How the BBC Visual and Data Journalism Team Works With Graphics in R

“Over the past year, data journalists on the BBC Visual and Data Journalism team have fundamentally changed how they produce graphics for publication on the BBC News website. In this post, we explain how and why we have used R’s ggplot2 package to create production-ready charts, document our process and code and share what we learned along the way.”

—BBC Visual and Data Journalism, “How the BBC Visual and Data Journalism team works with graphics in R.” February 1, 2019.

I’ve been learning a bit of R and working with packages like ggplot2. I thought this gives a nice demonstration of why someone might like to learn to use it, its capabilities, and the article provides some useful references.

Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) on StarDict on Ubuntu/Debian

So, after reading “You’re probably using the wrong dictionary,” I thought I would give installing Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) on a Debian-flavor of Linux a try and write it up the process and some observations of its use.

Installation on a Debian-flavor of Linux is straight-forward:

$ sudo apt-get install stardict
$ cd Downloads
$ wget
$ unzip
$ cd dictionary
$ tar -xvjf stardict-dictd-web1913-2.4.2.tar.bz2
$ cd stardict-dictd-web1913-2.4.2/
$ sudo mv *.* /usr/share/stardict/dic/
$ stardict

This launches the main application. There is also a mini-window that can be moved to where you like and then you can use it with other applications by highlighting text. Here’s a screenshot of this article:

When you highlight a word, it will automatically be searched for and displayed in the mini-window.

Entries include pronunciation, etymological origin, related words, definition and an example of usage, often from literature. I can imagine this being a very useful tool. It might be worth checking if my writing from this date changes in an appreciable way and whether it is an improvement or not. I suspect it will be very useful.

Simple Risk Measurement

“Simple Risk Measurement is written to help you measure complicated risks using a process that’s simple enough to work out on the back of a napkin and powerful enough to organize a rocket launch.

If you are an engineer motivated by the reduction of risk and are frustrated by how to measure your progress, you may find this documentation useful. Simple Risk Measurement can get you started towards a comprehensive and scientific approach to risk. It is designed to enhance subject matter experts who work with risk, especially those who mitigate complex risks on an ongoing basis…

…This approach is very simple to trivialize into a few steps.

  1. Define a risk scenario: A well defined, undesirable future event that we want to measure.
  2. Gather the evidence: We gather facts, reference classes, models, experiences, and opinions.
  3. Estimate the outcomes: We estimate of the probabilities / impacts the scenario may have.
  4. Make a decision: We make decisions with this information, and measure again if needed.
  5. Keep Score: As outcomes occur, we check our work, improve our methods and reduce our uncertainty.”

Simple Risk Management

Arbitrary Image Stylization in the Browser


Arbitrary Image Stylization in the Browser is an algorithm that will take any two pictures and apply the style of both of them to a third picture.

For an example, I took two posters from the Spanish Civil War that are out of copyright, i.e., Victoria and Izquierda, and I applied those styles to the official picture of President Trump on Wikipedia. The following was the result:


I did something similar with my avatar.


It took a couple of minutes to run on my computer. It helps to close a few tabs. The results were consistently interesting. Recommended.

A Theory of Documentation

“Documentation needs to include and be structured around its four different functions: tutorials, how-to guides, explanation and technical reference. Each of them requires a distinct mode of writing. People working with software need these four different kinds of documentation at different times, in different circumstances – so software usually needs them all.

And documentation needs to be explicitly structured around them, and they all must be kept separate and distinct from each other.”

—Daniele Procida, “What nobody tells you about documentation.” Divio. Accessed: November 12, 2018.

Probably applicable to any kind of documentation process you need to replicate, not just for software.

Instant Archetypes: A New Tarot For The New Normal by Superflux

“If you are familiar with the tarot you will recognise Instant Archetypes cards as direct (post) modernised substitutes of the classic Major Arcana. It is a condensed symbolic mythology of the present moment, in the way that the classic cards condensed a symbolic mythology of the past. The old archetypes have not disappeared, they just got new names and new manifestations.”

Instant Archetypes: A New Tarot For The New Normal on Kickstarter until November 29, 2018.