Category: DataViz Assignments

Assignment #5


The SparkFun RedBot Sensor – Wheel Encoder could potentially help investigative journalists significantly when they are out in the field reporting. At times,investigative reporting may take some maneuvering mentally and physically, with the Wheel Encoder sensor at least the physical aspect could get easier.

The Sensor works by detecting the movement of the wheels so that the operator can know where the robot is. This is done through the movement of small teeth that is connected to a motor, which is reflected off of infrared light, according to By measuring the light, the operator can tell how far away the robot is and how fast the wheels on the robot are turning. Wires on the robot connected back to the robot chassis is how this information is shared to the user.

These robots can have cameras or video recorders on them and can be sent inside a building, office, parking lot or facility to get information that journalists would not be able to get otherwise, a sort of candid camera approach. An easier operation of the robots and being able to track them more efficiently will help shed light on people, organizations, and companies that may not always be doing the right thing. Thus, when on these investigative searches it is imperative to know where the robot is at all times as to not alert someone or get caught. By using this it can make investigative reporting more efficient and really give the journalist and the people a more in-depth truth about the issue at hand.


Assignment 4

In the future, if drones are more widely permitted. I think that media outlets will use drones to help accurately report the news. Especially breaking news such as fires and high-speed chases. Other media outlets such as ones for entertainment may use drones to catch celebrities in compromising situations or in ways that they would not be able to catch them if they just had a videographer with a camera. This can increase the sensationalism around celebrities and help the tabloid industry immensely and extend the 24-hour media cycle. Good for them and the fans, but bad for the rich and famous who are seeking privacy.

Overall, if used ethically, I think that drones can be good for the industry. However, if used with no code of ethics than it could create distrust between the people and journalists. If abused, it can lead to a severe invasion of privacy and a number of lawsuits.

Edward McFarland – Final PDR

Check and Slogan


Secret Stats will be brought into the sports market for journalist as well as collegiate and professional teams. Secret Stats is designed to create the most recent statistical data for individual players and teams as a whole. Though teams and the national leagues already do that, as a journalist sometimes the simplest stats are the hardest to find.

Therefore, Secret Stats will provide anyone who is a member with the stats they need to write a great story or produce a great show. The reason a reporter and/or a writer would want those stats is to make their story more appealing to the reader or viewer.

A journalist could easily look these questions up or crunch the numbers themselves, but when you consider a journalist who is writing with a deadline they have to meet, they don’t have time to thoroughly look up stats. Therefore, creating a company that has the ability to provide those stats within a minute would be a great contribution in the field of sports journalism.

An example of the questions would be:

  1. How many 60 point games did Kobe have?
  2. What was Kobe’s field goal percentage in his 60plus point games?
  3. How much Michael Gbinije (SU Player) is averaging during March Madness?
  4. How many points have Stephen Curry averaged against the Bulls?

Link to Final PDR: Secret Stats

When Journalism Students get access to the Microsoft HoloLens… (Assignment 2)

During the Week 2 lab, I was able to use the Microsoft HoloLens headset. We were some of the first students on campus to use the product because the headset was recently ordered and received in early April. This was one of the first times I had experienced augmented reality, other than with the Oculus Rift headset from Week 1’s lab, and it was amazing. In our first class we watched an advertisement video about the HoloLens, and after viewing the video, I was sold. Unlike many other “futuristic” technologies being created today, the HoloLens can do pretty much everything it’s advertised to do.

While using the HoloLens I was able to virtually place 3-D objects in the innovation lab. This was an interesting feature, and when using it I immediately thought of it being useful for designers who could be able to design their products digitally with the HoloLens. I think the best part about the HoloLens is that since it’s a Microsoft product, the interface is very easy to use, especially since I’m a PC user. I was able to watch YouTube videos, and go to different websites, just as a I would on my PC laptop.

Using the gestures made me flashback to scenes in the Iron Man movies when Tony Stark would gesture with his home computer system. Using the HoloLens is actually very similar to how the Jarvis technology was portrayed in the movie, especially in that you can view and change your designs virtually. Of course, it’s not as advanced as it is portrayed in the movie, but it seems we are getting close to technology similar to what was portrayed in the movie in the next few years. I can’t wait to see the new advancements as they develop in the future. iron man image

The only negative to this technology is the bulkiness of the headset but I’m sure with time and work, it will be scaled down to a more sleek design.

My career goals aren’t extremely clear for me yet, but as a sophomore dual Geography and Television major, I’m interested in creating content that will provide the world with information about the problems in the world, specifically in urban development. With this is mind, I feel the options with my career and the HoloLens are endless. In my geography courses we discuss different environmental problems and development issues everyday, and with the HoloLens we open up a new way of viewing a problem visually, which promotes a more creative outlook on problem solving.

Wearing the HoloLens is like having access to your own personal projecting device, but you’re projecting screen is anywhere! This provides a different mode of viewing television/video content. I can imagine a new industry of interactive media created for the HoloLens that will create a new experience for an audience.


Maxine Williams

Assignment 2: Post a blog entry about what you experienced with HoloLens. How do you think augmented and “mixed” reality might affect your career in the future?

Assignment #1

Throughout the years, I have observed in a number of science fiction movies the idea of living on another planet and or the moon. Most recently, I heard that there was a sign up for people to start a community on the moon, under the condition that they had to stay forever. I am not sure how true that rumor was, but if so I believe that it is a wild phenomenon that will change the way we think of space forever. I know personally I would never sign up or condone anyone signing up because it is permanent. Other reports are saying that it will be possible in the next ten years, which is scarily close to no longer fiction, but reality.

Of most interest to me are drones and the heights and depth they can reach and see. I would love to actually be able to use one to surveillance the campus, even if it is just a small part of the campus for my project.

Assignment #1: Edward McFarland Jr.

There is a food grading system called the NuVal Nutritional Grading System. The scoring system was created by doctors across the country in an effort to help grocery shoppers make healthier decisions in the grocery store. The scoring system calculates the ingredients from the “nutritional facts” on the back of food items and gives it a score of 1 to 100, with 100 being the healthiest. Shoppers can see the score on the shelf price tags.

I want to create a “calculating space” for the scoring system. The scoring system is only in 1200 stores across the country, it’s in a few stores in Syracuse. Because the scoring system is not in every store, creating a space to calculate food items online can expand the use of the NuVal Scoring System.

The “calculating space” effectiveness will be predicated on shoppers who don’t have NuVal in their local grocery store. This space will give shoppers the ability to use NuVal online in two ways, despite not having it in their local supermarket.

Example 1: The calculating space can allow shoppers to type in the food product (i.e.) chocolate milk, chips, cake mix, cereal, frozen chicken…etc and then type in the “nutritional facts” on the back (i.e.) Calcium 17% ; Saturated Fat 5%; Potassium 10%; Sugar 4%…etc. After those two steps, shoppers can then hit submit and a NuVal generator can give them a score of their food product. This will give shoppers an idea of how healthy their food item it is.

OR Example 2: Shoppers can still type in the food product; however, instead of typing in the ingredients they can take a picture of the “nutritional facts” and the NuVal generator will scan it and generate a score for the shoppers’ food item.

I believe this can be easy and effective to use for shoppers on either mobile or tablet devices. I will track how long shoppers stayed on the “calculating space”; if they took a picture of the “nutritional facts” or typed it in; and if the shoppers completed the calculation process for their food items.

Assignment8–NYS Primary Consumption of Energy by Fuel Type

Propose your Final Project

Your final project is due on Thursday, April 27, but I want to make sure you’re working on it starting now. The first step is to write up a proposal, which will make up 10% of your final project’s grade.

As a reminder, your final project must use use 3 dataviz tools we covered in class, or others you find, to tell a story. At least one of those tools must involve using open source code that you upload to the class server. Be sure to include the following in your proposal:

  • A few paragraphs describing the story you hope to tell.
  • What data do you need to acquire and analyze to tell this story?
  • Where / how might you acquire this data?
  • What tools are you thinking of using?
  • What are some of the unknowns that you need to flesh out?
  • How might things go wrong, and if so, what’s your plan B?

Proposal Due Date: Thursday, April 6. But if you complete it by Thursday, you will receive 2 points of extra credit on your final grade and also get feedback from a data journalist who is visiting on Thursday.

Final Project Due Date: April 27.

Assignment 6: NVD3 Charts

NVD3, Assignment 6

Create an NVD3 chart using data you collect on your own. Convert the data to the JSON format, then put it into a chart that you choose. Upload that chart’s code to the server and embed it.

Due: Tuesday, April 6.

Assignment 7: Searchable, Sortable Data Tables

Searchable, Sortable Tables

Note: this tutorial borrows heavily from an ONA training session given by Chris Keller, news app developer at Southern California Public Radio. See his Tabletop.js tutorial for more info. Thanks for paving the way, Chris!

Learning Objective: The purpose of this exercise is not to turn you into a master coder, or even to become a master at using Tabletop.js. It is intended to help you see the power of using open-source code for your own reporting and storytelling projects. You will use code from an open source repository (in Github) and make a few minor configurations to create a compelling interactive experience. In the process, you will learn to not be afraid to tinker with code you find in the future.

What you need:

  • A modern Web browser, such as Firefox or Chrome.
  • An unzipping program (preinstalled on Macs).
  • A Google account.
  • Data in a spreadsheet format (Excel, CSV, etc.), or in Google Docs.
  • A text editor, like TextWrangler (installed on most Macs).
  • An FTP program, like Cyberduck.

But first – what is Tabletop, and why should I care?
Tabletop.js allows developers to easily create interactive ways to display information that is stored in a Google Spreadsheet. Anything that is added or changed in the spreadsheet automatically gets reflected in the news application configured using Tabletop. The library was released in February 2012 thanks to work by WNYC and Balance Media.

Problem: You have a big data set, such as a spreadsheet. You want to make it available to readers to search, sort and filter on their own without requiring them to download a spreadsheet or leave your Web site.

Solution: Put the data in Google Docs. Use Tabletop.js and code configured by Chris Keller (news applications developer at KPCC Southern California Public Radio) to display it on your site.

See some Tabletop examples by news organizations:

Now, let’s make our sortable, searchable table.

1. Get Tabletop.js.

  • Go to and click the Download Zip button on the lower right. Unzip the downloaded file (simply double click on Mac).
  • Open the folder, and you will see a second zipped file. Double-click it to unzip it as well.
  • Move entire set of unzipped folders to your desktop.

2. Go to this Google doc and create your own copy:

Choose File > Make a Copy to create your own copy (you need to sign in to Google first to do this).

3. Make your copy of the Google spreadsheet accessible to the public.

  • Click Share button at upper right.
  • Click “Change” next to Private.
  • Click Done button.
  • Check “Public on the Web,” then Save, then Done.
  • Go to File > Publish to the Web.
  • Check “Automatically republish,” then Start Publishing.
  • Copy the URL in Start Publishing dialog and paste into a new text file. Then click Close.

4. Isolate the Google spreadsheets “key” in the URL


  • Copy the key to your clipboard.
  • Go to the Tabletop folders you unzipped and open the Scripts folder. Open tabletop-feed.js in a text editor.
  • At line 6, find the key already there in the single quote marks after initializeTabletopObject, and replace it with your key so it looks similar to this:


5. Assign the columns you want to appear

  • Scroll down until you see “var tableColumns” at around line 28. You will see something like this:

{‘mDataProp’: ‘name’, ‘sTitle’: ‘Name’, ‘sClass’: ‘center’}

  • Go back to Google Docs and find the columns you want to display. Take note of the exact titles of each column and remove the upper cases, and spaces. For example, the column header Chapter GPA Spring 2013 should be changed to chaptergpaspring2013.
  • In the second and third lines starting with mDataProp, replace the names inside the single quotes that appear first with the new names.
  • Save your changes and close the text file.

6. Check out your sortable, searchable spreadsheet!

7. Assigment 7: Make your own table and publish it

Using what you learned above, you can create a searchable, sortable data table with new data for a story you want to tell.

Put your own data into the Google Doc and modify the HTML file to display the columns. Upload the files to the class server and embed the table in your blog post along with a short story explaining the data.

Due: Thursday, Feb. 18