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Despite the ggplot2 project — the most popular data visualization package for R — being in maintenance mode, RStudio's Hadley Wickham has given the R community a surprise gift with a version 2.0.0 update for ggplot2. According to Hadley this is a "huge" update with more than 100 fixes and improvements.

On this Christmas Day, allow me to share a couple of interesting takes on Mariah Carey's modern Christmas classic, All I Want for Christmas is You. (Unlike most pop songs, Carey wrote the melody and lyrics herself.) If you've somehow managed to avoid hearing the song over the past decade, here it is lip-synced in 2011 by the Royal Navy crew of HMS Ocean:

 

by Joseph Rickert

The following map of all of the R user groups listed in Microsoft's Local R User Group Directory is good way to visualize the R world as we rocket into 2016. As a member of the useR!2016 planning committee, foremost in my mind right now is that in just a few months people will be coming to Stanford from all points plotted and almost everywhere in between.

by Andrie de Vries

Have you noticed that most R help does not contain any images? Historically, this was for a good reason: most programming language help assumes that you use the system on a text-only system, e.g. a headless linux server. If your system has no graphical capabilities, but the help contains images, then the help itself can become confusing.

That said, most R users use their help on a system with full graphical capabilities. Thus the R core team updated R itself in version 2.12 to have the ability to include images in your help.

Detecting fraudulent transactions is a key applucation of statistical modeling, especially in an age of online transactions. R of course has many functions and packages suited to this purpose, including binary classification techniques such as logistic regression.

StackOverview is a popular Q&A site, and a go-to resource for developers of all languages to find answers to programming problems they may have: most of the time, the question has already been asked and answered, or you can always post a new question and wait for a reply. It's an excellent resource for R users, featuring answers to nearly 100,000 R questions.

Did you know that the charger for a modern MacBook has about as much computing power as the original Macintosh computer? That's one surprising lesson from this teardown of an Apple charger:

Buzzfeed isn't just listicles and cat videos these days. Science journalist Peter Aldhous recently joined Buzzfeed's editorial team, after stints at Nature, Science and New Scientist magazines. He brings with him his data journalism expertise and R programming skills to tell compelling stories with data on the site.

You may have heard that R and the big-data RevoScaleR package have been integrated with with SQL Server 2016 as SQL Server R Services.