• Review: RoamBi, Seeing Your Data on the iPhone

    June 29, 2009  |  Reviews, Software

    RoamBiThis is a guest review by Peter Robinet of Bubble Foundry, a web design company that specializes in building websites for Web startups.

    What It Is

    RoamBi is a free data visualization application for the iPhone by MeLLmo. You download datasets to the app and it creates visualizations so you can drill down into the data. The app is pitched as a mobile business tool for viewing sales reports and the like, but the sample visualizations included with the app suggest another possibility: RoamBi could easily be a killer app for statistics-minded sports fans, such as sabermetrics devotees!
    Continue Reading

  • Review: Beginning Python Visualization

    June 19, 2009  |  Reviews, Software

    Python is a powerful programming language that's good for a lot of things. I mainly use it for data scraping, parsing, munging, etc, and more recently, for the Web, and I've left visualization up to other languages.

    But why not use Python for visualization too? That way you can have everything in one language and all the gears can fit together a little easier. Beginning Python Visualization (BPV) by Shai Vaingast is a guide to help you do this.

    While you might need a little bit of programming experience to fully make use of this book, Vaingast provides plenty of examples and explanations for you to easily learn how to use Python's visualization options.
    Continue Reading

  • Google Fusion Tables Helps You Visualize and Manage Your Data

    June 11, 2009  |  Online Applications

    As the newest release from Google Labs, Fusion Tables is a tool that aims to make your data more accessible.

    Today we're introducing Google Fusion Tables on Labs, an experimental system for data management in the cloud. It draws on the expertise of folks within Google Research who have been studying collaboration, data integration, and user requirements from a variety of domains. Fusion Tables is not a traditional database system focusing on complicated SQL queries and transaction processing. Instead, the focus is on fusing data management and collaboration: merging multiple data sources, discussion of the data, querying, visualization, and Web publishing.

    Google Spreadsheets + phpMyAdmin

    Fusion Tables will feel familiar to those of you who use Google Spreadsheets, but the use is somewhat different.

    Where Spreadsheets is meant to mimic much of the feel of MIcrosoft Excel, Fusion Tables is somewhere in the middle between Excel and database (or at least it hopes to be eventually). You can filter data as well as merge your datasets with others, for example, by country.

    Maybe the best way to describe Fusion Tables is a cross between Google Docs and phpMyAdmin, which is a user interface into a MySQL database.

    Visualization Options

    Probably of most interest are the visualization options. They're what you're used to seeing with line, pie, and bars, all looking very Google-y. The new ones to check out: motion chart and intensity map (above). There's also a regular point mapping option. Again, we've seen these visualizations before, but Fusion Tables is trying to make it easier to use them.

    What do you think of Google's new offering? GIve it a whirl with their sample tables, and come back here and let us know what you think in the comments below.

    [Thanks Andrew, NoodleGei, Oleks, and everyone else...]

  • Javascript InfoVis Toolkit – New Version Released

    June 5, 2009  |  Software, Visualization

    As we've seen, javascript is growing into a viable solution for visualization on the Web. John Resig ported Processing to javascript about a year ago and we saw some projects in javascript to show off speed in Google Chrome.

    Most recently, Nicolas Garcia Belmonte released version 1.1 of his InfoVis Toolkit, which provides a basic set of tools for creating interactive visualizations on the Web. Continue Reading

  • Open Source Data Visualization Framework – Axiis

    May 22, 2009  |  Software, Statistical Visualization

    axiis

    Axiis, an open source data visualization framework in Flex, was released a few days ago under an MIT license. I haven't done much in Flex, but from what I hear, it's relatively easy to pick up. You get a lot of bang out of a few lines of code. Axiis makes things even easier, and provides visualization outside the built in Flex graph packages. Continue Reading

  • Indieprojector Makes it Easy to Map Your Geographical Data

    May 21, 2009  |  Mapping, Online Applications

    Axis Maps recently released indieprojector, a new component to indiemapper, their in-development mapping project to "bring traditional cartography into the 21st century." Indieprojector lets you import KML and shapefiles and easily reproject your data into a selection of popular map projections. No longer do you have to live within the bounds of a map that makes Greenland look the same size as Africa. Continue Reading

  • Google Adds Search to Public Data

    April 28, 2009  |  Data Sources, Online Applications

    Google announced today that they have made a small subset of public datasets searchable. Search for unemployment rate and you'll see a thumbnail at the top of the results. Click on it, and you get a the very Google-y chart like the one above, so instead of searching for unemployment rates for multiple years, you can get it all at once.
    Continue Reading

  • A Couple New Looks for Google News

    April 27, 2009  |  Online Applications, Visualization

    The ever popular newsmap (above), a tree map view of Google News, got a facelift a few days weeks ago. Markos Wekamp, the creator, has changed to a rectangularized tree map layout to display headlines more completely, search as you type, and deep linking. Markos also brings the brightness down a notch from that of the original, which I like. It's easier on the eyes.

    Earlier last week, Google released its own alternative news view with News Timeline. The interface lets you search the news, blogs, etc and results are displayed in a timeline format. Show by day, month, year, and decade.

    The jury is still out on whether the timeline is an improvement over regular search listings. What do you think? How about versus the New York Times article skimmer?

    [via infosthetics & Google News Blog & Newsmap Blog]

  • Social Weather Mapping From Google Chrome Experiment

    March 19, 2009  |  Mapping, Software

    In the promotion of its speedy javascript, Google announces the Chrome Experiment. As part of the Experiment, design group Use All Five give us Small Talk, which is a social weather map that uses tweets that contain terms like rainy and sunny. Circles are sized by number of tweets, and tweets are colored by dominant weather tweet, so what you get right now is very blue on the east and sort of orange in the west. Oh how I long for the sun.

    The cool thing about this (and the other projects from Chrome Experiment) is that it's implemented in javascript.

    Pan and zoom...

    Click on the bubbles...

    Yes, javascript just keeps getting faster and more impressive. It's no longer just a way to show dynamic status messages and popups. It's much more than that. Javascript is becoming a viable visualization solution.

    [Thanks, Levi]

  • News at a Glance with New York Times Article Skimmer

    February 26, 2009  |  Online Applications

    The New York Times homepage has a lot of news to report. While well-organized and well-designed, the Times recognizes that there's still room for improvement as seen in their article skimmer prototype:

    Here at The Times, we often hear a common story of usage from our customers: Reading the Sunday Times, spreading out the paper on a table while eating brunch. For many of our customers, this ritual is fundamental to their enjoyment of the weekend, and its absence would be jolting.

    With this in mind, we present an as-yet-unnamed article skimmer. Think of it as an attempt to provide the Sunday Times experience anytime. Of course, there are parts we can’t replicate: the satisfying crinkle of the paper; the circular stain of your coffee; the smell of newsprint.

    Article headlines and snippets are arranged by grid and divided by news categories. Jump to a specific category with the sidebar on the right or browse up and down with the arrow keys on your keyboard. I personally think it makes skimming easier. What do you think?

    [via NYT First Look via Waxy]

  • Open Thread: Is Google Latitude Dangerous?

    February 12, 2009  |  Data Sharing, Discussion, Online Applications

    Google recently released Google Latitude, which is an online application that lets you share your location with online friends:

    Of course when any application shares where you are at any given time, people start to feel like Big Brother is looming in the background ready to sneak up on us from behind a giant bush. Some call it a real danger, but is it really? I put this question out to all of you:

    Is Google Latitude a danger to anyone who uses it?

    My take on things is that people are already doing it anyways, so why not make it easier for those who are interested? Sure, if some stalker got a hold of your location, that could be bad, but that's true for a lot of data... credit card statements, cell phone logs, Twitter... As long as the proper security are put in place, I don't see what all the fuss is about.

  • Open Call to Designers: Visualizing Mozilla Community

    February 2, 2009  |  Online Applications

    The Mozilla group is starting to dig into visualization to participation within the active Mozilla community, and they're looking for some input:

    If you’re a visual designer, data visualization guru, student or just interested in hacking on a cool project, join us to generate concepts and prototypes that build upon the LizardFeeder, a cool feed aggregator released earlier this year by Les Orchard.

    As Les describes it, LizardFeeder brings together and archives different types of activity from across the far reaches of the Mozilla universe and spits them out in a single, dynamic stream. It’s pretty darn cool to watch on its own, but we’d love to further develop a design concept that is approachable, meaningful—or at least entertaining—to virtually anyone who sees it.

    Here's what the Lizard Feeder looks like now:

    So basically, there's a whole lot of data waiting for your ideas. Get to it. I am sure you'll get a lot of recognition in the process.

  • Tools You Need to Track Energy Consumption – WattzOn

    January 12, 2009  |  Infographics, Online Applications

    wattzon

    "Climate change is a global problem. But it's individuals who will create the solution." This is the WattzOn premise.
    Continue Reading

  • Using Visualization to Optimize Adwords: Time Series Visuals vs the Pivot Table

    January 7, 2009  |  Software

    This is a guest post from Elad Israeli and Roni Floman of SiSense, which specializes in easy-to-use business intelligence.

    Pundits joke that Google Adwords is driving Microsoft Excel sales. Two rivals are vying for domination; yet one's desktop software is used to optimize keywords sold by the other.  The reason is very simple: the Google AdWords interface doesn't support the rigorous analysis of multiple AdWords keywords and their optimization. Importing the Google AdWords data into Excel lets you do just that… albeit within the constraints of Excel.

    Let's try to explain this by looking at the visualization and business intelligence assumptions behind the Google use case and the Microsoft use case.

    Continue Reading

  • Discover Your Future for 2009 – CookieSays Fortunes

    January 6, 2009  |  Online Applications, Projects

    First off, happy new year! I'm back from my short hiatus from blogging and school. I trust everyone had a good holiday week. I saw a couple of good movies: Slumdog Millionaire, which was one of the best movies I've seen in a while, and Benjamin Button, which was good, but not as great as Slumdog. I also played a ton of NBA 2K8 on Xbox 360. I'm not much into video games (I really suck), but the plasma HDTV I got for my birthday/Christmas almost makes me feel like I'm in the game.

    Rate and Tweet Your Fortune Cookies on CookieSays

    During the last few days of break I put together CookieSays. It's a toy Twitter application that lets you tweet fortune cookie fortunes and rate others. The point? Good ol' fashioned fun, of course. I don't know about you, but whenever I crack open a fortune cookie, that little piece of paper never fails to amuse me and everyone else at the table - no matter how ridiculous or incoherent. Now you can share them on CookieSays! Plus, it seemed fitting for the new year and all.

    How to Tweet Your Fortunes

    It's really simple. Just follow @cookiesays on Twitter and post your fortunes in the following format:

    @cookiesays You will make a million dollars tomorrow.

    That's it! Your fortune will appear here in about 10 minutes or so. In the meantime, rate other people's fortunes or just sit back and let the fortunes change on their own. Have fun! It was fun making it.

    Now - back to work on my more serious project.

  • Magically Reformat Data to Get it How You Need it

    December 12, 2008  |  Online Applications

    One of the more painful parts of analysis or visualization is that you have to get the data in a proper format. Real data almost never comes how you want it. Magic/Replace from DabbleDB lets you reformat data via their spreadsheet interface and a few sprinkles of magic. The solution is really quite elegant.

    You copy and paste CSV or TSV from a spreadsheet and submit. You then see a column editor and a preview window. This is where the magic happens. In the column editor, you can edit a column so that it fits a certain format and Magic/Replace will show you a preview of what the others will look like. For example, say you have a column of phone numbers and they're in the (555) 555-5555 format, but what you really want is 555-555-5555. Change a single row, and voila, Magic/Replace does the rest. It really is "data cleanup for everyone" - not that the data were dirty to begin with.

    [Thanks, Jose]

  • Processing 1.0 Released

    November 25, 2008  |  Software

    Processing 1.0 was released yesterday and it "only took 162 attempts." I strongly encourage you to check it out - especially if you've never heard of it. Even if you're not into programming, there are a lot of fun-to-look-at demos. Processing is an open source programming language that aims to make it easy to animate and draw programmatically with students, artists, designers, and researchers in mind.

    Here's the first part of the press release:

    Today, on November 24, 2008, we launch the 1.0 version of the Processing software. Processing is a programming language, development environment, and online community that since 2001 has promoted software literacy within the visual arts. Initially created to serve as a software sketchbook and to teach fundamentals of computer programming within a visual context, Processing quickly developed into a tool for creating finished professional work as well.

    Processing is a free, open source alternative to proprietary software tools with expensive licenses, making it accessible to schools and individual students. Its open source status encourages the community participation and collaboration that is vital to Processing's growth. Contributors share programs, contribute code, answer questions in the discussion forum, and build libraries to extend the possibilities of the software. The Processing community has written over seventy libraries to facilitate computer vision, data visualization, music, networking, and electronics.

  • Read Your Feeds Like a Newspaper with Tabbloid

    November 20, 2008  |  Online Applications

    Tabbloid is a free service that lets you receive your feeds in newsletter, or rather, tabloid form via email at a set time and frequency (as a PDF file). Above is my custom Tabbloid for today. This service won't be for everyone, but sometimes a morning coffee is best spent reading over paper and not hunched over a laptop. I could also see this being useful for travelers.

    [Thanks, Tim]

  • 672 Obama Headlines – Both Browsable and Readable

    November 12, 2008  |  Software, Visualization

    Vertigo put together a great collection of 672 Obama headlines using Silverlight's deep zoom capabilities. The cool thing here isn't so much the number of headlines or the mosaic of pictures. It's how you can interact with the newspapers' front pages. It's not just a mosaic of thumbnails. You can pan and zoom really smoothly with a roll of the scroll wheel and mouse drag and a click. Zoom all the way in to read the actual articles without it taking forever for high-resolution images to load.

    Take a look see at Blaise Aguera y Arcas' TED talk for where this technology is headed:

    [via Data Mining]

  • How to Make Your Own Twitter Bot – Python Implementation

    November 5, 2008  |  Coding, Self-surveillance, Tutorials

    Following up on my post last week about using Twitter to track eating and weight, some of you voiced some interest in creating your own Twitter bot. This post covers how you can do that.

    The Gist of It

    Creating my own Twitter bot was pretty straightforward (much more than I thought it'd be), mostly because Twitter provides an API and the resources to make it that way.

    I wanted something really simple that I could play around with. I just wanted to be able to send a direct message to my Twitter bot, and from there, it would store my data. OK, so here are the basic steps I took:

    1. Create Twitter account for bot
    2. Turn on email notification for direct messages only
    3. Check email periodically for new direct messages
    4. Parse direct messages and store in database

    Continue Reading

Unless otherwise noted, graphics and words by me are licensed under Creative Commons BY-NC. Contact original authors for everything else.