• Download Your Free FlowingData Wallpaper

    October 23, 2008  |  Miscellaneous

    I don't remember when I made this desktop wallpaper, but it was probably during one of those nights when there was nothing good on TV and I had nothing better to do. Anyways, it's my current desktop wallpaper, and thought I'd make it available to all of you just in case someone wanted to flaunt their love for FlowingData.

    Here it is in the metallic gray variety. Enjoy. Click on the images to get the full-sized versions:

  • Highlights from Wired NextFest in Chicago

    October 6, 2008  |  Miscellaneous

    I was in Chicago last week for Wired NextFest – it was impressive, beautiful, engaging, and imaginative. While I had fun presenting some of my own work, it was even more entertaining looking at (and trying out) the other exhibits. Here are some of the highlights of the event.
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  • Pie I Have Eaten and Pie I Have Not Eaten

    September 19, 2008  |  Miscellaneous

    Gotta love Fridays. Have a good weekend everyone. Go have yourself a slice of pie.

    [via Zoomdoggle | Thanks, Canna]

  • Google Results for X Girls, Y Cups

    August 30, 2008  |  Miscellaneous


    Some will find this amusing while others won't get it at all. If you don't get it, consider yourself lucky. Have a good weekend, everyone.

    [Thanks, Canna]

  • Why is MC Hammer Talking About Analytics?

    August 22, 2008  |  Miscellaneous

    "Analytics, at the end of the day, is going to be the engame." Ok, MC Hammer. If you say it is, then I will believe you. Have a nice weekend everyone, and remember, despite what you've heard, you're never too legit to quit.

    [via Juice Analytics]

  • LEGO-powered Project Time Management

    August 20, 2008  |  Miscellaneous

    Speaking of physical graphs, looks it's time management with my favorite childhood pastime - LEGOs! Each row represents an hour and each color indicates a different project. I'm gonna go out by myself a big, red bucket of LEGOs now.

    [via infosthetics]

  • Beginner’s Guide to FlowingData – A Guided Tour

    August 4, 2008  |  Miscellaneous

    Our FlowingData community went up from 2,641 subscribers last month to about 4,100, so more than a third of you are new. Welcome (and thanks to the those of you who have obviously been spreading the word :). As a new reader, you might not know where to begin, so let me show you around.
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  • Will Dark Knight Beat Titanic for Biggest Movie of All Time? [POLL]

    August 1, 2008  |  Miscellaneous, Polls

    Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight, starring Christian Bale and the late Heath Ledger, has been breaking records left and right. After only 10 days, the movie passed the $300 million mark - faster than any move before it. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest was the previous record holder. Pirates did it in 16 days.

    So the next record that everyone's wondering about is -- Will Dark Knight make more than $600 million to beat Titanic as the highest grossing film of all time? So far it's been 12 days and has grossed $333,929,159. Punch your answer in the poll below.


    How much do you think Dark Knight will make (domestically)? I say it won't do it -- $525 million tops.

  • A Taxi Cab Exploded in My Driveway

    July 29, 2008  |  Miscellaneous

    Through the Internet, sharing data has -- you know what, I'm not even going to try to make this relevant. A car exploded in my driveway!!!!

    It was 6am and I was laying in bed. There was a continuous honking horn that was annoying the crap out of me. I figured someone was trying to get someone else to move their car so that they could pull out, but after a minute of one long honk, there was a huge BOOOOMMMM!

    I ran to my office window, and I saw a car on fire!! I managed to get some of it on camera:

    It was quite the sight - and now my apartment smells like smoke. Luckily no one was hurt.

  • My Ugly Experience with the JetBlue Kiosk

    July 13, 2008  |  Miscellaneous

    Photo by TR4NSLATOR

    As I write this, I'm waiting for my connecting flight to New York on the way to Berkeley for the workshop on Integrating Computing into the Statistics Curricula. I'm taking JetBlue, which I normally only have good things to say about, but right now I'm very displeased with their service. Here's why I might consider a different airline next time and the design lesson I got out of it.
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  • Nathan’s Annual Hot Dog Eating Contest – Kobayashi vs Chestnut

    July 3, 2008  |  Miscellaneous


    It's July 4th weekend which means lots of burgers and hot dogs across America. It also means it's time for Nathan's annual hot dog eating contest on Coney Island. From 2001 through 2006, 144-pound Takeru Kobayashi dominated the competition, but last year Joey Chestnut brought the crown back to the states with 66 hot dogs and buns (HDBs) in 12 minutes. Who will take the crown this year? Will Kobayashi reclaim the title or will Chestnut keep it in America? Oh the suspense.

    Take a look at the history of the event - dating all the way back to 1916.

  • Weekend Minis For Your Lazy Weekend – 6/21/08

    June 21, 2008  |  Miscellaneous

    FlowingData on Alltop - Alltop describes itself as the digital magazine rack of the Internet collecting stories from "all the top" places on the Web. You'll now find FlowingData on both the Design and Science racks. While you're there, check out all the other cool sites.

    Excel Contest for Science and Engineering - Jon Peltier, a frequent FlowingData commenter, is running a contest on modeling science and engineering. The key phrase is - A winner will be drawn at random.

    Video Game Addicts Not Shy Nerds - A study "showed" that only 1% of problem gamers (in their sample) had poor social skills. What a load off my back.

    Surveying the Family Feud Surveys - The WSJ Numbers Guy takes a look at the 100-person surveys on the long-running game show. Survey says?!?

  • 5 Types of Data Visualization People – What Type Are You?

    June 6, 2008  |  Miscellaneous

    Data visualization means different things to many people. To some it's an analytical tool while to others it's a way to make a statement. In my experience, those interested in data visualization fall into these five categories.

    The Technician

    WrenchTechnicians are all about implementation. They have a strong programming background with experience in Processing, Actionscript, or some other similar language and probably have worked with large databases at one point or another. To technicians, aesthetics is not as important as getting things to work. After everything - database, hardware, code - is hooked together, it is then the technician tries to spruce things up. Show them a visualization and they'll want to know to know how it was made.

    The Analyzer

    Chalk BoardData is priority to analyzers. Like technicians, aesthetics are not the greatest concern; rather, analyzers want to know the relationships between variables, find positive and negative trends, and are most likely to tell you that you should have used a different type of graph or chart for that dataset. Tools like R, Microsoft Excel, and SAS are analyzers' weapon of choice. Many will have programming experience but don't code as well as technicians. Show an analyzer a visualization and they'll most likely comment on the (complex) patterns they see.

    The Artist

    Paint brushArtists are obsessed with the final product - what the visualization will finally look like. They are the designers who are most likely to think long and hard about colors, visual indicators, and whether or not that square box should be moved up 2 pixels to the left. Programming is not a strong point, but if it is, it's most likely in Processing. The weapon of choice though is the Adobe Creative Suite, namely Illustrator and Photoshop. Artists are most likely to tell you that something is ugly.

    The Outsider

    The OutsiderThe outsider is the one with a complex data set but not quite sure what to do with it. Outsiders are the field experts who want to visualize their data but might not have the know-how to follow through. They can, however, provide plenty of context and usually have a sense for what their data is about. You'll most often see the outsider with a pen and paper explaining things to the technician, analyzer, and artist.

    The Light Bulb

    Light BulbLight bulbs are the idea people. They've got some programming, design, and analytical experience, but they're not necessarily experts in all three areas. Because of all the experience, the brighter bulbs can usually handle a large data visualization project on their own (if they had the time). Knowing what's possible and not possible, light bulbs lead projects and can delegate work across a team. It's all about the big picture for the bulbs while the brightest are like the zen masters of data visualization.

    I consider myself some combination of the analyzer and technician. I'm still searching for the artist in me. I've got some design experience, but there's still a lot to learn - always more to learn.

    What data visualizer type are you?

  • I Heart Dilbert

    May 10, 2008  |  Miscellaneous

  • Weekend Minis for Your Lazy, Relaxing Weekend

    May 3, 2008  |  Miscellaneous

    Visualization Criticism - A criticism on the criticism on visualization. Robert Kosara, Fritz Drury, Lars Erik Holmquist, and David Laidlaw argue that we need to critique to further develop viz theory.

    Data Visualization Talks Online - Talks for your viewing pleasure from the likes of Ben Fry, Eric Rodenbeck, Jonathan Harris, and others. A couple hours of weekend learning.

    Why Things Cost $19.95 - An interesting article from Scientific American on the "psychological rules of bartering." Any guesses on this somewhat arbitrary pricing?

  • Chart of the Day: A Breakdown of Facebook Applications

    May 1, 2008  |  Miscellaneous

    Of the 23,160 Facebook applications, I use about 5, but I probably wouldn't notice if someone randomly removed all of them from my profile in the middle of the night. Kids these days. I used to play BlockStar, but haven't used it since it changed to Tetris (formerly BlockStar) and haven't played Scrabulous since my 1,000,000th consecutive loss. What Facebook applications do you use (or not use)?

    Speaking of Facebook, have you joined the FlowingData group yet?

  • Greatest Data Visualization of All Time

    April 1, 2008  |  Miscellaneous

    Let me introduce you to the greatest data visualization of all time. FlowingData readers, greatest data visualization of all time. Greatest data visualization of all time, FlowingData readers. It will blow your mind and affect you to your very core. I haven't felt this way since 1987 when I first started to walk.

    ...and OF COURSE the YouTube embed isn't working, so I guess the link will have to suffice. Ladies and gentleman, be prepared to get up and dance. Here is the greatest visualization that you will ever see. You can thank me in the comments.

  • Warning: Nerdy Waters Ahead – Baby Got Stats and Too Logit

    March 29, 2008  |  Miscellaneous

    John Hopkins BiostatThis just might be nerdy statistics overload even for me. A group from the John Hopkins biostatistics department has created parodies of Sir Mix-A-Lot's Baby Got Back and MC Hammer's Too Legit To Quit. For your listening pleasure - Baby Got Stats and Too Logit.

    The songs are in MP3 format, so you can put them on your iPod and play them over and over and over again. One play-through was enough for me, but clearly, it's only a matter of time before this biostat group hits main stream.

    [via Freakonomics]

    Update: Here's the video version for your viewing pleasure.

  • Save the Space Time Continuum – Do Not Exceed 88 Miles Per Hour

    March 22, 2008  |  Miscellaneous


    Billions of watts are wasted every year including 1955, 1985, and 2015. Be kind to the environment and keep your speed under 88 miles per hour. The space-time continuum appreciates it.

    Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads.

  • Why Does Data Matter to Google?

    March 5, 2008  |  Miscellaneous

    Data is absolutely vital to Google's success; without data, Google is pretty much useless when it comes to search. Hal Varian explains on the official Google blog:

    Over the years, Google has continued to invest in making search better. Our information retrieval experts have added more than 200 additional signals to the algorithms that determine the relevance of websites to a user's query.

    So where did those other 200 signals come from? What's the next stage of search, and what do we need to do to find even more relevant information online?

    What an interesting question. I wonder what the answer is. Oh, here it is:

    Storing and analyzing logs of user searches is how Google's algorithm learns to give you more useful results. Just as data availability has driven progress of search in the past, the data in our search logs will certainly be a critical component of future breakthroughs.

    Cashing In On Data

    That's right. Without data, who knows where search could be now. AOL might still be prosperous. There's also this funny bit about how Larry and Sergey initially tried to license their algorithm to new, already existing search engines, but no one bit, and so they made their own. You gotta respect the data!

    For more on the importance of data, you might also be interested in the ever-going series on FlowingData on why data matters.

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