Hire me if you need:
Development Blog
Using PHP, jQuery, and Highcharts to create a custom poll for your website
Here is a quick little custom poll I cooked up over the weekend which uses Highcharts Javascript charting library to display the results, and PHP and jQuery to do the work. The setup is easy, then edit your css and JS to customize the poll as you wish.

I have posted the code for this on GitHub here: https://github.com/benheb/Open-Poll
  • Setup a MySQL database to have one row and x number of columns (however many questions your poll will have).
  • Configure updatePoll.php with database connection details.
  • Include in your index.html file all necessary Javascript (see README).
  • Load in browser, customize, contribute!
Below is a demo of the poll. The boxes can be replaced as you wish, or even turned into a form as with a standard poll. The onClick effect is handled by jQuery's animate event.

Poll: What is your favorite color?

Please feel free to contribute, make suggestions, and otherwise share what you come up with!
Jonathan's Card - A social experiment
I first stumbled across Jonathan's Card this passed Saturday, and like many I had my doubts. Jonathan's Card is a shared Starbucks card that anyone can use or reload by downloading the bar code to their cell phone.

Turns out, it totally works. And even after adding 5,000+ followers since I began tracking the transactions Saturday night it still seems to be working.

Maybe the greatest thing about this project is that Jonathan provided a developer API, so geeks like me could mess around with the endless stream of data. While I am still pushing him to add geographic data (store locations), and provide a JSONP format of the data (allowing live data stream more easily), I did have some fun using RaphaelJS to come up with this graph of the changing balance of the card over the last three hours.

Scroll over the graph to see the change in balance.

You can follow Jonathan's Card on Twitter here: @jonathanscard and try it out for yourself. Just be sure to pay it forward!

Google+: I want in!
It is old news by now that Google has finally unveiled their much anticipated social network, Google Plus. That being said, most of us are still wondering where it is exactly.

Google has opted to ramp things up slowly by starting with an "invite only" approach to the new service. This is decidedly frustrating news for those of us who remain locked out, but admittedly a good way to keep the excitement and appeal of Google+ carrying on long past opening day, an a logistically sound tactic as well. Let's just hope it does not take three years to be open to the general public as gmail did some years ago.

In the mean time, here is what you can do to assure yourself a place in line. Visit the project site and sign up with Google to stay informed. It appears as though the Google+ users have even maxed out on the invites they were provided... so until Google decides to open things up a bit more, all we can do is wait.

I look forward to exploring this new service as from what I have read it looks to have several nice features. Google Buzz was no doubt a bust, and my guess is Plus could only have gone up from there. While the Circles get me least excited, the Hangout with group video chat seems like a long awaited capability. Time will tell!
Exploring TileMill
I love maps for their ability to portray information in a unique and often compelling way, which is why I got excited when I came across TileMill.

TileMill, an open source web GIS application created by Development Seed built to give cartographers and other map geeks like me a chance to create clean maps of awesome data online.

When it comes to installing TileMill, make sure you follow the directions verbatim. Anyone who has installed software on Linux knows how important dependencies are and this software requires quite a few. I installed on Suse 11.2 which is not covered in their installation guide, but success was eventually had. You can pretty much follow their Ubuntu directions, but sometimes you have to look a little harder for the required dependencies. If you are struggling to find the libboost files they require, take a look at this link, it should help!

When all is installed correctly, things get fun. Start TileMill (./TileMill) then navigate to the specified portal to enter the user interface. If you are not won over yet, you will be now. Clean, clear, and easy to use. After creating a new project, mess around with their clever Code Editor (basically CSS) and make a great looking map in just minutes!

While they provide a great source of layers (boundaries, rivers, roads, etc) I decided to take it a bit further and plug in some of my own data for mapping. I visited openpv.nrel.gov and downloaded a dataset on Colorado solar photovoltaic installs. If you are looking to play around with some data this is a great source to do so with over 100,000 records to choose from and coordinates provided for each install. Additionally, it is great to be able to use open data on an open source mapping platform, and have the ability to map personal datasets in a way not available on the Open PV Project site.

Here is a quick screen shot of the mapped data points, as well as an example of the styling used to create them. At the time of this download, OPV had 1,111 PV installations in Colorado.

pv_installs_style denver_map1

Also, here is an image of the map zoomed out showing some of the customization available in creating maps in TileMill.