About Geoff

A self-taught internet enthusiast. I have one good eye for design and another good photographer’s eye combined with social media savvy and antisocial tendencies. I speak HTML and CSS to a pretty high standard and can cut and paste pretty fast. I give good Photoshop and know a wide repertoire of other software tricks.

The infographics of xkcd

Log scale Most infographics on the web consist of generic graphics backed up with (lots of) poorly researched text.

When done well these informational graphics use charts, diagrams and illustrations to make complex ideas easier to comprehend. At their best the results can be quite illuminating.

Randall Munroe has produced more than a few great infographics for xkcd. His infographics can be broken down into three rough categories:

  1. Pure gag charts,
  2. Jokey graphics with a serious point, and…
  3. Well-researched highly informative graphics with some jokes sprinkled throughout.

For this post I’ve compiled the more informative types. There’s a list of some (but not all) of xkcd’s novelty graphs and charts at the end of this post.

For science! →

Why the Moon landings couldn’t have been faked

S.G. Collins explains how the technology didn’t exist in 1969 to actually fake the Moon landings in the way most conspiracy theorists seem to believe. Even if you were Stanley Kubrick.

I particularly love his delivery: he’s both monotonous and compelling, sarcastic and likeable.

Important note: I’ve seen people complaining about the ‘unnecessary gay joke’ he makes at the end – a play on the ‘homo’ in ‘homo sapien’. Of course, this is actually a reference to the latin meanings of the words: Homo is the genus of hominids that includes modern man and sapien loosely translates as ‘wise man’.

(via Gizmodo)

The Up-Goer Five Text Editor (and how to use it for SEO)

Up Goer Five is one of Randall Munroe’s more famous recent xkcd infographics in which he attempts to describe the workings of a Saturn V rocket using only most commonly used 1,000 words in the English language. Here’s just a part of it:

Up Goer Five, cropped

Inspired by this, The Up-Goer Five Text Editor is a fun tool (created by Theo Sanderson) that restricts the user to just the same 1,000 words. Anything not in that tiny dictionary will be given familiar squiggly red underlines.

The Up-Goer Five Text Editor

The Up-Goer Five Text Editor

Scientists have been trying to explain the work they do using only this reduced language. Here’s the work of a paleontologist summarised:

I study tracks, trails, places where animals make homes, and shit, both new and old, and figure out how animals do these things.
Tony Martin, paleontologist

Some of these passages come across as quite patronising (“We burn dead black stuff so that we can build things, power our houses and make our cars go.”), but some of the better ones are quite poetic. io9 has a beautiful description of Saturn:

There is a world that goes around the sun, ten times farther away from the sun than the world we live on. This world is really big – about ten times as wide as our world – and most of it is thick air pulled tight together. It has big beautiful rings around it, made of many pieces of ice.
A loving upgoerfive intro to Saturn and some of its moons, by Rachel Klippenstein

It’s worth reading the full thing.

What does this have to do with SEO? →

My Twitter archive

I’ve finally been able to download my tweet archive from Twitter. I’m really impressed with how they’ve made the data browsable and easy to explore. Here are my first tweets from January 2007:

My tweets from January 2007

Fascinating, no? You can also see some account details, which informed me that I am user ID #703,673 and that I joined on 25 Jan 2007, 8:53:08 PM (UTC).

You can get your own tweets (if they are available to you) via your settings at twitter.com/settings/account.

What else do you get? →

Why is this BBC website not available in the UK?

Updated: See end of post.

A Digg linked article I find a lot of my reading material via Digg, who occasionally link to a BBC Future story that looks like the kind of thing I’d be interested in.

However these articles (which appear on a bbc.com domain, not bbc.co.uk) are blocked from within the UK. Instead, I am presented with a ‘help’ page that tells me the following:

BBC Future (international version)

We’re sorry but this site is not accessible from the UK as it is part of our international service and is not funded by the licence fee. It is run commercially by BBC Worldwide, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the BBC, the profits made from it go back to BBC programme-makers to help fund great new BBC programmes. You can find out more about BBC Worldwide and its digital activities at www.bbcworldwide.com.

‘Dear Points of View…’ →

Halfblog: 2012 in review

WordPress fireworks WordPress.com has produced some cool-looking reports for users, summing up blog activity for 2012. It’s really just a pretty stats page, but it’s very well done with CSS animated fireworks, parallax effects and colourful graphics. You can see the complete report for halfblog.net here.

Here’s the summary it provided:

19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 130,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

In 2012, there were 133 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 657 posts. There were 306 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 91 MB. That’s about 6 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was September 24th with 754 views. The most popular post that day was Minimalistic iPhone 5 wallpapers.

Continue reading

How to live with introverts

An introvert Dr. Carmella’s Guide to the Introverted is a very astute webcomic by Schroeder Veidt.

Below the comic I’ve also embedded a TED talk by Susan Cain who talks about how extrovert behaviour has come to be considered the norm and how introverts can (often unknowingly) make self-negating choices in an effort to fit into society better.

Read ‘Dr. Carmella’s Guide to the Introverted’ →

How not to treat your customers online: Google bring sucky web experiences to life

I really appreciate these hilarious videos made by Google Analytics. They’re a perfect illustration of how frustrating shopping online can be.

Online Checkout

With the holiday shopping season in full swing, it’s important to ensure your website and digital marketing is running on all cylinders. Your potential customers should be able to find what they need on the digital shelf as easily as in real life. Sadly, many sites leave visitors frustrated – losing potential customers. However, the advantage of your online storefront is that you can understand where you’re losing customers and work to improve your shopping experience.

Google Analytics in Real Life: What would your customer experience look like? – analytics.blogspot.ca

Watch the other two videos from this Google campaign →

Halfblog: Now AdFree

Aside

I’ve finally decided to remove the ugly WordAds from this site, and upgraded to AdFree. I asked WordPress.com support about the possibility of spending the $30 I had accrued with WordAds on AdFree, knowing that they insist on paying out only when a user has accrued $100 of funds but reasoning that since I was spending money with them they might be able to make an exception. Nope:

Our finance department isn’t able to do it. One challenge is that our ad partners like Google Adsense don’t pay until a site has earned over $100. So if our finance department paid out accounts less than $100 we’d always be losing money on those.

I did appreciate the honest and frank answer though. Continue reading