Archive for May, 2007

Trulia mazing (and a little scary)

Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

Here’s a stunning little visualisation tool that popped up at Where 2.0 recently: animated maps of urban growth. Trulia is an American real estate search engine, but they’ve found some unexpected gold in their property assessor records: they reveal when a property was built, and thus can be used to show maps of development over time. The result is called Trulia Hindsight.

The data visualiser in me is impressed by the simplicity of the concept, the clarity of the interface, and the judicious use of transparency and animation to draw attention to where it’s needed. The urbanist in me is appalled by the rapidity of unsustainable sprawl in places like Texas and Las Vegas. It could be a useful tool for studying urbanisation, but in any case, it’s wonderful eye candy.

Seth Magic

Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

More sage advice from the master.

“Maybe the reason it seems that price is all your customers care about is…

… that you haven’t given them anything else to care about.” – Seth Godin

ProjectX Now Hiring

Tuesday, May 29th, 2007

If you like to learn cool new technologies, if you like to work at a place where you can feel comfortable and above all if you like to design and build application that people actually want to use then we’re interested to hear from you.

We are now hiring for the position of a Software Developer. See details in the jobs section on our web site.

W3C says Firefox now 25% of browser market

Monday, May 28th, 2007

W3C stats is reporting that Firefox is now has 25% share.

Looking at ZoomIn stats, IE still rules the roost.

Browser stats: 28/05/07

IE 6 50.04%
IE 7 25.28%
Firefox 1.x<t />

Firefox 2.x 12.45%

Safari 3.25%
Rest 5.29%

Browser stats: 9/02/07

IE 6 53.00%
IE 7 20.24%
Firefox 1.x<t />

Firefox 2.x 11.01%

Safari 4.06%
Rest 3.07%

Browser stats: 5/11/06

IE 6 72.86%
IE 7 3.98%
Firefox 1.x<t />

Firefox 2.x 3.66%

Safari 3.88%
Rest 2.49%

City lights

Monday, May 28th, 2007

Here’s an interesting image: New Zealand from space at night:

NZ population density

No, it’s not a blank image: if you look carefully, there are actually some spots of light. It really highlights how sparsely we New Zealanders are spread across these long islands.

You can make out more detail by looking at the city level. Here’s Auckland’s broad and confident sprawl:

Auckland population density

Wellington, by contrast, has a couple of spindly antennae streaking out from a compact head:

Wellington population density

In Christchurch, the influence of topography is less marked, but Hagley Park and a great wedge of industrial land show clearly against an otherwise even urban fabric:

Christchurch population density

The more observant among you may have twigged that I’m actually pulling your leg here: these aren’t satellite images at all. They’re actually based upon 2006 Census data for population density, and are an offshoot of a project I’ve been working on. I’ve inverted the usual light-to-dark colour scheme for thematic mapping, given it a slight “street light” hue and overlaid a touch of Gaussian blur to enhance the glowing effect.

The result may not be the most informative visualisation (there’s no context and no legend), but I think it’s quite an evocative one. I like the sense of floating above the earth at night, unable to distinguish between land and sea, but being acutely aware of humanity in the form of thousands of motes of light merging into gauzy urban clouds. They are still information-rich visualisations (every pixel tells a story), and students of urban form can glean a lot from the comparative shapes of our major cities, but these images are as much about feeling as they are about data.

Hugh Macleod genius

Saturday, May 26th, 2007

How to stay motivated

Thursday, May 24th, 2007

Scott Berkun (of The art of Project Management and Myths of Innovation) has just posted an essay on how to stay motivated.

Scott is saying that to stay motivate you need know and understand more about what drives you. Then you can use your self-motivational triggers to help motivate yourself.

Its a good essay to get you thinking.

Just in case you interested, In recent weeks I use our Youtube gold awards video to help motivate me. (Go <strike>Rocky</strike> ProjectX ! )

Making your life easy

Thursday, May 24th, 2007

I have been using Trac for many years now. Despite it’s severe shortcomings it’s still one of the best issue tracking systems because of its simplicity. The integrated wiki is pretty good and with some basic customisation and a system you can get quite a lot out of it. I get asked a lot about Trac and how it can make life easier. I’ve thought about it a little and I have this to say:

Software doesn’t make your life easier. You make your life easier by understanding what the software can do for you.

I think that there is this misconception that a piece of software should just do everything for you. With any ticket tracking software the software is only as useful as you make it. If you don’t have a good system and by that I mean a manual process which you could follow on paper then software won’t help you much there. You also need to make sure that your expectations are in line with what the software can actually do.

The other problem, which I have to wrestle with constantly, is that any ticket tracking system is only as good as the tickets which go into it. Programmers are lazy and undisciplined by nature, they never put tickets in and they never pick tickets out. When they do pick a ticket, it’s what they want to work on and not what needs to be done. That’s where you need a system in place. This all goes deep into project management territory. In turn, project management is futile if you have no decision making power and that comes from a well structured business hierarchy with clearly written HR guidelines (ie code of conduct, division of responsibility, reporting structure, etc).

At the end of the day, computers are just useless piles of junk without the right people to use them and people are confused unless you tell them exactly what you’d like them to do.

My advice: sort out your people issues and you won’t have to worry too much about your issue tracking software.

Summer of Code seminar on writing a better resume

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007

I am giving an encore of my resume seminar at Victoria University MSCS this Tuesday (the 29th of May) in Cotton 249 at 11am

If you’re a student and looking to improve your CV then come along and get a few tips!!

PC World's top 100 products for 2007

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007

PC World’s list of top products for 2007, has thrown up some interesting selections.

  • Numbers: Google has 5 products (including #1), Apple has 6, Microsoft 4,Dell 4, Yahoo 2.
  • Pandora is listed as top website
  • Notable inclusions, Nintendo Wii, Basecamp, Dell 24″ monitor, Apple TV and Nikon DX40.
  • Notable missing form the list are Vista, and Playstation 3.