Infographic: The Evolution of iOS from iOS 1 – iOS 8 (From 7DayShop.com)

The-Evolution-of-iOS-1-to-8_736px

Infographic: Vitamins Cheat Sheet – What They Do and Good Food Sources

Readers:

This infographic is from Lifehack and provides us a Vitamins Cheat Sheet.

Hoi Wan from Lifehack states:

When it comes down to healthy eating and balanced diets, we need to make sure we get our fair share of vitamins. But what do they actually do? What are the benefits and what food sources are they available in? Here’s a handy infographic we prepared for you to share, print out, re-use as a handy reference sheet. The next time you are preparing a meal, or shopping, you’ll have a good idea which food contains which vitamins, and remember, when you’re cooking the food, it’s a myth that the vitamins will be ‘cooked out’.

Stay healthy.

Michael

vitamin_mineral_inforgraphic3-011

DataViz: Chart-Topping Songs as Graphs and Diagrams (From FlowingData)

Billboard ranked the top 100 songs since the creation of their Hot 100 list in 1958. The list is based on airplay and sales.

Chart-topping-songs

Tableau Customer Conference 2014 (TCC14): Keynote with Christian Chabot and Chris Stolte on the Art of Analytics

Tableau Keynote 2014

DataViz: Squaring the Pie Chart (Waffle Charts)

Readers:

Robert-Kosara-Tableau-Software-200x200In the past, I would have highly condemned pie charts without giving you much explanation why. However, Dr. Robert Kosara (photo, left), posted a great thought study of pie charts on his wonderful blog, EagerEyes.org, that I want to share with you.

Dr. Kosara is a Visual Analytics Researcher at Tableau Software, with a special interest in the communication of, and storytelling with, data. He has a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Vienna University of Technology.

Also, as part of his blog post, Robert offers an alternative way to create pie charts: using waffle charts or square pie charts.

Dr. Kosara is also one of the great minds behind Tableau’s new storytelling feature. I hope you enjoy his creative thoughts as much as I do.

Best Regards,

Michael

The Pie Chart

Dr. Kosara contends that pie charts are perhaps the most ubiquitous chart type; they can be found in newspapers, business reports, and many other places. But few people actually understand the function of the pie chart and how to use it properly. In addition to issues stemming from using too many categories, the biggest problem is getting the basic premise: that the pie slices sum up to a meaningful whole.

Touchstone Energy Corporation Pie Chart
Robert points out that the circle (the “pie”) represents some kind of whole, which is made up of the slicesWhat this means is that the pie chart first and foremost represents the size relationship between the parts and the entire thing. If a company has five divisions, and the pie chart shows profits per division, the sum of all the slices/divisions is the total profits of the company.

Five Slices

 

If the parts do not sum up to a meaningful whole, they cannot be represented in a pie chart, period. It makes no sense to show five different occupations in a pie chart, because there are obviously many missing. The total of such a subsample is not meaningful, and neither is the comparison of each individual value to the artificial whole.

Slices have to be mutually exclusive; by definition, they cannot overlap. The data therefore must not only sum up to a meaningful whole, but the values need to be categorized in such a way that they are not counted several times. A good indicator of something being wrong is when the percentages do not sum up to 100%, like in the infamous Fox News pie chart.

The Infamous Fox News Pie Chart

Fox News Pie Chart

In the pie chart above, people were asked which potential candidates they viewed favorably, but they could name more than one. The categories are thus not mutually exclusive, and the chart makes no sense. At the very least, they would need to show the amount of overlap between any two (and also all three) candidates. Though given the size of the numbers and the margin of error in this data, the chart is entirely meaningless.

When to Use Pie Charts

Dr. Kosara points out that there are some simple criteria that you can use to determine whether a pie chart is the right choice for your data.

  • Do the parts make up a meaningful whole? If not, use a different chart. Only use a pie chart if you can define the entire set in a way that makes sense to the viewer.
  • Are the parts mutually exclusive? If there is overlap between the parts, use a different chart.
  • Do you want to compare the parts to each other or the parts to the whole? If the main purpose is to compare between the parts, use a different chart. The main purpose of the pie chart is to show part-whole relationships.
  • How many parts do you have? If there are more than five to seven, use a different chart. Pie charts with lots of slices (or slices of very different size) are hard to read.

In all other cases, do not use a pie chart. The pie chart is the wrong chart type to use as a default; the bar chart is a much better choice for that. Using a pie chart requires a lot more thought, care, and awareness of its limitations than most other charts.

Alternative: Squaring the Pie

A little-known alternative to the round pie chart is the square pie or waffle chart. It consists of a square that is divided into 10×10 cells, making it possible to read values precisely down to a single percent. Depending on how the areas are laid out (as square as possible seems to be the best idea), it is very easy to compare parts to the whole. The example below is from a redesign Dr. Kosara did a while ago about women and girls in IT and computing-related fields.

Kosara Square Pie

Links to Examples of Waffle Charts

I did a little Googling and found a few great examples of Waffle Charts. I have provided links to examples in Tableau, jQuery R and Excel.

Squaring The Pie

Sources:

Dataviz Design & Infographics: Abby & Chris’ Wedding

Readers:

This clever wedding package was designed by Abby Ryan Design. The concept was to reflect the playfulness of Abby and Chris’s food truck wedding. First, a 18 x 24 screen printed wedding infographic was created that works as an invitation, program and menu. The poster was designed with the rehearsal dinner invitation as the bottom section so it could be removed for guests only coming to the wedding. Next, the save the date card, which focuses on important events in Abby and Chris’s relationship with the final date being their wedding. A wedding website was also created to keep their guests informed.

I loved the creativity behind this and just had to share.

Best Regards,

Michael

About Abby Ryan Design

Abby Ryan Design is a Fishtown/Philadelphia-based design studio, known for its clean design sensibility with an emphasis on client relationships and open lines of communication. Whether you are looking for a full branding campaign, or help with a small spot illustration, Abby Ryan Design will always give it 110%. With more than a decade of experience and a diverse roster of clients, they will work closely with you to meet all your design needs, from branding to business collateral, digital media to illustration/infographics and everything in between.

Their Process

Abby Ryan Design are visual communicators. They know all pieces of your message must gel for maximum efficiency. They will take a big-picture approach to ensure your design objectives fit into your overarching goal. Design trends and technology are constantly changing, so they will ensure your message is staying current and relevant with your audience. Clients receive personal attention throughout the entire creative process as well as access to our strong network of experts in development, writing, production, and printing. There are many paths they follow to achieve success, all loosely follow these steps:

Research

In order to successfully communicate with your clients it is essential to become an expert in your industry. Abby Ryan research the latest trends and highlights what’s working and what’s not to find the most effective ways to reach your audience.

Conceptualize

Research sparks the creative process, exploration helps to get it where it needs to go. Ideas come from all different places, whether it be surfing the web, creating word maps, or taking a shower. Many ideas are sketched out and thought through before they hit the computer screen.

Realize

Once all concepts are thoroughly explored, the final direction emerges. During this phase the team assembled for your project work together to complete all of the grunt work. Abby Ryan will share with you the progress and look for any feedback you may have to ensure you are happy with the final piece.

01_invite_full1 02_invite_tubes1 03_invite_detail_3 05_invite_detail_2 06_std 07_website1

 

 

 

Infographic: Best Rewards Credit Cards

Readers:

For many of you, the rewards card for credit cards, flights, car rentals, hotels, etc. is a way of life. I have a business card book I keep at home that is full of these. When I get ready to take my trips, I pull out the cards I need to use for that trip.

License Direct made a nice infographic that reviews the various reward cards.

License Direct states about their infographic:

There is a huge selection of credit cards offering an overwhelming variety of rewards, from cash back to airline miles to elite status at hotels and resorts. Our new infographic simplifies things by answering four questions for each of 25 top credit cards: how much the card costs (the annual fee), how many points you earn per purchase, how valuable those points are, and what bonus you get for signing up.

Check out where your favorite reward cards rate.

Best regards,

Michael

 

Best Rewards Credit Card Infographic

Jock Mackinlay and Tableau’s Research Team is Building Tomorrow’s UX for Data

Readers:

I thought I would present some interesting information visualization research being conducted at Tableau Software by Jock Mackinlay (photo, right) and his research team.Jock Mackinlay. Source: Tableau Software

Mr. Mackinlay is an information visualization expert and Vice President of Visual Analysis at Tableau Software. With Stuart K. Card, George G. Robertson and others he invented a number of Information Visualization techniques. [1] Mr. Mackinlay, joined Tableau in 2004 after 18 years specializing in data visualization at Xerox PARC.

Tableau Software was born of academic research, and as the company continues to grow, it is building an R&D division to help build a pipeline of innovation. Jock, who heads up the research team, explains how it works and what his team is working on.

I cite references (most of this blog post is based on Derrick Harris’ interview with Mr. Mackinlay in Gigaom) after this blog post for those of you who want to delve deeper into what Jock’s team is doing.

Best regards,

Michael

Tableau Software and Their Research Culture

Tableau LogoTableau Software is many things: a fast-growing thorn in the side of legacy analytics vendorsstock-market gold and the poster child for the next generation of user-friendly data analysis, among them. It’s also a company with a deeply rooted and growing research culture that’s responsible for nearly everything users see when they open its popular visualization application. [2]

Tableau itself is the product of a Stanford Ph.D. dissertation by co-founder and Chief Development Officer Chris Stolte, in conjunction with his then-professor and eventual co-founder Pat Hanrahan. Their project, called Polaris, combined a structured query language with a declarative language for describing data visualization. When they commercialized the research by founding Tableau, that combination – which came together into a technology called VizQL – became the defining feature of the drag-and-drop Tableau experience.

However, the true value of what Stolte and Hanrahan created wasn’t just that let it let mainstream users query data visually and generate graphs, said Mackinlay. There had been a lot of research around ideal ways to visualize data — including his own — but they often focused on customized views of a single problem or type of analysis.“The real power [of Tableau] was to go through a bunch of different views to answer one question,” Mackinlay said. “All you have to be an expert at is your data and the questions you want to ask of it.”

The new research division within Tableau (technically, it was really created about a year and a half ago) is trying to imagine and create the next set of technologies that change the way data analysis is done. The five-person team, which Mackinlay heads, consists of four visualization experts (including Mackinlay), a couple of whom are also specialize in statistics and one of whom specializes in high-performance computing. The fifth member specializes in natural-language processing and computer graphics.

Like most research divisions, the team writes academic papers and works on some projects that might not be applicable for years, but Mackinlay made it pretty clear that the researchers expect everything they’re doing could be commercialized. If there was one thing that separated the famous Bell Labs from Xerox PARC or even Microsoft Research, it’s that Bell was really good at doing really good research that made its way into products, he said. Good research labs need to find the middle ground between nearsighted product upgrades and pie-in-the-sky ideas and, he explained, “You have to have absolutely no gap between the research scientists … and the people who are actually doing the work.”

A still image of an interactive Story Points slideshow. Source: Tableau Public user Matt Francis

Research Leads to Tableau Story Points Feature

Robert-Kosara-Tableau-Software-200x200It’s at a much, much smaller scale than Bell Labs, but Mackinlay thinks Tableau is following down that right path. For example, he said, the Story Points feature in the latest release of the company’s software, allows users to create data slideshows, was the result of tight work between the product team and researcher Robert Kosara (photo, right), who had been doing research into this area for years. As data volumes, dataset complexity and user sophistication all increase, Mackinlay said systems-level research into data processing (including how to optimize for increased client-side computing power) has and will continue to help deliver a smooth user experience.He’s understandably less forthcoming about what, specifically, we can expect to see from Tableau in the near term, but Mackinlay did discuss a few areas of interest. One is making it easier to use aesthetically pleasing icons rather than text labels in charts, an area where he and colleague Vidya Setlur (the aforementioned NLP and graphics specialist) recently published a paper. He’s also interested in text analysis and NLP, and generally adding new types of visualizations — some of which those types of analysis will help enable. For example, “node-link diagrams” (aka graphswill happen, he said, although he can’t put an exact data on when.icons

Mackinlay also suggested that Tableau might expand beyond its current product lineup, which is essentially the same software delivered via the desktop (free and paid), server or cloud. “We can make our existing products easy to use,” Mackinlay said. “We can also make new products that are easy to use — perhaps radically easier than our existing products.”

Although the word “easy” is kind of a misnomer, it’s one that’s used to describe Tableau and other user-friendly software quite often. “Easy” connotes shallowness, Mackinlay said, making an analogy to the evolution of the telephone. Phones have evolved a great deal from those where users just rang the operator, to rotary phones, and now to modern smartphones. With every iteration, manufacturers had to strike the right balance maintaining a recognizable experience but also adding more capabilities.

“We use the two words ‘simple’ and ‘useful,’” he said. “… If you don’t make sure you’re useful, people just aren’t going to stick with you.”

—————————————————————————–

References

[1]  Jock D. Mackinlay, Wikipedia.com, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jock_D._Mackinlay.

[2] Derrick Harris, A tiny research team at tableau is building tomorrow’s UX for data, Gigaom, July 7, 2014, http://gigaom.com/2014/07/07/a-tiny-research-team-at-tableau-is-building-tomorrows-ux-for-data/.

DataViz: Graphing the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Bucket of IceReaders:

As anyone currently on social media knows, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has turned into a fun and successful way to help fight Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or ALS. From neighborhood driveways and city streets to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, people everywhere can be seen dumping buckets of ice water on their heads to raise awareness and funds to fight ALS.

Children, adults and celebrities alike are joining the social media phenomenon to fight back against a disease that currently has no treatments or cures. “We have been moved beyond words by the power of one family’s ability to make such a meaningful difference in the fight against a disease that has taken too many lives,” said MDA President and CEO Steven M. Derks. “All of us at MDA are incredibly grateful to everyone who has taken the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge to raise awareness and donations for ALS. It will take all of us working together to find treatments and cures, and MDA will not rest until we end ALS.”

The viral ALS Ice Bucket Challenge started when 29-year-old Pete Frates, diagnosed with ALS in 2012, posted an ice bucket video on social media and challenged a few friends to follow his lead. The #ALSIceBucketChallenge has since become a social media sensation, sweeping the country with compassion and support. “Increased awareness about ALS is critical to help us learn more about the disease,” Derks said. “But what we need more than ever is action. Together, our collective actions can translate into significant progress against ALS. We hope everyone will join us to fight back by making a donation at mda.org and participating with us at a local MDA event in your community.”

 

Vikesh KhannaVikesh Khanna (photo, right), took a rather unique approach to the ALS Bucket Challenge using data visualization. Mr. Khanna, is a Computer Science Masters student at Stanford University. He was born and brought up in Haridwar, a small religious town in North India. He likes computer programming, reading, badminton, music and wine. If you’re looking for his official symbol, that’d be a crashing Zeppelin.

Vikesh came up with an idea of visualizing all of the people who have taken the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, who called that person out to do so, and any photos or videos associated with it. Using his application, you can interactively select a person to see how they did the challenge, who they called out to do it, and even the associated video. Below is a screenshot of Vikesh’s data visualization.

Image-1 So, to test Vikesh’s application, I decided to see what Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer, Sheryl Sandberg, did for her ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. So, using the search page of Vikesh’s application, I searched for “Sheryl Sandberg.” The following information appeared (see two screenshots below). You will see information like: who challenged her (Mark Zuckerberg), how long it has been since she was challenged (278.9 hours), has she completed the challenge (she hasn’t yet), and her popularity score (493.914825). 

Sheryl Sandberg - Graph Sheryl Sandberg - Find

For you folks that want to try Vikesh’s application, I recommend you try it on an iPad using the Safari browser. I had problems with Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, and Mozilla Firefox.

Here is a link to his application.

I thought I would finish this blog post by provided you some more information about ALS. Even if you don’t want to have a cold bucket of ice water dumped on your head, please donate.

Best regards,

Michael

 

What is amyotrophic lateral sclerosis?

ALS is a disease of the parts of the nervous system that control voluntary muscle movement. In ALS, motor neurons (nerve cells that control muscle cells) are gradually lost. As these motor neurons are lost, the muscles they control become weak and then nonfunctional.

The word “amyotrophic” comes from Greek roots that mean “without nourishment to muscles” and refers to the loss of signals nerve cells normally send to muscle cells. “Lateral” means “to the side” and refers to the location of the damage in the spinal cord. “Sclerosis” means “hardened” and refers to the hardened nature of the spinal cord in advanced ALS.

In the United States, ALS also is called Lou Gehrig’s disease, named after the Yankees baseball player who died of it in 1941. In the United Kingdom and some other parts of the world, ALS is often called motor neurone diseasein reference to the cells that are lost in this disorder.

Who gets ALS?

ALS usually strikes in late middle age (the late 50s is average) or later, although it also occurs in young adults and even in children, as well as in very elderly people. Some forms of ALS have their onset in youth. Men are slightly more likely to develop ALS than are women. Studies suggest an overall ratio of about 1.2 men to every woman who develops the disorder.

What causes ALS?

Years ago, it was widely believed that there might be one cause to explain all cases of ALS. Today, doctors and scientists know that can’t be the case, and they’re working to identify the multiple causes of the disorder. One thing they do know is that ALS cannot be “caught,” or transmitted from one person to another.

The causes of the vast majority of ALS cases are still unknown. Investigators theorize that some individuals may be genetically predisposed to developing the disease, but only do so after coming in contact with an environmental trigger. The interaction of genetics and environment may hold clues as to why some individuals develop ALS.

Although the majority of ALS cases are sporadic, meaning there is no family history of the disease, about 5 to 10 percent of cases are familial, meaning the disease runs in the family. A common misconception is that only familial ALS is “genetic.” Actually, both familial and sporadic ALS can stem from genetic causes. And some people who have a diagnosis of sporadic ALS may carry ALS-causing genetic mutations that can be passed on to offspring. A genetic counselor can help people with ALS understand inheritance and any associated risks for family members.

What are the symptoms of ALS?

ALS results in muscles that are weak and soft, or stiff, tight and spastic. Muscle twitches and cramps are common; they occur because degenerating axons (long fibers extending from nerve-cell bodies) become “irritable.” Symptoms may be limited to a single body region, or mild symptoms may affect more than one region. When ALS begins in the bulbar motor neurons, the muscles used for swallowing and speaking are affected first. Rarely, symptoms begin in the respiratory muscles.

As ALS progresses, symptoms become more widespread, and some muscles become paralyzed while others are weakened or unaffected. In late-stage ALS, most voluntary muscles are paralyzed.

The involuntary muscles, such as those that control the heartbeat, gastrointestinal tract and bowel, bladder and sexual functions are not directly affected in ALS. Sensations, such as vision, hearing and touch, are also unaffected.

About 50 percent of people with ALS develop some degree of cognitive (thinking) or behavioral abnormality. Usually, cognitive and behavioral symptoms in ALS range from mild (such that only close family members may notice a difference) to moderate.

What is the life expectancy in ALS?

Each person’s disease course is unique. There are a number of examples of people who are leading productive and active lives more than two decades after an ALS diagnosis.

Standard longevity statistics citing an average survival time of three to five years after diagnosis may be somewhat out of date because changes in supportive care and technology — especially for breathing and nutrition — may help prolong life.

What can be done about ALS?

Medical interventions and technology have vastly improved the quality of life for people with ALS, by assisting with breathing, nutrition, mobility and communication. Proper management of symptoms, and proactive use of medical interventions and equipment, can make a positive difference in day-to-day living, and potentially may lengthen survival. The FDA-approved drug riluzole (brand name Rilutek) has been shown to slightly increase longevity.

What is the status of ALS research?

A number of strategies and approaches are being tested around the world, both in the laboratory and in human clinical trials. MDA’s basic science program is constantly pursuing new avenues of research to understand the underlying causes of ALS, with a sharp focus on developing treatments.

As of 2012, intense research is being conducted on genetic factors in ALS, the role of the immune system in ALS, and the role of cells other than nerve cells in this disease. In addition, many medications and other treatments are being tested for potential benefits in ALS. For details about current ALS research, go to Research and Clinical Trials.

Source:

MDA Website, http://mda.org/disease/amyotrophic-lateral-sclerosis/overview.

 

Infographic: The Insane Amount of Unoccupied Space in the World’s Tallest Buildings

Readers:

Matt ShawMatt Shaw, recently posted this blog on the Architizer web site. Mr. Shaw is an architecture writer, editor, etc. interested in political aesthetics, interaction design and comedy as formal generator.

Matt is the founder and co-editor of Mockitecture, a half-manifesto/half-satire collection of architectural debauchery. He has worked for the Columbia Laboratory for Architectural Broadcasting (C-Lab), Storefront for Art and Architecture, and been published in Beyond, Domus, Icon, and the Architect’s Newspaper. He recently finished writing and researching the guidebook Europe’s Top 100 Architecture and Design Schools, for Domus, and helped edit Reiser + Umemoto’s O-14: Projection and Reception for AA Publications. He has been an invited critic at numerous schools including Yale University, Syracuse University and UCLA.

Visit Matt’s Mockitecture web site by clicking here.

Best Regards,

Michael

No Vacancy – Really?

Skyscrapers have long been a contest of sorts. Owners are secretive about the actual height of their buildings, so that others do not eclipse them before their time as tallest has come. The tricks that designers use to inflate tall buildings’ heights are impressive, too. Spires and decorative elements are often used to get those last few precious feet.

Vacancy Tallest Buildings

Image courtesy CTBUH

But underneath these shiny glass facades is another trick. A recent Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) study illustrates that big chunks of useless space are hidden at the top of many of the world’s skyscrapers in order to inflate their height. In fact, as much as one-third of a building’s height can be “vanity space.” Consider it space as decoration.

Burj Khalifa

Burj Khalifa. Image courtesy Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill

The building that is set to be the world’s tallest, the Kingdom Tower in Jeddah, Saudia Arabia, set off the Council’s alarms. A case study suggested that the structure was designed with decorative, height-inflating space on top, inside of its unoccupied spire. This led the CTBUH to investigate this phenomenon in super-tall buildings, defining “vanity space” as “the distance between a skyscraper’s highest occupiable floor and its architectural top.”

Kingdon Tower

Kingdon Tower. Image courtesy Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill

The current tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, has an enormous 800-foot spire that accounts for almost one-third of its 2,716-foot height. The building with the most useless decorative space is the Ukraina Hotel in Moscow. Its unoccupiable space makes up almost half, or 42 percent, of its 675-foot height. In the United Arab Emirates, we find some of the most “vain” skyscrapers, with an average of 19 percent vanity space, including the vainest super-tall, the Burj Al-Arab in Dubai, which has a useless 39 percent of its 1,053-foot height.

Burj Al-Arab

Burj Al-Arab. Image via www.amazingplacesonearth.com

 

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