Thursday, January 31, 2008

POLITICSHYPE: Thematic Campaign Mapping

With all the noise about the American Presidential campaign in the media, it can be hard to discern longer-term patterns. The various talking heads are always ready to supply the soft-brained with the sound bite or talking point of the moment (and there is no shortage of soft-brained people in this country).

However, for those interested in a geographic breakdown of where the candidates have been spending their time, the New York Times Election Guide has put together a database of campaign events. That's obviously quite a bit of work in and of itself, but they've presented this information in an Adobe Flash GIS application. It's really quite interesting to see where the candidates pressed the most flesh and kissed the most babies.

This should only get better as the campaign continues... but what's with Iowa? They sure seem to be enjoying a whole lot of attention so far!

If you appreciate this type of data visualization, you'll definitely be interested in the Atlas of Cancer Mortality in the United States. More hype on that later.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

SPORTSHYPE: Ski-Gliding The Eiger

From the "don't try this at home" department...

Ski-gliding is the newest extreme sport to grab my attention. It makes perfect sense: think paragliding combined with kite surfing. Sounds pretty interesting, no?

Someone apparently got it into his or her head to try this on the Eiger, which is one of the most dangerous mountains in the Swiss Alps (if not the world). This video shows what their ride down the 13,000 foot/3,970 meter mountain was like.

The video grabs your attention when it starts off, but doesn't get really hairy until the part where the skiier goes flying off the ridge - right into 6,000 feet of thin air (one minute in). Props!

There is more tomfoolery to be seen below - a bunch of stoners jumping off various mountains and cliffs in the Alps, including the Eiger, while wearing wing suits. Kind of like the Wile E. Coyote cartoon.

DEVICEHYPE: DataHand Ergonomic "Keyboard"

Recently it was brought to my attention that there are a wide variety of ergonomic keyboards on the market. I checked out some of what's out there and came across the DataHand device.

Included in this article are a couple of pictures of their product, but I'll let their design philosophy/manifesto speak for itself, mostly; below are a couple of good points they made).
Over recent years, several keyboard manufacturers have developed modestly improved keyboard concepts based around the traditional flat keyboard key layout. They are called "ergonomic" keyboards, even though they are based around an ergonomically-challenged, old-fashioned key layout left over from the era of mechanical typewriters—long before the idea of ergonomics entered the English language.

The flat keyboard was designed to be intentionally less productive. During the era of the mechanical typewriter, workers had to be slowed down to prevent the clashing of keys on old-fashioned mechanical typewriters. Tangled key levers was the biggest barrier to productivity at the time. Intentionally retarded speed was the solution.

Repetitive stress injuries (RSI), particularly carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), now strike an estimated 185,000 U.S. companies each year. These cases amount to more than half of the occupational illnesses in the United States. They are the leading cause of lost workdays each year. On average in the United States, a carpal tunnel syndrome claim costs 25 lost work days and $22-33,000 in both medical costs and the cost of the lost worktime.

An economic value is placed on the issue by citing $15-18 billion annual Workers' Compensation costs for musculoskeletal disability. This is one-third of all Workers' Compensation expenditures.
$700 and it's yours. Some people have taken note of this product and called it "scary". Some people are morons!

N.B. Neither the author nor the Daily Hype has any relationship with DataHand. We just think it's cool.

Monday, January 7, 2008

ANIMALHYPE: Swimming With Sharks

These Kiwis are crazy (SPQK)... some blokes were diving off of Wellington when they noticed a ~4 meter great white shark (carcharodon carcharias) circling their boat. Did they hightail it out of there? No, they took pictures of it. From underwater. With no cage (to the right you'll see one of them).

Hopefully this will dispel the myth that these creatures are man-eaters. To be sure, if you're in the water with one and it decides to take a bite out of you, you're going to be out of luck - and a few pints low on blood - but there's really no truth to the killer shark hype.

However, I'm still not getting in the water with a great white without some form of protection. Nowadays you can get into a plexiglass shark cage, which turns completely transparent once it's underwater.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

TRAVELHYPE: Buzzed by Jumbo Jets

If you've ever thought you lived too close to an airport, and/or have a thirst for uncommon adventures, then check this out. In St. Maarten (in the Netherlands Antilles), the publicly-accessible Maho Beach lies just a few meters from the end of the Princess Juliana International Airport runway (see for yourself on the satellite photo). That fact, combined with the relatively short length of the runway itself, results in very low passes over the beach right before landing.

Nevertheless, or perhaps because of that fact, this beach has become a somewhat popular destination for people who like to watch airplanes in action. KLM and Air France serve this airport with the Boeing 747 and Airbus A340, respectively, and many other airlines fly widebodies into TNCM (or SXM, as it's known to tourists) as well. Occasionally they come in a little low and nearly kill some people, however, as seen in this video:

A little detective work suggests that this video was shot on 2006-07-02, and depicts the much-lower-than-usual landing of a KLM B747-400 registered PH-BFG (still pictures of this event are on

Here's another view of this remarkable landing, as seen from the cockpit. This one appears to be more normal:

Then there are the takeoffs, when those with something to prove attempt to hang on to the fence just behind the aircraft while they're running their engines at full throttle!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

NEWYEARHYPE: Best of British!

I believe our British cousins really know how to ring in the New Year. Absolutely awesome!