Thursday, December 8, 2011

Viz: Making the Netflix API More Resilient

How netflix configures its services, and the visualizations it uses to monitor them. 

Making the Netflix API More Resilient

by Ben Schmaus

The API brokers catalog and subscriber metadata between internal services and Netflix applications on hundreds of device types. If any of these internal services fail there is a risk that the failure could propagate to the API and break the user experience for members.

To provide the best possible streaming experience for our members, it is critical for us to keep the API online and serving traffic at all times. Maintaining high availability and resiliency for a system that handles a billion requests a day is one of the goals of the API team, and we have made great progress toward achieving this goal over the last few months.

Principles of Resiliency

Here are some of the key principles that informed our thinking as we set out to make the API more resilient.

  1. A failure in a service dependency should not break the user experience for members
  2. The API should automatically take corrective action when one of its service dependencies fails
  3. The API should be able to show us what’s happening right now, in addition to what was happening 15-30 minutes ago, yesterday, last week, etc.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Opp: (updated) more on the Vaco position

Data Visualization Analyst

Seeking an experienced designer of data visualizations and complex reporting. Must have at least three years experience creating complex visualizations of data based upon identified information needs. Reporting within the Business Analysis COE, this designer will work with an integrated team of designers, business analysts, data analysts and developers creating complex data graphics using Tibco's Spotfire data visualization tool to support a key strategic initiative. Candidates must have verifiable experience working on complex reporting/data visualization initiatives using Spotfire or an equivalent tool.
Candidates should have in depth experience working with requirements analysts and end users to refine identified business needs through in-depth design reviews and information sessions. Must be an analytical thinker, with a strong design sense, and understand implications of the various design options available for a given visualization. Candidates should be results driven, detailed orientated and work well within a dynamic and creative team.
This candidate should have experience working in an agile environment. Experience with clinical data, what it looks like, what it means and how it's used, is highly desirable.


Primary Responsibilities include:
.         Design and create data visualizations in Tibco Spotfire to satisfy identified and elaborated business     needs captured in the form of user stories
.         Facilitate design review sessions with analysts and key stakeholders to refine and elaborate the data visualizations
.         Work with validation and testing team to ensure formal system and user acceptance testing is properly documented
Key Experience should include:
.         Minimum of three years of data visualization experience
.         Strong communication, organizational, prioritization and leadership skills
.         Detailed orientated with strong analytical aptitude, an understanding of statistical methods is very helpful
.         Experience using Tibco's Spotfire (v3.0 or greater preferred) or similar tool will be a definite plus
.         Familiarity with prototyping/mock ups/storyboards
.        An understanding of UI/UX design concepts a must
.         Workshop facilitation experience
.         Experience with various business analysis elicitation/analysis techniques
.         Must be able to lead group discussions and be comfortable running design reviews with geographically dispersed stakeholders
.         Should feel comfortable and be adaptable in an agile environment with shifting priorities
.        Clinical/Pharma industry experience advantageous
.         Experience working in an agile environment with user stories, backlogs, etc.
.         Basic SQL query experience a plus
.         Familiarity with Excel functions
.         Experience in scripting using Iron Python or similar scripting language is definitely useful
.         BS degree in Computer Science, Design, Human Factors, or related field

Andee Bunten
Sr. Technical  Recruiter
2501 Blue Ridge Rd., Suite 400
Raleigh, NC 27607
Phone: 919.719.6500
Fax:     919.719.6505

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Tool: Recapping TimesOpen: Hack Day

Two interesting visualization apps, including one using a sentiment analysis of tweets demoed by Stanford here:


Recapping TimesOpen: Hack Day

Seventy developers, maybe more, visited the Times Building on Saturday for TimesOpen: Hack Day. They were joined a couple dozen developers from The New York Times. The combined crowd occupied every available seat in the conference facility on the 15th floor of the Times Building. Practically everybody was there to program, and they all brought their coding chops and their creativity. In the end 15 projects demoed, 6 projects won prizes. And one project, HappyStance, earned the title, Best of Hack Day.

Tool: Big data and Microsoft’s codename Data Explorer

Sounds like ibm many eyes and google charts. Also check out the data market. 

Big data and Microsoft’s codename Data Explorer

Metro finds its way in to a SQL Azure Labs project known as Data Explorer - a tool for mashing up big data.

...(read more)

Dev: Developing Gmail’s new look

Nice detail about the flexibility of developing on the web. 

Developing Gmail’s new look

Posted by Mark Striebeck, Engineering Director

Editor's note: This post is more technical than most posts here, but we thought some of you might find it interesting to look inside how development on the Gmail team works.

Data: More Google Cluster Data

Someone in our dept already at this data!

More Google Cluster Data

Posted by John Wilkes, Principal Software Engineer

Google has a strong interest in promoting high quality systems research, and we believe that providing information about real-life workloads to the academic community can help.

In support of this we published a small (7-hour) sample of resource-usage information from a Google production cluster in 2010 (research blog on Google Cluster Data). Approximately a dozen researchers at UC Berkeley, CMU, Brown, NCSU, and elsewhere have made use of it.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Job: Company looking for a strong data visualization person

This just popped up via the analytic institute. Contact the company directly.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Tony Mostek

Sid Mitchener is a Partner at Vaco
( and contacted me because he is
looking for data visualization person.

Here is what he wrote, "Does your curriculum handle/teach data
visualization (specifically - Spotfire)? I need a strong data
analyst/visualization designer? Please let me know your thoughts or if
you any recommendations for other people to network with at NC State."

I told him I would contact you and see if you knew anyone.  Could you
please contact Andrea Bunton (  She is handling the
requirements for the position.


Opp: SIGGRAPH 2012 Student Volunteers Program

Hey folks,

SIGGRAPH is the leading graphics conference in the world, and volunteering is a great way to experience it on the cheap.



---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Mikki Rose <>
Date: Sat, Dec 3, 2011 at 3:51 PM
Subject: SIGGRAPH 2012 Student Volunteers Program

Dear friend of the Student Volunteers Program,

You are being sent this email as a valued former SIGGRAPH Student Volunteer.  Kindly notify us if you are no longer interested in communications.  

Please consider the message below from the SIGGRAPH 2012 Student Volunteers Program.  We also invite you to forward this message to other friends in the industry or educational community.  

Thanks for your help, we appreciate your support!






Are your students science? Are they art? Do they daydream of computations or calculate in creativity? If so, they will be right at home at SIGGRAPH 2012. Science and art will come together in one outstanding international conference to explore computer graphics and interactive techniques from both points of view, and THEY can be a part of it!


The SIGGRAPH 2012 Student Volunteer Program is a unique opportunity for students to meet people involved in all areas of the computer graphics industry while contributing to the overall success of the SIGGRAPH Conference. The industry's future leaders are encouraged to apply: students who demonstrate leadership, service, and a passion for computer graphics and interactive techniques.


As a Student Volunteer, students will go behind the scenes to help run an international event, which draws thousands of people who share a passion for advanced computer graphics technologies. The benefits of being a Student Volunteer extend beyond the free full admission conference pass to professional development and private Student Volunteer Special Sessions with top professionals who were once Student Volunteers themselves! 


All of this is available to high school, undergraduate, and graduate students who are enrolled full time for at least one semester during the 2011-2012 academic year and are at least 18 years of age. Students can apply to volunteer for either 18 or 30 hours (approximately) during the conference. Volunteers who are willing to commit for at least 30 hours are eligible to apply for Travel Assistance Awards, which offer financial help for travel to and from the conference. The conference will run Sunday, 5 August through Thursday, 9 August, 2012 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. For more details on this wonderful opportunity, please check out:


Thanks to partners in education like you, we have been able to promote the SIGGRAPH Student Volunteer Program to a greater number of students than ever before! Last year, a majority of our students heard about the SV Program through a teacher. We need your help again this year!


The Student Volunteer Subcommittee has compiled some promotional materials as we begin our search for hard-working, motivated students. The materials are available for download from our Online DocumentsThe files include:


SIGGRAPH 2012 SV Presentation -This 2012 Student Volunteer slideshow presentation (linked below) outlines some of the highlights of our program. Feel free to use this at the beginning of your class or hand-off to any student leaders in any relevant student clubs/organizations.


SV2012_banner.jpg - A static web banner that you can link to on your home page.


Thank you and we hope to see you and your students in Los Angeles!


Mikki Rose

SIGGRAPH 2012 Student Volunteers Chair


P.S. I'm a hybrid!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Spotted: Empirical Studies in Information Visualization: Seven Scenarios

Sheelagh and catherine are leaders in viz evaluation. Should be interesting. 

PrePrint: Empirical Studies in Information Visualization: Seven Scenarios

We take a new, scenario based look at evaluation in information visualization. Our seven scenarios, evaluating visual data analysis and reasoning, evaluating user performance, evaluating user experience, evaluating environments and work practices, evaluating communication through visualization, evaluating visualization algorithms, and evaluating collaborative data analysis were derived through an extensive literature review of over 800 visualization publications. These scenarios distinguish different study goals and types of research questions and are illustrated through example studies. Through this broad survey and the distillation of these scenarios we make two contributions. One, we encapsulate the current practices in the information visualization research community and, two, we provide a different approach to reaching decisions about what might be the most effective evaluation of a given information visualization. Scenarios can be used to choose appropriate research questions and goals and the provided examples can be consulted for guidance on how to design one's own study.

Spotted: Graph Drawing Aesthetics—Created by Users, Not Algorithms

Users don't like edge crossings, and do like node alignment. 

Graph Drawing Aesthetics—Created by Users, Not Algorithms

Prior empirical work on layout aesthetics for graph drawing algorithms has concentrated on the interpretation of existing graph drawings. We report on experiments which focus on the creation and layout of graph drawings: participants were asked to draw graphs based on adjacency lists, and to lay them out "nicely.” Two interaction methods were used for creating the drawings: a sketch interface which allows for easy, natural hand movements, and a formal point-and-click interface similar to a typical graph editing system. We find, in common with many other studies, that removing edge crossings is the most significant aesthetic, but also discover that aligning nodes and edges to an underlying grid is important. We observe that the aesthetics favored by participants during creation of a graph drawing are often not evident in the final product and that the participants did not make a clear distinction between the processes of creation and layout. Our results suggest that graph drawing systems should integrate automatic layout with the user's manual editing process, and provide facilities to support grid-based graph creation.