Do You Know What FPV Drones Are?

FPV drones are this amazing new DIY technology that you can use to build and fly drones as if you were in inside the drone itself. It's almost as if you are flying yourself. It's really amazing as you can see from this clip below.

These are all shots from my own personal flights. There is a whole subculture of people who go out and race or just fly these RC drones throughout the entire world. For me, it's the perfect combination of DIY technology, creative expression with photography and a worldwide community.

Of course, since I'm obsessed with FPV drones I've set up a DIY website just to talk about them. If you want to find out more about FPV drones check out my new website To start to help more people get into this hobby, I've put some guides and shopping lists together.

I've also started a blog about FPV drones on this site where you can see all the trouble I've been getting into with this new hobby. Come on over, water's great!

The Business

On March 6, 2008 Steve Jobs announced the App Store, a platform where developers could sell software directly to customers without worrying about maintaining a distribution platform. For the many geeks like me who were obsessed with the iPhone, this news was electrifying.

That year, masses of geeks would drop their day jobs to become indy app developers. Many would fail, some would get rich and a few would change the world. Continue Reading

Code Projects

US Metropolitan Populations

This is my first D3 visualization. You get a dropbox with a list of major metropolitan areas. When you select an item the data table and bar graph will adjust to show the population for the area.

Click here to see the Metro Population Viz


datapointsr is an R package that makes it a little bit easier to QC and work on statistical summary tables. datapointsr acts as a wrapper for sqldf and reshape and it also puts statistical tables into a standard format(categories, variables, values). The idea is that it will be easier to build reusable functions later on if I can assume that data will be in this format.

I'm moving toward making this work more like the dplyr package with a emphasis on verbs.

You can install datapointsr from Github using the devtools package like this:


Here is an example of how to use datapointsr. First, make a dataset to work on. Below I summarized the built-in quakes dataset.

quakes_summary <- 
    quakes %>% 
    group_by(stations) %>% 
    summarise(mag_mean = mean(mag),
              mag_sd = sd(mag),
              depth_mean = mean(depth),
              depth_sd = sd(depth))

quakes_summary %>% head()

stations mag_mean    mag_sd depth_mean depth_sd
    <int>    <dbl>     <dbl>      <dbl>    <dbl>
1       10 4.230000 0.1894591   345.5000 199.3979
2       11 4.228571 0.1843048   338.2857 214.3564
3       12 4.196000 0.2091252   364.4000 201.9051
4       13 4.333333 0.2008316   416.2381 207.2462
5       14 4.276923 0.2019139   312.1282 214.2942
6       15 4.282353 0.1930153   313.4706 188.8933

To use datapointsr, figure out which variables will act as categories and which variables will act as measure values. Since I grouped by stations I can treat it as a category while all the other columns look like measures; so I will use datapoints to make a long dataset with stations.

quakes_summary %>% 
    datapoints(1) %>% 

stations Variable    Value
1       10 mag_mean 4.230000
2       11 mag_mean 4.228571
3       12 mag_mean 4.196000
4       13 mag_mean 4.333333
5       14 mag_mean 4.276923
6       15 mag_mean 4.282353

This is the datapoints format: categories followed by variable name and then the value from the column. This makes it really easy to do an exact 1:1 match for QC.

Use filter_sql to look up values with SQL syntax:

quakes_summary %>% 
    datapoints(1) %>% 
    filter_sql("stations IN (10,43) AND Variable = 'mag_sd'")

stations Variable     Value
1       10   mag_sd 0.1894591
2       43   mag_sd 0.2143223

There is also a wide() function that can be used to switch back to wide format. You can see the latest on DataPoints here.

Web Chart Library

In an effort to learn D3 more deeply I have started to create my own D3 based charting library based on the guidance that Mike Bostock offers in Towards Reusable Charts. I realize that there are already plenty of simple D3 based alternatives like Vega and Vega-Lite and I would probably still use these until I'm more confident with D3; but I want to move to a place where I can really build custom experiences for the web. Raw D3 is really the only way to do that.

You can follow this project on GitHub <- I need to find some time to work on this more, but I have a good pattern down I hope.

Node Server Example

I've been working through the book The Node Beginner Book and this is the main example. At some point this example will turn into a web backend to support data visualization, but the main reason I want to learn node.js is that I want a general purpose programming language and with node javascript is as good as any for that purpose. Plus, it has the added benefit of making it easier to juice up my website (once I master Javascript that is.)

You can look at this node server example here.

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