Some resources and fun data analysis sites to check out:

Coursera Online is an online learning website that offers structured classes in a plethora of subjects and categories from very prestigious universities around the world. Most classes range between 6 and 10 weeks and include video lectures, readings, problem sets, quizzes, writing assignments, etc. Many also do Google+ hangouts with the professors where you can submit questions and have them answer. There’s a lot of forum activity, Facebook, G+, and so forth among students as well. If you’re thinking about studying a new topic but don’t want to pay thousands for tuition, try Coursera first.

Kaggle data analytics contest site is a site that hosts contests for the best data analytics solutions to everyday problems. The problems/projects are submitted by companies in many different industries who also sponsor a prize for getting the to "best" solution as judged by a key metric (like Gini coefficient, RMSE or other indicator of model fit). Data for test and validation samples are provided along with a benchmark score that must be beat to qualify. Great application practice and access to data sets to play with.

KNIME free data analytics is the KNIME data analytics software site. This is a free, open source data analytics and statistical analysis package that integrates with some of the bigger players. For instance, it can import SAS and SPSS data sources as well as import from and export to Excel workbooks. It has a pretty easy GUI and lots of modules. Plus, it can import binaries from R, for which there are thousands, for use in its processing banks. My understanding is that it also has some text analytics capabilities, but I have not yet explored these.

PowerPivot is what you always wanted pivot tables in Excel to be but they never were… until now. Using a completely revised set of available functions, incredibly compressed data storage, and a tremendously sped-up engine, Excel 2010 is now able to act as a data warehouse consumer without an obscene amount of code. And did I mention this lovely darling is FREE??? This makes the upgrade to Office 2010 totally worth it.

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