Category Archives: Uncategorized

A Place Of My Own

I have a public presence that is maintained, this blog, LinkedIn, @nrauhauser, a zombie FaceBook account, and a bunch of other stuff like Github that gets used more to read than to publish. There are literally dozens of services where I have claimed my name, poked around a bit, and then walked off, never to return.

But stuff like this keeps happening … free WordPress blogs don’t permit dynamic content, and more and more I find things I want to do that require this.

GristEmbed

This latest random site comes atop two other things I use that pretty much demand iframe.

I just claimed nealr on Tableau Public but I can only show screen shots of things there that are much better as dynamic content, which I hinted at in Tableau: Benefits & Limitations.

There are a lot of maps on this site associated with mostly foreign policy and a smattering of environmental issues. Seems like there isn’t a way to get a count of total images any more, but I’ve used 15.5% of 3 gig of space.

NealRauhauserWordpressMaps

 

They don’t turn up much here (yet), but I have a couple Mapbox accounts and I’ve produced various things with them. Like live links to Tableau, this requires iframe access.

It’s always amusing to me to see what condition I’ve left DNS in for rauhauser.net. Looks like most recently I was clowning around with Cloudflare and redirects. I should probably dust that off, fire up a VPS somewhere, and actually install WordPress.

 

 

Tableau: Benefits & Limitations

During the first four months of this year I was in Indiana’s IVMOOC. I was very excited to find that we were using Sci2, an open source workbench that integrates a variety of other open source data visualization tools. Sci2 was complimented with InkScape, a free alternative to Adobe’s Illustrator. I’ve still got both books from the course on my desk, a reminder that I intend to revisit the course contents on my own.

But then we touched on Tableau. The company’s one line self description is concise:

We help people see and understand their data.

Education on FOSS tools can be uneven. Tableau provides a rich learning environment. There are …

Then I landed an academic version of the software, thanks to this unusual consulting arrangement I have, and that saved me $999. I’m free to tinker with Tableau as much as I want.

The second thing I did after the California power map was a global map of NATO spending vs. Russia. And then I found a couple puzzles I don’t know how to solve.

NATO-RUS-global

The first number is military expenditure in millions, the second is total military headcount. I have numbers for Turkey. What isn’t Turkey visible? OK, proximity to Italy, but what about Russia? There is no excuse for that red dot to not have a proper legend. I could have done a total for NATO and placed it in the Central African Republic with a different color code, but it seems like there should be an easier way to do that.

Then I zoomed in …

NATO-RUS-Europe.png

Now we can see all the NATO countries and their contributions, as well as Belarus and Ukraine. There isn’t any decent way to move the red dot for Russia where it can be seen. Overall the map will be frustrating to anyone who has used Google Maps or Mapbox – it zooms in, it zooms out, it shifts focus to a double click. There is no other way to steer it, so you end up doing a drunken wobble, back and forth, changing focus point and zoom, trying to get what other packages will do with a single mouse movement.

 

What I like about Tableau is that, in addition to producing nice charts, graphs, and maps, it also looks great on a resume all on its own. I need to spend time on this, the same sort of time I’ve spent with Maltego and Gephi. I need to either investigate InkScape a little closer, but it was a bit clumsy, the way some Linux ports to OSX feel, or just suck it up and pay for Adobe Illustrator.

In Which LinkedIn Befouls Itself Again

I made a big production of summarizing things here in Propaganda & Professionalism Revisited, then directed people to my LinkedIn profile. I managed 119 posts before the platform limits and poor policy choices chased me back here. I suspect I’m going to end up switch hitting between showing things I’m doing here and pointing out things I noticed via LinkedIn.

 

However …

 

I have been collecting maps here and I started making my own clear back to the turn of the century, at first for outdoor radio link engineering, but my interests became much more diverse. I’ve been playing with Mapbox for a while and I recently began using Tableau as part of Indiana’s IVMOOC course. Mapbox can be embedded with iframe, but that is forbidden here. Tableau has a place where you can publish live content, and I’m fairly excited about being able to do things like this – a color coded map of electrical generating capacity in the state of California.

CaliforniaPowerGeneration

 

Part of the reason I write is that it provides a way to provide me a chance to pivot to a new topic. Without these endpoints my natural inclination to developing circumscribed interests would leave me eternally excavating areas in which I will be at best a knowledgeable spectator.

Maps? Visualizations? I guess the I’m going to give the classic computer nerd answer to an ‘or’ question – Yes.

Afghanistan’s New Best Friends

The April 30th NightWatch contained some very interesting information about what will happen in Afghanistan once NATO withdrawal is complete.

India-Russia-Afghanistan: India, Russia and Afghanistan quietly have created a triangular arrangement for providing arms aid to Afghanistan after NATO withdraws. None of the countries have made an official announcement. Only a small number of news services, including The Moscow Times and Pakistani newspapers, have published articles about it.

The arrangement was finalized in February when an India team visited Moscow, but it had been under discussion during the past year. It was one of the discussion items when President Karzai visited India last December.

Under the agreement, smaller arms such as light artillery and mortars will be provided by Russia and moved to Afghanistan from the north, while India paid Russia for the equipment. An inventory of Russian-made equipment in Afghanistan has been completed. Afghanistan has presented India with a list of requirements and Russia reportedly has made one or more initial shipments.

An Indian Ministry of External Affairs officer said, “We can’t commit troops on the ground; we can’t give them the military equipment that they have been asking us for, for all sorts of reasons including the lack of surplus stocks….Involving a third party is the next best option.”

Afghanistan India Russia

Afghanistan India Russia

This is a very touchy matter for Pakistan, their strategic opponent India providing weapons to a country on the opposite side, creating the potential for a two front war. KGS NightWatch reports this is actually pleasing to the other countries in the region, as it keeps Afghanistan from sliding into the Pakistani sphere, and then into play with their internal conflicts.

Afghanistan was invaded by the Soviet Union in 1979 and this hopeless, endless conflict is named as one of the key components that led to the downfall of the Soviet Union twelve years later. When Romanian NATO troops showed up with Russian looking uniforms and AK-47s it caused consternation among the locals, who feared the Russians had returned. Russian weapons have never left – AK-47s, 12.7x108mm machine guns, and RPG7 rocket launchers are still the right small weapons for this geographic area.

Calculus in the region is complicated by the urge for independence in Balochistan, which would affect Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan.

Balochistan

Balochistan

China has been investing heavily in the region, from the port of Gwadar on the Balochi Pakistan coast to internal rail improvements. Russia has been less active in terms of foreign investment but they have already made their weight felt with regards to Syria and are now participants in a regional stability scheme for Central Asia.

Neo-Conservatives will have a case of the vapors over this, but the blame for reduced U.S. influence on the region falls squarely on their shoulders for their role in engineering Bush’s disastrous adventure in Iraq. Afghanistan has always been an unruly empire killer and I am in favor of anything which can keep trouble there from radiating into Pakistan.