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More do, less talk.

I’ve been a busy little bee these few days – you didn’t think WIPUP’s beta release would slow me down eh? Unfortunately for you folks, I like to strike a balance between doing and talking – sure, more talking and doing doesn’t see any results soon, but more do and less talk is just plain selfish. As such, here’s what’s new in Moult county.

Firstly – the the WIPUP beta aftermath. Could’ve hoped for more users, but I’m happy with how people are picking up on it. So far all feedback has been positive, and we’ve picked up a good few members along the way, some of which have become users. Now that I’ve signed WIPUP up on Google Analytics, we’ve got shorter, sweeter reults:

Because I like looking at the results in percentage increases, I’ll let you make your own conclusions this time.

Meanwhile, a few noticed that this release’s splash was not made by me – rather it was contributed by Nathan from Cetan.ca. This means that if anybody wants to contribute splash artwork, I’d be more than willing to use it – provided that it’s abstract, and that it passes as aesthetically pleasing – and of course credits will be duly given.

The ThoughtScore Project has resumed production – and surprisngly to some – not in any graphical area, but rather in the script. I’ve submitted what I’ve started on it as a WIP available here, and once I implement the “paste revisions” idea for WIPUP suggested here, I’ll allow you to actually write parts of it (well, if you really want to – but no promises on accepting them).

I’ve also been, despite sans internet for 2 days in a wonderful place called Bandung (reaaally beautiful if you go to the right places) I’ve also been busy giving back to the community in KDE. We now have a lovely release counter image (demo’ed below), my submission to their KPresenter template contest, and a little progress on the upcoming release announcement for 4.5. Not to mention I’ve also been in the middle of setting up KDE’s site for development on my localhost to tackle “polish” issues, of which you may see some of my critique here.

KDE Countdown

Of course I’ve still been doing part/fulltime work doing webdevelopment (on my 3rd project now wheyhey), and so if you need any webdevelopering done you know who to poke. Also, being in Indonesia also means I’ve been rockin’ with my relatives.

Come on, a post like this with loads of links definitely means I’ve been busy. Excuse the insightful-informative post tradeoff.

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Effective data visualisation for the WIPUP dashboard.

Data visualisation is a big, big topic. It’s often underestimated by the majority of society. But what is data visualisation? It’s not so much how effectively you present data – no, it’s how effectively you deliver information. Today since work has resumed on WIPUP I decided to take a look at how to implement effective data visualisation in the WIPUP dashboard. Before we continue, let’s take a look at how the dashboard looks like now:

Obviously unfinished, the dashboard looks like somebody vomited. Disregarding the obvious visual glitches such as the 0% segments in the pie chart and questionable use of colours, the most obvious thing that immediately catches our eye is … nothing. That’s right. It’s a mosaic of data, no clear correlations or focus is delivered to the user. Well, what would you expect if 6 charts were thrown at you? It’s not hard to see that there is a problem here to be fixed.

The first step is to consider, based on the results of dogfooding, which graphs aren’t realy useful to the user at all. The two obvious ones are the comment activity and the popularity based on subscribers. If, hypothetically, there was a popular WIPUP user, the usefulness of these two will increase, but overall it’s quite agreed that the majority of users will not find it useful, and even if showing a variety of data, we have to look at the purpose behind comments – to initiate discussion. Such a qualitative concept is not well presented with quantiative means and thus should not be attempted. Looking at the subscribers chart, it may be useful, but doesn’t warrant its own graph.

The second step is to consider exactly what medium we are using to present the data – in this case we are using line charts and pie charts. Line charts are appropriate here as it is used with a timescale, but as for the pie charts – well, experts unanimously agree that there is absolutely no usecase for piecharts. Pie charts should not have been invented. They are useless at showing data. It is hard to determine which segment you should focus on, and the colours distract rather than emphasise the data. Even worse, I have commited the ultimate evil of creating a 3D pie chart. Here’s something you should try out – cover all the percentages of the “activity per project” pie chart, and look at the two large segments (purple and green). Looks about the same proportion, eh? Nope. There’s a stunning 10% difference between them. Try the same with the orange and yellow together – big relative difference again. This trick even works with groups – the orange and yellow segments together look around the same as the pink and lime green, no? Yep, again, there’s a big difference. Conclusion: piecharts suck. The only benefit is that they look pretty.

The third step is to search for correlations. The most obvious one is how many updates I have made and how many views I’ve received (duh). The important thing here is that from the user perspective, they want that correlation. They want to see that the more they update, the more views they get. Thus we should try and emphasize this correlation. How better than to merge the two graphs? This way any mismatch of this ideal correlation (ie, an update they thought would be interesting, but from the statistics, show otherwise) would be obvious.

After a quick brainstorm, I copied the raw data onto OpenOffice Calc (equivalent of Microsoft Excel), and tried this alternative:

As you can see, I’ve compressed the data of 5 graphs into 2 graphs (say, I didn’t know Calc could do 2 y-axes). On the left, we see a stacked bar chart showing activity, kudos and subscribers (trackers are added as a subscriber to all projects, which is why it is all equal). Immediately the user can create a focus and see correlations. For example, this allows us to sort the data in terms of most to least. In this case, I’ve spent the most of my updates on uncategorised updates. However, we can now easily determine the correlation that even though the activity spent on uncategorised work is the most, it doesn’t create as big an impact as say, the Evan project, of which it is clear that the Kudos+Subscribers:Activity ratio is much greater. Infinitely more useful, don’t you think?

On the right, we can see we’ve showed the correlation by merging the two line graphs. Now we can clearly see that there is a slight correlation misalignment in the update I did on the 07/06 – perhaps the update wasn’t very interesting? Or perhaps it’s simply because I wasn’t as actively giving out updates as before – all very interesting conclusions.

Well folks, I hope I shared some useful stuff today. Next step, implementing the changes and revamping the dashboard.

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WIPUP 19.03.10a – under or overcooked?

It’s WIPUP statistics time, folks. I’d like to apologise for the lack of "proper" posts as I’ve been busy making a portfolio for a university application and bachoté in some new ThoughtScore stuff. Yes, that’s right. So a sad excuse is to look at statistics. (Those viewing my profile would probably know this already though)

As you can see only 3 or so days after the release we’ve hit the same level of views as previous updates. At the same time we see we’ve resumed our correlation between updates and views. I think the image really speaks for itself.

It’s however a bit more interesting to note that we’ve had 4 new updates added by new users (one apparently being a 77 year old lady from Alaska). I’ve also posted a thread on the BlenderArtists "news" forum category, and although we’ve only had 3 people view the thread (yeah, not that active apparently) we’ve gathered 3 very positive comments and had 3 registrations. Sounds good to me. Very good sign.

When dogfooding lately for current WIPs which weren’t built to be documented and not entirely of personal artistic nature I’ve noticed a natural rejection to putting work online. Something along the lines of "it’s not ready! It’s ugly as bollocks!" However I’ve resisted deleting anything and I don’t regret doing so. However I’m concerned that others (after overcoming the initial excitement) will experience the same. I guess it’s time to orchestrate a few social experiments, which if they prove anything interesting I’ll post about later.

All-nighter coming up.

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The WIPUP 21.02.10 stats are out.

It’s midweek, 3 mock exams later, and it’s been quite some time since the WIPUP 21.02.10a was released. Yep, that means it’s time to look at the statistics. The reason this didn’t happen earlier is because the WIPUP dashboard stats only update themselves at the beginning of the week in order to save server power (it’s quite strenuous you know). As a result the last pull was on the 22nd, which meant that it was quite likely that a few visitors could’ve been pulled over into the next week of statistics.

Anyways, here’s the image speaks a 1000:

As you can see I’ve been rather actively dogfooding WIPUP, especially noticable in the latest upsurge in update activity due to the porting over of The ThoughtScore project. The obvious thing this proves is that update quantity doesn’t necessarily mean update interest. Looking at the number of views optimistically realistically this update, even though even more feature packed and with a more mature system did on par with the 14.01.10a update. Pessimistically we could assume a division of views over all our updates and no rollover spectators in the next week and report that the 21.02.10a update was a complete failure. On the other extreme we could assume the complete opposite and say we achieved a modest increase in interest.

The obvious conclusion is that there are lies, damned lies, and statistics.

User-wise things are still slow with little of the feedback system in use – I’ve still got those 2 stalkers, hit a new high of 2 comments in a week (by 1 user, though) and it looks as though a kudos system was a good idea.

However of course this doesn’t mean that the future is completely bleak, WIPUP still has far to go, we’ve recruited a new contributor (Kamal) and we see a few interesting uses of WIPUP by the user Sandking, who shows us some rendering tests, by C0mBineD, who is apparently working on a painting, and jonas, who’s got one of his digital orchestra test pieces up.

Seeing as that they’re rather dormant this is a sign that WIPUP still isn’t ready for the crowds, but we invite anybody else interested to give it a spin as a regular user to do so!

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After the WIPUP release, the stats are in.

Unless you have short-term memory loss you would remember about a week ago WIPUP 14.01.10 was released. One of the major features of this release was a working and presentable stats section in the account dashboard. Generating statistics is a rather intensive operation on the webserver and would be overkill to have it happen daily, even when not considering how useless daily information would be in terms of updates (unless you give updates daily). So what happens is that every week it checks the stats against the database and redraws the images. It’s been a week since then, and even though WIPUP is a lonely corner of the internet at the moment, the numbers just don’t lie.

Yep, that’s the number of updates I’ve done per week. Last week was special, with two updates from me, but on average I only have 1 a week. Obviously I’m not dogfooding enough or I simply don’t have time for it. You’ll notice a correlation between when those updates appear with when we have a (WIPUP) prefixed update on thinkMoult.

This one draws a slightly different picture – but nevertheless still corresponds with when I release updates. When updates are released we see a surge in views. Interestingly during the two weeks when during both I released an update we see a slight drop, which may suggest that my first update was a bit disappointing (on 04/01). Of course with the major release we see a jump up around 200 views, which is quite nice I must say.

For the sake of completeness we’ve got to include this little guy – the comments chart. I’ve been rather dormant and not commenting on anything (well, nobody else uses it!) and likewise nobody has commented on my stuff (which is perfectly understandable, folks!). However after that major release thing I’m happy we attracted a kudos and a comment by a user named Clarkey. "Sexy", he says. (Personally I think that’s kudos material)

Let’s see how badly this drops down in the next week.