Omnibus 02010

Saturday, January 1st, 02011 at 00:00 UTC

This is the 02010 round-up, full of updates on the year’s posts, corrections and generally any follow-up information or links to further flush out the articles.

In 02010 there were 18 posts, which is down from 02009’s 23 posts. Some of this was due to traveling, the writing of a book and various other projects. In between writing and working, some of the pages on the site have been updated to a cleaner, more dynamic, newspaper style. It’s a work in progress slowly building the site to more than just a blog, but into a brand with ancillary objects and ideas available.

Strangely one of the most popular posts on the site in 02010 was What Are 2D Barcodes from June 02009. I am not sure why, maybe it has excellent google juice for specific search terms, maybe people are genuinely interested, maybe it was linked too from a reputable source? I may never know. Either way, the plan for 02011 is to write a longer follow-up about 2D barcodes and some Augmented Reality apps for smart phones. If people are genuinely interested in these topics, it should show in the popularity of these new articles – otherwise it is a weird fluke.

If we look back at previous articles, here are a few developments since their publications.


This year twitter changed the way you can access their API. In the switch over, we updated the code of to not rely on the API but instead simply on an RSS search for @tweetcc. This caused some problems because you can’t go as far back in time as you can with the API due to the load on twitter’s service. So some times it misses tweets. Twitter does sell access to their firehose of data, but since tweetcc was setup for a specific purpose; Andy’s book, which has now been published, its usefulness has diminished. It will continue to run, but any maintenance is a low priority.

Data Shadow

The fact that you are leaking data about yourself has only grown stronger and more apparent since the original post back in 02009! With rumors that Facebook are using facial recognition and tagging you in photos without your permission just goes to show that you, yourself-your own face is leaking data about you.

Another example was setup by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) to show the uniqueness of your browser settings. By analysising all of your plugins, language settings and other tweaks, you are actually quite unique. This means that it is easier to track you and your behaviour across the site and on to other sites if this finger print information is shared between them.

Then there are sites like Gowalla. Which used to leak information based on consecutive checkin IDs which mix public and private posts. I might not follow a specific individual therefore their posts are private, but by incrementing the IDs eventually gets you to a public post with a timestamp. Doing this forwards and backwards from the private message can give you a window into when and where some of this data was logged. It certainly wasn’t intentional and they have changed private message pages, but sequential IDs do encode information in the fact that they are linear.

Print on Demand

There has been plenty of development on the print-on-demand front! New services such as puts people with ideas in touch with folks with tools. Previously, you needed to own or have a friend that owned a fancy 3D printers or laser cutters. Now, you can source those tools to the network of people willing to print stuff for you, for a small fee. Dipping your feet into the work of print on demand has never been easier or cheaper.

Bookleteer is another online service which makes nice printable booklets. Much like pocketMod, bookleteer allows you to create beautiful multipage booklets from text and images. It makes for a very simple recyclable paper printout for events, directions and other short-term uses.

I now have access to a few 3D printers locally, so in 02011 I will certainly have a few posts about some of the projects, both failures, triumphs, tolerances and longer write-ups about the process.

Vertical Slices

Taking a vertical attack on a single topic is an interesting concept. Another look at the same concept is to try all angles of the same thing at once. To flatten out 3d into a linear path. The photographer Rick Graves did just that with his invention of the distacam. It is a modified medium format camera which takes one photo over the entire length of film through a tiny slit in front of the film. Since it is only letting a tiny vertical slice through, if the speed at which the film is exposed matches the moving object an extraordinarily image emerges.

Mitsuo Katsui is an artist that dabbled in being able to see the same thing from many different angles at once. Back in 1972, (from what automatic translation can give me) he create the cover for a magazine. The photo is a human head photographed from every angle at the same time. It creates an eerie result, but at the same time a deep look at just one aspect all at once.


I have used the geonames data set in two blog posts this year. The first about plotting countries in SVG and the second was about converting latitudes and longitudes into a specific HLS value.

There was atleast one person who used this technique to recreate the Netherlands.

The Delete that Wasn’t

I wrote about the ability to delete information from web apps is sometimes harder than you might think from a technical point of view. There are massive ramifications that ripple through the system, especially on social sites.

Recently, Danah Boyd wrote an excellent article based on some of her ethnographic research into Facebook. The article is called Risk Reduction Strategies on Facebook. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend you do. In the article she talks about the concept of “super logout”. Since sites like facebook allow you to reactive your account, even after deletion. Deleting your account when you are done is the safest way to police what is said about you in your absence. It is a very interesting phenomenon and usage of an otherwise designed function, because it is a Delete that Wasn’t actually benefits and protects the customer.

Five Simple Steps: Designing with Data

It has been several months now since the publication of the Designing with Data book. The sales are going well and piggy-backing off of that, I have managed to line-up several conferences and workshops in 02011.

PaperNet Boarding Pass

My papernet boarding pass idea got a quick name check on the BERG London blog post about Media Surfaces: The Journey. The whole post is an excellent look at how we can use digital information on paper on new and whimsical ways. From train ticket puzzle pieces to wikipedia fun facts, the blog post is an exploration of the possibilities that we tend to forget with paper when we automatically assume “smart phone” app.


What’s in store in the next 12 months? Well, there are over 50 articles in the drafts folder in various states of coherence. So I am not short on topics, that’s for sure. There is a lot of travel planned in 02011 for conferences and other events. This could limit the time to write or could spur on even more great ideas, time will tell. There are a few continuing topics which I will certainly be discussing, color, visualizations, barcodes, printing, maps and other are already on the list. Be sure to sign-up via RSS and tell your friends. The more followers, the more encouragement it gives me to continue to keep writing articles that you find interesting.