning teams’ fans just post more.


But mostly at

https://www.facebook.com/data?sk=notes and https://www.facebook.com/data?v=app_4949752878


and creating new packages

1. jjplot (not much action here!)



I liked the promise of JJplot at


2. ising models



3. R pipe



even the FB interns are cool



Part 2 How do people with R use Facebook?

Using the API at https://developers.facebook.com/tools/explorer

and code mashes from




but the wonderful troubleshooting code from http://www.brocktibert.com/blog/2012/01/19/358/

which needs to be added to the code first


and using network package


Annoyingly the Facebook token can expire after some time, this can lead to huge wait and NULL results with Oauth errors

If that happens you need to regenerate the token

What we need
> require(RCurl)
> require(rjson)
> download.file(url=”http://curl.haxx.se/ca/cacert.pem”, destfile=”cacert.pem”)

Roman’s Famous Facebook Function (altered)

> facebook <- function( path = “me”, access_token , options){
+ if( !missing(options) ){
+ options <- sprintf( “?%s”, paste( names(options), “=”, unlist(options), collapse = “&”, sep = “” ) )
+ } else {
+ options <- “”
+ }
+ data <- getURL( sprintf( “https://graph.facebook.com/%s%s&access_token=%s&#8221;, path, options, access_token ), cainfo=”cacert.pem” )
+ fromJSON( data )
+ }


Now getting the friends list
> friends <- facebook( path=”me/friends” , access_token=access_token)
> # extract Facebook IDs
> friends.id <- sapply(friends$data, function(x) x$id)
> # extract names
> friends.name <- sapply(friends$data, function(x) iconv(x$name,”UTF-8″,”ASCII//TRANSLIT”))
> # short names to initials
> initials <- function(x) paste(substr(x,1,1), collapse=””)
> friends.initial <- sapply(strsplit(friends.name,” “), initials)

This matrix can take a long time to build, so you can change the value of N to say 40 to test your network. I needed to press the escape button to cut short the plotting of all 400 friends of mine.
> # friendship relation matrix
> N <- length(friends.id)
> friendship.matrix <- matrix(0,N,N)
> for (i in 1:N) {
+ tmp <- facebook( path=paste(“me/mutualfriends”, friends.id[i], sep=”/”) , access_token=access_token)
+ mutualfriends <- sapply(tmp$data, function(x) x$id)
+ friendship.matrix[i,friends.id %in% mutualfriends] <- 1
+ }


Plotting using Network package in R (with help from the  comments at http://applyr.blogspot.in/2012/01/mining-facebook-data-most-liked-status.html)

> require(network)

>net1<- as.network(friendship.matrix)

> plot(net1, label=friends.initial, arrowhead.cex=0)

(Rgraphviz is tough if you are on Windows 7 like me)

but there is an alternative igraph solution at https://github.com/sciruela/facebookFriends/blob/master/facebook.r


After all that-..talk.. a graph..of my Facebook Network with friends initials as labels..


Opinion piece-

I hope plans to make the Facebook R package get fulfilled (just as the twitteR  package led to many interesting analysis)

and also Linkedin has an API at http://developer.linkedin.com/apis

I think it would be interesting to plot professional relationships across social networks as well. But I hope to see a LinkedIn package (or blog code) soon.

As for jjplot, I had hoped ggplot and jjplot merged or atleast had some kind of inclusion in the Deducer GUI. Maybe a Google Summer of Code project if people are busy!!

Also the geeks at Facebook.com can think of giving something back to the R community, as Google generously does with funding packages like RUnit, Deducer and Summer of Code, besides sponsoring meet ups etc.


(note – this is part of the research for the upcoming book ” R for Business Analytics”)



but didnt get time to download all my posts using R code at


or do specific Facebook Page analysis using R at



 #access token from https://developers.facebook.com/tools/explorer
# download the file needed for authentication http://www.brocktibert.com/blog/2012/01/19/358/
download.file(url="http://curl.haxx.se/ca/cacert.pem", destfile="cacert.pem")
# http://romainfrancois.blog.free.fr/index.php?post/2012/01/15/Crawling-facebook-with-R
facebook <- function( path = "me", access_token = token, options){
if( !missing(options) ){
options <- sprintf( "?%s", paste( names(options), "=", unlist(options), collapse = "&", sep = "" ) )
} else {
options <- ""
data <- getURL( sprintf( "https://graph.facebook.com/%s%s&access_token=%s", path, options, access_token ), cainfo="cacert.pem" )
fromJSON( data )

 # see http://applyr.blogspot.in/2012/01/mining-facebook-data-most-liked-status.html

# scrape the list of friends
friends <- facebook( path="me/friends" , access_token=access_token)
# extract Facebook IDs
friends.id <- sapply(friends$data, function(x) x$id)
# extract names 
friends.name <- sapply(friends$data, function(x)  iconv(x$name,"UTF-8","ASCII//TRANSLIT"))
# short names to initials 
initials <- function(x) paste(substr(x,1,1), collapse="")
friends.initial <- sapply(strsplit(friends.name," "), initials)

# friendship relation matrix
#N <- length(friends.id)
N <- 200
friendship.matrix <- matrix(0,N,N)
for (i in 1:N) {
  tmp <- facebook( path=paste("me/mutualfriends", friends.id[i], sep="/") , access_token=access_token)
  mutualfriends <- sapply(tmp$data, function(x) x$id)
  friendship.matrix[i,friends.id %in% mutualfriends] <- 1
net1<- as.network(friendship.matrix)
plot(net1, label=friends.initial, arrowhead.cex=0)

Created by Pretty R at inside-R.org

How to use Bit Torrents

I really liked the software Qbittorent available from http://www.qbittorrent.org/ I think bit torrents should be the default way of sharing huge content especially software downloads. For protecting intellectual property there should be much better codes and software keys than presently available.

The qBittorrent project aims to provide a Free Software alternative to µtorrent. Additionally, qBittorrent runs and provides the same features on all major platforms (Linux, Mac OS X, Windows, OS/2, FreeBSD).

qBittorrent is based on Qt4 toolkit and libtorrent-rasterbar.

qBittorrent v2 Features

  • Polished µTorrent-like User Interface
  • Well-integrated and extensible Search Engine
    • Simultaneous search in most famous BitTorrent search sites
    • Per-category-specific search requests (e.g. Books, Music, Movies)
  • All Bittorrent extensions
    • DHT, Peer Exchange, Full encryption, Magnet/BitComet URIs, …
  • Remote control through a Web user interface
    • Nearly identical to the regular UI, all in Ajax
  • Advanced control over trackers, peers and torrents
    • Torrents queueing and prioritizing
    • Torrent content selection and prioritizing
  • UPnP / NAT-PMP port forwarding support
  • Available in ~25 languages (Unicode support)
  • Torrent creation tool
  • Advanced RSS support with download filters (inc. regex)
  • Bandwidth scheduler
  • IP Filtering (eMule and PeerGuardian compatible)
  • IPv6 compliant
  • Sequential downloading (aka “Download in order”)
  • Available on most platforms: Linux, Mac OS X, Windows, OS/2, FreeBSD
So if you are new to Bit Torrents- here is a brief tutorial
Some terminology from


tracker is a server that keeps track of which seeds and peers are in the swarm.


Seed is used to refer to a peer who has 100% of the data. When a leech obtains 100% of the data, that peer automatically becomes a Seed.


peer is one instance of a BitTorrent client running on a computer on the Internet to which other clients connect and transfer data.


leech is a term with two meanings. Primarily leech (or leeches) refer to a peer (or peers) who has a negative effect on the swarm by having a very poor share ratio (downloading much more than they upload, creating a ratio less than 1.0)
1) Download and install the software from  http://www.qbittorrent.org/
2) If you want to search for new files, you can use the nice search features in here
3) If you want to CREATE new bit torrents- go to Tools -Torrent Creator
4) For sharing content- just seed the torrent you just created. What is seeding – hey did you read the terminology in the beginning?
5) Additionally -

Trackers: Below are some popular public trackers. They are servers which help peers to communicate.

Here are some good trackers you can use:









When a file is new, much time can be wasted because the seeding client might send the same file piece to many different peers, while other pieces have not yet been downloaded at all. Some clients, like ABCVuzeBitTornado, TorrentStorm, and µTorrent have a “super-seed” mode, where they try to only send out pieces that have never been sent out before, theoretically making the initial propagation of the file much faster. However the super-seeding becomes less effective and may even reduce performance compared to the normal “rarest first” model in cases where some peers have poor or limited connectivity. This mode is generally used only for a new torrent, or one which must be re-seeded because no other seeds are available.
Note- you use this tutorial and any or all steps at your own risk. I am not legally responsible for any mishaps you get into. Please be responsible while being an efficient bit tor renter. That means respecting individual property rights.

UseR 2012 Early Registration #rstats

Early Registration Deadline Approaches for UseR 2012





  • Early Registration: Jan 23 24 – Feb 29
  • Regular Registration: Mar 1 – May 12
  • Late Registration: May 13 – June 4
  • On-site Registration: June 12 – June 15



Academic Non-Academic Student/Retiree
Registration: Early $290 $440 $145
Registration: Regular $365 $560 $185
Registration: Late $435 $645 $225
Registration: On-site $720 $720 $360
Short Course $200 $300 $100


useR 2012

The 8th International R Users Meeting

Vanderbilt University; Nashville, Tennessee, USA

12th-15th June 2012


Terri Scott & Frank Harrell Reproducible Research with R, LaTeX, & Sweave
Uwe Ligges Writing efficient and parallel code in R
Dirk Eddelbuettel & Romain Francois Introduction to Rcpp
Douglas Bates Fitting and evaluating mixed models using lme4
Jeremiah Rounds RHIPE: R and Hadoop Integrated Programming Environment
Jeffrey Horner Building R Web Applications with Rook
Brandon Whitcher, Jorg Polzehl, & Karsten Tabelow Medical Image Analysis in R
Richard Heiberger & Martin Maechler Emacs Speaks Statistics
Olivia Lau A Crash Course in R Programming
Hadley Wickham Creating effective visualisations
Josh Paulson, JJ Allaire, & Joe Cheng Getting the Most Out of RStudio
Romain Francois & Dirk Eddelbuettel Advanced Rcpp Usage
Terry Therneau Design of the Survival Packages
Martin Morgan Bioconductor for High-Throughput Sequence Analysis
Max Kuhn Predictive Modeling with R and the caret Package
Robert Muenchen Managing Data with R
Barry Rowlingson Geospatial Data in R and Beyond
Karim Chine Cloud Computing for the R environment



Stephania McNeal-Goddard
Assistant to the Chair
Phone: 615.322.2768
Fax: 615.343.4924
Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
Department of Biostatistics
S-2323 Medical Center North
Nashville, TN 37232-2158

New Plotters in Rapid Miner 5.2

I almost missed this because of my vacation and traveling

Rapid Miner has a tonne of new stuff (Statuary Ethics Declaration- Rapid Miner has been an advertising partner for Decisionstats – see the right margin)



Great New Graphical Plotters

and some flashy work

and a great series of educational lectures

A Simple Explanation of Decision Tree Modeling based on Entropies

Link: http://www.simafore.com/blog/bid/94454/A-simple-explanation-of-how-entropy-fuels-a-decision-tree-model

Description of some of the basics of decision trees. Simple and hardly any math, I like the plots explaining the basic idea of the entropy as splitting criterion (although we actually calculate gain ratio differently than explained…)

Logistic Regression for Business Analytics using RapidMiner

Link: http://www.simafore.com/blog/bid/57924/Logistic-regression-for-business-analytics-using-RapidMiner-Part-2

Same as above, but this time for modeling with logistic regression.
Easy to read and covering all basic ideas together with some examples. If you are not familiar with the topic yet, part 1 (see below) might help.

Part 1 (Basics): http://www.simafore.com/blog/bid/57801/Logistic-regression-for-business-analytics-using-RapidMiner-Part-1

Deploy Model: http://www.simafore.com/blog/bid/82024/How-to-deploy-a-logistic-regression-model-using-RapidMiner

Advanced Information: http://www.simafore.com/blog/bid/99443/Understand-3-critical-steps-in-developing-logistic-regression-models

and lastly a new research project for collaborative data mining


e-LICO Architecture and Components

The goal of the e-LICO project is to build a virtual laboratory for interdisciplinary collaborative research in data mining and data-intensive sciences. The proposed e-lab will comprise three layers: the e-science and data mining layers will form a generic research environment that can be adapted to different scientific domains by customizing the application layer.

  1. Drag a data set into one of the slots. It will be automatically detected as training data, test data or apply data, depending on whether it has a label or not.
  2. Select a goal. The most frequent one is probably “Predictive Modelling”. All goals have comments, so you see what they can be used for.
  3. Select “Fetch plans” and wait a bit to get a list of processes that solve your problem. Once the planning completes, select one of the processes (you can see a preview at the right) and run it. Alternatively, select multiple (selecting none means selecting all) and evaluate them on your data in a batch.

The assistant strives to generate processes that are compatible with your data. To do so, it performs a lot of clever operations, e.g., it automatically replaces missing values if missing values exist and this is required by the learning algorithm or performs a normalization when using a distance-based learner.

You can install the extension directly by using the Rapid-I Marketplace instead of the old update server. Just go to the preferences and enter http://rapidupdate.de:8180/UpdateServer as the update URL

Of course Rapid Miner has been of the most professional open source analytics company and they have been doing it for a long time now. I am particularly impressed by the product map (see below) and the graphical user interface.


Product Map

Just click on the products in the overview below in order to get more information about Rapid-I products.


Rapid-I Product Overview 


Radoop 0.3 launched- Open Source Graphical Analytics meets Big Data

What is Radoop? Quite possibly an exciting mix of analytics and big data computing



What is Radoop?

Hadoop is an excellent tool for analyzing large data sets, but it lacks an easy-to-use graphical interface. RapidMiner is an excellent tool for data analytics, but its data size is limited by the memory available, and a single machine is often not enough to run the analyses on time. In this project, we combine the strengths of both projects and provide a RapidMiner extension for editing and running ETL, data analytics and machine learning processes over Hadoop.

We have closely integrated the highly optimized data analytics capabilities of Hive and Mahout, and the user-friendly interface of RapidMiner to form a powerful and easy-to-use data analytics solution for Hadoop.


and what’s new


Radoop 0.3 released – fully graphical big data analytics

Today, Radoop had a major step forward with its 0.3 release. The new version of the visual big data analytics package adds full support for all major Hadoop distributions used these days: Apache Hadoop 0.20.2, 0.20.203, 1.0 and Cloudera’s Distribution including Apache Hadoop 3 (CDH3). It also adds support for large clusters by allowing the namenode, the jobtracker and the Hive server to reside on different nodes.

As Radoop’s promise is to make big data analytics easier, the 0.3 release is also focused on improving the user interface. It has an enhanced breakpointing system which allows to investigate intermediate results, and it adds dozens of quick fixes, so common process design mistakes get much easier to solve.

There are many further improvements and fixes, so please consult the release notes for more details. Radoop is in private beta mode, but heading towards a public release in Q2 2012. If you would like to get early access, then please apply at the signup page or describe your use case in email (beta at radoop.eu).

Radoop 0.3 (15 February 2012)

  • Support for Apache Hadoop 0.20.2, 0.20.203, 1.0 and Cloudera’s Distribution Including Apache Hadoop 3 (CDH3) in a single release
  • Support for clusters with separate master nodes (namenode, jobtracker, Hive server)
  • Enhanced breakpointing to evaluate intermediate results
  • Dozens of quick fixes for the most common process design errors
  • Improved process design and error reporting
  • New welcome perspective to help in the first steps
  • Many bugfixes and performance improvements

Radoop 0.2.2 (6 December 2011)

  • More Aggregate functions and distinct option
  • Generate ID operator for convenience
  • Numerous bug fixes and improvements
  • Improved user interface

Radoop 0.2.1 (16 September 2011)

  • Set Role and Data Multiplier operators
  • Management panel for testing Hadoop connections
  • Stability improvements for Hive access
  • Further small bugfixes and improvements

Radoop 0.2 (26 July 2011)

  • Three new algoritms: Fuzzy K-Means, Canopy, and Dirichlet clustering
  • Three new data preprocessing operators: Normalize, Replace, and Replace Missing Values
  • Significant speed improvements in data transmission and interactive analytics
  • Increased stability and speedup for K-Means
  • More flexible settings for Join operations
  • More meaningful error messages
  • Other small bugfixes and improvements

Radoop 0.1 (14 June 2011)

Initial release with 26 operators for data transmission, data preprocessing, and one clustering algorithm.

Note that Rapid Miner also has a great R extension so you can use R, a graphical interface and big data analytics is now easier and more powerful than ever.


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