Saturday, March 24, 2012

Find: 'Alphabet Topography' is a beautiful look at how often letters are used

A physical histogram of text. 

The Verge - All Posts
Alphabet Topography

As any Scrabble — or Words with Friends — player will know, the points each letter is worth is related to how frequently each member of the alphabet is used in the english language. That frequency is what created "Alphabet Topography," a piece from Yale graduates Caspar Lam and YuJune Park of the Synoptic Office design studio. In the piece, each letter's relative height is determined by how often a letter is used. In an interview with Colossal, YuJune said they used the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory's data of letter usage and that each letter has a height difference of 0.23 inches, with the most-frequently used letter reaching a peak of six inches. The laser-cut boards offer an intriguing look at the english language...

Friday, March 23, 2012

Job: Web programmers at City of Raleigh

More detail on the city of Raleigh web programming opportunity.
Benjamin Watson
Director, Design Graphics Lab | Associate Professor, Computer Science, NC State Univ.
919-513-0325 | | @dgllab

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Stagner, Beth <>
Date: Wed, Mar 21, 2012 at 12:19 PM
Subject: RE: Web programmers
To: "Minter, Jonathan" <>, Ben Watson <>

Sure, this is the job description.
Title: Web Developer
Number Needed: 1


At the City of Raleigh, we have a variety of evolving web technologies; the primary focus being our Java-based web portal.  We are looking for a team member to help us continue our development on a compelling, interactive, fast, and easy-to-use Web 2.0 browser interface.  This position will collaborate with other Developers, Architects, UX, Testers, and others to drive quality and improvements that provide value and usability.  Focus on open-source technologies and leveraging current web trends including HTML5 and CSS3. 

Experience should include a history of technical development and an implementation background.  A solid understanding of Java classes, foundations and framework strongly preferred.  Working knowledge of best practices in Web development including security, standards, portlets, using product APIs, and SOA knowledge are necessary.  Skill set should include candidates with experience working on enterprise web sites. We are not looking for candidates that have just done application programming for browser based applications (i.e. PeopleSoft programmers, banking applications).

 Candidates MUST have experience in the following areas:

  • Custom Portlet development
  • Open system products
  • Java (J2EE with JSR-168 and JSR-268)
  • CSS3, HTML, XHTML and XML knowledge
  • Web 2.0
  • Oracle / SQL
  • Web Server Technology (for example, Apache)
  • Knowledge on emerging web technologies


Professional Skills Required:

  • Excellent analytical and problem solving skills
  • Excellent spoken and written communications skills
  • Excellent interpersonal skills; the ability to work in a dynamic team environment, and to interact with resources from technical and non-technical organizations
  • Self-motivated and capable of working with minimal supervision
  • Ability to multi-task well and prioritize accordingly
  • Ability to build strong relationships with teammates and clients
  • Ability to review project deliverables for completeness, quality, and compliance with established project standards
  • Ability to document and communicate progress against plans, taking corrective action as necessary
  • Ability to identify, clarify, and resolve issues and risks, escalating them as needed


Additional preferred skills but not necessarily required:

  • JBoss Application Server
  • JBoss Portal
  • Web Analytics
  • Eclipse and NetBeans
  • Redhat Linux
  • Alfresco Content Management
  • AJAX
  • Model-View-Controller (MVC) such as Apache Struts and/or Spring MVC
  • Ant, Jacl, Python, application deployment
  • Development skills in .NET (C#, VB, ASP, etc



A bachelor's degree in Computer Science, Information Technology or equivalent is preferred as well as three years' experience as an IT professional.

Availability: Immediate
Duration: Permanent Position 

Beth C. Stagner, GISP
IT Manager, Web Services
Phone: 919.996.5485


From: Minter, Jonathan
Sent: Wednesday, March 21, 2012 11:15 AM
To: Ben Watson
Cc: Stagner, Beth
Subject: Re: Web programmers

Thanks Ben.  Beth, can you send him the job description?

Jonathan Minter
City of Raleigh
222 W. Hargett Street, Suite 502
Post Office Box 590
Raleigh, North Carolina 27602-0590
Tel: 919.996.5462 Mob: 919.238.9429

Customer Support Center:  919.996.6000

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Tool: Test your Web Apps on Chrome with ChromeDriver

Google Open Source Blog

ChromeDriver is a tool for testing websites with Google Chrome that implements the open source WebDriver wire protocol so it can easily be integrated with an existing WebDriver test suite. For those who aren't familiar with WebDriver, you may want to refer to our initial post about the project. Simply put, WebDriver presents an object-based API for automating the web from a real users perspective, such as clicking elements on a page and typing into text fields.

The WebDriver API is available for many popular browsers.  Each browser has its own driver, with ChromeDriver, of course, supporting the WebDriver API for Google Chrome. Unlike other drivers which are maintained by the open source Selenium/WebDriver team, ChromeDriver is developed by Chromium, the open source project that Google Chrome is based on.

Besides a new ChromeDriver release this past week, we wanted to share info about a new website dedicated to the project: This site will serve as the central location for all things relating to ChromeDriver. You can use the new site to:

ChromeDriver works with the current stable, beta, and dev versions of Google Chrome. Older versions of Google Chrome are not supported and are not guaranteed to be compatible with ChromeDriver.  Consult the release wiki for more information on our release and support policy.

Thanks for testing with Google Chrome!

By Ken Kania, Chromium Developer

Find: A new home for Google Maps API developers

Looks handy. 

Google Code Blog
Author Photo
By Carlos Cuesta, Product Marketing Manager, Google Maps API

Cross-posted with the Google Geo Developers Blog

When we first launched the Google Maps API, it was all about a map, a pin, and a dream. Back then our technical documentation was relatively simple, consisting of a couple of developer docs and some code samples. Since then the Google Maps API has expanded far beyond our expectations, due in large part to the diverse and innovative developer ecosystem that has grown with us.

With the continuing evolution of the Google Maps API, it became clear that we needed more than just code documentation to convey what’s possible with the Google Maps API. Thus, was born.

In addition to having all the same developer content that was previously available on, the site is designed to highlight and illustrate new features of the Google Maps API through fun and interactive demos. Our goal with is to inspire the next wave of innovation on the Google Maps API, and to connect developers and decision makers with the tools and services that can make their products better.


One of the features of the Google Developers site we’re most excited about is the 3rd party developer showcase, which allows us to celebrate a selection of innovative sites in the Google Maps API ecosystem. Showcase content is carefully curated by the Google Maps API team.

In order to help users discover relevant apps and topics in the showcase, we’ve devised a tagging system that allows you to filter examples both by theme, and by Google Maps API features used.

We hope that the showcase and the interactive examples on the new Google Maps API Developers capture your imagination and inspire you with what’s possible using the platform. The imagination of Google Maps API developers has always been what makes the product great and we’re looking forward to seeing what you come up with next.

Carlos Cuesta is the Product Marketing Manager for Google Maps API. He also enjoys travelling, photography, and collecting vinyl.

Posted by Scott Knaster, Editor

Sent with Reeder

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Spotted: Identifying Place Histories from Activity Traces with an Eye to Parameter Impact

Visualizing mobile usage in a specific place. Sounds intriguing... And a bit spooky. 

Events that happened in the past are important for understanding the ongoing processes, predicting future developments, and making informed decisions. Important and/or interesting events tend to attract many people. Some people leave traces of their attendance in the form of computer-processable data, such as records in the databases of mobile phone operators or photos on photo sharing web sites. We developed a suite of visual analytics methods for reconstructing past events from these activity traces. Our tools combine geocomputations, interactive geovisualizations, and statistical methods to enable integrated analysis of the spatial, temporal, and thematic components of the data, including numeric attributes and texts. We also support interactive investigation of the sensitivity of the analysis results to the parameters used in the computations. For this purpose, statistical summaries of computation results obtained with different combinations of parameter values are visualized in a way facilitating comparisons. We demonstrate the utility of our approach on two large real data sets, mobile phone calls in Milano during 9 days and flickr photos made on British Isles during 5 years.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Job: Web programmers at the City of Raleigh

A colleague at the city of Raleigh is looking for a web developer.



Benjamin Watson
Director, Design Graphics Lab | Associate Professor, Computer Science, NC State Univ.
919-513-0325 | | @dgllab

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Minter, Jonathan <>
Date: Tue, Mar 20, 2012 at 2:46 PM
Subject: Web programmers
To: Ben Watson <>
Cc: "Stagner, Beth" <>


Another topic for you - we are in the process of hiring a web developer to work on<>.  Could you point us to any faculty that might know of some good solid students that are graduating this spring with skills in web development?

Jonathan Minter
City of Raleigh
222 W. Hargett Street, Suite 502
Post Office Box 590
Raleigh, North Carolina 27602-0590
Tel: 919.996.5462 Mob: 919.238.9429

Customer Support Center:  919.996.6000

 “E-mail correspondence to and from this address may be subject to the North Carolina Public Records Law and may be disclosed to third parties by an authorized City or Law Enforcement official.”

Viz: The decline of print visualized: US newspaper ad sales falling off a cliff

Always nice to see a great visual summary like this. 

The Verge - All Posts
print ad revenue

The Newspaper Association of America keeps a helpful tally of annual ad revenues earned by its 2,000 member news organizations, which has recently been graphed by one Professor Mark Perry from the University of Michigan-Flint. What his data, adjusted for inflation to 2011 dollars, shows is just how precipitously advertiser interest has dropped in print media. Hitting a peak of just over $60 billion near the turn of the century, advertising in printed media has been on a rapid decline ever since, experiencing huge reductions in 2008 (17.7 percent) and 2009 (28.6 percent) and estimated to sit at a little over $20b for the whole of last year. That's less than half what advertisers spent on getting their messages into printed newspapers only...

Monday, March 19, 2012

Find: 5 Minutes on The Verge: Shaun Inman

His comments on virtual vs physical interface are insightful. 

The Verge - All Posts
shuan inman

The web aficionados among you may know Shaun Inman from his web design site experiments, the Mint analytics package, Fever feed reading app, or more recently, iOS games like The Last Rocket. He took some time to talk to The Verge about the difficulty of implementing touch-based controls, why Super Mario Bros. still works so well, and his favorite pixel art designers. You can find him online at and on Twitter at @shauninman.

Competition: The world codes for NASA in International Space Apps Challenge

The world codes for NASA in International Space Apps Challenge

An international code-a-thon is set to take place in April on seven continents. And in space. From April 21-23, the 48-hour International Space Apps Challenge (ISAC) will take place in tech hubs and other spaces from San Francisco to Sao Paolo, Jakarta to Antarctica—and aboard the International Space Station. Crew members of the McMurdo Station in Antarctica and the ISS will participate, depending on the days’ work demands. Those who cannot attend at one of the code-a-thon locations are able to register independently to participate online.


ISAC is sponsored by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in conjunction with the Second Muse think tank, and in cooperation with other space agencies. During the event, "citizens from around the world will work together to solve current challenges relevant to both space exploration and social need... using minimal resources and maximum brainpower to create outside-the-box solutions in response to interesting problems," according to the organizers.

Participants will form teams and tackle a set of pre-determined challenges that include creating an interface for NASA's planetary data, developing an HTLM5 tablet app for citizen scientists using earth science data from NASA's Earth Observations site, and an open data challenge that will use information from the Kepler space observatory.

One of the intriguing elements of the challenge is the goal to "(e)ngage citizens in countries with little or no investments in space exploration to contribute to space exploration through open source, open data, and code development." This is one of the reasons the challenge is being hosted by, among others, Nairobi, Kenya's iHub. Kenyans are not renowned for their space program but they are well known for their coding chops.

“We recognize that there are skilled and talented developers, makers and creators all around the world and we are excited to see what they...