1080p – 1080 Progressive is the Best HD Available

I have been studying video formats and standards lately (yes, part of my job). I like knowing the standards. We all do. Example:

Q: "I want a portable music player. What should I buy?"
A: "Ipod"

That simple. That is what positioning and branding is about. So, to break down the specifics:

Q: "I want the best HD system available. What should I buy?"
A: "1080 Progressive Scan."

OK, the second example doesn’t have a brand name. But just knowing that 1080p is the "one", that is helpful to me. Same for the folks at the xBox 360 who now support 1080p. Yea!

TUAW – Bryce 5 Free for a Bit

Speaking of visualization, via the tuaw blog:

Bryce 5 free until September 6th

DAZ Productions is the latest software company to have been struck by the ‘let’s give it away for free!’ bug, as they have placed a $0 price tag on Bryce 5 for both Mac and PC – but only until Sept. 6th.

I wonder if you can import the Bryce models into Sketchup? Hmmm.

On the visualization theme we also *finally* finished painting what used to be our training room to be a small green room. Chroma Key paint to drop in backgrounds from Star Wars. Or more subdued maps like the weather man.

Now the catch here is none of us are exactly videographers. So, if you have this need for a chroma key green backdrop and are in the Houston area, drop me a line. Free access to a mini studio – not a bad deal.

The color of money, power, life, death, spring…

  Tag Graph: The Color Of…. 
  Originally uploaded by jbum.

Flickr user jbum has an image of saturated and unsaturated samples of photos with varying tags. OK, in English he looked at pictures that were tagged different things. And then found the average color.

From his notes on the tag color graph photo:

"For each keyword in this picture, I downloaded all the matching thumbnails, up to a maximum of 1000 images, and averaged the colors, using a script.

The left side of each stripe is the resulting color.

The right side of each stripe is the same color, with the saturation cranked up.

Now, I must admit, when I began this experiment, I was really hoping for a more obvious result: money = green, spring = green, sex = pink, winter = white, death = black. Something like that… Right?

No such luck. Reality, as always, rudely intrudes."

From the comments, also worth looking at is The Color of Palo Alto art project.

Gliffy Visio Like Application on the Web

Gliffy is a ridiculous brand name and cool looking application for visualization. Think visio in a web browser with collaboration.

For the architects in the house, you can create a sketch with Gliffy and then extrude it in Sketchup for a fly through. All for free. Times are a changing.

The default for gliffy appears as a network diagram, which I would still likely build in network notepad. But that doesn’t provide collaboration. One plus for network notepad is that most network administrators aren’t excited about the idea of posting a detailed diagram of their network on the web with any company. Architecture on the other hand, or flow charts of processes, seems like a good use of gliffy.

Via the Houstonist site.

Bumptop – Great Concepts to Integrate into Vista and OSX

BumptopWatched the video on bumptop from the link on 43 folders. Bumptop is a new desktop interface prototype. Many of the user interface metaphors are similar to a real (physical) desktop; moving files around, stacking, shuffling things. The critique on 43 folders, linked above, addresses several of the limitations.

On the PLUS side, the  "zip" motion of circling  and drawing a line through the middle is innovative. I can see using that interface in favor of the CTL-CLICK-CLICK-CLICK method I currently use. Circle, zip through the middle, post to flickr. Easy.

The biggest missing component is an increased utilization of horizontal adjacency. I have mentioned this before in a post on Open Crouquet.

Sexual Relations Graph – Best Use of a Visual

  Sexual Relations Graph 
  Originally uploaded by eschipul.

The best use of a visual at the Net2 conference so far IMHO was from Martin Kearns. This graph (to the right and here) is titled "Structure of Romantic and Sexual Relations." 

Staying with the sexual social networks metaphors, it is apparent that Kevin Bacon gets around.

In the diagram note the large cluster on the top left. That is called a spanning tree diagram. All it would take to add more of those lonely trees to the primary tree is one connection.

A quick google search leads me to believe this is the original study from Jefferson High School.

Aesthetic Digital Picture Frame for Visualization

Walking from Sharper Image to zGallerie at the mall made me connect the Phillips Digital Picture frame with a large white frame with a small 8×5 phto area at zGallerie. Given visualization is one of our focus points this year, it quickly turned into a project to combine the two elements into a Primal Brand story.

This was a quick project, no plans, just sawdust and scraps from the get-go. Pretty much what happens when a geek has tools.

The end result is pictured at left. Of course the photos rotate. The active photo of the word "ELVIS" was taken at the Elvis car museum in Memphis last year.

The build process is illustrated in pictures as follows. I would like to issue a disclaimer on the drill visible in some of the photos. It is NOT my primarly drill. Like all good geeks I have a Dewalt professional.Zgalleriepictureframe40bucks But of course I leave it at work, so what you see is my antique hand me down Black and Decker with the old-world drill bit chuck. The death of an american brand….

The main point is onward to the project pictures!

Continue reading “Aesthetic Digital Picture Frame for Visualization”

Flickr Tag Visualization Over Time

This visualization from Yahoo research is very interesting. I attended a talk at eTech where the speaker diss’ed the famous Minard’s Napoleon’s advance graph saying "but it didn’t help Napoleon make a single decision." The audience of course vehemently protested, echoing Tufte in a manner like Trekkies quote Spoc, "but it wasn’t designed for that! It was a antiwar protest poster!"

My vote? The Yahoo flickr tag visual is data as art and not designed for decision making.

Reading the comments on the digg story, the best part is the link to the paper explaining the technique used. Data mining such a large time sensitive data set is not easy. I like the fact they explained how they did it.

Via some guy via digg.

Hispanic Advertising – Using Sketchup To Extrude 3D Advertising Graphics

We recently closed a client in the Hispanic advertising space so I was reading the AdAge Hispanic Fact Pack. This, crossed with recently going through the initial tutorial in Google Sketchup made me want to play with the pie chart as a 3D infographic for better visualization.

I did not do that. By no stretch does this graphic do a better job of conveying the information than the flat pie chart. This is just a proof of concept.

But, it was a fun journey and I thought it might be helpful to explain the process of converting a pie chart into a 3D visual using Sketchup.  Here are two proofs of concept.


After the jump you can see the step-by-step process used and download the source files to continue editing it. Feel free to extend and improve.

Continue reading “Hispanic Advertising – Using Sketchup To Extrude 3D Advertising Graphics”

Crouquet – 3D Spreadsheets?

Staying with the visualization theme, (link via Scoble) Open Croquet’s 3D virtual environment built on P2P looks amazing. Hopefully we’ll get a youTube version soon.

Of course this also begs the question of if we WANT to work in 3D space. Play? Absofreakinlootly, but work? I really don’t know as I haven’t had the opportunity yet and only if it can be configured to expand horizontal adjacency.

Now if we can clean up 2d excel charts, can we come up with a way to clean up 3d charts with integrated visuals? Check out the croquet site for more screen shots.

Great Visualization Tools Enable Reasoned Decision Making

In between witty binary to text email conversations today (it IS both Friday and Cinco de Mayo), I was sent a link to  Fixing Excel charts”¦Or, why cast stones when you can pick up a hammer. This is just brilliant.

The short version is you get an option in Excel that says "clean chart" and your Excel charts look better. Here is a visual of what the most basic Excel bar chart looks like before and after running the "clean" command.


This may seem like a slight difference, but it saves a HUGE amount of time cleaning up difficult visuals. My hat is off to the brilliant folks behind this excel charts visualization plugin! Visit that last link for the downloads and installation instructions. Really, wow.

And before I forget, 01010100 01101000 01100001 01101110 01101011 01110011 00100000 01001011 01100001 01110100 01111001 01100001 00100001

Sensational Graphics from a Research Firm – Disraeli Would be Proud

I am used to the abuse of visuals for sensational purposes. But this chart (left) just completely irks me. It is from the home page (the HOME PAGE!) of Pew Internet Research. So much for objectivity.

Let your eyes guide you. You look at the data visually. So you look at the bar chart. You assume 88% of society is OK with adultery. But that is not what the date says!

Then, and only then, in shock, do you notice the text to the right that qualifies the data with "percent saying this behavior is morally wrong". That is sensationalism. Visual sensationalism that undermines trust. This is a bad visual because it is effective while at the same time just wrong. Be honest damnit, especially with visuals.

Disraeli? Oh, he is the guy who said:

‘Lies, damn lies, and statistics’ – Benjamin Disraeli

What he meant to say was:

‘Lies, damn lies, statistics and then we have bad visualization’ – Benjamin Disraeli (cough – edited – cough)

Schiphol Airport Unrinal Visualizations

I wish I could give credit to the correct person for this particular … visualization.  I can definitely give credit to Jennifer for forwarding it to me by email.  Thanks J.  I think.

Whenever I meet someone for the first time they say "did you know there is an airport in Amsterdam by the same name?" – me: "yes" me: "and it is spelled a bit different" – them: "no, its the same" – me: "ok, I guess they changed it" – or something like that.  I wonder if people named smith get "Oh, I have a cousin with that SAME NAME!  Amazing!" – or something like that.

This is a funny small element of a urinal that has a bottom line result (sorry for the pun) that increases profit by reducing cleaning costs.  Humans are funny.  Visuals matter, sometimes for humorous reasons.

The text in the Schiphol urinal image reads:

In Amsterdam, the tile under Schiphol’s urinals would pass inspection in an operating room.  But nobody notices.  What everybody does notice is that each urinal has a fly in it.

Look harder and the fly turns into the black outline of a fly, etched into the porcelain. It improves the aim. If a man sees a fly, he aims at it. Fly-in-urinal research found that etchings reduce spillage by 80%. It gives a guy something to think about. That’s the perfect example of process control.

If anyone knows the origin, please email me or comment below?

Sparklines Hit All Tendenci Sites – Massive Amounts of Data in a Little-Itty-Bitty Space

Sparklines, like this one Sparkline

, were created by Edward Tufte.  Sparklines have gone live on all Tendenci association web sites. The image below is a crop from an articles management report, but the actual sparkline is visible to all visitors to any site.  The idea is to accept the fact that the visitor is intelligent and would also like to see the performance of an article among other readers.


The above is an screen shot image, but you can read the articles here, here and here respectively.

One trend visible on other sites with much content locked down for members only is a huge reduction in views of restricted content. This is intuitively obvious.The sparklines help make the case by hitting you over the head with obvious visualization of what the users are doing.

People do not like to be hassled.  They don’t want to go to your site, login and search when they can go to google and search across multiple sites faster.  The result is locking down your content causes it to go unseen for the most part.  Don’t blame the sparklines – they are just telling you the facts.

Visualization – One Artist on the Importance of Color

A good friend sent me a few shots of Cheryl Tamborello’s work.  I liked this quote from Cheryl’s resume:

Tamborello_leadingmetolibertyxl"Working with layers, allows me to build up subtleties of color that psychologically impact the viewer.  Through the use of color, I hope to jostle the viewer’s memory of a particular place, reminding them of a moment they may have had." – Cheryl Tamborello, Houston Artist (emphasis added by me)

Sort of an attempt at abstract random mnemonics (memory aiding devices) for the viewer.  Performance art in static form through visuals.  The same thing that makes visiting the Rothko Chapel an obligation if you are in the Houston area (pictures never do Rothko justice as I am sure is the case with Tamborello as well).

While the three main learning styles are visual, auditory and kinaesthetic it has been my experience that visual is dominant in almost every individual I have worked with.  This might be self selection based on industry but I doubt it.  You can test learning styles and determine that someone is an auditory learner, but when asked "what car did you drive in high school?" they will picture it first before reliving the engine sound or some other related sound in their mind.

Thanks Rachel!