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What should a good data visualization be? Above all, it should be useful

Image by author, edited screenshot from

For something to be useful, it should serve a purpose.

If we don’t have a purpose in mind when we are creating some charts or tables, they are bounded to be NOT useful, because you have never expected them to do anything. Those charts generated would simply be an API call output of a chart library.

I can think of 3 common types of purpose to be served by a chart/table:

  1. To explore: understand the data set, discover patterns
  2. To explain: highlight a pattern, suggest a theory, prompt for an action
  3. To impress: amuse people, arouse curiosity

There are different…

And I was asked to pay to fix them. Here is how.


  1. Apple refused to repair the 2 manufacturing defects on my MacBook Pro for free (which they said they would on their website), claiming there was corrosion found on the logic board. There is no option for only paying for the part they purportedly said you are responsible for. You have to pay for their malfunctioning parts if they say you should.
  2. Apple refused to send me the photo of the corrosion found, nor letting me take a picture of the photo, claiming it was an internal document. …

And turns out there is one thing that can attract foodies during the outbreak

Photo by Ye Chen on Unsplash

The big picture

Everything has changed since Jan 21 — Jan 22, when the situation in mainland China was getting really serious that they started to report COVID-19 stats, and there was the first “highly susceptible” case imported into Hong Kong via high-speed rail.

As the virus has been getting prevalent in Hong Kong, it is natural that people tend to dine out less. In the chart below, where the data is from a popular restaurant reservation app, we can see the hotel buffet bookings count has been collapsing since late Jan, from the level of 40000+ to around 15000.(Note: …

How are they even relevant?

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Vipassana is probably most well known for its 10 days meditation camps. And machine learning is the study of training computers to perform tasks without human’s explicit instructions, by observing patterns in data.

Totally different things, right?

To see why they are relevant, we need to have some brief ideas about what would happen in the Vipassana retreat. Here is my (opinionated) summary of the Vipassana 10 days retreat:

1. Controlled environment — noble silence, vegetarian diet, daily schedule

2. Activity — observe your sensations objectively

3. Objective — train your mind to be equanimous

Once the Day 0 started…

Some expected and unexpected findings on Demographic, Industries, and Participant Retention

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RISE Conference 2019, being one of the largest tech/startup conferences in Asia, just ended on July 11. How does it differ from the event last year? Which countries have the fastest growing startup scene? Which industries are the hottest and which are the “shrinking” ones?

To answer these questions, let’s have a look at the startup participant data. Lots of the findings are expected, but some are actually surprising.

(The dataset and Jupyter notebook is available at the end of this article)

Demographic — Singapore + Philippines ↑, India ↓

In terms of total startup participants, it is gradually growing — 24 more companies participating compared with 2018…

Tables and charts about the virtual bank backers

On May 9, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) granted 4 more virtual bank licenses to Ant SME Services, Infinium, Insight Fintech and PingAn OneConnect. These virtual banks, like the ones licensed previously, did not just come from nowhere, but were all backed by big names in different sectors.

The table above summarises the virtual bank landscape in terms of their backers. We will further learn more about some of these backers — particularly in Banking, Insurance, and Retail sector.

How job advertisements could be useful even when you are not looking for jobs?

Photo by Autri Taheri on Unsplash

If you have been following news related to virtual bank licensing in Hong kong, you probably would have heard of these names — Livi VB, SC Digital Solutions, ZhongAn, and WeLab. The first 3 companies obtained the very first virtual bank license issued by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority on March 27, and WeLab joined the club on April 10. There is limited information about these companies, and this article tries to understand more about them by analysing their job openings.

You may have heard of WeLab as it has been in the field of P2P financing since 2013, and…

Photo by Claire Bridgewater on Unsplash

If you are listing verbs or nouns (actions, events, objects etc) as the motivations of doing something, probably they are not real motivations but rather implementation details. The states that we want to achieve by doing those actions/hosting those events/owning those objects, which are usually being described in adjectives, are the real motivations.

Meaningful motivations of a certain action should be adjectives, which describe the state that we want to achieve.

For example, many people are said to be motivated by money — but usually what it actually means is the state that having money can achieve. For some people…

Cultural nuances are everywhere — school, workplace, relationship, and the startup arena is no exceptions. What concepts or ideas do startups from different regions value the most? Do startups market themselves differently around the globe? Data from the RISE 2018 startup list tells us some interesting stories, from elevator pitch to PR channels.

RISE Conference

RISE 2018 was a 4-day tech conference in Hong Kong where startups set up booths to showcase their products, investors to search for companies with high potential, and industry leaders to share their insights.

This year there were over 750 startups from 58 countries exhibited in the…

Eric NG

Small data, machine learning, and random thoughts

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