On the left we have zero, our integer measure of nothingness. On the right we have missing value, aka N/A, aka NA, our signal that the value of a datapoint is unknown. Everyone who deals with data has to deal with this important distinction. And far too often people get it wrong.Continue reading
Version 0.7 of the MazamaSpatialUtils is now available on CRAN and includes an expanded suite of spatial datasets with even greater cleanup and harmonization than in previous versions. If your work involves environmental monitoring of any kind, this package may be of use. Here is the description:
A suite of conversion functions to create internally standardized spatial polygons dataframes. Utility functions use these data sets to return values such as country, state, timezone, watershed, etc. associated with a set of longitude/latitude pairs. (They also make cool maps.)
In this post we discuss the reasons for creating this package and describe its main features.Continue reading
In the marketplace, the needs of producers and consumers are often at odds: producers want higher prices, consumers lower ones; producers want easy assembly, consumers easy dis-assembly; producers want flexibility and rapid prototyping, consumers reliability and long-term support.
The same competing needs exist in the world of scientific data management where producers of data and consumers of data often operate in very different worlds with very different sets of tools.Continue reading
Having recently announced the beakr web framework for R, we have received several questions about context and why we choose beakr over other options for some of our web services. This post will attempt to answer some of those questions by providing a few opinions on beakr and other web frameworks for R.
The comparison will by no means be exhaustive but will attempt to briefly summarize some of the key features each web framework has to offer. While there are some differences in the approach each package takes to developing web services, they all share similar basic functionality. In the end, the choice of a particular framework will come down largely to personal preference.Continue reading
Have you ever asked yourself whether your telephone number is really a number? It’s got numbers in it but does it measure anything?
How about your credit card number? PO Box? Social Security Number? Zip code? What would happen if you subtracted one of these from another?
As it turns out, many of the “numbers” we deal with every day are actually identifiers and not a measure of something. Sadly, too many data managers do not distinguish between the two even though making this distinction is quite simple.Continue reading
What is beakr?
beakr is an unopinionated and minimalist web framework for developing and deploying web services with R. It is designed to make it as simple as possible for data scientists and engineerings to quickly write web applications, services, and APIs without worrying about lower-level details or high-level side-effects. In other words, beakr is made to be explicit, robust, and scalable – and the batteries are not included.Continue reading
What? Where? When?
These are key questions that every scientist or other collector of environmental data must answer.
- What is the value of the thing we are measuring?
- Where are we taking the measurement?
- When are we taking the measurement?
In a previous post we discussed how to standardize “when”. But what about “where”?Continue reading
In a previous post, we looked at error handling in R with the
tryCatch() function and how this could be used to write Java style try-catch-finally blocks. This time we’ll look at what can be done with the
try() function and how we can easily process warning and error messages to take appropriate action when something goes wrong.
The R language definition section on Exception Handling describes a very few basics about exceptions in R but is of little use to anyone trying to write robust code that can recover gracefully in the face of errors. In fact, if you do a little searching you will find that quite a few people have read through the
?tryCatch documentation but come away just as confused as when they started. In this post we’ll try to clarify a few things and describe how R’s error handling functions can be used to write code that functions similarly to Java’s try-catch-finally construct.
One of the big jokes among people who manage scientific datasets goes like this:
The great thing about standards is … there are so many to choose from!
While this one liner may never make it to late-night TV, there is much truth to it. Many “standards” exist, and many more are invented each month to accommodate the special needs of new types of data or new software for processing data.
One standard, however, stands far above other options and should always be adopted: ISO 8601– the international standard for representing dates and times.Continue reading