• Xtimeline to Explore and Create Timelines

    July 7, 2007  |  Online Applications

    xtimeline

    Xtimeline allows you to explore all sorts of user-created timelines from the US war in Iraq to the life of Angelina Jolie to the history of pornography. I think the site is still pretty new since the most viewed timelines for the month, past 3 months, and year are still all the same, but nevertheless, from the looks of things, a nice community seems to be developing over there.

    The timelines are (I think) in javascript and what you see is a timeline of user-entered events. As you click and drag through time, events are displayed on the right. You can click on the events for more details where events can be anything from text, a picture, or a Flash-embedded video.

    One suggestion -- it looks like timelines can only be ended by a single user. It would be cool if multiple users could contribute to a single timeline, because I think it's hard to remember all the dates (especially the months) for certain events. We can't all be like Victor, who seems to know an awful lot about Britney Spears.

    *UPDATE* I just read the xtimeline blog. Yup, xtimeline did in fact, just open up to the public July 1.

  • Grab Data with templatemaker

    July 7, 2007  |  Software

    Adrian Holovaty released templatemaker yesterday. Adrian is probably best known as the guy, featured on YouTube, who played the MacGyver theme song. So clearly, he a man a many talents.

    Anyways, templatemaker is a Python script to extract data from text, um, HTML. For example, you could pass a review page from a site like Yelp, or several pages, and the script will "learn" the template. Once a template is established, you can extract the stuff that changes (e.g. ratings, restaurant name). Here, in Adrian's words:

    You can give templatemaker an arbitrary number of HTML files, and it will create the "template" that was used to create those files. ("Template," in this case, means a string with a number of "holes" in it, where the holes represent the parts of the page that change.) Once you've got the template, you can then give it any HTML file that uses that same template, and it will give you the raw data: "The value for hole 1 is 'July 6, 2007', the value for hole 2 is 'blue'," etc.

    It's under the BSD license, so all the more reason to use it. I haven't used it yet, but looking forward to it.

  • Hans Rosling: Providing Data, Inspiring Change

    July 6, 2007  |  Online Applications

    Okay, so this video has been posted probably on thousands of blogs already, but you know what, I don't care. Hans Rosling gives an amazing talk on poverty and life around the world, and he uses his interactive exploratory tool, Trendalyzer (acquired by Google), to show the different levels of health, education, and money around the world. Trendalzyer: useful, yes, but not the main point of the talk. Watch Rosling's talk all the way through. You won't be disappointed.

  • Diet and Weight Loss Tracking with Viz

    July 2, 2007  |  Online Applications

    fatsecret pie

    Weight loss is a difficult task for many, further complicated with so many diets -- Atkins, Jenny Craig, etc -- and lack of motivation. Fatsecret aims to make weight loss easier by providing the tools to track your weight loss, write about it, see what others are doing, and share your progress.

    There's a couple of graphs (built by Flash) on the homepage. The first, a pie chart, shows the proportions of fatsecret users on certain types of diets. You can see the proportions for this week, this month, or all time.

    Then towards the bottom -- a bar chart showing the average weight loss of fatsecret users for specified diets. Again, you can see for this week, this month, and all time.

    fatsecret: avg weight loss

    Every user has her own homepage which shows a line graph of her progress as well as the average weight loss of fatsecret members on the user's same diet.

    Fatsecret seems like quite of an active site with plenty of posting, tips, and member interactions, which makes me pretty happy. Next step: interactive tools.

  • Time Series Tool Like Google Finance

    July 1, 2007  |  Online Applications

    time-series

    Chronoscope is a work-in-progress time series visualization tool that lets you explore data similar to that of Google Finance. It's written in Java, unlike Finance, which uses Flash/Javascript, and uses the Google Web Toolkit as the hook. After a quick look-see, it's certainly still in alpha, and I'm not quite sure when beta will be available to the public. The browsing is pretty nifty though. I wonder how hard it'd be to do it Flash?

  • Same Big Mac Data, Different Platform

    June 30, 2007  |  Online Applications

    I went to Swivel, to see how they did with the same Big Mac data I visualized on Many Eyes. Swivel uses a Google Maps interface with an overlay:

    Big Mac Map (Swivel)

    It looks nice, but it was incredibly slow when I tried to zoom in or browse the map. Actually, not just the map was slow, but the whole page. Maybe some caching issues? Exploratory graphics isn't really Swivel's high point at the moment. I also find it a little strange that the overlay is the same color as that of the maps on Many Eyes.

  • Cost of Big Macs Worldwide

    June 28, 2007  |  Online Applications

    big mac map

    I was playing around at Many Eyes, and it was amazingly easy to map some data on the Big Mac. The data set was simply two columns: country name and the cost of the Big Mac in that country. I chose the mapping visualization option, and voila, data was mapped. Awesome.

  • Macromedia Flash: First Impressions

    June 28, 2007  |  Software

    Flash or Processing? For now, Flash.

    For quite a while now, I've been back on forth on my data viz weapon of choice -- Flash or Processing. With Processing free and designed for artist, I naturally started here. There were some drawbacks of course like non-extensive (just decent) documentation, and it was a lot of learn by example. There were a lot of examples that were just chunks of code that I had to interpret. Also, written in Java, Processing applets were often slow to load in the browser, and there often seemed to be compatibility issues.

    SO, I've set Processing aside, and enter Flash.

    I've been playing around with a few examples from Flash Kit and Entheos, and to be quite honest, it's pretty fun. I like the interface, (I'm still getting used to it) and although I haven't used much ActionScript yet, I'm looking forward to learning it. Still waiting on my Flash book from Amazon, Macromedia Flash Professional 8 Hands-On Training, which is taking forever to get here.

    I'll just have to go through more tutorials until the darned thing arrives.

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