Porch Sketchup

As I mentioned previously, we’re thinking about how to add a front porch to the house. I have uploaded a sketchup template of the house that is roughly to scale. I am asking anyone interested to take the template and draft a porch design. send your design to us and it might become part of the final plan.

The house id made simply, there is an existing sidewalk out front and a couple of trees that are represented as cylinders.

download the template

download Sketchup – free

learn to use sketchup

Flowing Data

Ben summed it up last week, “I love graphics” and trying to put numbers and data into images. Unfortunately this semester I have been plagued by a malaise for rushing through things and not taking ownership, leaving my work on display lacking. GOOD Magazine has a section each month with some of the coolest displays of information. The clip above is a new one from them that displays presidential actions in the first 100 days. A timely piece considering the momentous election that I’ve hardly taken time to comment on, and which I will still postpone here.

Some of the best and most formal advice with regard to presenting information comes from Edward Tufte, who (after looking around his website) seems proud of himself and in love with his dogs. Nonetheless he knows how to blend information and art. Some of the graphs sell for hundreds of dollars on his website. I have to admit that even though I don’t know what this is telling me, I really think this Japanese Weather map is cool.

Another site that is doing great things with data and maps is called Flowing Data. They do more in the way of putting up time-lapse animations that can show the spread of things (like Walmart), as well as add roll-over content for web-based maps. Many of the examples eventually release code which then allows more users to incorporate the design with their own data. Lauren and I recently did such a thing with some data from here job using an app called Timemap. Many online news sources are getting equally savvy in displaying their data (leaps and bounds from the infamous USA today infographics).

In addition to displaying data, innovations are also appearing for obtaining new sources of data. You may remember a post awhile ago on a Facebook add-in called Lexicon that allowed you to track the appearance of selected terms on people’s walls. Yesterday the inboxes of many were ablaze with stories of how Google is using a similar idea to track flu. Google FluTrends is a formalized project for Google.org, Google’s philanthropic unit that aims to save the world (I wouldn’t put anything past them).

For the Birds

In this age of the internet, most of us are constantly turning to the internet for answers. In that search you are likely to come across multiple sites that provide access to the same type of information, and so the question becomes which one gives me the most accurate information and which are the easiest to use. The latter is a question of particular interest to me. New tools are always being developed to help the user work with the interface to find what their looking for and do so with efficiency.

This is most obvious in looking at the banners and sidebars that act like tables of contents for websites. One of the most useless tools that websites employ must be the sitemap. An example of web design navigation success are breadcrumbs that help you see where you’ve come from or the departments under which the information you are viewing fall.
Alternatively some webpages are designed specifically for getting people to the information they want when they have relatively little to go on. Our recent car search (which ended at a 2003 Jetta) had us trying out a few such web tools that allow you to customize your search by style, number of doors, power accessories, etc. All of these options are fairly familiar to all of us. Not many people have trouble telling you how many doors are on a car. However, in other situations these defining characteristics are not so clear.

We found ourselves in one such situation recently when while playing bocce ball in the back yard we saw an odd bird hopping around back there. Now, imagine going to a site like the used car site and entering wing style. That’s when we came across whatbird.com. This site had a very helpful multistage selection search feature that helped us to finally identify our newest wildlife as the American Woodcock. You can choose from a number of options including call type and there are examples and pictures to help you make your selections. When Matt and I came in from the game I could only describe the bird as a chipmunk with wings. As you could imagine my description was not too helpful in identifying the bird, but thanks to the ingenuity of the tool we succeeded. It turned what felt like ignorance into knowledge.

If you have a web tool that you love please share it.

American Woodcock

Smoke Signals

I’ve discussed Google Maps on here before and I realize that if I wanted to I could probably put a post up everyday about some new Google Map API, but I think someone else is already doing such things. Google also has it’s own blog to share new techy updates. Usually it’s over my head with things like Linux, and servers and such, but I wanted to share with you this little piece I found on there today. Maybe this will add a new twist to the next birthday greeting you decide to send to someone. Click on the map to see the real thing.

Google Maps News Straight from the source
Google Maps Mania