Rants & Ramblings

random commentary about culture, media, politics, technology and whatnot.

aug
10
2012

The Mystery of 221B Baker Street | Design Decoded | Smithsonian Magazine

The mystery of 221B Baker Street is not one of secret passages or hidden symbols. Rather, it could be described as a sort of existential spatial riddle: how can a space that is not a space be where it is not? According to Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories, Sherlock Holmes and John Watson lived at 221B Baker Street from 1881 to 1904. But 221B Baker street did not exist in 1881, nor did it exist in 1887 when A Study in Scarlet was published and Baker Street house numbers only extended into the 100s. It was a purely fictional address — emphasis on was. Time marches on, Baker Streets are renumbered, and 221Bs are revealed.”

aug
08
2012

Sky-High Design: How To Make A Bird-Friendly Building | NPR

Screenshot

I worked with illustrator Ayodha Ouditt and producer Andrew Prince on this interactive graphic outlining some architectural qualities that can make a building “bird-friendly” — or not. This was built with some simple jQuery and CSS.

Shiny glass buildings are a hallmark of modern architecture, but for birds, that shimmer can be deadly. Every year, an estimated 100 million to 1 billion birds die by flying into glass windows. By studying how birds interact with buildings, architects and ornithologists are trying to create special features designed to keep birds alive.

Explore the Project »

aug
06
2012

How Apple and Amazon Security Flaws Led to My Epic Hacking | Wired

Mat Honan writes, “In the space of one hour, my entire digital life was destroyed. First my Google account was taken over, then deleted. Next my Twitter account was compromised, and used as a platform to broadcast racist and homophobic messages. Here’s the story of exactly how my hackers created havoc by exploiting Apple and Amazon security flaws.”

aug
02
2012

How to Boost Your Medal Count in Seven Easy Steps | Grantland

Economists Tyler Cowen and Kevin Grier on the economics of Olympic success, including a country’s population, comparative advantage, level of government investment and more.

jul
31
2012

Taking a Moment to Reflect

Ten years ago today, I arrived in DC. My move was a family effort — a cross-country road trip from Arizona with my parents, siblings and a Penske truck. Since then, I got my master’s degree, met and married Rob, made a few great friends, worked for the Post and NPR, and got to do and see some pretty cool stuff. I’m not good at long-term planning, but I can do long-term hindsight: These past ten years have been an amazing ride, and I’m very thankful.

jul
29
2012

oceaniaeuropeamericasafricaasia

Artist Gustavo Sousa uses the Olympic rings to show disparities between the continents.

(If you can’t see the video above, it’s available on Vimeo.)

Key: Oceania=blue, Europe=black, Americas=red, Africa=yellow, Asia=green

(Via Co.Design)

Spanx on Steroids: How Speedo Created the New Record-Breaking Swimsuit | Smithsonian

Jim Morrison writes, “Ultimately, Speedo decided to rebuild not only the suit, but create a ‘racing system’ that it claims combines the suit and the goggles and cap working in synergy to reduce drag and improve performance.”

jul
24
2012

Code With Me

Next month, I’m helping out as a mentor at Code With Me, a two-day workshop for journalists who want to learn how to code (HTML/CSS/JS). This is aimed at journos without coding experience. Registration is $85; opens tomorrow.

You want to learn how to code, but the newsroom always needs you to do something else instead. Maybe you’ve even tried learning on your own, but it’s hard without someone there to help. At Code With Me, a two-day workshop, we’ll teach you how to code from the ground up so you can tell meaningful, interactive stories.

The workshop is on Friday, August 17 and Saturday, August 18, and will be held at NPR’s headquarters in the Chinatown / Mount Vernon Square area of Washington, D.C.

jul
20
2012

Stabbed By A Stranger, A College Student’s Long Road Back | Common Health | WBUR

Annie Ropeik, a former NPR intern who was randomly stabbed on her way to work two years ago, writes about her ongoing recovery.

Catharsis In A Cape: On Comic-Book Heroes And Real-World Violence | Monkey See | NPR

In the wake of the Aurora massacre, our comics blogger explores the meaning of the violence that’s such an integral part of the Batman mythos — and suggests that in the face of real horror, our fictional heroes mean more than ever.” A nice reflection by Glen Weldon.

Aurora and the Template of Our Grief | The Atlantic

Garance Franke-Ruta writes, “it’s clear that we as a nation have developed an awful template for reacting to our growing catalog of domestic mass-casualty events.”

jul
19
2012

Your American Dreams: Family, Friends And The Freedom To Roam | NPR

Your American Dream interactive

While the concept of the American dream has been a part of our national consciousness for generations, you’d be hard-pressed to find two people who define it precisely the same way. We can say that with some authority, because, as part of our series, American Dreams: Then And Now, we asked you to share your own take on the dream. Sure enough, no two responses were the same. From the freedom of the open road to farming and family, take a look below to see your own definitions of the American dream.

I worked with April Fehling, Tanya Ballard Brown and Nelson Hsu on this project. We collected submissions via email, Flickr, Instagram and Tumblr, and April corralled them all into a Google Spreadsheet. I then used the Google Spreadsheets API to treat the spreadsheet as my database, using jQuery and CSS fun to render everything on a page. We have a mix of text quotes and captioned photos, and everything is displayed on the page in random order.

Explore the Project »

jul
16
2012

Census 2011: the changing shape of England and Wales, visualised | Data Store | guardian.co.uk

An interesting way to compare UK Census 2011 results by gender and region, from the British government’s Office of National Statistics. I’m not totally enamored of the interface, but it’s an interesting approach.