11 Awesome Data Visualizations Way Ahead of Their Time [Infographic]

In this day and age of big data and information overload, data visualizations are, hands down, the most effective way of filtering out and presenting complex data.

A single data visualization graphic can be priceless. It can save you hours of research. They’re easy to read, interpret, and, if based on the right sources, accurate, as well.  And with the highly social nature of the web, the data can be lighthearted, fun and presented in so many different ways.

What’s most striking about data visualizations though is that they aren’t as modern a concept as we tend to think they are.

In fact, they go back to more than 2,500 years—before computers and tools for easy visual representation of data even existed.

Curious to see how data visualizations developed over time?

Below is an infographic that highlights 11 unique data visualizations from across different—yet significant, periods in history. It includes the first world map created by Anaximander, the elaborate Catalan atlas commissioned by King Charles V of France, Dr. John Snow’s map of cholera deaths in London that helped in combating the disease in the second half of the 19th century, and so on.

From ancient Greece and Medieval France to Victorian England and 19th century Sweden, these data visualizations and creators were ahead of the times, innovating the way in which information could be presented.

Whether they knew it or not at the time, these creators helped to develop an essential modern-day tool that is now invaluable to the world of statistics. Take a look.

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How To Turn Chrome Into A Notepad

Among the many things you do online in a single day, we bet that taking down a note or two is somewhere at the top of your list. Was it for research? Recording a reference number? Brainstorming? Whatever the reason, having a scratch pad at arm’s length is a necessity.

One trick that can solve that problem—turn your browser into a note pad. It may sound odd, but it’s entirely possible. For this tip, we tried it in Chrome, and we have to admit that this is a neat little trick everyone should have handy.

All you have to do is copy and paste this single line of code into your browser’s URL bar:

data:text/html, <html contenteditable>

Then hit enter. Click on the blank tab window that shows up and start typing away. Testing it on the latest Chrome build, it worked out great.  You can even bookmark the URL and call it up anytime for instant access.

Chrome Browser Notepad

This tip originally comes from Jose Jesus Perez Aguinaga, web engineer and Javascript developer, who shared this tip on his blog, Coderwall.com, a few years ago. And it still works.

Right off the bat, you can get a good idea of how this can make things easier for you while you’re on the web. As a writer, student or researcher, you can use this as a distraction free writing tool or quick text editor.

You don’t have to install a plugin or open another application. And without having to worry about any formatting frills, you can get in a good chunk of writing without having to leave the browser.

The one drawback, however, is that if you close the tab, you’ll lose all your notes. If you jot down reminders or to-do lists which you don’t need afterwards, then this shouldn’t be a problem.  In fact, it may even be convenient as you can skip over the usual dialog reminding you to save the file.

But if you do need those notes, then you can easily save them before closing the tab.  To do so, just use Chrome’s “Save page as…” function from the menu and save it as an HTML webpage. You should then be able to access the file in any browser.

If you hated the hassle of opening up a second app just to copy-paste or record something, try this out. This little trick will help simplify the process and speed things up.


Your Online Guide To The Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games

The Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games are about to start!

Multiple events will be happening at the same time all over Toronto during the summer. Top athletes, sporting events, and new venues will be attracting spectators and tourists from all over to the GTA. A lot will be going on and it’ll be easy to get lost in the shuffle.

It’s going to be a crazy—but exciting, summer and our Toronto HQ can’t wait to see it all unfold.

Are you prepared?

From knowing who won your favourite event to knowing which traffic-filled intersections to avoid, staying informed is a priority if you plan on following or taking part in the event as a spectator.

Thus, we’ve put together a quick guide of essential links and handy tools to make sure your entire event experience is a memorable one as you trek around the city.

News And Information 

Toronto Pan Am Homepage

First must-have link on the list—the main Pan Am Games website. This is an obvious one—but not the only one. You can also find dedicated sections from credible news sources like TheStar.com, CBC.ca and GlobalNews.  Checking in with one of these sites will give you a variety of news and coverage that won’t leave you wanting. They’re a good one-stop resource for event highlights.

Watching The Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games Live

As the official broadcaster of the games this year, CBC.ca will cover over 600 hours of the games via live streaming and TV coverage. Moreover, you can also catch the action on your mobile device with their live streaming apps. Download: Android / iOS

Links To Event Guides And Info

We couldn’t create a resource list without including basic information links. So we listed them here to save you the time of digging around the site:

Pan Am Games Apps For Android And iOS

If it isn’t already, your smartphone will be your lifeline throughout the games.  Both iOS and Android versions of the official app will give you single tap access to event schedules, ticket information, maps, news and more.

Social Media Networks

Another good way to get real time updates—both on mobile and desktop, is by following the official social media accounts for the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games. Each stream will keep you well-fed with real time photos, interesting posts, news, and videos. They have official accounts on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.

Other Essential Tools And Links To Have

And the resources don’t stop there. In this list we’re also including apps and handy links to will help round out your Pan Am games experience in Toronto.

Pan Am Games Trip Planner:  During the games, anything from parking to road access can be changed at the last minute.  Good news is that you can anticipate and plan around it with this app. The neat part about it is that it gives you traffic updates in advance so you can find another route to a venue if necessary. Download: Android / iOS  

Toronto Transit Apps: While the Pan Am app and TTC site can map out your trip, you’ll still need all the route information you can get on the go—especially if you’re unfamiliar with bus routes. Our advice? Be prepared with a transit app on your phone, as well.

  • Toronto Transit TTC– With this app, you can find the most convenient travel routes, get weather updates, and receive real-time ETA predictions of your next bus. Perfect to keep you from feeling lost or unprepared as you travel. Download: Android
  • Transit App– This app has transit route and app information for cities all across the US and Canada. Its Toronto transit information offers details for both TTC and GO transit lines. To top it off, it provides information for Uber and the ability to find and reserve nearby car2go’s, as well. Download: Android / iOS
  • Rocketman– An app that’s great at making sure you catch your bus. RocketMan contains all the usual features of a transit app, and is available on the Blackberry platform. Download: Android / iOS / Blackberry

Toronto Events: If you like getting immersed in city culture, you should check out this next link to help you scope out what’s going on in Toronto between competitions.  NOW Toronto is a local news and entertainment site with its own print publication that keeps you up to date on events, exhibitions and concerts in the city.  Check out their events index when you plan a night on the town.

Dining Around Toronto: As part of your spectator experience, you’ll want this last app on your list: Urbanspoon Restaurant Reviews. You can find restaurants in the area while you’re out and about exploring areas around the sporting venues. This app is a great guide for viewing full menus, getting customer reviews, and making reservations on the spot for you and your group. Download: Android / iOS

Once you load up on these resources, you should be able to get the most out of your summer during the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games. But as always, chime in with a tool we’ve missed or should include on this list in the comments.

Developing Digital Learning Strategies In A Time of Technological Distraction

Learning Digital Strategies

Nowadays, we’re constantly in a state of distraction. From texting and checking emails to posting on Facebook and watching YouTube, technology has made it all too easy for us.

Overall, unwinding with a few Facebook updates can be harmless.  However, in your academic career the digital distraction can have a negative impact on your success.  Procrastination and distractions lurk in every corner.

Yet as the world of education changes and institutions invest heavily in educational technology, your approach to learning and studying will need to change.

The question is, can you develop an effective digital learning strategy when technological distraction is everywhere? The answer is yes.

Use The Age Of Distraction To Your Advantage

Sure, it can be tough to switch gears online and focus on the task at hand, but the trick is to work with the distraction, not to try and beat it. The digital habits you practice every day is where you can start developing solid digital learning strategies that’ll stand you in good stead.

And there’s no time like the present to start prepping yourself for next year. Currently, students have and will continue to see major changes in how learning will occur in 2015 and onwards. Aurion Learning, a company dedicated to helping organizations develop online learning solutions, got an overview of the latest trends.

15 E-Learning statistics you need to know for 2015 from Aurion Learning


And the statistics paint a clear picture: the world of education is not only focused on digitizing your learning style, but your academic lifestyle as well. So what can you do to turn your daily distractions into a learning tool? Here are a few suggested strategies.

When You Browse, Browse Creatively

Think about it. You search for something on the web all the time. But chances are, your usual search habits aren’t producing results.  Most of us only use Google for basic keyword searches, but not much else.  But there’s so more to Google than just search.

In fact, there’s more to searching the web than just Google, too. You can easily refine your research skills for projects by finding other creative ways to search the web.  All you need to do is to look differently at the internet: what searches you can perform without Google?  Where else can you find answers? In a nutshell, make the time you spend web surfing count.

Post, Upload And Interact With Content On Social Media

Believe it or not, posting links and uploading files and images on social networks can boost the digital learning process. The skills you use to interact on social media are essentially the same skills needed to participate in and work with digital learning environments. Thus, you need all the basic tech skills you can acquire.

Some examples of where you’ll need basic skills:

  • Creating PowerPoint presentations, mock business plans, or ebook study guides.
  • Voicing your opinion in class forums or e-bulletin boards.
  • Following people & networks related to your field of study as learning-related resources.
  • Curating content and tutorial sites to keep you on top of your niche and related skills.
  • Staying organized with files and group members by using a document management system.

Use social media check-ins as a way to practice your digital interaction skills, but don’t get carried away. Remember—social media is a means to an end, not an end in itself. 

Pay Attention To The Headlines In Your Feed

As much as we say we’re digitally connected, not many of us will know automatically how to accomplish something specific online.  The simple strategy to improve that is to get familiar with web tools.  You read about online tools constantly. Not a blog post in a feed goes by without some mention of Dropbox or tips on Google Docs. All it takes is actually clicking through to read about them.

So start creating your own personal toolbox.  Try one tool at a time to get yourself familiar with ones like Evernote or IFTTT. Ask yourself things like: Which would be the best for publishing my work? How can I send that large file of an essay? Can I annotate a peer’s digital paper? Discover popular tools with the aim of fitting them into your academic routine. 

Get Connected Visually

While having online courses makes it easy for you to participate in class from anywhere, distance and online learning itself, isn’t easy. You need support, peer discussion, and feedback from people who may not be physically there. You have to adapt to a new communication system without the all-important human factor.

Here, collaborative tech will be key. If you’re constantly online, then you know all about chatting, IMs and video conferencing. Tools like these will help you make the human connections needed throughout the learning process.  This is especially true of video conferencing. A single video chat or G+ Hangout can give you that extra learning boost which avatars and textual IMs can’t.

Some tool strategies to help with the actual work:

  • Use project management tools to keep everyone on track.
  • Collaborate with video and e-conferencing and chat tools like Skype.
  • Use Wikis and whiteboards for major group research and presentations.
  • To stay in touch with class mates, create Facebook groups, Google+ circles or Twitter lists.

The ability to develop transferrable digital skills is more important than ever. Tapping into your daily distractions can be one effective way to get immersed in your digital learning experience.  But what other strategies can you think of?


5 Hats All Budding Entrepreneurs Should Expect To Wear

Preparing For Business

Nowadays, you can’t sift through a business news feed without hearing news about small startups that went from rags to riches and made it big. And if a success story provides you with anything, it’s the idea that anyone can do it, that all it takes is your passion and one great idea.

But that is NOT enough.

As a successful entrepreneur, you need to be versatile, open to risk, and committed to seeing your vision through. Not only that, but there are a ton of hurdles known as “work” standing in your way. They’re all too easy to forget when you’re excited about your idea, brainstorming on how to finance and pitch your product. Keeping your business afloat will mean a lot of business-related stress and becoming a jack of all trades.

Already have the entrepreneurial spirit and ready to take that first step? That’s great. But before you do, think about your second step: what roles and shoes will you have to fill?

To prep you with an idea of what to expect, consider a few of these essential hats you should expect to wear as you turn your pipe dream into a successful startup.

The Administration Hat

At the beginning, entrepreneurs will need to consider the nitty-gritty details of handling business operations on the most basic level.  Depending on what your business is, this will include any aspect needed to keep your company and product line running: office space, payroll, supplies, accounting, and setting up workflows, just to name a few.

If one part in the administration chain doesn’t work out, you have to be open to different solutions, looking at the process from all angles. That first year as an entrepreneur will be about discovering and testing both yourself and your ability to think outside the box. So be prepared.

The Team Management Hat

Don’t forget that it also takes interpersonal skills to build a successful company. Once you build a solid business team, you need to be able to work with and lead them.  This means being able to delegate tasks, mediate conflicts, listen to concerns, know everyone’s strengths and weaknesses, or simply give credit when and where it’s due.

Managing Office Teams

Whatever decisions you make regarding the team and your office, you need to be able to listen to the dynamics going on around you. With the management hat on, you lead and generate the company’s culture, creating an atmosphere and tone for the company.

The Marketing Hat

Nowadays, new businesses won’t even make an impact without some online exposure. Marketing will play a major factor in staying ahead of the field. On the technical side of things, this means being familiar with web technology, SEO, ads, marketing tools, and analytics.  On the human side of things, it means having a clear goal in mind to create a sincere brand you and loyal users can stand behind.

Once you have both, you’ll have to be able to decide what type of marketing works for your business and what doesn’t. And while it’s easy to mimic what other companies are doing, remember that one size doesn’t fit all. When it comes to marketing, expect to invest some serious time in researching your own demographics. A marketing campaign is only successful if it fits your company and your vision.

The Social Hat

Web presence and social image is everything now. From blogging to networking, wherever you choose to promote your business, you need to have a community behind you. It’s a great way to get feedback, support, and loyal fans. The relationship you build with your users is what will set you apart.

Making Business Connections

And note that this social hat doesn’t only apply to an online audience. This also includes in-person meetings, presentation pitches, board room discussions and even swapping business cards at conventions. Making the right connections can help put you in a good position in your niche.  No one ever does it alone!

The Tech Hat

Before you even start pushing your product out there, be sure you know the tech behind it—especially if you’re a tech start up. Be active in the development and testing stage. Do everything you can to be in-the-know about your niche, don’t leave this side of the project to only one person on the team. Don’t forget, if you’re helping to field the support lines too, you can’t blank out on basic usage and troubleshooting issues.

Learning New Business Technology

For non-tech start ups, this is still a necessity. No matter what product or service you offer to the public, you need to know about the tools needed to run your business. Dealing with customers online, for instance, may mean creating an entirely new database and digital document management system.  From simple emailing to document processing, you have to make sure your tech makes things work smoothly.


Debating on whether or not you can hack it?  Just reading about someone else’s success is enough to inspire you to make your own entrepreneurial dream happen. So before you quit your day job, do your homework first.  Be prepared for the tasks you’ll be spending most, if not all, of your time on.

Ever dreamed about starting your own business? How do you plan on getting it off the ground?