Generating EVEN MORE Data using Tableau Prep

You just can’t get enough of data. I published this post last month So, some of you reached out and mentioned that the routine I had built was very basic and that you would love a version with some additional dimensions to the data.

Yes, it was very basic indeed. It was fun experiment for a few hours. Having said that, I thought to give the project a few more hours to add some more elements that I would have liked to add. So, I present the v2.0 of the Data Generator routine with Prep.

Again, to understand what we have built here, the videos explaining the generator and how to use it in this post still are relevant.

Just be aware, that we now have additional fields to play with. I have also added instructions directly in the spreadsheet so you know which columns to play with and which ones to leave alone.

Here are the v2.0 files that you will need

  1. Tableau Prep Builder (Download the .tfl file)
  2. Data Input File (Download excel here)
  3. Tableau Desktop (Download .twb here)

Also, some of you also asked for the output file that the Prep flow creates. So, here is that file so you can use the workbook

  • Data Output File (Download excel here)
  • And, here is one of the Sample Dashboards based on this dataset.

    Enjoy and continue to provide feedback and suggestions.

    Generating Data using Tableau Prep

    So, if you are like me and somehow, happen to have a few hours with no specific task to do, you get itchy. Itchy to do something with tech. That’s what happened today. I had a few hours and someone recently asked to create some dummy data for a project. So, I said to myself, why don’t I create a Data Generator routine using Tableau Prep Builder?

    I know I can look at a lot of online data generators that allow me to create custom data. The big issue is they don’t help me create a good story because there is no signal or an outlier in the data.

    Well, worry not. In less than 5 minutes, you can create the dataset that you need with your own liking for your own industry.

    So, what do you need

    1. Tableau Prep Builder (Download the .tfl file)
    2. Data Input File (Download excel here)
    3. Tableau Desktop (Download .twb here)

    And watch the following video. In less than 5 minutes, you will have some nice data to play with.

    Do you know what your kid is listening to?

    You immediately think “Oh, I wonder what my kid is listening to?” As in, what sort of music taste do they have? Nah, not that. I am referring to the conversations you are having with other adults that your kids are listening to. Those conversations might actually be even more impactful to them than the ones that you are having with them.

    The station they tune-in everyday to is “What I learnt growing up” .

    And you are the main contributing artist to that station

    I grew up in India to a generation of parents that basically were working hard to gain a certain standard of living. My parents didn’t have the time to have “The Talk” and neither did any of my friends’ parents. For that matter, we hardly ever had any serious talks about anything. Well, other than them nagging me all the time that if I didn’t study well, I would end up on the streets selling beans. Life is ironic in the sense that I love cooking and one of my pipe dreams is to be a chef đŸ˜‰

    Anyhow, they were working hard to provide a better life for us. So, why do I bring that up? It’s because I learnt a lot from them without them teaching me. I learnt a lot from seeing what conversations they were having with other adults. How they were interacting, the sort of topics they would talk about.

    Now, here in America, we are raising kids of mixed heritage and ethnicities. Most of my friends aren’t working to gain “a certain standard of living”; they are working to gain “a certain fulfillment in their work”. We all have luxury of time to have “The Talk” and for that matter, any talk we want. And often, I think, many of us are spending too much time thinking about what we should teach our kids and what we should tell them to do or not to do. I am not sure if that matters as much.

    So, think less about what you want to teach them. Think more about how you present yourself when you interact with others. I think it’s even more relevant today than it was a few years ago. The virus has not only had an impact on what we do, how we do it and where we do it from. It has also had an impact on what others are doing and how they are doing it. In other words, we are now in this politicized world where some people feel that their civil liberties are being infringed upon because of certain mandates. I am not here to judge anyone. All I say is this, when you have a conversation with your kid, with other adults in front of your kids, think about your stand. Think about the reasons why think a certain way and make sure to have meaningful debates with others.

    All the different tracks in your music station will impact how they will lead their life. You better make sure you are not just playing random songs with no meaning behind them just because the beat is good. Instead play tracks with meaning, a symphony and something with a purpose.

    How does that machine make an intelligent decision?

    Reading to your kids at night is a pleasure. I didn’t realize how much my kids loved it and how much I loved it as well. For some reason, I haven’t been doing as much reading as I would like, both to the kids at night and in general. So, it was time for a change and I took on a challenge.

    So, I brushed up this book and mentioned that I would be reading this to them every night.

    Both kids got excited and huddled straight into bed. And, of we started on this journey. The plan is to read a few pages every day so by the end of the year, we have finished this book. Yes, that’s slow but that’s intentional. There is so much to pack in the history of various civilizations. I will report on what we learned towards the end of the school year.

    Back to the main story, “How does that machine make an intelligent decision?”. So, as I started reading the book, I realized that I needed more light and called out to the Google device, “Hey Google, change the brightness to 30-40%”. You see what’s interesting here? For me, its perfectly reasonable to ask for brightness that is 30-40% and all humans will deal with impreciseness without any issues. How about a machine, though? How does a machine deal with 30-40%? Should it ask a clarifying question? If it did, would it bother me and frustrate me? Should it just take an average and turn it up to 35%? Should it go to 30% given its night time and then prompt me if I needed to turn it up even more?

    See, these decisions that come to us so naturally are not so natural for machines. Instructions that might sound simple may have many downstream decisions. That is not easy to preconceive.

    We keep talking about how machines make human life better with better decision making. But, in every bit of information that we receive back from the machine(s) to help us with decision making, there are a lot of decisions that go into creating those branches. Not an easy job, for a product manager.

    So, it got me thinking and got me googling for various articles. One of them happened to be this one (it is mostly an informational piece about expectations in a temporal expressions):

    Managing Uncertainty in Time Expressions for Virtual Assistants

    At the end of the articles, it lists what humans would want from a virtual assistance (in context of managing uncertainty in time expressions), but I think those expectations might go even beyond the scope of the paper. Here are some of the expectations:

    • Implied flexibility
    • Implied constraints
    • Complex expressions
    • Respect uncertainty
    • Recognize uncertainty
    • Embrace flexibility
    • Notify intelligently
    • Leverage implicit knowledge

    You can read more about it in the paper, but its great thought process to keep in mind when designing for such systems. I have been researching and haven’t come across many articles (yet) that describe how that that uncertainty is coded into the system? Does it have to be rule-based? Does it have to be derived from the order of the words? What additional context can be used?

    • Time of Day? – If nighttime, choose lower end of the range and reverse for daytime?
    • Previous brightness level? – If the lights are already at 30% and there is a request to change something, don’t keep the brightness at 30% unless mentioned specifically.

    You can see the types of information humans can use in context comes to naturally and it is very hard to programmatic embed those contextual systems into a machine. But, I wouldn’t be surprised when it is done.

    Reading the book “Super Intelligence” as we seek to find some answers.

    Please comment and let me know if you got some interesting papers for me to read.

    Tableau Dashboard Performance Series: Tip#45: Using Pages in Tableau

    Pages is a way for you to create a dashboard or a view that allows itself to show different slices of the same data based on a dimension of your choosing.

    Confusing much? Ok, read this quick sub-article here first

    OK, now that you know what it does, just know that when you use pages (in the example above being day of the order date, Tableau is still fetching the data for all the dates and just hiding data for all the dates except the one page you are on.

    So, does it mean an issue. Not necessarily, but like many other topics I have discussed here, this may just provide a bit of boost in terms of performance by removing pages but that doesn’t mean you remove it completely.

    My job here is with this series is to educate you and let you make the best decision for your self.