Nobody Reads Privacy Policies

Facebook is not the only site that tracks, shares and sells your data. You allow it everytime you click through that agreement. When was the last time you actually read through the whole agreement before saying yes? Never? Well, apparently you are not alone.

According to a study done by SelectOut, most people do not read them. There is a reason why: They are too long. Take a look at the infographic below to see what the averages are for about 1000 of the top sites.

The longest privacy policies among the top 1,000 websites would take around 45 minutes to read. The average policy takes around 10 minutes to read.

And while most of the websites (72%) allow users to opt out of tracking mechanisms, around 40% require their users to take a few extra clicks to the Network Advertising Initiative’s website to opt out.

Should privacy policies and terms of service be short and sweet enough for users to actually read them, or do you think that would increase tracking opt-outs enough that it would hurt the companies in question?

Use Online Data in Excel 2010 Spreadsheets

When integrating web analytics, usability testing data and other dynamic data, I need to keep my numbers fresh and up to date.  It is important that the numbers are updated regularly. Excel can import the data every time you open the file or even every minute.

Here is an article on how to set up your spreadsheets to include online data automatically.

Originally posted on  How-To Geek

Want to use live, updated data from the web in your spreadsheets?  Here’s how you can import data from the web into Excel 2010 to keep your spreadsheets up to date quickly and easily.

Make a Webified Spreadsheet

To add dynamic data from a website to a spreadsheet, click the From Web button under the Get External Data section of the Data tab in Excel.

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Enter a website address that you want to get data from, and click Go. The page will load in the preview box, and you might have to scroll to find the data you want on the page.

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You’ll see a small arrow beside any web tables you can import into Excel.  Click the arrow to select the data you want, and then click the Import button on the bottom of the dialog.

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You’ll see a Downloading message as Excel gets the initial table data from the site.

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Select where you want Excel to place your web data, and click Ok.

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You’ll see a message in the spreadsheet that Excel is getting the data.

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After a few moments, your web data will appear in Excel just like normal.  You may end up with a few extra cells and columns with unnecessary data, so feel free to remove any data you don’t want to use.

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Now you can manipulate the dynamic data just like you would any other Excel data.  You can use it in Graphs, Sparklines, and Formulas. Sparklines are a new feature in Excel 2010 and you might want to check out how to use them.  The great thing is, all of these will will automatically update whenever your web data is updated.

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Refresh Your Data

If you’re concerned your data might be stale, click the Refresh All in the Data tab.  This will query the website for the latest data and update your spreadsheets.

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Or, if you’d like to make sure the data is automatically refreshed more often, select one of your dynamic cells in Excel and then click the click the Properties button under Connections in the Data tab.

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Check the Refresh every box, and enter the number of minutes you want.  By default, Excel will refresh the data every 60 minutes, but you can make it update much more often.  You can also select to have Excel update the data every time you open the file.  This way you’ll always have the latest data.

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If you’re using static data from the web in Excel, such as the weights of minerals or the land area of states, you can even turn off the background refresh so Excel won’t be connecting to the internet unnecessarily.

Conclusion

The internet provides treasure-troves of data ready for you to manipulate and use as you want, and with this feature you can use Excel to help you use online data for your work.  From sports scores to melting points of metals to up-to-date exchange rates around the world, this is a great way to always have the data you need without having to enter it by hand or update it when something changes.

If you’re using Excel 2007, here’s our tutorial on Copying Website Tables Into Excel 2007 Spreadsheets.

Displaying Complex Information Visually

visualization

In the same vein as the conference that Edward Tufte did in SF, I am constantly amazed by the ability of scientists and designers to display complex interactive information in ways that are understandable as well as dynamic.

Chack out the visualcomplexity site.

New Tools for Visualizing Information

Visualization of Obama’s Inaugural Speech. You are able to interact and adjust the visualization, not just a static image.

This is just one of many visualizations available on the IBM Many Eyes site.
I am intrigued with the dynamic abilities of programs and powerful computers to integrate and display complex relational databases as well as simpler data sets. There are many resources for doing this including, Google analytics, tweetstats, and others.

Data is king, but recently it is also about how you presetn your data. I recently went to an Edward Tufte seminar in San Francisco. He spoke about  how to present information in ways that were engaging and intelligent. I wrote more about his course as well as his website in this blog entry.