Blog Posts by Andrew B. Collier / @datawookie

Bypassing Cloudflare with Cloudscraper

An image of blue sky with clouds.

Cloudflare is a service that aims improve the performance and security of websites. It operates as a content delivery network (CDN) to ensure faster load times and consequently better user experience. However, it also protects against online threats by filtering “malicious” traffic.

Web scraping requests are often deemed to be malicious (certainly by Cloudflare!) and thus blocked. There are various approaches to circumventing this, most of which involve running a live browser instance. For some applications though, this is a bit hammer for a small nail. The cloudscraper package provides a lightweight option for dealing with Cloudflare and has an API similar to the requests package.

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Updates to the Big Book of R

Title image for the "**Big Book of R**".

The Big Book of R provides a comprehensive and ever-growing overview of a broad selection of R programming books. It was created and is maintained by Oscar Baruffa. The collection began with approximately 100 books and, with the help of contributions from the R community, has subsequently expanded to over 400. The books are grouped into topics such as geospatial, machine learning, statistics, text analysis, and many more. The Big Book of R is an excellent resource for anyone learning R programming, whether they are a beginner or advanced user.

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Desert Island Docker: Python Edition

Over the years that I’ve been dabbling in public speaking I’ve generally developed a talk, presented it once and then moved on. However, I’ve noticed other speakers who give the same (or similar) talk at different events, where the talk evolves and improves over time.

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{emayili} Support for Mailtrap

{emayili} Support for Mailtrap

The {emayili} package has adapters which make it simple to send email via a variety of services. For example, it caters specifically for ZeptoMail, MailerSend, Mailfence and Sendinblue. The latest version of {emayili}, 0.8.0 published on 23 April 2024, adds an an adapter for Mailtrap.

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A farmer hoeing his field in the style of John Constable.

The key to successful backtesting is to ensure that you only use the data that were available at the time of the prediction. No “future” data can be included in the model training set, otherwise the model will suffer from look-ahead bias (having unrealistic access to future data).

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Asset Allocation

A farmer, his sheep and equipment in the style of John Constable.

The Two-Fund Separation Theorem introduced by James Tobin, a Nobel Prize-winning economist, is a fundamental concept in investment theory. It addresses how investors can optimally allocate their assets. In an efficient market an optimal portfolio is a combination of a risk-free asset and a market portfolio.

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Logging like a Lumberjack

Cut logs floating down a river in the Amazon.

Sprinkling status messages across you code using print() statements can be a good temporary fix for tracking down issues in your code.

But it can get messy and there’s no way for you to selectively disable them. Sure you can redirect output to a file or /dev/null but this is an all-or-nothing solution. How about disabling some messages and retaining others?

This is where the logging module comes into its own.

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Risk/Reward Tradeoff

A painting of a river valley. On the left the countryside it verdant and green. On the right it's dry and brown.

The two quantities we have been modelling (the time-dependent average and standard deviation of the returns) represent respectively the (potential) risk and reward associated with an asset. The relationship between these two quantities is implicit in the GARCH model. However, sometimes the return depends directly on the risk. A variant of the GARCH model can take this explicit relationship into account.

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Docker Image from Scratch

An minimal image evocative of a whale.

Most often when you are creating a new Docker image it will be based on one of the standard Docker base images like ubuntu, alpine, python or nginx. But sometimes you might want to truly roll your own image. Starting with literally nothing. From scratch. Tabula rasa.

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Model Validation

A farmer inspecting a cow. Image in style of John Constable.

Is this a “good” model? How to validate a model and determine whether it’s a good representation of the training data and likely to produce robust and reliable predictions.

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