LEGO-ify Tableau

A number of colleagues, customers, people visiting any of my public presentations and even friends have asked in the recent past about my Windows desktop wallpaper and where to get it.

LEGO-ified Tableau logo

LEGO-ified Tableau logo

The first question I get most of the time is: “Is it real?” Well, no. Unfortunately it’s not. I’d love to have enough time to build something that awesome in real LEGO bricks, though!

So, if it’s not real, then how was it done? As is often the case with me I got the inspiration from one of the many blogs I read on a regular basis. In this case it was an article by John Nelson over on his blog Adventures in Mapping. There he showed an easy-to-follow way to LEGO-ify maps and satellite images. And I did exactly the same, just with an image of the lovely Tableau logo (Tableaugo? … maybe not) after scaling it to a Full HD resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels and filling the empty space with white bricks pixels. Credit where credit is due, so I won’t nastily copy & paste the how-to here but instead redirect you to John’s writings. In the meantime John and Vanni Zhang, another map and LEGO geek, even whipped up an interactive website that allows you to automagically generate LEGO-ified maps from web maps.

Give it a try, enjoy the LEGO style and take care not to break any virtual fingernails with those pesky 1×1 bricks… Also, show us what LEGO-goodness you came up with! Oh, and feel free to download my TabLEGau wallpaper. When sharing I’d be happy if you told people where you got it from.

Let me tableau this for you…

Just like “to google” has become habitual language use since Google as a search engine became available, we see more and more people using Tableau in a similar manner: “to tableau” as a synonym for “to visualize data”.

to tableau

to tableau

While, admittedly, this doesn’t translate well into my day-to-day locale of German it sparked an idea.

Continue reading →

Visuelle Datenanalyse macht Sinn

Schon wieder ist mehr als ein Jahr vergangen, in dem dieses Blog mehr oder weniger komplett brach lag. Und in der Zwischenzeit ist so viel passiert!

Im Rahmen meines Jobs beim Institut für Verkehrsforschung am Deutschen Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR) in Berlin habe ich nicht nur an der theoretischen und praktischen (Weiter-)Entwicklung von großmaßstäblichen Verkehrsnachfragemodellen gearbeitet, sondern habe daneben natürlich auch die daraus und auch aus anderen Projekten resultierenden Erkenntnisse (mit-)publiziert. Bei dieser Forschung habe ich hauptächlich mit R, Shiny, PostgreSQL/PostGIS, QGIS und vereinzelt ein paar Zeilen Python gearbeitet. Und ich liebe sie alle, wann immer ich mit ihnen arbeiten darf. Aber ich fand es zunehmend schwierig und anstrengend, Daten einfach, schnell, und trotzdem optisch ansprechend zu visualisieren. Natürlich lassen sich mit R und ggplot druckreife Plots erstellen, und Shiny und Leaflet erlauben die Generierung von interaktiven Grafiken und Karten. Aber manchmal ist es einfach nicht zielführend, sich mit den Feinheiten der jeweiligen Einstellungen und dem Schreiben des notwendigen Codes zu beschäftigen. Ich empfand es insbesondere in der höchst spannenden Phase der explorativen Datenanalyse (quasi dem ersten Date mit neuen Daten im Rahmen des Analyseprozesses…) als sehr störend, dass ich mich so viel mit Code und anderen technischen Aspekten beschäftigen musste, was mich von der eigentlichen Arbeit mit den Daten abgelenkt hat, nämlich dem Verstehen der Daten. Um nochmals die Dating-Analogie zu bemühen wäre das so, als würde man sich mehr damit beschäftigen, was man zum Essen bestellt oder worüber der nächste Small-Talk gehen soll, als sich mit dem (Gesprächs-)Partner zu beschäftigen und sich nur auf ihn/sie zu fokussieren. Wahrlich kein Erfolgsrezept… Continue reading →

Why Visual Data Analysis is Great

Wow, another year has passed and so much has happened in the meantime!

During my job at the Institute for Transport Research at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Berlin I not only worked on the theoretical underpinnings and actual development and implementation of micro-scale traffic models but was obviously also involved in publicizing the results of said models and also other research work. I did this mostly with R, Shiny, PostgreSQL/PostGIS, QGIS and the occasional line of Python code sprinkled in-between. They’re all great. I love them with all my heart and enjoy every second I’m working with one of them. But I found it increasingly hard to visualize data easily and quickly while still being pretty. Sure R and ggplot allow for camera-ready plots, Shiny and Leaflet make it increasingly easy to put together interactive plots and maps. But sometimes fiddling with their settings and writing the necessary code is just not practical to get to the point quickly. Also, during the fascinating stage of exploratory data analysis (kind of the first date with your new data in the data analysis process…) I felt focusing too much on the code and other technical aspects which distracted me from what I was originally doing: exploring my data to get a better understanding. Going back to the dating analogy it’s like over-thinking what to order and what small-talk topic to bring up next and thereby losing the interest of your possible future partner instead of being focused exclusively on him/her. Not a recipe for success… Continue reading →

The Times They Are a-Changin’

Back in November I had big plans to use my supposedly growing spare time to write here on my website, but life has told me otherwise. The past five months have been anything but relaxing, even though I postponed the finishing-up of my PhD thesis for that long. The time was filled by extending the research of my thesis by two completely new topics, by working on two publications and by actively participating in three international conferences.

Here’s a quick run-down, since I didn’t even announce the conferences as I normally do:


  • I successfully submitted a paper to Transactions in GIS, one of the major GIS journals out there:

    Greger, K. (forthcoming). Spatio-Temporal Building Population Estimation for Highly Urbanized Areas Using GIS. Transactions in GIS. Link

    I don’t know yet, when it will be printed, but it’s available as an online early view. I will write a lot more about this in the near future.

  • A concept paper about a research project we recently started at my lab was published in a Japanese publication – the article itself is in English, though:

    Greger, K.; Murayama, Y. (2014). Collection Methods for Spatio-Temporal Personal Movement Data. 平成25年度多目的統計データバンク年報 (Annual Report on the Multi Use Social and Economic Data Bank) Vol.91, 63-83. PDF

  • Also, while it didn’t originate during said timeframe, a book chapter which I co-authored has been published in the meantime:

    Kubo, T.; Yamamoto, T.; Mashita, M.; Hashimoto, M.; Greger, K.; Waldichuk, T.; Matsui, K. (2013). The Relationship Between Community Support and Resident Behavior After the Tohoku Pacific Earthquake: The Case of Hitachi City in Ibaraki Prefecture. In: Neef, A.; Shaw, R. (Eds.) Risks and Conflicts: Local Responses to Natural Disasters. Is: Community, Environment and Disaster Risk Management Vol. 14, 11-42. Emerald Group Publishing Limited. Link


  • In November I presented my bicycle commuting research project at the University of Tokyo CSIS Days 2013:

    Greger, K.; Murayama, Y. (2013). Spatio-Temporal Analysis of Bicycle Commuting Behavior in the Greater Tokyo Area Using a Micro-Scale Persontrip Database. 2013年全国共同利用研究発表大会 (Proceedings of the Session of Inter-University Research Activities in Japan “CSIS Days 2013”). Abstract, Poster

  • At the same conference another paper which I co-authored was presented:

    Murayama, Y.; Lwin, K.; Greger, K.; Estoque, R.; Kubo, T. (2013). 位置情報付きのビックデータ(パーソントリップ調査)をWeb-GISでハンドリングする (Handling Big Data with Locational Information (from a Persontrip Survey) using Web-GIS.) Presented at the Session of Inter-University Research Activities in Japan “CSIS Days 2013” on Nov 22. Kashiwa, Japan. (Japanese) Abstract

  • I mentioned in a brief announcement that I would also join the 2014 Annual Meeting of the AAG:

    Greger, K.; Murayama Y. (2014). Spatio-Temporal Analysis of Bicycle Commuting Behavior in the Greater Tokyo Area Using a Micro-Scale Persontrip Database. Presented at the 2014 Association of American Geographers’ Annual Meeting on Apr 9. Tampa, FL. Abstract

  • One week ago I presented the bicycle project at the 2014 Meeting of the Japan Geoscience Union (JpGU):

    Greger, K.; Murayama Y. (2014). Spatio-Temporal Analysis of Bicycle Commuting Behavior in the Greater Tokyo Area Using a Micro-Scale Persontrip Database. Presented at the 2014 Japan Geoscience Union (JpGU, 日本地球惑星科学連合) Meeting on April 28. Yokohama, Japan. Abstract

  • Lastly, another paper which I co-authored was presented at the JpGU Meeting:

    Murayama, Y.; Lwin, K.; Greger, K.; Estoque, R.; Kubo, T. (2014). 非集計パーソントリップデータをWeb-GISでハンドリングする(Handling Non-Aggregated Person Trip Data with Web-GIS.) Presented at the 2014 Japan Geoscience Union (JpGU, 日本地球惑星科学連合) Meeting on April 28. Yokohama, Japan. (Japanese) Abstract

That’s all nice and fine, but the most important thing is was the work on my PhD thesis. I’m very proud to be able to announce hereby that the work is done! In addition I also successfully defended the dissertation in late April. Now all that’s left for me to do is to present the thesis contents one final time to a public audience (this will happen on May 9, 2014 – but, I don’t know the details yet) and make the thesis itself ready for press.

I’m aware that this sounds like a copy & paste from said article in November, but I’m very positive that from now on my duties should leave enough time to finally write more contents here on the website. There’s so much I want to write about! A non-comprehensive list:

  • A general introduction of my PhD research and thesis contents.
  • An introduction of the novel methodologies I developed in the course of my dissertation. One of them is the topic of the aforementioned article in Transactions in GIS, and I’m planning on publishing a few others in journals as well.
  • Some contents about terrorism in Japan. This is also part of my PhD research, but I have a publication about this topic in mind as well.
  • More details about the bicycle project and the progress it has made over the past months.
  • An introduction about the hybrid movement data collection process I introduced in the second publication mentioned above.
  • An introduction of a new research project we have recently started at my lab (the academic year in Japan starts in April). This involves a lot of data analysis, so there should be some interesting applied contents here.
  • A number of other applied topics that came up during either my PhD research or one of the other research projects I’m involved in…

So please stay tuned and expect the contents of this website to expand seriously in the near future!