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Elasticsearch and elasticity: building a search for government documents

Based in Paris, the OECD is the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. As the name suggests, the OECD’s job is to develop and promote new social and economic policies. One part of their work is researching how open countries trade. Their view is that fewer trade barriers benefit consumers, through lower prices, and companies, […]

Book review: Mastering Gephi Network Visualisation by Ken Cherven

A little while ago I reviewed Ken Cherven’s book Network Graph Analysis and Visualisation with Gephi, it’s fair to say I was not very complementary about it. It was rather short, and had quite a lot of screenshots. It’s strength was in introducing every single element of the Gephi interface. This book, Mastering Gephi Network […]


MOT Data Analysis: Progress Along the Fault-Pattern Finding Path

How do data science and data engineering differ? And where do they overlap? I agree to a large extent with the answer given here. A data scientist must be able to ask the right questions – ‘right’ in this context meaning interesting, providing intelligence that can lead to process improvement or greater profitability (you don’t […]

End User Programming at the Office for National Statistics

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) approached us regarding a task which involves transforming data in a spreadsheet. Basically, unpivotting it. Data transformation is quite a general problem, but one with recurring patterns. Marginal variables are usually, well, somewhere in the margin. Cells generally refer to an observation or the name or value of a […]

Pius Okoh

Hi, I’m Pius….

…and I’m the new thing at ScraperWiki. Yes you heard right, thing, not person or guy or anything human. Since I learnt that real-world entities could be modeled using programming language objects in order to answer questions or make inferences, one weird thing in my brain just interpreted it the other way – that real-world […]

Four specific things “agile” saved us from doing at ONS

There’s lots of both hype and cynicism around “agile”. Instead, look at this part of the original agile declaration. We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it. Through this work we have come to value: … Responding to change over Following a plan That is, while there […]

Announcing PDFTables.com

PDFs were invented at the same time as the web.  As “digital paper”, they’re trustworthy and don’t change behind your back. This has a downside – often the definitive source of published data is a PDF. It’s hard to get tens of thousands of numbers out and into a spreadsheet or database. Copying and pasting is […]

DataBaker – making spreadsheets machine-readable

Spreadsheets are often the way of choice for publishing data. They look great, are understandable by people who don’t use databases, and with judicious use of formatting you can represent complicated datasets in a way people can understand. The down side is that machines can’t understand them. Sure, you can export the file as CSV, but that […]

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