Experimenting with Chromebook Data Science in the Cloud

September 26th, 2017   Last spring I gave a talk at New York R Conference and EARL SF titled “The Missing Manual for Running R on Amazon Cloud”. It was meant to be targeted at small (or large) enterprise users looking to build out or outfit a data science team capable of doing effective data science in the cloud with all the data ingest, security and usability concerns and implications that come with navigating that space. In recent months I’ve been surprised but overjoyed to see cloud data science start to become championed by citizen data nerds and #rstats community folks in academia. Jeff Leek has been reporting on his second attempt at a Chromebook data science experiment. Brian Caffo has several videos on his YouTube channel about “going cloudy”, including a review of Jeff Leek’s blog post from above. In an experiment of unknown and unplanned duration, I’ve been leaving my work laptop at work on Friday night, then resisting the urge to go get it on Saturday morning. If I need or want to do anything on the computer, be it R or otherwise, I have to figure out how to do it on my Acer Chromebook 11.       The major things, like working with RStudio server on AWS, aren’t all that different from how I operate every day at work. I do find that I’m more likely to “cheat” and use a local-cloud hybrid approach to data management when I’m using my work machine, and I like that the Chromebook forces me to honestly evaluate the usability of the cloud data science system we’ve designed. It’s the little things that have me feeling constrained on the Chromebook. Taking screenshots, managing them all, editing diagrams and trying to create slide deck presentations is all a bit of a drag. So far I’ve felt more effective switching to my phone when I need to do that sort of thing. Making an Acer Chromebook 11 feel satisfying to operate is probably an entirely lost cause, but there is something really fun about having all the power of the cloud at your fingertips on one of the cheapest little laptops money can buy.    ...