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via Digital Inspiration Technology Blog by Amit on 11/06/12

Crop Images Online

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.

Many-to-Many Cropping

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.

See some more useful websites.

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Digital Inspiration @labnolThis story, Online Tool Crops your Images "Intelligently", was originally published at Digital Inspiration on 11/06/2012 under Image Editing, Websites, Internet.

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via Open Culture by Dan Colman on 11/06/12

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.

  • African-American History: Modern Freedom Struggle – YouTube– iTunes – Clay Carson, Stanford
  • Financial Markets 2011 YouTube - iTunes - Web Site – Robert Shiller, Yale
  • Growing Up in the Universe – YouTube – Richard Dawkins, Oxford
  • Human Behavioral Biology – iTunes Video – YouTube – Robert Sapolsky, Stanford
  • Introduction to the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible) – Download Course – Christine Hayes, Yale.
  • Heidegger's Being & Time – iTunes - Hubert Dreyfus, UC Berkeley
  • Intensive Introduction to Computer Science Using C, PHP, and JavaScript – Multiple Formats – iTunes – David Malan, Harvard
  • Introduction to Cosmology and Particle Physics – YouTube – Sean Carroll, Caltech
  • Invitation to World Literature – Web Site - David Damrosch, Harvard
  • iPhone Application Development in iOS5 HD Video iTunes - Standard-Def Video iTunes - Paul Hegarty, Stanford
  • Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do? – YouTube - Web Site- Michael Sandel, Harvard
  • Philosophy of Language – iTunes – John Searle, UC Berkeley
  • Physics for Future Presidents – YouTube – Richard Muller, UC Berkeley
  • Quantum Electrodynamics – Web Site - Richard Feynman, Presented at University of Auckland
  • Science, Magic and Religion iTunes - YouTube – Courtenay Raiai, UCLA
  • The American Novel Since 1945 – YouTube – iTunes Audio – iTunes Video - Download Course – Amy Hungerford, Yale
  • 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.

A Master List of 500 Free Courses From Great Universities is a post from: Open Culture. You can follow Open Culture on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and by Email.


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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.

Miso: An open source toolkit for data visualisation:
Your online visualization options are limited when you don't know how to program. The Miso Project, a collaboration between The Guardian and Bocoup, is an effort to lighten the barrier to entry.
While the goal is to build a toolkit that makes visualization easier and faster, the first release of the project is Dataset, a JavaScript library to setup the foundation of any good data graphic. If you've ever worked with data on the Web, you know there are a variety of (usually painful) steps you have to go through before you actually get to fun stuff. Dataset will help you with the data transformation and and management grunt work.

One of the most common patterns we've found while building JavaScript-based interactive content is the need to handle a variety of data sources such as JSON files, CSVs, remote APIs and Google Spreadsheets. Dataset simplifies this part of the process by providing a set of powerful tools to import those sources and work with the data. Once data is in a Dataset, it becomes simple to select, group, and calculate properties of, the data. Additionally, Dataset makes it easy to work with real-time and changing data, which pose one of the more complex challenges to data visualization work.

Gonna keep an eye on this one. I'm curious to see how the visualization component starts to build out.


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via eLearning Blog Dont Waste Your Time by David Hopkins on 3/14/12

Visual.lyLike Infographics (I do), then you might like to try out, a tool that enables you to create your own (basic) infographic quickly and easily.

As reported on Mashable this week:

"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): infographic for @hopkinsdavid infographic comparing the Twitter accounts of The Eden Project and National Trust

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 … ?

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via FlowingData by Nathan Yau on 08/03/12

James Cheshire ponders the difference between fast and slow thinking maps, and the dying breed of the latter.

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.

[Spatial Analysis]


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Data Scraping Comes of Age With

ScraperWiki Logo-1.jpgA 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 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. 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!



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via Free Technology for Teachers by (Mr. Byrne) on 11/30/11

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.

Personal Finance Software -
(click here to view in full size)

Curious About George: What is the Lifespan of the Dollar Bill? is an interesting an informative infographic from 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 improve credit score
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 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.

Through Michael Smith's Principals Page blog I discovered The Cost of Dropping Out produced by Teacher Certification Map and MAT@USC | Master's of Arts in Teaching. The infographic shows the costs to individuals and to the community of dropping out of high school. I've dropped the infographic into to make it fit below.

Follow the Money is a video that summarizes the data collected on Where's George? Where's George? is a website that was established for the purpose of tracking the travels of one dollar bills. Watch the video below.

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

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.

This post originally appeared on Free Technology for Teachers. Follow on Google+, Facebook, or Twitter.


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via OStatic blogs by Sam Dean on 07/09/11

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.

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