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Buzzfeed's Peter Aldhous and Charles Seife broke a major news story last week: the US Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Homeland Security operate more than 200 small aircraft (mainly Cessnas and some helicopters) which routinely circle various sites near US cities, presumably to gather data with onboard cameras and electonic equipment.

We've mentioned's beautiful visualizations of global weather before, but without Cameron Beccario I would have missed this amazing view of the North Pole showing the jet streams in all their glory:

In case you missed them, here are some articles from March of particular interest to R users. 

Reviews of new CRAN packages RtutoR, lavaan.shiny, dCovTS, glmmsr, GLMMRR, MultivariateRandomForest, genie, kmlShape, deepboost and rEDM.

You can now create and host Jupyter notebooks based on R, for free, in Azure ML Studio.

By Srini Kumar, Director of Data Science at Microsoft

Who does not hate being stopped and given a traffic ticket? Invariably, we think that something is not fair that we got it and everyone else did not. I am no different, and living in the SF Bay Area, I have often wondered if I could get the data about traffic tickets, particularly since there may be some unusual patterns.

Airbnb, the property-rental marketplace that helps you find a place to stay when you're travelling, uses R to scale data science. Airbnb is a famously data-driven company, and has recently gone through a period of rapid growth.

The field of neuroscience -- the study of brains and the nervous system -- has taken some major leaps in recent years. Scientists can now gather real-time electrical activity from the brain during actions and thoughts, which is helping to pinpoint the exact location of brain lesions caused by strokes, and is leading to promising treatments for epilepsy and even profound paralysis. Joseph Sirosh describes these advances in a keynote presented at Strata Hadoop World last week: 


If you've got a few minutes to kill and just want to immerse yourself in the stream of consciousness of the Internet, try watching Petit Tube. It's an unending sequence of YouTube videos that have exactly zero views, and because your view increments that counter, will never again be seen on Petit Tube (or, most likely, by anyone). You can be the first viewer of a bizarre but strangely engrossing stream of poorly produced real estate ads, video game clips, tourist videos, foreign commercials and -- yes -- cat videos.

Data visualization with R doesn't always have to be serious. Here are a couple of fun charts created recently by R users.

First, here's a minimalist rendition of the characters in The Simpsons, by an anonymous blogger: