How to Salvage a Ship

You might recall that back in January an Italian cruise ship sank after striking submerged rocks. In case you were wondering, the ship is still there. But the plan is to refloat the ship and then tow it to a harbour on the Italian mainland and scrap the ship. The Guardian put together a nice interactive infographic explaining just how the process will work.

How to salvage a ship
How to salvage a ship

Credit for the piece goes to Paddy Allen.

Apple’s New Mac OS X: And Why I Am Not Buying It

The question with Apple computers is when to upgrade the operating system? Apple releases updates every few years. But, I might have to wait and skip the next one, Mountain Lion. After all, Apple is taking a step backward. xkcd explains:

Apple's Mac OS X
Apple's Mac OS X

Visualising Panda Mating

Animals need to reproduce. Well, except perhaps some of our own species…and so today’s infographic from the Washington Post looks at the birds and the bees. Or rather the pandas and the pandas. Or is that the pandas on pandas? Regardless, the reader can see that panda mating is not easy.

Visualising panda mating
Visualising panda mating

Credit for the piece goes to Cristina Rivero.

How an E-mail is Sent. (And No, I Don’t Mean by Pressing Send.)

Google is a big company. What do big companies do from time to time? Market themselves. And so this is a screenshot from a fun interactive infographic piece that has supplementals from text to photos to videos as Google explains how an e-mail is sent. All the while Google touts its green energy initiatives and energy efficiencies. It’s a game changing win-win paradigm-shifting grand slam of a piece. (Sorry, that just felt like an appropriate place to use CorporateSpeak.)

How an e-mail gets from A to B
How an e-mail gets from A to B

Congratulations, College Grads. Now Pay Up.

It’s that time of year when young men and women step outside into the big, real world and realise just how much money they owe to various creditors. Yay. The problem, however, has continued to get worse for students. This interactive infographic by the New York Times explains just how so by comparing student debt to costs.

The overall view of indebtedness
The overall view of indebtedness

While the bubble chart is also available in map form—though I don’t find that particularly useful myself—the more interesting added layer of complexity comes from the data displayed when the user selects a specific university.

Debt at Penn State, which I attended for all of two semesters
Debt at Penn State, which I attended for all of two semesters

Credit for the piece goes to Jeremy White, Andrew Martin, Andrew W. Lehren, and Archie Tse.

School Segregation in New York

This weekend the New York Times looked at segregation in New York City schools by mapping the least (and most) diverse and offering quick comparisons to other large cities. (Is it really a surprise that the country’s largest cities also would need the largest demographic shifts to create diverse education environments?) Probably the best thing, seemingly as always, in the piece is the annotations that provide stories and context and explain the outliers that are all otherwise visualised in the infographic.

School segregation in New York
School segregation in New York

Credit for the piece goes to Ford Fessenden.

Coffee Flavoured Coffee

My post is inspired by a post on FlowingData a few days ago. FlowingData’s post is about a diagram of coffee recipes and it interests me on a personal level. For long before ever designing anything professionally, I was a barista. Over three and a half years of my life were (somewhat) dedicated to crafting coffees, espressos, and on the rare occasion, tea. We used Starbucks’ recipes—and on several occasions I commented about the graphics and diagrams they sent so baristas could all be making the same drink. I may have even kept a few…but that would require some digging through some really old collections.

However, Plaid Creative made something for me. Well, me in the sense that I would like to talk about it here and now, not really for me. They created a diagram to explain the various recipes for coffee and espresso-based beverages. I am especially fond of the inclusion of Irish whiskey. However, FlowingData’s post comments upon how Plaid’s piece is in some sense an update of an earlier chart by Lokesh Dhakar, found here. (Update: So that link to Lokesh’s work is broken, here’s a link to it courtesy of The Babble Out.)

Plaid Creative's The Perfect Pour
Plaid Creative’s The Perfect Pour
Lokesh Dhakar's Illustrated Coffee Guide
Lokesh Dhakar’s Illustrated Coffee Guide

So how do these two compare?

First, keep in mind that Plaid’s is much more extensive in terms of the number of recipes examined and the number of ingredients used (or suggested). For while Dhakar’s piece uses a consistent and simple colour scheme that relates well to the subject matter, Plaid addresses the breadth of its recipes by introducing patterns and so allows for the colour scheme to still relate to the subject. I like the idea of patterns, and here they work in differentiating between the ingredients. However, it took me a little while to make sense of them all and I wonder if a small legend would not have been helpful. Or even just labelling the colours and patterns when each first appears.

However, the one thing I find most interesting about the two pieces is that Plaid represents the drinks as multiples of pie charts. The proportions of ingredients are thus wedges or slices of said pie. Dhakar’s piece instead keeps the cup form and shows the proportions as layers. (And what is noticeably helpful is that the sides of the cup are straight, making comparisons easier than they might otherwise be in cups with fancy, curving sides.) And while I prefer the aesthetic of Plaid’s piece, that Dhakar chose to show proportions as layers allows him to also show the order of events.

From personal experience, the order of events can actually impact the flavour of the drink. And to be honest, I am not certain that Dhakar intended to show order of events—for the mochas I made always started with the mocha first. But the system he used to show the drinks would theoretically allow for that element in the actual graphic. Plaid’s would likely have to have the order of events be written explicitly; the only other option is to order the arrangement of the pie wedges, but I am not certain that doing so would be as easily assumed as pies are normally ordered by value, here the proportion amounts, if ordered at all.

Both, however, do help the average Joe enjoy his, well, you know as increasingly create more and more complicated versions and variations. And in that sense, both are successful and entertaining pieces. If one, however, were to try and use either as a more educational piece in a true recipe-like sense, than I find Dhakar’s piece to the more successful of the two.

Either way, I still do not like coffee.

Computer: tea, Earl Grey, hot.