March, 2012 Archives

This interactive bubble map lets you study travel patterns, showing results from the 2007 Survey of Metro Passenger Origin and Destination Stations. The survey got results from 708,406 passengers, asking them their origin and destination. I obtained a spreadsheet of the responses, but it’s hard to analyze a table of numbers with 86 rows and 86 columns. So, I decided to create a map using bubbles to reflect the volume of traffic. Yes, the data is five years old, but it’s all I had available.

When you move your cursor over a station, red bubbles appear over the other stations, their size reflecting the number of trips that originated at those stations that ended at the one you selected. An option at the bottom lets you see the reverse: trips from your selection to each of the remaining stations (using orange bubbles). You can also select a station via the menu at the bottom. Your chosen station is given a blue bubble showing the total. To view the exact numbers, click the “list” button. Your screen may not be tall enough to view all entries. (Hit the enter key to continue.)

To implement this, I first investigated Google Fusion Tables, but grew frustrated with the limited interface in their beta release. I found greater success with the Google Maps JavaScript API V3, which I have already used on other projects.

I built KML to show a day in the life of Metro, but to view KML you need a program like Google Earth. So, it was time to figure out a way to show the same data directly in the browser. A good alternative is the Google Maps JavaScript API V3. Instead of describing lines, stations and trains in KML tags, I used JavaScript to control the map display. All this is contained in regular HTML.

There are three models of Metro:

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Hollywood and geek fandom are anxiously awaiting the release of The Avengers, “Earth’s mightiest heroes,” hitting movie screens this May. With the wild success of some superhero movies, and the ignoble failures of others, does a movie with several superheroes offer better odds? The new trailer offers grounds for hope. The movie features Iron Man, star of two megahits ($318 million for the original and $314 million for the sequel), alongside the Hulk (star of two respectable duds; $132 million for the ’03 version and $134 million for the ’08 version), plus Thor and Captain America, both of which had impressive film debuts of their own (Thor: $181 million; Captain America: $176 million). That’s a $1.3 billion franchise (stats from Box Office Mojo). Plus toss in Hawkeye and the Black Widow (and Nick Fury), minor Marvel characters that Marvel has promoted via cameos in other flicks. It can be tricky enough to handle team dynamics in a comic book; I wonder what will happen when a team gets the Hollywood treatment. » Continue Reading…