Stories by Sharon Machlis

22 free tools for data visualization and analysis

You may not think you've got much in common with an investigative journalist or an academic medical researcher. But if you're trying to extract useful information from an ever-increasing inflow of data, you'll likely find visualization useful - whether it's to show patterns or trends with graphics instead of mountains of text, or to try to explain complex issues to a nontechnical audience.

Apple vs. Microsoft by the numbers

A little less than a year ago, Wall Street reached a Microsoft vs. Apple milestone: for the first time, Apple's corporate value surpassed Microsoft's.

Facebook ends end-run around U.S. securities laws

There was another question about the planned Facebook stock offering that went beyond whether the social media leader is a good investment now or if it's overpriced. A more serious issue was how investment banker Goldman Sachs was structuring a "private placement" deal to skirt U.S. securities law.

Must-have keyboard shortcut apps for Windows

I've been a keyboard shortcut fan for a long time. Sure, icons and eye candy have their place -- I'd rather double-click an icon than, say, type run c:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office 12\Winword.exe. On the other hand, I'd sure rather click a file name and hit delete than drag an icon to my Recycle Bin (assuming I can even find it on my cluttered desktop).

Free Web apps to help organise your holidays

It's That Time of Year again, and even if you don't celebrate The Holidays, chances are you have other people in your life who do. There's so much to get done as the end of year approaches, it can be hard to keep track of it all. And while paper might work for your own holiday wish list, these free Web apps can help organize the rest.

Ruby on Rails rolls into the enterprise

The New York Times used Ruby on Rails to pull together, analyze and display election results in near real time on one of its busiest Web traffic days ever. How did nytimes.com scale up Rails -- a framework known for quick development turnaround but less than lightning fast performance?

Four online databases let you structure and share your data

There are many popular, low-cost ways to toss text onto the Web, from blogs and Google Docs to social networking sites. Likewise, you can find a lot of sites where you can post photos and videos. But until recently, less attention has been paid to online databases -- and that's a pity, because lots of people besides database geeks would benefit from a bit more structure to their data.

Linux text editors: Do any make the grade?

Linux buffs tend to scoff at one of the major reasons that Windows users like me haven't switched yet: We don't want to give up our favorite applications. With countless open-source options, plus a rising number of commercial apps for Linux, their argument goes, we can certainly find a replacement for whatever software we're running on XP or Vista.

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