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Indigenous Hexes

Now that the season is drawing to a close, we can take a look back and see where The Artist has been spending his time this summer thanks to the Arduino geekery that Kris wrote about earlier. I’m going to fill you in on what happens to the data that he collected to create the visual representation that you see on the map.


Raindrop: Can You See Behind the Scenes?

We recently launched the Raindrop web application as part of FLOW: Can You See the River, a project conceived by Mary Miss. Our team started on the project about a year ago, when Mary and her studio began meeting with us and scientists from Butler University and Williams Creek Consulting to build an app illustrating the concept that “All property is riverfront property.” When Mary and I began discussing the project, we talked about the challenge of catching a person’s attention and then engaging them with a visual experience that could lead them to deeper levels of information and insight about the natural world. This is essentially what a good visualization does, so I was excited to be part of the team building this technological bridge between art and science.

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How to level up your lingo

My friends and I have been trying to coordinate a trip back to Japan for years. We’ve finally gotten our flights booked and now we’re working out the details in anticipation, reminiscing about our previous adventures and seeking out new places to explore near Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka. We’re also brushing up on the language skills that we’ve let get a little rusty over the years. I thought I would share some of the modern tools that I’m using to restore my proficiency, in the hopes that this might give our readers some ideas for similar tools to look into for studying their own foreign languages of interest.

When I first visited Japan, I bought an electronic dictionary. This saved me from looking up kanji (the complex characters borrowed from Chinese) by counting strokes and identifying radicals (the root component of a kanji character) to index into the enormous tome that I had been using. The dictionary was much lighter, and had a stylus that could be used to draw kanji. Using this sort of input method, the order that you draw the strokes still matters, but it’s much faster than flipping pages. I used this dictionary for getting around Japan, studying, reading manga, and playing video games. Years later, after the Nintendo DS came out, I upgraded using a cartridge called Kanji Sonomama Rakubiki Jiten. It uses the same stylus input method, but the results are marked up in color and it has a nicer interface, including a history of recently looked-up words, which is extremely useful. One of the other tools that I was using at the time (and still use today) is a plugin for Firefox called Rikai-chan. When enabled, this plugin allows you to hover the mouse over a word and see the definition in a pop-up.

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Morphing tag clouds

If you’re not familiar with tag clouds, I should refer you to my friend steve. The steve project is all about collecting tags on works of art, from a variety of partner institutions. One common way of visualizing the data collected from a tagging experience is to produce a tag cloud.

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Biff! Bang! Pow!

From the moment the Universal Pictures logo appears on screen before Scott Pilgrim vs. the World begins, you know you’re in for a visual treat. I’m not going to spoil the story, but I wanted to comment on how well the graphic novel style has been incorporated into the film.

While previous movies like Sin City have done a great job borrowing static elements of graphic novel design, this is the first film I’ve seen that makes such fine use of dynamic elements. Speed and impact lines are used to convey energy in many of the battle scenes, sound effects are enhanced with fleeting text and graphic representations to give them more impact, and intangible forces are stunningly visualized as they become devastatingly tangible for the characters involved.

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About ebachta

Job Title: Applications Developer.

Interests: Science, Computer graphics, Human-computer interaction, video and board games, and Japanese language and culture, to name a few.

Favorite Movies: Apollo 13, Lost in Translation, A Beautiful Mind, The Visitor.

Favorite Music: Classical, Rock, A Cappella.

Favorite Food: Italian and Asian cuisine.

Pets: Riley, a cat who knows how to lounge.

Something Extra: Just be the ball...

Ed has written 28 articles for us.