The interesting parts of an image are preserved in the cropped version
Cropp is new online tool that will intelligently crop and/or resize your images in the browser without requiring any software. You can use the tool to crop a single picture or upload multiple images (max 5) and it will crop /resize them all to the desired sizes in a batch.
This is obviously a crowded field – search for "crop resize images" in Google and you'll find dozens of similar web apps that do cropping and much more – but there are few unique features in Cropp that you'll probably like.
One, Cropp is probably the only online app that does many-to-many cropping – you can upload multiple pictures, select multiple outputs sizes and it will provide you all the cropped versions in a downloadable zip file.
The other advantage is that Cropp algorithms will automatically try to preserve the most interesting parts of a picture in the cropped version (handy when you are trying to create small thumbnails). And if you aren't happy with the final output, you can always adjust the crop marquee manually to get the desired result.
During the past two days, our list of Free Online Movies has been getting some good exposure. And we've got no complaints. But while assembling the movie list, we were also busy putting together a list of 500 Free Online Courses from top universities. Here's the lowdown: This master list lets you download free courses from schools like Stanford, Yale, MIT, Oxford, Harvard and UC Berkeley. Generally, the courses can be accessed via YouTube, iTunes or university web sites. Right now you'll find 55 courses in Philosophy, 50 in History, 50 in Computer Science, 35 in Physics, and that's just beginning to scratch the surface. Most of the courses were recently produced. But, in some cases, we've layered in lecture series by famous intellectuals recorded years ago. Here are some highlights from the complete list.
The Art of Living – Web Site – Team taught, Stanford
Visit this list of Free Courses for many more hours of free enrichment. Separately, you might also want to check out our collection of Free Language Lessons. It offers free lessons in over 40 languages.
Even simple charts can tell a story: Regardless of your politics, this chart is a great example of how data can tell a story. It's a very simple graph by the Pew Forum on Religious and Public Life showing the changing attitudes about same-sex marriage. It shows that in the past couple of years, people have begun to be in favor of same-sex marriage. I'm showing this chart because it so clearly represents the story of the data. The eye is immediately drawn to where the "oppose" and "favor" lines cross. Other obvious choices for this data would have been a stacked bar chart or a side by side bar chart as shown here (which I created with the source data just as examples): These two charts are fine, but they really don't tell the story of what's happening. They merely present the data. The viewer has to take the time to look at each year and detect the year where there's a flip. The flip is much harder to see in these two graphs. It goes to show that even in the most humble charts, we must choose wisely to convey our message.
Gonna keep an eye on this one. I'm curious to see how the visualization component starts to build out.
"The tool will eventually use APIs from sources including ESPN, the Economist and social media sites to compile and create data visualizations. At its launch, the startup is offering templates that use the Facebook or Twitter API."
How great is this – use a one-stop tool to generate an information resources for use in learning materials? OK, it is a little basic at the moment, and you'll need to be clever about how you input the details of information, hashtag, etc but you can get some good results, using the standard templates provided.
I see this as something that could grow into a valuable classroom resource, whether it is something we use to create and generate for the students to use or discuss, or something the students can use to generate work for a classroom activity, discussion, etc. how do you use infographics, and do you see this as something that you would use (if so, how?)
Here are a couple I created earlier (click to enlarge):
However, be warned. I have not found it easy to create these, nor was it straight forward at all. On many occasions the infographic simply did not work, I was not able to download or embed it, I kept having new windows popping up all over the place, I was logged out countless times, and it is only through sheer determination that I continued and got these two above done – I would normally have given up long before now! I am sure the service will improve … ?
So do the renowned folks at the NY Times Graphics Dept. prefer fast or slow thinking visualisations? I asked them what they think makes a successful map. Archie Tse said what I hoped he would: the best maps readable, or interpretable, at a number of levels. They grab interest from across the room and offer the headlines before drawing the viewer ever closer to reveal intricate detail. I think of these as rare visualisations for fast and slow thinking. The impact of such excellent maps is manifest by the popularity of atlases and why they inspire so many to become cartographers and/or travel the world.
A graphic that takes a little while to understand doesn't always mean it was a failure in design. It might mean that the underlying data is hard to understand. Likewise, a graphic that isn't what you expect might let you answer different questions than from the usual standby.
A scrappy company to help journalists dig into Big Data has come into its own in the past year, including the requisite all-night hacking codeathon this week at the Investigative Reporters and Editors Computer-Assisted Reporting Conference in St. Louis. The company is called ScraperWiki.com and was started by Julian Todd and Aidan McGuire, two U.K.-based analysts who have been long involved in opening up government data to the public.
Take a look at this data that was mined from the UN peacekeeping troop levels, as one example of what you can do. It is really like the Wild West of data visualization. Todd says in one blog post about his own data scraping efforts, "Look, you have just got all this way starting from nothing, from finding something out in the world, to recognizing its potential, all the way to pulling in and transforming the original raw data and struggling for a way to analyze it."
If you are interested in writing your own data scraping routines, you can watch several how-to screencasts on ScraperWiki here. You can program in php, Python, or Ruby. Most of the time you are gonna have to know some SQL code to work your way around these data sets. At the St. Louis conference, work was begun on scraping various public data sets such as the US federal prisoners or FDA drug and food recalls.
IRE.org also has a collection of different databases, too, such as ones on environmental data and campaign spending, but these are only available to member journalists.
There are even bounties to be had (not much, a couple hundred bucks) if you write your own data scraping tool and make it available as part of the Open Corporates effort.
Clearly, as more data becomes available online, scraping apps abound. But part of the problem is that journalists don't necessarily know SQL, let alone Ruby or where to find these treasure troves. That is where the conference and the codeathon this week come in handy, where dozens of folks learned how to start to take a stab at these visualizations as part of their reporting jobs. We're glad to see this happening!
One of the current trends in the blog-o-sphere is the use of infographics for sharing general information about a topic (infographics also seem to be an SEO tactic). Over the last couple of years I've come across more than twenty infographics dealing with topics in economics. Today, I've assembled a list of some of the better infographics and videos for teaching topics in economics.
Mint, the free money management service, regularly posts interesting infographics on its blog Mint Life. One of the better infographics they've featured is What Is a Stock?What Is a Stock? uses clear graphics and plain terms to explain what a stock is, offer a brief history of stock markets, and give a brief explanation of why people buy stocks.
Curious About George: What is the Lifespan of the Dollar Bill? is an interesting an informative infographic from CreditLoan.com. The infographic offers provides flow charts of the production, distribution, and eventual removal from circulation of currency. Some statistics about the quantity of dollar bills produced every year is also included in the infographic.
Through the Cool Infographics blog I discovered a neat infographic about the ten most expensive cities to live in in 2010. The infographic has three parts; a map, a set of explanations of the costs associated with living in each city, and a comparison chart. The comparison chart at the bottom of the infographic does a nice job of putting cost comparisons into terms that students can relate to. Included in the comparison chart are the costs of fast food meals, the cost of a cup of coffee, and the labor hours required to earn an iPod Nano.
Your Wealth Puzzle offers a neat infographic that could be useful in a consumer education course. The infographic uses a board game format to demonstrate the steps a person needs to take in order to build and maintain a good credit rating. Credit Report Information Graphic
Visual Economics designs infographics to educate people about various topics in economics. One of their infographics that I like is How Do Americans Save Money? The infographic explains the differences between saving and savings and what disposable income is. The infographic also defines consumer confidence the sentiment index.
The New York Times offers an interactive infographic designed to help people determine when it makes financial sense to buy a home rather than rent a home. Users of the interactive infographic can enter variable data such as home price, interest rates, rent prices, rental rate increases, and housing market changes to determine when it's best to buy a home rather than rent. Users can also account for information like insurance rates, condo fees, and opportunity costs.
On Man vs. Debt I found the Student Loan Scheme infographic about student loans. Produced by CollegeScholarships.org the infographic features a flowchart that explains how student loans can burden people for years. As someone who, after ten years, relatively recently paid off his relatively modest student loans, I can tell you that I am happy my student loans were not any bigger. This infographic presents some good information for students and parents to consider before signing-on for tens of thousands of dollars in debt.
China Widens Its Reach is an interactive infographic produced by Forbes. The purpose of the infographic is to allow visitors to view the investments China has made in other countries. Click on any transaction in the infographic to view the details of each investment. (The image below is a screen capture of the infographic, clicking it will take you to the real infographic on Forbes.com)
The Food Price Rollercoaster is an infographic produced by the World Food Programme to illustrate fluctuations in food prices over the last three and one-half years. The infographic highlights some major world events that happened at the same time as some large food price fluctuations. The infographic also illustrates the disparity between what families in rich countries spend on food and what those in poorer countries spend on food. You can view the infographic here or below.
The worlds of open source and freeware both include many outstanding applications for working with graphics and photos. These include standard fare such as image editors, but it's also worth looking into more unusual graphics tools that you can work with for free. Whether you want to produce splashy graphical documents, enhance graphics on a blog or web site, create eye-catching logos, or more, check out this collection of five great, free graphics apps.
When it comes to open source graphics tools, GIMP gets a great deal of attention, and there are many free online resources available for it, but if you're in search of a free drawing and illustration tool that can compete with Adobe Illustrator and is increasingly useds by web designers for effects, logos and still graphics, give Inkscape a try. It runs on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux, and is well-known as a powerful and flexible drawing and vector editing application. We covered it and resources for getting started with it in this post.
Dia is very similar to Microsoft's Visio application, and was developed as part of the GNOME project's office suite. There are many types of useful diagrams and flowcharts you can do in Dia. You can associate multiple diagrams with each other and work on them in tandem. Dia also exports diagrams in most popular graphics file formats. We covered the application previously in this post.
Gallery is an open source, web-based photo management and album organizer application available for Linux and Windows. Licensed under the GPL, Gallery makes it easy to blend photo management into a web site or blog. There is a Gallery Remote client available for it that lets you upload new sets of photos on-the-fly, and Gallery is available in over 20 languages.
Blender is one of the most popular free, open source 3D animation and graphics applications, for Windows, the Mac and Linux. You can learn how to create a great looking logo, how to execute special effects, and more. Blender has been used to produce striking full-length animated films and is worth getting to know if you haven't tried it. You can also download a great, free book on Blender, with step-by-step project instructions.
Aviary is a truly remarkable suite of free, online graphics applications, and it has won many awards. It isn't open source, but it is freeware, and has become much more than the dedicated image editor that it started out as. You'll find a vector editor, a color palette editor, a tool for creating visual effects, and more. All of the tools are available for you to use within your browser. Aviary also comes with many tutorials, similar to those found online for Photoshop.