Category Archives: Tech

LA Commute Visualization

This month, I chose to visualize LA commutes. The data is visualized & published here:  http://xta.github.io/la_commute/

la_commute_ss

For the starting locations, I chose a mix based on highly populated areas and places of interest to me. I wanted to get a good distribution throughout the greater LA area. I realize that most people wouldn’t commute nearly two hours a day, but the sad reality is that people do have these long or even longer commutes.

For the destinations, I chose three popular, work-concentrated areas (Santa Monica, Century City, and Downtown Los Angeles). I realize that many people do not work in these 3 locations, but these locations help visualize a horizontal slice across central LA.

My workflow was running a local Ruby script multiple times a day throughout the past few weeks. I have both morning & evening commute data, but I think morning commutes are more interesting. I may be wrong, but I’m assuming that morning commutes are more consistent (people leave for work around 7 to 8am, and they leave work anywhere from 3 to 9pm).

Once I had the data, I loaded my csv file(s) into Google Sheets. With Google Sheets, I did basic sorting and aggregating of the commute times. I output my data in a specific format so that I could easily consume it with my JS code.

Loading the data into Leaflet.js markers wasn’t too bad. The hardest part was styling & displaying the commute data properly. Originally, I wanted to draw labelled lines between the different locations to the destination, but labelling lines appears to be really difficult with web map libraries. I also didn’t want to hide all the data behind a tooltip that had to be clicked.

Overall, I’m pleased with my basic workflow and the power of Leaflet.js. Collecting traffic data was the most difficult part.

Mapping library used is Leaflet.js. Map & map data are from OpenStreetMap contributors. Map tiles are from CartoDB.

iTunes Payments Dropdown Tip

A quick tip about iTunes Payments and Financial Reports in iTunes Connect.

I was trying to reconcile from iAd Revenue to iTunes Payments. It looked like there were amounts missing in the Payments page. It took me a long time to realize this, but there is a dropdown to switch between your organization payment accounts. I probably have multiple payment accounts in iTunes Connect due to updating my address.

If you have multiple iTunes Connect agreements or accounts, you may want to check for a dropdown on the Summary page. I hope this helps someone out there trying to understand this part of iTunes Connect better.

itc_pmts

Optimizing for stable tools that don’t create perpetual work

Time is an incredibly important asset.

I come from a Ruby on Rails background. The progress of Rails updates & JS frameworks has been amazing & constant. Each new Rails patch brings with it some work to stay current. It’s not Rails’s fault since there are always new features or security issues that arise. Having a well maintained framework, such as Rails, is a huge boon for the community.

With any programmer tool, you generally want to be on the current stable release (for a variety of reasons including security & bug fixes). The issue is that upgrading to the latest stable version creates a never ending stream of (hopefully small) work.

Even if you went without a framework (Rails, Django, etc.), your server is running on a suite of tools. You’ll need to keep your OS (even LTS) and most likely nginx up to date.

Perhaps you want to outsource server maintenance, so you’re using Heroku. You’ll have to keep your configs compliant with the Heroku deployment framework & best practices.

What I’m getting at is that there are so many incredible tools available to developers today. Oftentimes, these tools are free and constantly get better & faster over time.

I’m wondering if there is, or if it would be possible to create developer tools that are optimized for API stability. No more figuring how to do things the framework-way every several months. Setup once, use forever. When you’re able to minimize the present value amount of time spent maintaining a tool, you’re freeing your future self to work on higher value tasks.

Maptime Movement

I’ve attended Maptime in both NYC & LA. Each location seems to make the event their own. If you’re interested in maps, you should definitely check out a local Maptime event.

maptime

In NYC, we worked on different mapping challenges (subway maps, D3.js, etc.). In LA, we went over using git & Github.

True Business

I recently read The Box by Marc Levinson.

Marc brings out this excellent insight about Malcom McLean, a pioneer in containerization (using Shipping Container to modularize transport & avoid break bulk):

Malcom McLean’s real contribution to the development of containerization, in my view, had to do not with a metal box or a ship, but with a managerial insight. McLean understood that transport companies’ true business was moving freight rather than operating ships or trains.

As the excerpt says, a shipper’s business is about transporting goods and not operating ships. I’d like to draw a parallel to web development. Developers need to know how to build & maintain websites, but the true business side of web development is about providing services to visitors.

Gogo Inflight Internet Prices – US Airways

Posting this since I wanted to know roughly how much you would save by buying wifi BEFORE your flight (or inflight). And I didn’t find a good source for this while searching.

Buying in advance Prices

preflight_v2

Buying inflight Prices

inflight_v2

The difference

1 Hour – $5 preflight vs $8 inflight

All day – $16 preflight vs $22.95 inflight

Also, here’s some more US Airways / American Airlines inflight prices:

inflight_extras_v2

Profit Center Based Work

When it comes to work that will build a great career, Patrick McKenzie has great advice:

Profit Centers are the part of an organization that bring in the bacon: partners at law firms, sales at enterprise software companies, “masters of the universe” on Wall Street, etc etc. Cost Centers are, well, everybody else. You really want to be attached to Profit Centers because it will bring you higher wages, more respect, and greater opportunities for everything of value to you.

The gist is that you want your role at the company to correlate with revenue generation.

If your role leads to more revenue, your role will always be in demand.  Sales functions have so much money allocated into them with the expectation that it is an investment. Back office tasks (HR, accounting, etc.) are essential, but they do not generate gross revenue and are always on the chopping block.

Developer Education

As an avid tech news reader, I’m able to follow industry discussions about hot new start ups.

For example, startups such as Snapchat, Pinterest, etc. have garnered a lot of hype. As a technology enthusiast, what is my duty to try out new apps / sites?

Is it enough to know about them? Is it enough to have tried them? Is it enough to know how to recreate them?

iOS Simulator

When previewing a site on my iPhone (1136 x 640), I wasn’t satisfied with using my iPhone 5 or a Chrome browser Window Resizer app.

Turns out it’s super simple to use the iOS Simulator with Xcode on OS X (version 10.8.5).

Select Xcode > Open Developer Tool > iOS Simulator

xcode

You’ll be presented with an iPhone to navigate within. Select Safari and you can use a site like localhost:3000 for development.

 
ios_sim