Quantifying Settlers

By, Neo Ellison

Continuing my ongoing quest for mastery of all things analytical, I gave myself a challenge (reward) to build a representation of the game Settlers of Catan using Python to see what kind of insights I could garner from it. Now for those of you not familiar, Settlers of Catan is a resourced based game where players are tasked with colonizing the fictional Isle of Catan by collecting resources and using them to expand their settlements until one player builds enough structures to win. The key to this game is of course collecting resources, what makes this challenging is the setup of the board changes every game and the resources you collect each turn are actually determined by rolling dice, so from game to game there can be a lot of variability.

Sample board:

To receive resources players will place little wooden pieces called settlements on the corners of the hexes (nodes), and when the dice are rolled the each player will collect the resource cards...

A Brief Meditation on Github

By, Neo Ellison

So today I wanted to let everyone in on a little secret that every computer engineer knows. Since my readers come from some pretty varied walks of life I wanted to give a little insight to the icon on the left that looks like a squid that wants to be a kitty. That icon links one to a quite amazing site known as Github. For those of you not familiar, think of it as a place for code to live, for others to see it, and to collaborate. Github provides cloud storage for any number of projects, called repositories, a user wants and base accounts can be used for free. Because of its power and versatility it is used for everything from full-fledged websites like Twitter.com to my humble attempts at web development, don’t judge.

The genius of this site is not the storage, but the ability to sync and track projects. Imagine you are writing a book the course of a year, every day you save the new verses to your work. Now imagine that each save, instead of just overwriting...

Welcome Home

By, Neo Ellison

Look Ruby, it’s not you, it’s me. I have just grown out of you. I know we haven’t been together that long, but I will always treasure the time we spent together. Remember when we scraped Twitter? Those were good times. But to tell you the truth I am going back to my ex. I know, I know, I said I was done with Python, but Python just has, well, it’s about the analytics.

So in this installment, I want to talk about a topic near and dear to us all, analytical programming. During my little journey deeper into the heart of data science I have been struggling with where to start, specifically what tool provides the most functionality for the kind of work I will be doing, and has enough support that I won’t be all by myself using it. Given that I have been working with SAS for the last 5 years, it would seem like the obvious choice. Sadly, as those of you SAS users know, it’s actually quite a limited platform. Most of the source code has not been updated since the 80’s; it has...

Neo Joins Fix It

By, Neo Ellison

I know what you are thinking, who is this jerk and what is he doing writing on Emily’s glorious site? While that is a fair question, I actually did the HAML, so it is kind of my site too, almost. Either way, please allow me to introduce myself in what I hope is my first and not last post.

My name is Neo, besides being Emily’s husband, I am also a philosopher, beer lover, statistician, published poet, musician, gamer, and as of late a hacker.

I have always been into computers, but it was only recently that I had my renaissances into the world of actual programming. Before this time I lived in a dark world of programatic boxes. I would write some SQL here, write some SAS there, copy/paste the output to Excel, and go about my work what I was sure was the “stupid way”. Then, one day the lid of the box crept open just long enough for me to see how dark a world I had been living in.

While working, my normal routine was: pull data in SQL; do analysis in SAS; copy...