May 23rd, 2013 | no comments
Flickr’s parent company Yahoo made some major changes to the look-and-feel of Flickr as well as its business model. Will the new look make Flickr more competitive with Facebook, Instagram, and Google+, or inspire a wave of alienation and doom the once-great photo-sharing site? After playing with the new design for a few days, here’s my list of rants.
For starters, all pages now have a black header on a semi-transparent background, used for the site’s navigation. The header sticks to the top of the page, wasting space better used for the main content when you scroll down. I believe Flickr had recently introduced a smaller version of this a few weeks ago. The site navigation isn’t as important as Flickr thinks it must be. I’d much rather have the extra vertical real estate and just scroll to the top if I need their navigation options.
The home page: Flickr now really wants to force you to pay attention to your contacts and groups. Every little update now has a photo as a background, though for new faves and comments, the photo gets a tiny square thumbnail, while a large cropped version is severely darkened as a background for the text, to the point of being unrecognizable and pointless. And the fave announcements no longer have a link to the user’s collection of faves, which I use to judge their taste. The home page has a weird two-column format, but the shorter column stops scrolling when it gets to the end, until the other column has also reached its end, at which point the footer scrolls into view. It’s a cool effect, but frankly annoying as it over-complicates the page’s mental model. continued » » »
May 13th, 2013 | no comments
The Kinetic Sculpture Race is a mobile art display as only Baltimore can do it. This past weekend, 37 teams built vehicles powered only by their own legs. The creations had to traverse 14 miles, up and down hills, not to mention a plunge into the Baltimore Harbor, through a sand pit and even a mud pit. The American Visionary Art Museum guides the event, now in its 15th year. The morning starts with a raucous blessing of the pilots, after which the teams runs down the grassy slope of Federal Hill and climb aboard their vehicles to start their journeys. These photos show some of the creative entrants I saw as I followed the race through Baltimore.
May 7th, 2013 | no comments
Cyclists dressed up in their “Great Gatsby” finest to party at Eastern Market last weekend. The Washington Area Bicyclist Association’s (WABA) annual fundraiser attracted hundreds to play casino games and dance to a live band. Chipotle was there serving up tacos. The carnitas came with an purple onion topping that you can’t find in stores, and it was awesome. There was a silent auction, plus generous raffle prizes, and an awards ceremony that recognized local advocates. Local bike shops participated in the “bike-build” contest, with their creations auctioned off at the end. Here are a few photos from the event.
April 29th, 2013 | no comments
If you’ve ever been moderating a presentation and need a way to quickly throw up a big message on the screen, here is the online tool you need. Echo is a super-simple program that takes a word or short phrase and builds a web page with nothing but your text, sized to fill the screen.
To use it, just enter your text at the end of the URL, like:
April 7th, 2013 | no comments
At Mobility Lab‘s recent hack day, WMATA released a copy of the GTFS data they use for their trip planner. The trip planner includes schedule data for a total of 19 different transit agencies. GTFS, General Transit Feed Specification, is a collection of files that together form a complete description of all the routes, stops, and schedules. WMATA released an animation of the data last November (see Maps in Motion: Telling Stories from Transit Data). With the GTFS data now publicly available, I wanted to try making my own animations.
March 24th, 2013 | no comments
I was introduced to Voronoi diagrams at today’s Data Visualization Hack Day, at Mobility Lab. Justin Grimes showed a Voronoi diagram of Capital Bikeshare stations he had overlaid on a map of the Washington, DC region: capital_bikeshare_voronoi_diagram.
The map plots each CaBi station. The boundaries are drawn at the half-way point between the closest two stations. When three or more cell boundaries meet, you are equidistant to them all. Inside the cell of a station, that station is the one that’s closest to you.
Justin showed me an interactive example of Voronoi Tesselation on GitHub. The interactive demo adds a new “seed” wherever your mouse is pointing. That point creates a Voronoi cell. continued » » »
March 22nd, 2013 | no comments
30,000 runners filled the streets of Washington, DC on a brisk Saturday morning, for the annual Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Marathon. I woke up early to take some photos in Rock Creek Park, Woodley Park, and Adams Morgan.
March 22nd, 2013 | no comments
A few days ago I animated a day of Capital Bikeshare trips using a new Java program I had written in Processing (see Animating Data with Processing). I wanted the program to be flexible enough to allow people to customize for their own uses, so I put it to the test myself by making slight modifications to its display.
For the first customization, I wanted to zoom into Dupont Circle. It turns out that at this scale, drawing a frame every 60 seconds means bikes disappear from view without giving an impression of movement. So, I had to slow down the speed. The video below samples the data every 5 seconds (12 times slower than before), so you can follow individual bikes. The video displays 30 frames per second. The data is from October 5, 2012, from 8am to 8pm.
March 18th, 2013 | 4 comments
Want to create an animation from a set of data? If the data has spatial and chronological components, you can view it as a map-based movie. I’ve been making short animations from Capital Bikeshare data using Processing, a mini Java development tool. Here are steps you can follow to try making your own movies.
March 13th, 2013 | no comments
Much like the proverbial stripper who works to save for college, the Team DC Fashion Show strutted out a dozen male models to raise funds for their scholarship fund. Team DC is an umbrella organization for the many gay sports teams in Washington, DC. Their student-athlete college scholarship supports local gay students whose participation in sports make a positive contribution to the community. The sporting spirit of competition also applied to the models, with a panel of judges and online voters picking their favorite, who would win a raft of prizes at the end of the night. Local fashions were on display, with an emphasis on swimwear, underwear, and one fashionable dog leash. The event was hosted by local drag queens Athena Ducockis and Barbara Ann Bushwacker (who bears an uncanny resemblance to “Silver Fox” Barbara Bush). Enjoy the photos below.
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