The death of Spaces

Well…well…well. I have to say, it’s refreshing to see MS give up on something that’s done so well elsewhere. The demise of Spaces doesn’t leave any sort of bitterness with me and frankly I’m glad to use something a little more mainstream like…well…WordPress.

Heck, I might even start blogging again after a nearly two year hiatus…

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Hello world!

Welcome to WordPress.com. This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!

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Seems like forever…

Errr…humm.  <bzzzzt>  <click> Ummm… <bzzzt> Is this thing on? <hhhmmmmmm>

Man, I’d almost forgotten about this.  It’s been like forever since I’ve blogged here.  I kinda  hope no one is still subscribed to changes on this thing.

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Skyscrapers!

I can’t say I’ve ever really gotten into these, but this site is incredible.  It’s got over 26 thousand(!) drawings of skyscrapers, of which over 22 thousand are of existing (i.e. already built) ones.

You can restrict and order the buildings by country, city, size, and a myriad of other criteria.  The presentation is just fantastic and some of the buildings are awe inspiring.

Here’s one of my favorites:

It’s called the "Chicago Super Tower".  In this case it doesn’t actually exist but is from the creative mind of Eduardo Segundo Hernandez.

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Fascinating dandelion

Ooops!  I mean fasciation dandelion.  I found this in my lawn when I was pulling weeds:

The flower on the left is the fasciated dandelion, the one on the right is the normal dandelion.  The fasciated one had four flowerheads on a large, slightly flattened stem.  Pretty freaky! 

Initially I didn’t know the word "fasciation", so I queried for things like mutated, aberrant, misshapen, or strange.  The only link I hit for it was a frightening page about mutated dandelions at Three Mile Island!  I’m pretty sure (though now not positive) that there’s no radioactive contamination on my property, so I just couldn’t believe that this is what caused this strange dandelion growth.

Thank goodness I live next to a Master Gardener and she was able to clue me into the "fasciation" term to use to describe this.

What causes fasciation?  According to Wikipedia:

"Fasciation (also: cresting) can be caused by a mutation in the meristematic cells, bacterial infection, mite or insect attack, or chemical or mechanical damage.  Some plants may inherit the trait."

It’s also very rare, so I feel privledge that I actually found not one, but two plants exhibiting this type of growth.  Or maybe I should be scared?

Update:  Found an interesting page describing the causes of fasciation – http://www.coopext.colostate.edu/TRA/PLANTS/fascia.html

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Crazy looking cloud formation…

Got up the other day to head out the door and I saw this:

 

Once again, I took it with my camera phone so it doesn’t look as awe inspiring as truely was.  That being said, it was soooo wierd looking.  It looked like thick icing woozing over our mountain there.  Way up high there were those dot matrix-like clouds.  One of the coolest things about this particular scene was that they were trevelling at completely opposite directions.  Amazing…

Of course, I can’t just write something like this without going into some detail as to what these clouds are.  The ones up high are called "Altocumulus" – they form about 6500 to 16500 feet high.  No telling how high these were.

The thick, goopy looking cloud is some sort of Stratus cloud, though I imagine if you were unexpectedly at the peak of the mountain there you’d just call it fog.

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Google’s new charts feature

Google announced that they now support charting in their online spreadsheet app, so I figured I’d give it a try.  I’ve used Excel charts for years now so I am pretty familiar with how all this should work.  Though I find Excel charts can be sometimes a maze to get working, I’ve yet to be symied from being able to make the chart I need – it seems to be infinitely tweakable.

I’ve got several little spreadsheets I keep up on Google Docs & Spreadsheets.  One is an illustration on how Bode’s Law works.  I used the data from that to produce the following simple chart:

The charting feature here is pretty primitive in comparison to Excel, however it’s certainly sufficient to make simple charts like the one above.  The learning curve for creating these charts is much less than what it takes to learn Excels.  There are 5 basic types of charts that can be made: columns, bars, lines, pie, and scatter.  For each time there are from 2 (pie) to 5 (line) variations.  The one in the above Bode’s Law chart is a line chart, with just the dotted datapoints.

You can easily label the Y (Astronomical Units) and X (Planets) axis, and the overall chart title (Bode’s Law).  I couldn’t find a way to change their fonts at all – that seems to be fixed, as does their positions and orientations.

The legend (Actual and Bode’s number) comes from the data in the spreadsheet itself and can be placed either top, bottom, left, right, or not at all.  In the above case, it’s top.  Again, there doesn’t seem to be any way to tweak their fonts, orientation, precise positions or even color.

The actual values for the X and Y axis again come straight from the spreadsheet itself.  I really wanted to be able to tweak the orientation of the X values so that the planet names could be more readable, but this was not possible – or rather, I couldn’t figure it out.

It does let you save it’s charts as an image – which is pretty nice.  That’s how I got it here so easily.

Overall, I’d say that for simple charting, this feature is going to serve you well.  If you have any sort of sophisticated charting or if you really need to tweak the placement or fonts of things, then you should either wait (I’m pretty sure they’ll improve things here) or just continue to use Excel for now.

If you want to see this simple spreadsheet and chart, here’s a link…definitely NOT something you can do easily with Excel.

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