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EARL London is back for 2019!

We are thrilled to announce that the Enterprise Applications of the R Language Conference will be returning to the Tower Hotel from the 10-12 September 2019. If you’d like to see what you can expect during 3 days of EARL, then check out our highlights from last year’s conference.

We are pleased to announce that the call for abstracts is now open. We’re after speakers who can share with the R community how they have used R in enterprise – we want to hear from you no matter what industry or size of company you’re from. If you’re unsure about submitting an abstract, then read our top ten reasons why you should.

Abstract submissions close 31st March – so submit yours now! 

Keep up-to-date on all things EARL via Twitter or our EARL mailing list

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It’s easy to get stuck in the day-to-day at the office and there’s never time to upskill or even think about career development. However, to really grow and develop your organisation, it’s important to grow and develop your team.

While there are many ways to develop teams, including training and providing time to complete personal (and relevant) projects, conferences provide a range of benefits.

Spark innovation
Some of the best in the business present their projects, ideas and solutions at EARL each year. It’s the perfect opportunity to see what’s trending and what’s really working. Topics at EARL Conferences have included, best practice SAS to R; Shiny applications; using social media data; web scraping, plus presentations on R in marketing, healthcare, finance, insurance and transport.

A cross-sector conference like EARL can help your organisation think outside the box because learnings are transferable, regardless of industry.

Imbue knowledge
This brings us to knowledge. Learning from the best in the business will help employees expand their knowledge base. This can keep them motivated and engaged in what they’re doing, and a wider knowledge base can also inform their everyday tasks enabling them to advance the way they do their job.

When employees feel like you want to invest in them, they stay engaged and are more likely to remain in the same organisation for longer.

Encourage networking
EARL attracts R users from all levels and industries and not just to speak. The agenda offers plenty of opportunities to network with some of the industry’s most engaged R users. This is beneficial for a number of reasons, including knowledge exchange and sharing your organisation’s values.

Boost inspiration
We often see delegates who have come to an EARL Conference with a specific business challenge in mind. By attending, they get access to the current innovations, knowledge and networking mentioned above, and can return to their team —post-conference— with a renewed vigour to solve those problems using their new-found knowledge.

Making the most out of attending EARL

After all of that, the next step is making sure your organisation makes the most out of attending EARL. We recommend:

Setting goals
Do you have a specific challenge you’re trying to solve in your organisation? Going with a set challenge in mind means your team can plan which sessions to sit in and who they should talk to during the networking sessions.

De-briefing
This is two-fold:
1) Writing a post-conference report will help your team put what they have learnt at EARL into action.
2) Not everyone can attend, so those who do can share their new-found knowledge with their peers who can learn second-hand from their colleague’s experience.

Following up
We’re all guilty of going to a conference, coming back inspired and then getting lost in the day-to-day. Assuming you’ve set goals and de-briefed, it should be easy to develop a follow-up plan.

You can make the most of inspired team members to put in place new strategies, technologies and innovations through further training, contact follow-ups and new procedure development.

EARL Conference can offer a deal for organisations looking to send more than 5 delegates.

Buy tickets now

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It’s the New Year and we’re kicking off 2019 with our first LondonR! The meetup took place on the 15th of January, and we were delighted to have about 100 people in attendance. With excellent speakers lined-up and a free bar for networking, we started 2019 with a BANG!

Please find all the presentations here.

Dawid Kaledkowski, ClickMeeting – Using sport package to predict speedway results

Dawid came all the way from Gdansk, Poland to talk to us about sport – the R package for online update algorithms that he authored. Dawid introduced us to his passion (and what is apparently the most popular Polish sport) –  speedway –  and to how you can use update algorithms to predict its results. Not only did he build a package to predict those results, but he also spent a good part of 3 years on building the most comprehensive database with speedway results. The talk finished with a lively discussion on algorithm and predictors’ specifics sprinkled with words of admiration for his devotion to speedway.

Colin Magee – R is for Racing

Colin made sure that we keep our racing hats on by sharing his passion for… horse racing! He told us about Ada Lovelace’s weakness for gambling and predicting horse race results before he moved onto his own take on horse race analytics. It turns out – surprise, surprise – R is a fantastic tool for data scraping, munging and feature engineering. And if it wasn’t clear to our audience already, Colin made it obvious in his live-coding demos! Colin is going to share more hints and tips on building accurate predictive models in his upcoming book, ‘R is for Racing’. We’re looking forward to reading it!

Dan Joplin, SparkBeyond – Automating fun: A choose your own adventure talk

It was definitely the most interactive and entertaining presentation of the evening. Dan went above and beyond to make sure that the audience saw all of his 81 (!) slides. He took us through the intellectual journey of how to build a tool that automatically finds the optimal pub-crawl route from point A to B. It would have been quite a typical talk if it was not for Dan offering quiz questions to the audience at various points where we could choose what approach to use in the next stage of the project. So not just entertaining but also very educational.

After the talks, we held our usual networking drinks – it was a great end to another fascinating LondonR. We hope to see you at our future meetups – join our mailing list or check out our website for more information.

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Last week RStudio hosted their conference, rstudio::conf, in Austin and a whole lot of members of the R community came to see what’s new, where the community and the field might be heading and to enjoy tacos.

R in production

A major theme from this conference was R in production. Joe Cheng kicked this one off in his keynote about Shiny in production, presenting how the answer to “Can Shiny be used for production?” changed from “Yes, it’s quite possible” (in 2015) to “Yes, it’s quite easy” (in 2019). Of course, it isn’t all easy yet. There are still cultural challenges that arise from Shiny apps being developed by R user who aren’t necessarily software engineers, i.e., they may not have all the background knowledge about what is necessary to put their app into production. Organisational challenges may arise when entities like IT and management meet the idea of Shiny apps in production with scepticism. While Shiny makes it easy to create a web app, it doesn’t exactly make automated testing, load testing, profiling and deployment easy. However, the Shiny team at RStudio addresses these aspects and Joe presented

Our own Mark Sellors then continued the conversation around the cultural and organisational challenges of getting Shiny, and R in general, into production. One way is “the path of magic” where you get people on board with a fantastic Shiny app like Jacqueline Nolis and Heather Nolis have done at T-Mobile. Another path is via building the confidence the business has in the work of the data scientists. This involves a lot of building bridges between different teams so here is a list of things to tackle head on, or coincidentally, a list of “CS/software engineering concepts data scientists might need to learn more about to get things into production” as Caitlin Hudon put it. Mark also shared an R production readiness checklist. For an example that had people buzzing at the conference check out what Jacqueline Nolis and Heather Nolis did after their magic Shiny app: presentations, blog posts and code can all be found here while we wait for the conference videos.

Other talks on this topic included more recent RStudio work:

Thinking beyond the code

Felienne reminded everyone in her keynote that spreadsheets are code – functional, reactive programming at that – and advocated for a pedagogical debate on how we teach programming. A Dutch programming book aimed at children includes sentences like

  • “The best part of programming is finding mistakes.”
  • “Programmers only learn from making mistakes.”
  • “You will fail often, and it will be frustrating.”

illustrating the “let people discover things on their own” approach. An approach of explaining ideas and then letting people practice works a lot better – in other fields and in teaching programming. Or as Felienne put it: You don’t become an expert by doing expert things.

Angela Bassa gave an excellent talk on Data Science as a team sport highlighting how to grow a data science team by adding specialisation, process and resilience.

Hilary Parker spoke about Using Data Effectively: Beyond Art and Science and casually tidied the tidy workflow.

Caitlin Hudon shared her learnings on which data science mistakes to avoid, covering analysis mistakes, how to work with developers and how to communicate with business stakeholders.

But also think about the code

It wouldn’t quite be an R conference without talks that highlight fantastic things to do with R:

It’s all about sharing

David Robinson spoke about The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Public Work in his keynote, illustrating how helpful various forms of public work can be for a data scientist to advance their career through different stages. He recommends tweeting, blogging and contributing to open source for all stages from junior to senior. With increasing experience he also recommends giving talks, recording screencasts and writing books. If you are inspired to get out there talking, look for a meetup and/or R-Ladies group near you. If you want to speak at a bigger R conference before the next edition of rstudio::conf, check out useR! and EARL.

All throughout his keynote, David did a wonderful job of highlighting other people’s work (all while plugging his own books two slides in a row, master of the game that he is), in particular talks and tweets from the conference. His keynote basically was the first conference review, while the conference was still underway. Other great conference reviews have since been put out there by

So we leave you with this enjoyable “further reading” list and hope to see you soon at LondonR, EARL or on Twitter!