Monthly Archives January 2009

Hacking through the Amazon with a shiny new MachetEC2

Hold on to your pith helmets: the Infochimps are releasing an Amazon Machine Image designed for data processing, analysis, and visualization.

Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) allows users to instantiate a virtual computer with a pre-installed operating system, software packages, and up to 1 TB of data loaded on disk, ready to work with, from a shared image (an “Amazon Machine Image”, or AMI).

MachetEC2 is an effort by a group of Infochimps to create an AMI for data processing, analysis, and visualization. If you create an instance of MachetEC2, you’ll be have an environment with tools designed for working with data ready to go. You can load in your own data, grab one of our datasets, or try grabbing the data from one of Amazon’s Public Data Sets. No matter what, you’ll be hacking in minutes.

We’re taking suggestions for what software the community would be most interested in having installed on the image (peek inside to see what we’ve thought of so far…)



Took the 50M twitter messages we saw between mid-November and mid-January and used Wordle to make a word cloud: Fun!

(If you’re not familiar with a word cloud: the larger a word, the more often it was used. The colors & positions don’t mean anything, they’re just for fun. We stripped out the little words (a, the, with, …), leaving everything that appeared more than 10,000 times in the 50 million+ tweets we examined.)

Then I looked again at the filtered list and noticed something… just awesome.

Here are the forty most-commonly used words, in their exact order of decreasing frequency:

It’s time, Twitter. Love/Christmas blog:

Home! Thanks, people…

Night post:

Getting happy
watching morning
that’s tonight.
Tomorrow: looking news, trying nice? Check.

2009: Hope.
Week: 2008.

Little video:


Live free. Life. Awesome days!


Feel house ready.
Look cool.
Yeah world!

I like your poem, Twitter.
A lot.


The Asdrubal Cabrera Hall of Fame

Prompted by my friend’s skepticism that the ballplayer Milton Bradley is really so named, I’m exhuming this old post from elsewhere. — flip

During the 2007 baseball playoffs, announcer Tim McCarver perspicaciously observed that “Asdrubal Cabrera is the only player in the majors with that first name”. Thus inspired, I present The Asdrubal Cabrera Hall of Fame: Major League ballplayers in unique possession of their particular first name. (Some are nicknames, many are not — but these are their official names, as used in newspapers and the rolls of history. F’reals.)

You may be familiar with Honus Wagner, Eppa Rixey, Boog Powell or Yogi Berra. But have you heard recounted the storied diamond exploits of Firpo Mayberry, Zoilo Versalles, Pi Schwert or Bevo LeBourveau? OK, then how about Mysterious Walker, The Only Nolan, or Phenomenal Smith? Mul Holland, Sixto Lezcano, Welcome Gaston or Mox McQuery? There’s a bunch more after the jump, and a complete listing here, including links to each player’s baseball reference page.

For some dinnertime fun over the holidays, discuss the relative merits of naming your next child after Urban Shocker, Twink Twining, Pussy Tebeau, Bris Lord, Boob Fowler, Crazy Schmit, Creepy Crespi, Cuddles Marshall, Vinegar Bend Mizell, or Buttercup Dickerson. (Unfortunately, 12 other “Rusty”s keep fan favorite Rusty Kuntz off this list, and believe it or not two other “Stubby”s bar the way for Stubby Clapp. I apologize to anyone whose internet filter has or has not prevented reading this apology.)

Thanks to the Baseball Databank and Retrosheet, I had this dataset on hand, and thanks to a monastic life of nerdity I had the SQL chops to pull up this query between innings.  But I should be able to do this with anything, whether or not I know a SQL Query from a Queer-Eye Sequel, for silly stunts and for changing lives alike.

Imagine instead I were a public health expert, interested in the effects of limiting medical residents to an 80-hour work week. Might lives be saved if I could effortlessly pull up historical data on rates of doctor-induced complications, board of medicine complaints, relative rates of med school and law school applications, and open-government data on medical regulations?

The long-term mission of is to democratize this: to put the world’s analytic data at our fingertips, supporting tools that let anyone manipulate, interrogate, visualize and explore that data.  Giving baseball geeks a chance to show up Tim McCarver isn’t much of a start, but here we are.

More awesome first names after the jump….