Best Things This Year (2014)

What I like about 2014 was that it was more about things I built, rather than found and enjoyed.

1. Lineage
How do you browse 250 years of genealogical data? My Aunt Peggy has been doing genealogical research for decades and I created a system to view this data and show family relationships. I demoed Lineage at the February Philly JS Dev Meetup and at the Digital Analytics Association Symposium in October.

Lineage screen shot
Lineage screen shot

2. Public Speaking
I did more public speaking this year, mostly talking about data visualization, AngularJS, and some of my projects, including Lineage and the Bulldog Budget.
Data Visualization and Expression at the Digital Analytics Association Symposium
Data Expression with D3 at the Philly Javascript Meetup
14 Slides on ng-repeat at Angular Philly
How the !@#$ and I Going to Upgrade to Angular 2.0? at Angular Philly

Digital Analytics Association Symposium
Digital Analytics Association Symposium

3. Kids Morning Adventure
I productized the morning routine I invented for getting my kids ready for school. Morning Adventure gamifies the process, motivating kids to be more independent and makes sure we get to school on time. I can’t imagine life without it now.

Kids Morning Adventure
Kids Morning Adventure

4. David Lynch
I got to see David Lynch give a talk at the opening of his art exhibit at PAFA.

David Lynch
David Lynch

4.1 More
I also got to see Biz Stone, a Peregrine Falcon, and this lady who skied to PATCO on a snowy day.

5. Books I read this year
The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman
Thank You Eliot Rosewater by Kurt Vonnegut
Diamond Age by Neal Stephensen
Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut
Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahnemann
Ingenius by Jason Fagone
All the World is Lost by Patrick Hipp
Eloquent Javascript by Marijn Haverbeke
A Feast for Crows by George RR Martin
A Dance with Dragons by George RR Martin

6. Movies / TV
This year I watched and enjoyed
True Detective
The Lego Movie
House of Cards
Regular Show
Wolf of Wall Street
Django Unchained

7. Space Bounce Game
A bunch of us at RJMetrics volunteer to spend time mentoring 8th graders from Philadelphia schools. We built Space Bounce with the kids during our fall session. It uses a great javascript library for making HTML5 games called Phaser.

Space Bounce
Space Bounce

8. The Report Builder
I spent 2014 at RJMetrics writing the best chart builder in the universe. I’m super proud of what we accomplished and how much we improved the experience of building charts.

RJMetrics Report Builder
RJMetrics Report Builder

9. Viz War @ Philly Tech Week
My colleague, Austin Lopez, and I participated in Philly Tech Week’s Data Viz War and we won Best Pro Team for our NCAA tournament visualization.

NCAA 2014 Dendrogram
NCAA 2014 Dendrogram

10. Monument Valley
I didn’t play too many new games this year, but I enjoyed Monument Valley with Sasha and Owen. You help guide Ida through a beautiful, Escheresque world. It reminded me a lot of Sword and Sworcery.

Monument Valley
Monument Valley

Read about my previous years
Best Things This Year (2013)
Best Things This Year (2012)
Best Things This Year (2011)

Best Things this Year (2011)

Here are some best things I’ve come across this year. Not all are new, or even new to me, but they kicked ass in 2011

1. Kids Dungeon Adventure – A floortop RPG for pre-school age kids and their geeky parent(s). What started out as a little game with my daughter grew into a full fledged eproduct and side business. This project was life changing for me.

2. Notepadd++ – I used the same text editor for Windows for at least 11 years, Editpad. I finally decided to try Notepadd++ and was blown away by how much more I liked it. Color coding for almost any language and built in FTP are enough right there. Love it. Side note: Editpad was introduced to me by a college friend, Jonathan Meyer, who passed away soon after college. I often think about how much he’d love what is going on with the Internet over the last 10 years.

3. HTML5 – Have you seen how fast modern browsers can draw on an HTML5 canvas? Mobile browsers still need work, though.

4. Garageband for the iPad – I love the iLife Garageband, but the iPad version is amazing and portable. Check out the theme song I recorded for Rock the Animals with Sasha. At this point the song is a bigger hit than the game.

5. Thingiverse – I built a Makerbot Thing-o-Matic at work and have been obsessed with finding a use for it other than making crappy bottle openers.

6. Sword and Sworcery – Best iOS game of the year. It’s King’s Quest meets Punch Out while having coffee with David Lynch. Jim Guthrie’s music on it is amazing (listen).

7. Honoro Vera Garnacha – Best new wine I tried all year. It’s Spanish and only $8.99.

Honoro Vera Garnacha - Best new wine I tried this year
Honoro Vera Garnacha - Best new wine I tried this year

8. Movies – I don’t think I saw any new releases in 2011, but here are all the movies I liked that I saw this year in no particular order: The Kids are Alright, Blue Valentine, The Social Network, Kung Fu Panda, Catfish, Toy Story 3, The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys, Scot Pilgrim vs. the World, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Shutter Island.