• Find your flight via visual interface

    October 21, 2010  |  Misc. Visualization, Online Applications

    hipmunk flight search

    Booking flights became so much easier when it all shifted online, but it hasn't changed in years. You put in your preferred dates and times and you get a long list of options. Oftentimes those listings can be a pain as you browse through all of your options. Oh the burden of choice. Hipmunk tries to make flight search easier with a visual interface.

    As usual, you enter your origin and destination but instead of plain HTML tables, you get something like the above, and you can sort the options from least to greatest amount of agony. Rectangle lengths represent flight times and are color-coded by airline. Flights with the same take off and arrival times, but priced higher are hidden to help you narrow down quicker.

    Hipmunk is still in the early stages, but a quick search shows a lot of promise.

    [Hipmunk via Matt]

  • How K-12 schools in your area measure up

    October 13, 2010  |  Mapping, Online Applications

    Education scorecard - how does this district compare

    In collaboration with NBC News and The Gates Foundation, Ben Fry-headed Fathom Design shows you how K-12 schools measure up in your area. If you're a parent or soon-to-be parent considering a move, this will be especially interesting to you. The Education Nation Scorecard lets you search for your location or a specific school to see how they perform and how they compare to the rest of the country.
    Continue Reading

  • The state of mapping APIs

    September 15, 2010  |  Mapping, Software

    O'Reilly Radar surveys the state of mapping APIs from old sources (like Google) and new ones (like CloudMade). Spoiler alert: there's a lot of opportunity out there.

    Maps took over the web in mid-2005, shortly after the first Where 2.0 conference. They quickly moved from fancy feature to necessary element of any site that contained even a trace of geographic content. Today we're amidst another location and mapping revolution, with mobile making its impact on the web. And with it, we're seeing even more geo services provided by both the old guard and innovative new mapping platforms.

    [O'Reilly Radar]

  • Graph and explore your Gmail inbox

    September 14, 2010  |  Online Applications, Self-surveillance

    Graph your inbox

    Your email says a lot about who you are, who you interact with, and what you're up to at any given time. Maybe it's receipts from that online travel site or notifications from Facebook. There are lots of tidbits you can extract from your inbox. But how? PhD candidate Bill Zeller provides you with Graph Your Inbox.
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  • Simple data converter from Excel

    September 6, 2010  |  Online Applications, Statistics

    If you've ever created an interactive graphic or anything else that requires that you feed in data, you will love this barebones data conversion tool by Shan Carter. Copy and paste data from Excel, which I feel like I've done a billion times, and then take your pick from Actionscript, JSON, XML, and Ruby. Simple, but a potential time saver. [via]

  • Design advanced online and interactive maps with Polymaps

    August 20, 2010  |  Mapping, Software

    Flickshapes map with polymaps

    In a collaboration between SimpleGeo, who makes location data easier to access, and Stamen, who does all kinds of wonderful with maps, announced Polymaps today. It's a free and open-source JavaScript library for image- and vector-tiled maps using SVG.

    Polymaps provides speedy display of multi-zoom datasets over maps, and supports a variety of visual presentations for tiled vector data, in addition to the usual cartography from OpenStreetMap, CloudMade, Bing, and other providers of image-based web maps.

    Because Polymaps can load data at a full range of scales, it’s ideal for showing information from country level on down to states, cities, neighborhoods, and individual streets. Because Polymaps uses SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) to display information, you can use familiar, comfortable CSS rules to define the design of your data. And because Polymaps uses the well known spherical mercator tile format for its imagery and its data, publishing information is a snap.

    The above is map using Flickr shapefiles. Here's a map of pavement quality in San Francisco.
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  • Stamen makes experimental prettymaps

    August 16, 2010  |  Mapping, Software

    Los Angeles prettymap by Stamen Design

    Add another toy to Stamen's bag of tricks. The recently launched prettymaps by Aaron Straup Cope uses shapefiles from Flickr, urban areas from Natural Earth, and road, highway, and path data form OpenStreetMap, for an interactive map that's well, pretty.
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  • Gapminder makes its way to the desktop

    July 13, 2010  |  Software, Statistical Visualization

    Gapminder Desktop

    You've seen the presentation. You've seen the motion graph tool. But up until now, the data exploration tool, Trendalyzer, has always been in the browser. Now you can download the desktop version, and keep everything on your own computer with Gapminder Desktop:

    Gapminder Desktop is particularly useful for presentations as it allows you to prepare your graphs in advance and you won’t need an Internet connection at your lecture or presentation.

    In the "list of graphs" you will get at preset list of graphs on the left side, but you can also very easily create your own favorite examples. Simply arrange the graph the way you want it and click “bookmark this graph”. Your example will the appear in your own list of favorite graphs. Perfect when you want to prepare a lecture or presentation.

    Basically, it's the exact same thing as the online version as an Adobe Air application, which is handy for all you motion graph fans out there.
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  • Poyozo the personal data gatherer

    July 7, 2010  |  Self-surveillance, Software

    Poyozo the personal data gatherer

    Take a moment and think off all the data you put other there on separate Web services. Email, photos, status updates, documents, location, contacts, and the list goes on. Many of the services are really good, but what if they went down? Where would are your data go? Or what if you could bring all that data into one place, so that you didn't have to login to Flickr, Twitter, Foursquare, and Facebook. Poyozo tries to get all your data in one place - on your own computer - and help "make life make sense."

    Poyozo gives you your own data back by downloading the information you're currently giving to the web on to your own computer. You can opt-in to importing your data from Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Last.fm, Google Calendar, any email service, any RSS feed, Flickr, Wesabe, Listit, Skydeck, Dopplr, your Firefox browsing history, the local weather, and your location, allowing you to access all of this personal data as easily as the companies that run these services can.

    Simply install the Firefox plugin, choose what services you want to scrape, and you're good to go. Poyozo then provides an API that you can use to access and query your data. Visualize it any way you want. Continue Reading

  • Stack Overflow for data geeks

    July 6, 2010  |  Online Applications

    I can't count how many times I've googled a programming-related question and found myself at Stack Overflow, the question and answer site for programmers. MetaOptimize is like a Stack Overflow for data geeks:

    You and other data geeks can ask and answer questions on machine learning, natural language processing, artificial intelligence, text analysis, information retrieval, search, data mining, statistical modeling, and data visualization.

    Here you can ask and answer questions, comment and vote for the questions of others and their answers. Both questions and answers can be revised and improved. Questions can be tagged with the relevant keywords to simplify future access and organize the accumulated material.

    Those with some data munging under their belt might find MetaOptimize useful. If you're a n00b, you might want to stick to the FD forums.

    [Thanks, John]

  • JavaScript InfoVis Toolkit 2.0 released

    July 6, 2010  |  Software, Statistical Visualization

    the Jit treemap example

    Visualization in JavaScript is all the rage these days. Just a couple of years ago, this would've seemed ridiculous because the engines were too slow, but no more of that. To that end, Nicolas Garcia Belmonte just released his JavaScript InfoVis Toolkit 2.0. It's got your treemaps, stacked area charts, pie charts, weighted graph, so on and so forth. You can see all the demos, plus code examples to get the full picture.

    This is not dissimilar to Protovis from the Stanford visualization group. Although, I'm told the JIT is fully functioning in Internet Explorer. Protovis only partly works in IE right now.

  • Protovis 3.2 released – more examples and layouts

    June 7, 2010  |  Software, Statistical Visualization

    parralel coordinates

    The most recent version of Protovis, the open-source visualization library that uses JavaScript and SVG, was just released not too long ago - this time with more layout and examples. This is especially helpful since Protovis was "designed to be learned by example." Among the new stuff is the ever popular streamgraphs, along with the force-directed layout. With only 10 to 20 lines of code, you'll have your viz, so lots of bang for the buck.

    There are, however, still some limitations with dreaded Internet Explorer (mainly with interaction), but they're getting there, I think.

    Find plenty of other examples on the Protovis site. Robert Kosara has also started a series of Protovis tutorials on how to use the library if you want some guidance on where to start.

  • R for enterprise?

    June 4, 2010  |  Software

    Norman Nie, co-creator of SPSS (acquired by IBM for $1.2 billion last summer), and his group Revolution Analytics aim to bring analysis to a wider audience with a product built on top of R, the popular statistical computing language. They call it Revolution R.

    Noted in a recent Forbes article:

    R is a powerful tool but difficult for novices to use. Nie's Revolution Analytics aims to make it more accessible with a better-organized library, capabilities for bigger jobs and a user interface that lets users drag and drop statistical analyses into place, outputting easily read charts.

    The rest of the article is about Nie, the growing importance of data, etc.

    I'm curious. Has anyone tried Revolution R? They say that it has "faster performance and greater stability" than base R. Is it that much better?

    [Thanks, Victoria]

  • Current tracks and visualizes memes

    May 27, 2010  |  Software, Statistical Visualization

    It's not easy keeping up with what's going on around the Web. Trending topic here. Another topic there. Zoe Fraade-Blanar, a graduate student at NYU ITP, hopes to lessen the pain with Current: A News Project.

    Through a combination of data from Google Hot Trends and cross-references via Google News, the last 24 hours of memes are charted over time. The focus is on providing a tool that allows journalists to report news that matters, without sacrificing the reader traffic that comes in for videos of cute puppy dogs.

    News relies on soft stories like horoscopes, celebrity gossip and restaurant reviews to subsidize the important but less sensational stories that keep democracy running. At base, any solution to News’ present problems must address the balance between the hard news we need and the soft news that drives advertising dollars. By visually anthropomorphizing the capricious nature of public attention Current can spotlight these missed opportunities in news coverage.

    It's still rough around the edges, and I'm not really digging the whole amoeba aesthetic, but I could see how this might be useful. Next steps: provide a way to focus on specific topics, incorporate Twitter trends, and smooth out the interaction.

    Try it out for yourself (available for Mac and PC), and toss your thoughts in the comments below.

    [via ReadWriteWeb]

  • Elastic Lists code open-sourced

    May 26, 2010  |  Network Visualization, Software

    Moritz Stefaner, whose work we've seen a few times here on FD, just released his code for Elastic Lists (in Actionscript).

    For those unfamiliar, Elastic Lists builds on the idea of faceted browsing, which lets you sift through data with multiple filters. Think of when you search for an item on Amazon. In the initial results, filters for price, brand, and category rest in the sidebar. Similarly, Elastic Lists lets you browse data on multiple categories, but with more visual cues and animated transitions.
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  • HTML5 visualization readiness

    May 18, 2010  |  Software

    Everyone's been bashing Flash lately and holding HTML5 up on a pedestal. This circular graph thing, for example, shows what a combination of HTML5 and CSS3 can do and what features are available in major browsers. That's great and all, but as you can see there are still a lot of holes.

    The most glaringly obvious hole is Internet Explorer - which supports practically nothing. This is nothing new. Anyone who's designed a site to work in all browsers knows this. But as much as you hate Internet Explorer, you're not going to block content for some 80 percent of visitors, right?

    On top of that, Flash provides richer interaction than HTML5 right now, and it's going to be like that for a while. A lot of the work from the New York Times is in Flash. Stamen Design uses Flash. A lot of great work has come out of Flash - not just cruddy MySpace pages.

    Now I'm not saying HTML5 isn't going to be useful. It will be and is in some areas. But in terms of visualization, Flash is still better.

  • Facebook users who don’t know they are sharing

    May 17, 2010  |  Online Applications

    I'm pretty sure all this Facebook stuff will blow over soon enough. Most people have changed their privacy settings by now. The rest don't really care. Some people though simply have no clue that what they're sharing with their inner circle is out on display for anyone to see. Openbook uses the Facebook search API to show these users. Search for a term or phrase and see the status updates of public profiles.
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  • Streamgraph code ported to JavaScript

    May 7, 2010  |  Software, Statistical Visualization

    stream4

    Lee Byron open-sourced his streamgraph code in Processing about a month ago. Jason Sundram has taken that and ported it to JavaScript, using Processing.js.

    The algorithms are the same as that in the original, but of course the natural benefit is that people don't need Java to run it their browsers. Jason has also added a few features including dynamic sizing, more straightforward settings, and some interaction with zoom and hover control. Really nice work.

    Grab the code, plus examples on GitHub.

    [Thanks, Jason]

  • Review: indiemapper makes thematic mapping easy

    April 28, 2010  |  Mapping, Reviews, Software

    It's finally here. Indiemapper brings easy and flexible thematic mapping online. I've been looking forward to this app ever since I got a glimpse of what was to come over a year ago, through the eyes of Indieprojector. The guys at Axis Maps have taken the core functionality of advanced GIS, simplified the work flow with a well-designed interface, and made it it super easy to create beautiful maps.
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  • R is an ‘epic fail’ – or how to make statisticians mad

    April 22, 2010  |  Software, Statistics

    Statisticians are mad and out for blood. Someone called R an epic fail and said it wasn't the next big thing.

    I know that R is free and I am actually a Unix fan and think Open Source software is a great idea. However, for me personally and for most users, both individual and organizational, the much greater cost of software is the time it takes to install it, maintain it, learn it and document it. On that, R is an epic fail. It does NOT fit with the way the vast majority of people in the world use computers. The vast majority of people are NOT programmers. They are used to looking at things and clicking on things.

    How dare she, right? Here's the thing. She's right. Wait, wait, hear me out. For the general audience - the people who use Excel as their analysis tool - R is not for them. In this case, the one that appeals to non-statistician analysts, R, as they say, is an epic fail (and that is the last time I will say that stupid phrase).

    However, R wasn't designed to enable everyday users to dig into data. It was designed to enable statisticians with computing power. It's a statistical computing language largely based on S, which was developed in the 1970s by the super smart John Chambers of Bell Labs. The 1970s. Weren't people using slide rules still? Or maybe it was the abacus. Can't remember. Oh wait, I wasn't born yet. In any case, there's really no need to get into the whole R-for-general-audience conversation — just like we don't need to talk about why The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie lacked emotional depth.
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