Color palette generator

In the never-ending quest to find the perfect color scheme for any given situation at any given moment, Coolors is another set of tools to find the right shades for your application. The twist is that there’s a generator that shows you schemes based on inputs, such as a certain hue or a photograph. There is also a list of trending palettes.

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A color tool for accessible schemes

Leonardo is an open source project from Adobe that helps you pick accessible colors. There’s a JavaScript API along with a browser tool that lets you select colors interactively.

Color is a common encoding to visualize data. It can be used directly in choropleth maps or heatmaps, indirectly as a redundant encoding, it can be decorative, and it can be used for all the things in between. However, a color scheme doesn’t work if a big chunk of your audience is not able to see the differences. So it’s good to see these sorts of tools available.

Leonardo is an extension of Chroma.js. Gregor’s Chroma.js palette helper is still my go-to to keep color schemes in check.

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Seeing just the questions

As a way to explore how people use questions in their writing, a straightforward tool by Clive Thompson lets you see all the questions in a body of text. Just copy and paste and you’re set. The above are the questions from George Orwell’s essay “Politics and the English Language”.

Try it out here.

See also Thompson’s related tool that shows only the punctuation.

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Weather Strip, an app that shows the forecast as a time series

Weather Strip is a new weather app by visualization researcher Robin Stewart. It shows the week’s forecast as a time series chart, aiming to show you details at a glance. The temperature shows as a line chart, and a stacked area chart that represents weather conditions serves as background.

You’d think it’d hit all the right notes for me, but I’m more of a bare minimum type when it comes to weather forecasts. Just a table of highs, lows, and chance of rain is all I need. People seem to be into this view though, so maybe you’ll enjoy this more than me.


Posted by in apps, weather



Find a color palette based on words

PhotoChrome is a straightforward tool that lets you use search terms to find a color palette. Just enter a query, and it spits out a color scheme of hex values based on matching images.

It’s like Picular from a few years ago but more focused with a copy-paste.

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RAWGraphs 2.0, an open-source tool to visualize data

RAWGraphs, a tool conceived by DensityDesign in 2013, got a 2.0 update in a collaborative effort between DensityDesign, Calibro and Inmagik:

RAW Graphs is an open source data visualization framework built with the goal of making the visual representation of complex data easy for everyone.

Primarily conceived as a tool for designers and vis geeks, RAW Graphs aims at providing a missing link between spreadsheet applications (e.g. Microsoft Excel, Apple Numbers, OpenRefine) and vector graphics editors (e.g. Adobe Illustrator, Inkscape, Sketch).

Load your dataset, and make a wide range of charts with the point-and-click interface. The options try to update smartly depending on your data and visualization choices.

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Sim Daltonism, an intuitive app that simulates color blindness

When we visualize data to communicate to others, we must consider what others see through their eyes. Sim Daltonism by Michel Fortin is a free app for the Mac that lets you see how those with various types of color blindness perceive what’s on your computer screen.

It’s simple to use. Just drag a window over any part of your screen to see the differences.


Blacklight, a tool to see how the websites you visit are tracking you

Companies are tracking what you do online. You know this. But it can be a challenge to know the extent, because the methods are hidden on purpose. So The Markup built Blacklight:

To investigate the pervasiveness of online tracking, The Markup spent 18 months building a one-of-a-kind free public tool that can be used to inspect websites for potential privacy violations in real time. Blacklight reveals the trackers loading on any site—including methods created to thwart privacy-protection tools or watch your every scroll and click.

We scanned more than 80,000 of the world’s most popular websites with Blacklight and found more than 5,000 were “fingerprinting” users, identifying them even if they block third-party cookies.

We also found more than 12,000 websites loaded scripts that watch and record all user interactions on a page—including scrolls and mouse movements. It’s called “session recording” and we found a higher prevalence of it than researchers had documented before.

Try it out here. Just enter a URL, and you’ll see a real-time count of the ad trackers, third-party cookies, cookie evaders, and keystroke recorders on any given site.

This is why I got rid of Google Analytics, social media widgets, and ad-serving snippets on FD years ago.

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Protecting your mobile data and privacy while at a protest

Maddy Varner reporting for The Markup:

“All protesting and all marches are a series of balancing acts of different priorities and acceptable risks,” said Mason Donahue, a member of Lucy Parsons Labs, a Chicago-based group of technologists and activists that run digital security training classes and have investigated the Chicago Police Department’s use of surveillance technology. “There is a lot of communication ability that goes away if you don’t bring a phone period,” he said.

So if you’re going to take your phone, you might want to do some of the following things to minimize risk.

These are straightforward items like installing an app or changing a setting on your phone, so it should only take a few minutes before you step out.

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Remix and make music with audio from the Library of Congress

Brian Foo is the current Innovator-in-Residence at the Library of Congress. His latest project is Citizen DJ, which lets you explore and remix audio from the Library:

It invites the public to make hip hop music using the Library’s public audio and moving image collections. By embedding these materials in hip hop music, listeners can discover items in the Library’s vast collections that they likely would never have known existed. For technical documentation and code, please see the repo.

Give it a go. Even if you’re not into making music, you can still explore the sounds, listen to them in their full context, and end up reading about some song written in the early 1900s.

I’ll take all the rabbit holes I can get.

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