Category: Demo

Happy 2014! In between celebrating Christmas, hanging with family, and ringing in the New Year I managed to put together a visualization of the words used on AVC, written by Fred Wilson, is probably one of the most popular “start up” blogs on the Internet. It covers a wide array of topics from “MBA Mondays”, USV portfolio companies and of course general startup and technology news. Given the range of topics and and that the blog has been active since 2003, it naturally seemed like generating a word cloud would produce interesting results. With the goal of generating word clouds in mind, I set off the day after Christmas.

Checkout the finished product at I actually decided to use Scala to scrape and process the data, look for a follup post on coming to Scala from PHP.

Taking a quick glance at the clouds, a few things do jump out:

  • “Android” enters the top 100 in 2010 and has remained there since.
  • Amazon is surprisingly absent past 2007
  • Apple hasn’t made the top 100 in any year.
  • It’s interesting to see when USV portfolio companies like Disqus and Zemanta enter and exit.
  • Bitcoin makes the list for 2013
  • Blackberry, one and done
  • Facebook peaked in 2007 and then steadily declines until it drops out this year
  • Google hits the list for every year
  • Twitter gets in at 2007 and sticks through this year

Posted In: Demo

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Last week, we got our hands on the class list for the Spring ’13 Startup Institute class. I had some time to burn so I decided to throw together a visualization using the names and email addresses of the members of the class. You can check it out at

How it works

Basically, the visualization represents every student with a 3×3 color grid by using various attributes of their names and email addresses. The various squares are calculated with the following formulas:

  • Top left: Calculated by taking the first letter of the first name (say C) and then converting it to a % for how far down the alphabet the letter is. So C would come out to 3 / 25 = 12% Then, this percentage value is applied to the “lightness” component of a HSL color tuple for “hsl(40,100%,92%)”
  • Top middle: Calculated by taking the length of the first name and then calculating a % for how long it is compared to the other names in the list. So basically, it finds the length of the longest name and then divides the current student’s name by that value for a %. The % is then used in the lightness component of “hsl(340,100%,73%)”
  • Top right: A color generated using the metaphone of the first name. The metaphone is generated, then split up into 3 pieces, and then the ASCII values of those 3 components are summed. Then, the 3 parts are mapped to HSL values depending on the % maximum they are for the entire sample size.
  • The second row is identical to the first except using the last name.
  • Bottom left: Calculated depending on the “track” that the user is in.
  • Bottom middle and right: These use the same metaphone algorithm except using the email address and email domain name respectively.

Technically, the squares are drawn using the d3 library and the page layout is done with Bootstrap.

Anyway, as always comments and feedback are welcome.

Posted In: Demo, Javascript

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Earlier today, I was adding a “slider” UI element to a project that was using Twitter Bootstrap as well as jQuery UI. Although they weren’t designed to work together, the two projects generally stay out of each other’s way since their CSS classes are namespaced pretty well.

Since jQuery UI was already loaded I naturally decided to just use the jQuery UI slider control to power the slider. One of the limitations with the jQuery UI slider is that it has no native way to show the current slider value over the slider handle, as a developer you have to display that number somewhere. Fortunately, the control has the event hooks neccesary to make this happen – specifically the slide event which is triggered everytime the slider is moved.

With Bootstrap also loaded, I decided to try and use the tooltip plugin to dynamically display the current value of the slider above the handle. Getting the initual tooltip setup was pretty straightforward. Check it out here.

But the issue is that even with the “slide” event, the Bootstrap tooltip plugin has no exposed method to force a reposition. The only way to get a tooltip to reposition itself is to hide it and then show it again. Obviously, that’s less than ideal since you get a noticible “jump” as the tooltip is hid and then shown again.

With this issue in mind, I decided to take a look at how the Tooltip plugin actually does the positioning. It turns out it’s really simple, the relevant code is on GitHub. Ok, so its easy to reposition them but how do you get the “right” tooltip div incase you have multiple sliders? Looking through the code, the Tooltip plugin actually uses the function to store config options and additionally stores a reference to the correct div there. Getting a handle to the correct div is as easy as $(“#slider .ui-slider-handle:first”).data(“tooltip”).$tip

Looking at the actual plugin code, it’s simple enough to just copy that out and use it to reposition the tooltips. Check it out in action at

Anyway, let me know if you run into any issues in the comments.

Posted In: Demo, jQuery

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D3 is a “newish” visualization library that has been getting a lot of attention recently. The New York Times has been using it extensively to create visualizations, and in fact its creator is currently employed by the NYT. I’d been meaning to take D3 for a spin for a while but couldn’t find a dataset I wanted to play with until a few weeks ago.

At the end of November, the LA Times published a dataset titled Capital appreciation bonds which highlighted how various California school districts were funding various projects with extremely high interest rate bonds. The LA Times described the data as:

Hun­dreds of Cali­for­nia school and com­munity col­lege dis­tricts have fin­anced con­struc­tion pro­jects with cap­it­al ap­pre­ci­ation bonds that push re­pay­ment far in­to the fu­ture and ul­ti­mately cost many times what the dis­trict bor­rowed. Gov­ern­ment fin­ance ex­perts con­sider bonds im­prudent if the total cost is more than four times the money bor­rowed or the ma­tur­ity peri­od is great­er than 25 years.

Anyway, you can check out my attempt at a visualization here.

Posted In: Demo, Javascript

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This morning, I was implimenting an AJAX “profile photo uploader” using the new HTML5 File object. With the new File object, you’re able to do a file upload using an AJAX request instead of requiring a form submission to upload the file.

This works great with the caveat that there still needs to be a <input type="file" /> on the page in order for the user to select a file. This presents a UI/UX issue because there isn’t much leway in styling HTML file inputs and consequently the input was looking out of place on our form.

After poking around for a bit I ran across jQuery File Upload which seems to solve this problem. Inspecting the CSS, the CSS “masks” the file input by using a CSS3 “transform” and then setting the opacity value to 0 so the input is visually hidden.

Implimenting the transform+opacity trick was pretty straightforward but the issue I ran into was that I couldn’t get the mouse cursor being displayed to appear as a “hand”, I kept seeing the “text selector” cursor. I had changed the transform being used and unfortunately the jQuery File Upload CSS didn’t have any comments explaining what it was actually doing to get the cursor part of the CSS to work.

It turns out what you want to do is use the CSS3 “transform” function to skew the file input so that the “Browse” button is covering the element that you want to use to trigger the “select file” behavior and then just set the opacity to 0 to make the file input invisible.

You can see the progression here The first container has no styling applied on the file input, the second one has the “Browse” button skewed into the right spot and finally the last one has the opacity set to 0. If you change the “cursor” CSS directive on the file input you’ll notice that in the 2nd and 3rd examples the cursor will change wherever your mouse is in the container. Also, you’ll notice that if you click anywhere in the container the “select a file” dialog will get triggered as expected.

Anyway, as always comments/feedback/questions are welcome!

Posted In: Demo

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