United States Topography

I downloaded a shapefile of North American topographical contours a while ago, and never spent much time with it until recently, when I noticed there are some really fascinating subsets of the United States.

For reference, the file comes from this page, and contains contours at 100-meter resolution. That’s actually not very detailed if you’re looking at a county or a city, but for an area this large with a pretty wide range in elevation, it’s plenty to get the big idea.

Speaking of big idea, here’s the full layer, with the color scale ranging from blue at the low end to red at the highest elevations:

Might as well be honest – I could look at this map for hours and not get bored.


Okay, big deal – flat in the east and south, mountains in the west, right? Stay with me…

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Presenting Firebase to TriadJS

This past Thursday I had the opportunity to present to the TriadJS meetup group about rapid application development with Firebase.

I don’t do a ton of pure web development, but I like when I get to work on a project where I can explore a new tool, and this presentation allowed me to summarize the pros and cons that I found while working on the social media analysis dashboard that I’ve written about as a case study.

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Shiny Versus What, Exactly?

When the early versions of Shiny were released in 2012, my career changed forever.

I’m not exaggerating. Shiny generalized data analysis – instead of tweaking code and parameters and plots every time a client needed to see a slight variation of existing output, I could build a user interface that would produce the same analysis for ANY inputs.

The researcher could check for themselves, without needing a round trip back to me. We could move faster, and more effectively.

Five years late, Shiny has no equal.

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