Tech Tuesday

/Tech Tuesday

Code Snippet : Building a trackhub

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Every once in a while I get a request from various researchers to host data for visualization in the UCSC Genome Browser. After having generated hundreds of links, I’ve decide to move toward their trackhub system. The downside to this, is the need for a trackDB.txt file, which contains all of the meta information.

First, for […]

App Review: Untapped!

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One of my most recent app installs on my Android is a beer tracking app called Untapped. Its slogan, Drink Socially,  is a pretty good indication of what this app is about. When you drink a beer, snap a photo, give it a rating, and post to your friends. Pretty simple concept that relies solely […]

Garmin Connect and Forerunner 10 Review

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Shortly after Christmas I wrote a brag post about getting a Garmin Forerunner 10. So far, I’ve used it a few times for running and cross-country skiing, and I am overall pretty pleased with it.It’s pretty easy intuitive, though I did set it up in French originally.

Overview

Garmin is a leader in GPS based fitness accessories. […]

Tech Tuesday: Duolingo!

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I’ve been big on learning as much german as possible recently. The idea of picking up a foreign language, if for nothing else but to poke fun at my siblings with Ellie in a language they can’t understand, has always been high on my to-do list. A while back I reviewed Anki, a spaced repetition […]

Plugin Review: StayFocusd

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In my constant search for more productivity at work, I stumbled upon a brilliant Google Chrome plugin called StayFocusd. I realized through my previous work with RescueTime that I spent far too much time on certain websites, mainly Facebook and NPR.com. I needed some way of blocking these from my browser that would not be […]

Tech Tuesday: Physics Stops Chafing.

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Today’s installment of Tech Tuesday has been a long time coming. Ellie has demanded I take a look at one of the best inventions ever created. The Centrifugal Force Generator, a.k.a., the Bathing Suit Dryer.

If you’ve ever been in a kitchen full of unitaskers, you have probably seen a salad spinner. The idea is that […]

Application Review: Anki Flashcards

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Flashcards are a powerful tool when trying to commit things to memory. Recently I’ve had a renewed interest in building my German vocabulary base. After reviewing my daily productivity, I decided that I had some time where I could fit in quick, two-minute sessions of flash-card review.
Most of the tools and commands used when working with […]

Tech Tuesday: Expresso Upright Stationary Bikes

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Being a member of the Buffalo JCC has its benefits. The first and foremost, is the gym equipment is absolutely phenomenal. Today I want to take the time and review one of the more interactive pieces of equipment that I have been using recently, The Expresso Stationary Bike. I’ve used these bikes many times over the course of a couple of years, and have realized recently how they might really assist in my training. Like most gym equipment, you get out what you put in, so try to challenge yourself while using it. It can be really easy to sit back in a low gear while watching T.V. The power of this machine is its variable settings and its ability to mimic real life situations.

Bike in a virtual world!

This stationary bike’s hallmark feature is its interactive virtual world in which you train in. It lets you ride any number of courses that range from flat tracks to curving mountain climbs. I’ve been selecting the hardest possible climbs in preparation for the triathlon, in the hope that the 30% grades that this machine gives me will be enough to get me fairly used to the familiar burn of going up hills for a prolonged time.

If you aren’t interested in the courses, you can switch it over to T.V mode too and watch whatever you want. I spent many a night watching Buffalo Sabres games or the Knicks play, and I fully anticipate more of this in the winter months to come.

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Quantifying My Day

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I like numbers, and any tool that helps me generate data about my activities is A-OKAY in my book. On Tuesday, I heard a report on NPR about being productive in the workplace. They laid out some pretty astonishing numbers, like on an average “good” day in the office, a worker is 68% productive. I was immediately curious about my own time spent, and what the breakdown would be, so naturally I installed the software on my computer and gave it a shot.

I went with the free-version of RescueTime, which keeps track of the active time spent in a given window. A window would be a given web page, or program like Excel, or Outlook. It keeps track where you are actively looking at, and continues to poll your computer to see what is being actively used. Here is a 5 hour snapshot of my day yesterday!

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Developmental Teaser: What’s In The Pipeline

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It has been a while since I last worked on new features for the tracking system! Over the last couple of weeks I started thinking about what I wanted to improve, and I set my sights on data visualization. After having spent time at a conference for work, where data visualization was a major selling point for many applications, I decided that is where I wanted to improve upon.

Conceptually, I want to represent data in a way that is extremely easy to understand, while still giving valuable feedback that could help people get to their goals. Right now, I feel that what is currently in place is good for looking at past trends in the users data, but I feel that it falls short of what I want it to be. So, with that I started to look  into ways that I could improve upon the existing system. In my research,  I stumbled into something called D3 visualization. The main concept is that the user can interact with the data, while the underlying document model of the webpage is dynamically changing in response. It provides a much more interactive way to look at, sort, and group  things that might be interesting.

Here is a little sneak peak of what I have started playing with:

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