Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Poised to Help Science

The Economist's Oct, 13, 2013 cover story, How science goes wrong, touches on the value of sifting through data for patterns: "A start would be getting to grips with statistics, especially in the growing number of fields that sift through untold oodles of data looking for patterns."

We agree. Our new patent-pending technology for analyzing related data sets seeks to address the problem of finding needles in data haystacks. Users would be more inclined to work directly with charts and graphs than with raw data sets. Give users tools do their analysis through the charts themselves, rather than with the raw data, and the pace of analysis becomes greatly accelerated.

In the coming weeks we will be sharing more details with you about this technology, and we hope you will find it as exciting as we do. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A new idea

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” 
— Albert Einstein
We feel passionate about well-designed user interfaces, and we get excited by data. With this in mind, we have been working hard to bring you something truly new.

Data on devices begs to be made interactive. And yet we have seen relatively few useful examples of data made interactive. Drag to move forward and backward through a timeline, that's useful. Roll over a data point to get an informational bubble. Mildly useful, but really just saving screen real estate. What other useful ways could we interact with data? And by useful I mean facilitating comprehension, not merely making data cute, gee-whizzy or legible.

The more you want to analyze a data-set, the more likely you need a degree in data analysis. Ever try to use a chart wizard? Maddening, and that is just for an unrelated data set!

What if you could analyze related data without degrees or wizards? Show me your survey respondents' pie charts: age, gender, annual income, and whatever other questions you asked them. Give me no other interface than each pie chart, and I should be able to click from chart to chart and slice to slice, and let the computer make a new chart for me, based on what I clicked. That's it. Want to know if low-income young women or men are more likely to own an iPhone? Click the "18-24" slice in the age pie chart. Click the "Male" and "Female" slices of the gender chart. Click the income slice(s) you care about, and lastly click the "What phone do you own currently (if any)" question. That is all you should need to do to tell the computer what chart you want. The boss needs some other question figured in to your analysis? No problem, just click the new question to add it to your existing chart!

We have been quietly working on this technology and we are proud to say it is patent pending. We think making data analysis this easy will be a game changer. We are eager to bring this to the world... stay tuned!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Hacking WordPress Themes

A couple of years ago, we created a WordPress site for a client. We found a third party theme that we liked, but we wanted to make some changes to it. The theme author did not expose, in the WordPress interface, the kinds of things that we wanted to modify. Undaunted, we hacked the author's theme until it matched what we wanted.

Fast forward to this year— a WordPress update caused the theme to start generating errors. The errors were not the result of our hacks, but were in the original theme. The theme author gladly supplied me with the latest error-free version of his theme, but because I did not document all of our hacks, we would essentially have to start over.

Lesson 1: Never hack a WordPress theme. 

Lesson 2: If you ignore lesson 1, copiously document every change, because you may need to re-apply all hacks in the future.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Can you spot the gorilla?

NPR’s article, Why Even Radiologists Can Miss A Gorilla Hiding In Plain Sight discusses the excellent work by Harvard Medical School attention researchers Trafton Drew and Jeremy Wolfe; but perhaps there is a broader message here.

Focusing on "process and procedure" can make us miss important things. Adopting practices to break routines helps you spot the gorilla in the room. Try it!