I was so fast that everything I ran over burst into flames…

So, just got back from FOSS4G in Portland, OR. One of the things that I wanted to try was to visualize a run using the “torque” visualization wizard in CartoDB. Here’s how I did it.
I captured my tracks using Motion-X GPS on the Iphone 4S, and I had the tracks emailed to me as a GPX and Kml files. Logged in, and uploaded the GPX file to CartoDB.

Next, I used the visualization wizard called “torque”. This uses the time/date stamp on a trackfile to animate the track. I played with the styling of the torque animation, and played with the basemap options to come up with the map above.

Takeaway: CartoDB has some really nice digital cartography, and the tools are also fairly simple and straightforward. I really think that the design of the tool and the final product make it a winner, especially for map data visualization that has time as a component. Enjoy!

The Power of Visual Communication (my lesson from the DS106 dailycreate)

Peacock Eating Pizza

“Peacock Eating Pizza” cc AttributionSharealke by Flickr user alexchaucer

A fascinating thing happened to me in this assignment. Perhaps it was a coincidence? Perhaps it was and illustration of the power of images in subliminal marketing…

It all started out as a fairly straightforward task for the #dailycreate from April 5, 2014. Link to original assignment here. Here’s the assignment:

We’re all used to seeing pizzas, but generally only in restaurants and our homes. We may even occasionally see them at pizza farms. But it’s not often that we get to view elusive wild pizzas before they are harvested by hunters. Thankfully, Jonpaul Douglass, a photographer in Los Angeles, gives us a glimpse into this mysterious world through his series Pizza in the Wild. (via Neatorama)

Douglass uses real pizzas, but for this Daily Create, you are welcome to photoshop a pepperoni pizza into an unexpected wild place…

I briefly looked through the images that Douglass posted, and then I went on my way to tackle the assignment.

My process was fairly straightforward. Look through my images, and find one that might be interesting. I thought the Peacock was unique. Use Flickr to find a pizza I could use. I took @cogdog‘s advice and did a Attribution/Noncommercial/Sharealike search on Flickr. Found an image with a nice pizza. (Note: when I download this image, I also grabbed the attribution information on it, such as the license, link to image, and link to Flickr user, and put this in a Word document.) I then had to download GIMP, a free, open source, image editing software from here. I used Youtube to figure out how to trace out the pizza from the one image and add it to the other, which was simple enough with a basic Youtube search to use the Lasso Tool. I then had to do another Youtube search on how to resize the pizza (found that this is accomplished with the Scale tool. Finally, I exported my image to a .png and uploaded it to Flickr.

Now, here is where a fascinating thing comes into play. I finished my assignment, and felt great about. It was unique. I felt good about my new image skills. My product met the goals of the dailycreate.

Now, here is where my bubble burst. I was sharing the Pizza in the Wild website with someone to explain the assignment, and I came across this:

Screen Shot of JonPaul Douglass's website featuring "Pizza in the Wild"

Screen Shot of JonPaul Douglass’s website featuring “Pizza in the Wild” These images are copyright protected by the JonPaul Douglass. I have reached out to him for permission to use this screenshot on my blog post.

How could this be? I could not remember seeing this image on JonPaul’s website.  I sat there, confused. What had happened?

Reflecting on what had happened, I began to think about  the power of visuals in idea making, and decision making. Is it possible that I had seen this image and subliminally recalled it when I saw my picture of a peacock and it made it seem like a good idea? Can one image impression have this kind of impact on our thinking, and on our decisionmaking?

Then I remembered this video:

This is why advertising works. This is why companies create logos. This is one of the reasons why visual communication is so important in our society. If you can create a visual, and can put it in front of someone, you can influence their preferences and decisionmaking and familiarity. This is why it is so important for students to build their skills working with images, and to understand their impacts, not only on them, but on society. Call it visual literacy, visual communication, marketing, advertising, etc. This aspect of visual influence is something we all need to be aware of. The advertisers are using this on us EVERY DAY.

And I had just used this on MYSELF, unknowingly.

Another #dailycreate, and another lesson in the power of images. Mind blown.

Daily Create: From DS106 Bumper to Solid Gold

This post is a response to the #dailycreate assignment, posted here. Here’s the assignment:

Create a bumper. A bumper is “a term used in the radio broadcasting industry to refer to short clips of signature or theme music used to buffer transitions between programming elements. Bumper music is commonly employed when a syndicated program takes a break for local station identification or ‘goes to a radio commercial.’”

I had given myself about 50 minutes for today’s create, and I could tell it was going to take a little more time. Here are the things I used:

  • Free Music Archive which was found using the media links at 50+WaysToTellAStory (Thanks @cogdog). This is where I found the media.
  • For audio processing I used the resources at ds106 handbook, that reminded me of Audacity (which I had used about 3 years ago). I had to download Audacity, and try to remember how to use it!
  • For posting the audio online, I had my first soundcloud post, and also added it to a group.
  • Finally, I had to figure out how to embed it into WordPress, which I managed. (But I just found this post, so maybe it’s easier than I thought…hmmmm). It is easier. Wow.

Spending a little more time on the daily create was worth it for me today. Yesterday, I had limited experience with audio. Today, I know how to find media, record, layer tracks, fade in/out, distort, export to mp3, post online, and embed. While it took me a little while today to stumble through the process, it really did give me confidence at the same time. I can do this. The little prompt, to create a bumper (which I had never heard of, by the way) was what I needed to get back my audio groove.

So what does this all mean, and why is my dabbling in audio useful?

  • I learned how to play the guitar this year and some ukelele.
  • I believe the storymaps that I have been playing with at work now support audio.
  • Other audio adventures on the horizon? DS106 radio?

Thanks #ds106. Today I found some audio skilz in my box o’ gold.

Content in my audio from Apache Tomcat‘s song “Rockin’ in the Jungle” cc Attribution Sharealike

Daily Create: “How would you describe your life in 7 words?”

Well, I was excited to encounter this #dailycreate this morning. (Here’s the link to the assignment.) I thought, “Hmm…7 words…this is going to be easy.” I immediately started typing possibilities. They just seemed to flow. Each captured something about me, but none really put it all together. Quickly, I realized this was going to be harder than it seemed.

I was saved by a phone call from a friend, who told me to walk away.

Later that afternoon I returned. It was time to narrow the field. I was able to get down to my five favorites. Yet, it was clear, there was only one that stood out. I liked it for a couple reasons. For one, it represents a message to my son, who is very much the main purpose of my life since he was born. I also felt that learning, loving, growing, and living were all things that help to describe me and my perspective on life, and things that I hope to pass on as a father.

Again, another phone call from a friend. Again, inspired.

I haven’t painted in at least a year. I probably could count on one hand the number of paintings that I have done since I turned 15. I was inspired to put my 7 words into another medium. I took a canvas that my son had painted a couple years ago, and I added my statement to it. Now it became a co-created piece, and something that I am very happy with. Thanks #dailycreate, and to @mdvfunes for putting it in the hopper.

I recommend this exercise to everyone. So how would YOU describe YOUR life in 7 words?

Daily Create: The Color of Black and White, Lego Edition

So the assignment here was: “Transform your most colorful recent photo into on that is black and white, yet manages to not lose any of its intensity. Link to the original so we can compare.” Legos have become a big part of my life (considering I have a 7 year old and we made a recent pilgrimage to Legoland Westchester), so I looked back at some colorful Lego photography. I was inspired by seeing the Lego photo in Alan Levine’s talk at Profcamp (you can see his entire talk here).

Also, with the recent release of The Lego Movie I was struck by how they made the figures look so real, similar to how you might photograph them.

In this particular photograph, a distinctly human element was captured. The center figure seems to be looking forward at the camera, with that uncomfortable gaze; perhaps not wanting to be photographed. His buddies carry on, as if not realizing they are being photographed. I see this all too often in real photographs that are aiming to be candid. One person will see that they are being photographed and give a confused expression, ruining the attempt to capture the moment.

I guess that must have happened here, too.

Bestest Storie Evre Mispelled – DS106 Daily Create – The Surpriz in the Wudz

It wuz a kold graay day, but the son wuz tryin to peek threw the kloudz, and I could feil that today wuz going 2 be a dai to remembir. We stepped out of the kar onto the icey and wet drivewaay. A woman sat in a kar nearby, smoking a cigaret. We were ready 4 an adventur. It wuz spring, but the plantz had not yet awoken. The snoe packed grounds allowed aksess to areaz of thiz sacred ground that wi had never seen before.

We ventureed into the woodz, our feet giving way under the snow. The hgihway wuz noisy nearby. Along we walked. We found the remnants of n old barbed wire fence. We decided to folow it. It brought uz to a stream. We crossed it. We came 2 a big water recieving tank…and from here I kould see sumthing special.

My eyes were drawn 2 a vizual corridor lined by treez. The area betwen the tress wuz raised. I new thiz must hav ben an old roaad, but where did this road go? This road, on this sacred land, in the middle of the woodz, on this grey dai with the son trying to peek threw.

Wi followed da road.

It went on an on. And wi continued. Wi didnt kno whuse land wi wer on, but our curiouzity en thiz formir road maad uz continu on.

And suun, we wer rewardid. It wuz the largist one wi had evir seen, and it spoke 2 us. This old road led directlee 2 thes tree. The most magestic tree I had evir seen. The grandfathir of all the othirs. And ther wuz sumthing magical about it.

And then I said “I bettir bak up befor a branch fals on me…” At that momint, a large branch kame tumblin down from da monstir tree in teh woods on that grey dai with the son trying to peek threw.

Screen Shot 2014-04-03 at 1.51.15 PM

Quite possibly the most amazing nature video ever made.


Folks, this is breathtaking. It reminds me the times I interacted with an octopus, almost swam into a man-o-war while night snorkeling, saw the spawning of the glow worms in Bermuda and witnessed the phosphorescent comb jellies in Long Island Sound. Nature has some real magic to offer, as this video artistically captures. Enjoy. You will be back.

Credit to AJ Schneller who posted this on Facebook.