OpenVis Conf 2015 (and articles that I liked: April 2015)


Bocoup’s OpenVis conference is by far my favorite conference of all time. I was only able to go one day in 2014, but I participated fully in 2013 and 2015, and I’ve loved every session. Before I forget (which I did last year…) I am going to write down/copy over my notes here.

Languages and libraries to checkout:

Ideas, cool presentations, quotes etc:

  • “Treat user input as first-class streaming data” – Jeffrey Heer
  • “Scrollytelling” “Web is a story telling medium” – Jim Vallandingham (and here is how, and thought on that by Mike Bostock)
  • “Editing is not simplifying, but clarifying.” – Nigel Holms on “Context”
  • “Million, billion and trillion is confusing. It should be mln, billion, trillllllllllion.” – Holms
  • “Getting your web development environment ready = Mise en place” – Alyson Hurt

This conference is awesome and looking forward to next years!
Continue reading…

Articles that I liked: March 2015

I’ve been posting links that I liked at my tumblr blog. Below are the month worth of links:

An excellent and brilliant “Quotes on Design,” a creation by Mr. Chris Coyer:

… Loading quotes from “Quotes on Design” …

And other links that caught my eye.
Continue reading…

Updating old php scripts and learning PDO (PHP Data Object).

I started making websites in 1998. Gosh, in the internet years, that’s a forever ago. Remember Perl CGI and its cgi-bin folders? I have also written a lot of website using php along the way, and LAMP stack was sort of my thing for a while. But since I started to focus every efforts on front-end stuff, it have been a while since I looked at simple backends. Some of the sites that I created long ago desparaetly needs some updates. I have, in the past, thought or looked into converting sites to ruby on rails at one point, then looked into python, then thought hard about switching to some kind of static site generator engines (like jekyll or, and finally more recently, thought about converting them to MEAN stack. But, really, who has time for that? Lately, I am thinking about just upping my php level and “patcing” it right in php5. Or at least keep the database structure and convert the backends to be more like API or services, still using php.

This weekend, I have been sort of playing with one of my old project: Softball Stats, written by David Carlo. It is an awesome little project.

“SoftballStats is a collection of PHP4 scripts and a MySQL database that track the stats, games, players, and every play made in multiple softball/baseball seasons. SoftballStats also compiles statistics for each player.”

I could use this on my work co-ed softball team, or also use it for my son’s summer league. I started updating it on my github.

Found this excellent website:

Here ares some notes that I kept while updating some of scripts.

First thing is the way I have been connecting to the database.

I was doing this:

$link = mysql_connect("", "user", "password");
$result = mysql_query("SELECT * FROM player WHERE SeasonID = 2014");
$row = mysql_fetch_assoc($result);
echo $row['name'];

New (Well, new to me.) way to do this is using PHP Data Object

$pdo = new PDO(';dbname=database', 'user', 'password');
$result = $pdo->query("SELECT * FROM player WHERE SeasonID = 2014");
$row = $result->fetch(PDO::FETCH_ASSOC);
echo $row['name'];

Also, way I was doing mysql_num_rows($result) will now have to changed to

As with mysql_data_seek($result),

Simple enough? I was cruising along, then I encounter the error. Or more like, NOTHING. By default, error is a blank screen, as it turns out.

My php.ini was in /Applications/MAMP/bin/php/php5.5.10/conf/php.ini (Note that it is not MAMP/conf as you expect, it’s in /bin. you can find this infor using . and display_errors was in line 277.

Actually, you need to put those two lines in the php file:
ini_set('display_errors', '1');

Got some things fixed, but broke more things. Ugh. Still working on it. Ah, time. I wish I had more.
Continue reading…

Conflict resolution on git


Git is just amazing. Learning command line git is one of the best thing that has happen to me. I’ve been lucky to work with some talented guys from bocoup, and I’ve gotten to know quite a bit about it lately and just wanted to document things that I do when I encounter that dreaded (well, not THAT bad) “We can’t automatically merge this pull request.” message.

Also if you have not seen this Cheat Sheet do yourself a favor and take a look.

So, pull request can’t be merged. It’s because what you worked on (likely your branch) have some conflicts with what you are trying to merge, likely origin/master. this stack overflow answer was useful in understanding what I am doing.

My instinct was to git pull. But that is a bad idea (Quick! git reset origin/your-working-branch --hard to get what you have pushed to github!). When you encounter “can’t merge” message, git’s help suggest this:

Step 1: From your project repository, bring in the changes and test.

git fetch origin
git checkout -b your-working-branch origin/your-working-branch
git merge master

fetch then merge is much better than pull. Pull does too much under the hood (as my co-worker Tim says “too much magic”). But still, chance is that you may end up with WAAAAY too many conflicts and therefore very hard to resolve them. Perhaps there is even better idea:

git fetch --all (You may not have to do –all, but I am paranoid and this is my feels safe blanket, if you know what I mean. It’ll ensure you have the latest remotes.)
then git rebase origin/master

Ah, rebase. I had sort of hard time understanding concept of rebase, but perhaps git’s message explained it to me the best. It says “First, rewinding head to replay your work on top of it…” All your commits are “replayed” after changes that are already in master. People used words like “flattening the history” when explaining rebase, which was confusing to me. but “replay your work on top” explanation worked best for me.

When you rebase, or “replay your work on top,” you resolve conflict one by one, as it encounters conflict.

You may get a message like this:

Applying: My commit 1.
Using index info to reconstruct a base tree...
M	source/js/file.js
M	source/js/folder/file.js
Falling back to patching base and 3-way merge...
Auto-merging source/js/folder/file.js
CONFLICT (content): Merge conflict in source/js/folder/file.js
Auto-merging source/js/file.js
CONFLICT (content): Merge conflict in source/js/file.js
Failed to merge in the changes.
Patch failed at 0002 My commit 1.

When you have resolved this problem, run "git rebase --continue".
If you prefer to skip this patch, run "git rebase --skip" instead.
To check out the original branch and stop rebasing, run "git rebase --abort".

Nice to have that –abort option. Unlike merge or pull, you can just forget about the whole thing. Continue till you are done.

But because rebase changes the history, you may get message like this.

Your branch and 'origin/your-working-branch' have diverged,
and have 95 and 2 different commits each, respectively.
 (use "git pull" to merge the remote branch into yours)

If you push force that message will go away
git push origin your-working-branch --force

$ git push origin your-working-branch -f
Counting objects: 51, done.
Delta compression using up to 8 threads.
Compressing objects: 100% (12/12), done.
Writing objects: 100% (13/13), 1.56 KiB | 0 bytes/s, done.
Total 13 (delta 8), reused 0 (delta 0)
 + 368da98...4266772 your-working-branch -> your-working-branch (forced update)

When you push force you’ll see the previous sha and the new one, so if you mess up and want to revert, simply reset hard on that previous sha and push force again
they look like previous_sha…new_sha

so in this case
git reset 368da98 --hard

In case of “Oh Crap, I made a spelling mistake and I just pushed that.”

You could git reset HEAD~1 -- soft to undo last commit and re do it, OR,
change the file, then git commit --amend
Either way, since you already “Pushed” you need to push –force to make it work.

If your working directory is dirty (meaning you have conflicts) and you don’t have any work you need to save:

# Cleans the working directory.
git reset HEAD –hard

# Reset the branch to the remote (in this case your-working-branch.
git reset origin/your-working-branch –hard

Continue reading…

Open Vis Conf 2014 was amazing! Love that conference.

Good people at Bocoup puts out this kick-butt conference in Boston every year. I am lucky to have participated in both of those years.


I only was able to go to one day of it this year, but it was very interesting and inspiring as last years. I whole heartedly agree with Mike Bostock’s sentiment of “design is hard” and it was helpful for me to see his breakdown of why. Neat to know about “Fitts’s Law.” NYTimes git tool called “Preview” which takes screenshot of git commits are pretty cool. Thoughts on explanatory graphic vs exploratory graphic. He says don’t be afraid to fail. Try bad idea deliberator to evaluate it. He says “Javascript” is “One True Language.” Sam Selikoff’s js framework talk was very interesting and I need/can’t wait to see the code. Kennedy Eliot of WaPo and Jen Christiansen’s talk was very close to my field. Print publication with online challenges. Finding “Narrative” in data. Story telling is important. All good design/presentation is a god story. ICanHaz.js sounds really interesting. I need to check it out. All the other talks, I have notes to go over, but was great. Nice to see all the folks too. Those are my people. Very inspiring.

I’ve been posting links that I liked at Posterous (RIP) and then my tumblr blog. Here are the week worth of Articles that I liked: Friday, May 9, 2014:

My talk from css meetup: Vector-based Responsive Web Design


I had a great time talking at April 22, 2014 Cascade Bos meetup. My talk was titled: Embedded web fonts, Icon fonts and SVG – Vector-based Responsive Web Design using CSS.

Coincidentally, the same day, Chris Coyer of CSS-Tricks have published a blog post titled: Inline SVG vs Icon Fonts [CAGEMATCH].

His conclusion is very similar to my conclusion but better!

If you can go IE 9+ / Android 3+, inline SVG is better at pretty much everything than icon fonts. If you need the deeper browser support, I feel like an inline SVG fallback would be too big of a pain to be worth it.

Definitely worth a read if you are interested in this topic.

Continue reading…

Got Galaxy S5 with Android KitKat 4.4


I know the photo is terrible, but I wanted to capture the screen size. It is large enough to view any responsive websites without trouble while still fitting in my pocket.

Did it. I have been an iPhone user for a while, but switched to Android. Got myself an Galaxy S5, and like it alot. I noticed that there are bunch of apps out there, perhaps more choices, but quality seems to vary a bit. Looks like you need to be more selective what you choose to use. So far, the transitions were very smooth. I was using Google for most of my stuff — like gmail, contact, google calendar etc — anyway, so that was very simple. And Dropbox integration was great. It is definitely more like computer than phone, and I like it. Samsung Health app have replaced my (lost) fitbit and Sleep as Android app seems fine replacement for SleepCycle. Al the other apps that I was using on iPhone, like MLB At Bat, Waze, FoodSpotting, Wunderlist, Social Media apps (facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Foursquare, Instagram), Evernote, OpenTable, Fantasy Baseball apps (Yahoo, CBS and ESPN) all have native android native versions. Google Play Books are as good as iBooks, and iCloud/Find iPhone capability can be (seems to be, anyway) found on Android Device Manager.

Couple of memos:

  • Lost my “Alternative Password” once already. To reset it, you just deregister all if your finger prints, and when you strat the process over, it will ask you to set alternative password.
  • I was recommended to check out Google Now, Keep, & Newsstand. All services that I was not familier with, but it looks interesting. Especially Keep.
  • Chromecast and its $35 price tag is really enticing.
  • A Tech friend, and Google guy, recommended following utility stuffs for me: Advanced Task Killer is good for keeping on top of background processes, ES File Explorer is a good general purpose file manager.
  • I am looking for pod catcher. He recommended AntennaPod, but it looks a bit too basic… Trying out Pocket Casts, (not free) but liking it so far.
  • MBTA Bus stuff, I was using Catch the Bus on iPhone, just because it was one of the first one out and did its job but since there are bunch of free ones now I am trying out YourBus MBTA. It is pretty good and seems accurate.

I’ve been posting links that I liked at Posterous (RIP) and then my tumblr blog. Here are the week worth of links:

Random front end tips and tricks

I am learning tons this week. Very exciting. Working with smart people of Bocoup, learning/picking up tricks and tips on how to do many little “a-ha, that’s how you do it” things.

Here is my notes:

  • With Editor Config, you can create a project specific configfiles for your text editor of your choice. I am using sublime, and there is a package for that. Now we have a file on the project home that specify that we use tab for indentation for our project — that’s our style that we agreed on, and we are keeping it consistent — but I can start using two spaces for my other projects with this.
  • Bower is powerful. It’s managed by Twitter. Their stock is now at $40. Time to buy?
  • This gist by Matt Surabian is awesome. If you put it in your .bash_profile, your terminal shows your branch and with a * star if there is a change that needs commits. I use terminal with white backgroudn so I change like 38 to

    echo " on "$PURPLE$branch$dirty

    If you don’t want new line, get rid of \n from line 41.

  • I am learning about require js and Asynchronous Module Definition (AMD) API (Boy, do I have a lot to learn) but here are some example of diffrent types of AMD flavors by Tim Branyen and also, example of how to use it on multi page. I think I will start with Anonymous CJS style and see how it goes from here.

I’ve been posting links that I liked at Posterous (RIP) and then my tumblr blog. Here are the week worth of links: