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This short video (via Vox) presents the entire history of Japan (yes, since the dawn of man on the islands!) without pausing for breath, and it's hilarious:


Recently, I wrote about how it's possible to use predictive models to predict when an airline engine will require maintenance, and use that prediction to avoid unpleasant (and expensive!) delays for passengers on the ground. Planes generate a lot of data that can be used to make such predictions: today’s engines have hundreds of sensors and signals that transmit gigabytes of data for each flight.

Unlike most other statistical software packages, R doesn't have a native data file format. You can certainly import and export data in any number of formats, but there's no native "R data file format". The closest equivalent is the saveRDS/loadRDS function pair, which allows you to serialize an R object to a file and then load it back into a later R session. But these files don't hew to a standardized format (it's essentially a dump of R in-memory representation of the object), and so you can't read the data with any software other than R.

This marble-based Rube Goldberg machine video is strangely compelling: it's simply made, but full of lots of elegant little flourishes, like the uphill "cannon" made of several magetic balls. The magnetic marbles behind many of the tricks are no longer available (they're very dangerous if swallowed), which I guess is a win for safety ... but just look what you can do with them:


Microsoft R Open 3.2.5 is now available for download. There are no changes of note in the R langauge engine with this release (R 3.2.5 was just a largely a version number increment).

Apache Spark, the open-source cluster computing framework, will soon see a major update with the upcoming release of Spark 2.0. This update promises to be faster than Spark 1.6, thanks to a run-time compiler that generates optimized bytecode.