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One Man’s Helpful Hint is Another Man’s Interruption

A friend recently sent me this link to a discussion on the merits of obscure airport security notifications about snowglobes. Oddly enough, I experienced the snowglobe issue firsthand on a recent trip to New Mexico. The circumstances: My daughter collects snowglobes Snowglobes are the classic souvenir Terrorists have attempted to smuggle incendiary fluids in small …

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The Art of the List

Lists have always been a great way of organizing your thoughts but in this era of ever-shrinking attention spans they can also make an effective communication tool. Here are the top reasons why I think lists work so well: Lists force writers to organize their thoughts. The basic structure of a …

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Humans and the Evaluation of Risk

David Brooks of the NYT said it succinctly in a recent article on the BP mess: “If there is one thing we’ve learned, it is that humans are not great at measuring and responding to risk when placed in situations too complicated to understand.” Amen, brother!

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Information vs. Distraction (Part 1)

In a recent commencement speech to the graduating class at Hampton University in Virginia, President Obama told students: “You’re coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don’t always rank all that …

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Programming

I Love a Good Hack

I can be a bit of a procrastinator sometimes and the rapid pace of software development can occasionally leave me with a lot of old and/or corrupt files lying around. Normally, that isn’t such a big deal but every now and then there’s a pretty important file I’d like to …

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The Data Uncertainty Principle

Every now and then I’ll finish a big reporting project and the project lead will send me a follow-up comment like: “Here’s hoping everything’s perfect!” For some reason this always strikes me as a very weird thing to say. Of course it isn’t going to be perfect … it’s data. …

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Design

A KISS isn’t Always Just a Kiss

One of the first design principles I remember learning in architecture school was the acronym KISS or ‘keep it simple, stupid.’ The professor who said this phrase clearly intended it to serve as a warning to students not to bite off more than they could chew. Not exactly a vote …

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Design
Discovering New Opportunities for Urban Design in American Cities

“What a city has to say must find expression in its architecture.” Walter Wallmann, Lord Mayor of Frankfurt/Main Here in the U.S., we tend to think of our built environment –- our cities and towns — as mostly finished. Sure, we might tear down a few old buildings or add …

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What Does the Average Biker Dude Look Like?

CNN published the mugshots of all of the biker gang members who were arrested after the recent shootout in a Waco, TX restaurant. There were a total of 171 pictures, all in the same standard pose and most in the same standard orange jumpsuit: Seeing all of these pictures got …

Design
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A Force Node Diagram of the U.S. Interstate System

There’s nothing too complicated about this post. I’ve been interested in creating an illustration of the U.S. Interstate system for awhile but my initial concept of a “subway-style” diagram of the network had already been done. After some recent experimentation with the D3 Javascript library, I decided that it might …

Favorites

What Does the Average Biker Dude Look Like?

CNN published the mugshots of all of the biker gang members who were arrested after the recent shootout in a Waco, TX restaurant. There were a total of 171 pictures, all in the same standard pose and most in the same standard orange jumpsuit: Seeing all of these pictures got …

Design
2

A Force Node Diagram of the U.S. Interstate System

There’s nothing too complicated about this post. I’ve been interested in creating an illustration of the U.S. Interstate system for awhile but my initial concept of a “subway-style” diagram of the network had already been done. After some recent experimentation with the D3 Javascript library, I decided that it might …

Design
4

Most Popular Word Roots in U.S. Place Names

My family visited Washington D.C. last year for Spring Break and, during our 12-hour drive, I remember noticing a subtle change in the names of the cities and towns we were passing through. In the beginning, the place names had a familiar mid-western flavor; one that mixed Native American origins …

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Visualizing English Word Origins

I have been reading a book on the development of the English language recently and I’ve become fascinated with the idea of word etymology — the study of words and their origins. It’s no secret that English is a great borrower of foreign words but I’m not enough of an …