Tracking Fundraising Progress in Tableau

Tracking Fundraising Progress in Tableau

Tracking my fundraising progress compared to the previous two years for the 2014 Ride to Conquer Cancer.

Building this dashboard was pretty straight forward. The Ride to Conquer Cancer fundraising portal allows for downloading the list of donations as a CSV file. I created a worksheet for each year selecting the donation date field and specifying a set date range for the X-axis. I added tick marks for the first of every month and also added a reference line for January 1.

For the Y-axis, I selected the donation amount and created a running total to track overall donation levels and then added a reference line of $2500 which represents the minimum each rider must raise in order to participate in the 200km Ride to Conquer Cancer from Toronto to Niagara Falls. This allows me to quickly see how my fundraising is going compared to the target amount.

Repeating this process for each of the previous two years as well, I then created a dashboard containing the three worksheets vertically stacked. Since the X-axis is a fixed date range, all three worksheets then line up and I can easily compare my fundraising progress against the same time for the previous years.

In the above image, the current 2014 Ride Donations at January 10th is at $1000 whereas in 2013 by the same point it was just under $2000 and in 2012 I had already met the minimum fundraising objective of $2500.

Tableau has enabled me to quickly assess my fundraising progress at a glance without any heavy number crunching or programming and in just a few steps.

Please help The Princess Margaret Cancer Centre with a donation and help me reach my goal to participate.

Thank you.

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Mountain Lake – Minden, Ontario

Mountain Lake
Late October morning about an hour after sunrise. After a rainy evening the night before, a thin layer of ice covered everything and a faint thin low layer of fog rolled across the lake as the sun desperately tried to make its presence known to the day through the clouds.

Don’t you find that it is getting harder and harder to get up in the morning? As Halloween approaches, the morning sunrise has been getting later. At this time of year, it is still dark at 7am when my alarm clock goes. Only a few months ago, the sunlight shining through the window often woke me up before the alarm clock went off.

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2 Wheels on 4

While on a drive through downtown Toronto, we came across this sight. Immediately, my interest was peaked… not only because of the car and the bike, but more so because of the unique bike mount that was being employed to secure the bike, at highway speed, to a sports car without the use of load bars.

The bike mount uses suction cups. One for the rear wheel secured to the roof, and a separate “T” using three suction cups with a fork mount and secured to the rear window. I could see that there was no wavering and appeared to be quite secure.

It does present a very good alternative to traditional racks, especially if a rack is either undesirable or unpractical.

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We Apologize for the Inconvenience

As the last subway cars from the 1970’s make their last run through Toronto’s busy TTC subway tunnels before being bound for the other side of the world, other aspects of an aging subway system are emerging. Is it just me or is the frequency of subway delays increasing?

Ever packed subway platforms make taking “the better way” a real chore. Who wants to wade through a platform of wall-to-wall people so tightly packed that the populous of a sardine can seem like they bask in a vast open space? A glance at the digital platform monitors revealing a yellow bar across the bottom vividly displaying the word “DELAY” as an automated announcement over the P.A. system blares about one incident or another followed by the ever increasingly familiar phrase… “We apologize for the inconvenience”.

Is this why we need more subways in this city? So that many more people can be stranded in the same manner on more subway platforms? Over the last two months, I can count on one hand how many times I have actually ventured to take the subway for part of my commute rather than the alternative surface streetcar route I opt for that, under normal circumstances, takes a mere 10 minutes longer. And without fail, each time I had taken the subway, that dreaded announcement and packed wait, sometimes for several more trains to pass before even getting on, resulting in double or sometimes triple commute times.

More subways in this city will not solve this dilemma. I am not even sure that more light-rail surface routes will do the same. Better transportation planning that is current to this city’s needs is what is required.

One thing is for sure. If there were more dedicated bike routes, there may be less people packed onto subway platforms making the pilgrimage to the nearest P.A. speaker to wait for that daily announcement.

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Add Another Six Strings

Judging by the title, you may think that this post is about programming. It might also be a reference to altering a table structure in a database. In this particular case, however, the reference is made in acquiring another musical instrument. An electric guitar to be precise.

Once the guitar bug bites, it is very difficult to resist the temptation to be content with just one. Almost immediately the quest for subsequent acquisitions begins. One leads to two. Two leads to four. One guitar cannot satisfy all types of music.


It is analogous to having one pair of running shoes. Yes you can wear them for running, cycling and playing squash, but you will suffer without a specialized pair for each sport.


Making an attempt at combining two of my favorite hobbies, photographing a music instrument is not as easy as it looks. As with all photography, lighting is really important, but another factor to consider is the reflection that results if shooting straight on.

Whatever angle you end up shooting at becomes a challenge because you not only need to be conscious of what the background is behind the subject, but also what is reflected and where it is reflected from. As you can see in the first shot, the unfinished ceiling and pot lights from my basement are reflected and leave the overall impression somewhat less than what I was going for. In the second shot, the reflection makes it look like there is a nasty scratch in the finish which is not actually the case.

Of course, the nice thing about digital photography, is repeat as necessary with no cost other than time trying to get the shot just right.

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Downtown Victoria

Downtown Victoria
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Considering a New Lens

I have long been looking for a new longer lens to add to my arsenal, primarily for getting those subjects that normal photographers would like to keep VERY far off in the distance, but be able to capture them like you were standing next to them.

The lenses that I would be interested in looking at are anything with at least a 400mm focal length. Since this is more of a hobby than a profession, at this point, I have to be conscious of the cost of such a lens and mortgaging the house is not an option.

One option that does appeal to me is the use of a lower focal length prime lens like a good quality 200mm and a 2x teleconverter. Of course there will be the trade-off of sharpness and speed. Typically you lose 2 stops with a doubler as well as some sharpness. But the combination does offer some flexibility in that you now have a 200mm and a 400mm when using the doubler. There is also additional flexibility in that the doubler could possibly be used with other lenses that may be in the camera bag.

I do not have an aversion to experimenting with lens combinations, but is the trade-off with image quality worth the cost savings and flexibility?

For me, with the options on the table, I may go the 400mm prime route because the trade-off is not worth the $100 or so that I would save going the 200mm +2x route.

I did pick up a cheaper Kenko doubler from Craigslist to experiment with and will go out and look at how its use affects the images that are produced with various lens combinations.

Of course there are many other lenses out there than the two mentioned, with a wide range of quality and I only chose the 400mm because beyond that, or an aftermarket 500mm, you really start getting into professional lenses that will break the bank if you are not careful. I mean come on! Almost $10,000 for a 600mm? OK it is an F4 L IS lens, and it comes with its own trailer, I mean tripod mount. But hey, if you are making money from the resulting images, then why not.

Thanks to Scott Bourne for his constant, practical advice and insight on and for his @ScottBourne tweets.

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