Kick Ass Hacks

January 3rd, 2013 by Lauryn

We love us some hacking. So much so that we've built it into our development cycles - every 6 weeks, the whole company stops what they're doing for 5 days and builds something awesome. The only rules are that it can't be a project that's already prioritized (read: no "real work") and you gotta demo whatever you build at the end of the week. Some of the hacks turn into full-blown labs projects like the Chartbeat Big Board that hundreds of newsrooms across the globe are using today. Some, like real-time chess, are hilarious and rad just the way they are. For the most part, we've kept hack weeks to ourselves - putting most of the work up on GitHub or Chartbeat Labs with no fanfare. But honestly, every hack week demo that goes by reveals more and more genius ideas, so we're left with no choice but to share a couple of them with you each month. A sampling of this week's kick ass hacks:

Percent of the Internet: Real-Time Browser Market Share

The baby of three of our devs, Daniel McGrath, Tom Germeau, and Tadas Vilkeliskis, this little hack pulls aggregate, anonymized data from thousands of sites across the Chartbeat universe to tell you, right now, what percent of the internet is using which kind of browser - and beyond.    

Celebrate Charttimes: Spotify App

Inspired by a tweet from one of our fave clients, our CTO Allan Beaufour whipped up a little Spotify app that hooks up to your Chartbeat API key and plays the song of your choice (we have a few of our personal little favorites.) Allan's been kind enough to put all of the details up on GitHub for you. That + a Spotify developer account and you'll be celebrating like the record-breaking champion you are in no time.      

Motion-Controlled Dashboards: Leap Motion App

Daniel (busy guy, I know) and Matt Bango, two of our front-enders, basically brought Minority Report to life in our office. They used a Leap device to track hand positions, so with that little device and any number of pages you want to add to the deck, you can switch what's on your newsroom's big screen, make stuff full-screen (or not), and all kinds of stuff just with air-hand-motion swiping. Don't fret, it will all be open sourced soon.  

3D Dial: Arduino UNO, Analog Volt Meter 

Justin Lintz, our ops operator extraordinaire, built a dial IRL for RL. He hooked an Arduino UNO up to an analog volt meter to simulate the online, Chartbeat dashboard dial. It gets nerdier: There'a s python script running on his laptop, which controls the 3D dial by sending the position of the site's dial to the serial port on the arduino. Coolest part? There's an LED plugged in that will start flashing if you hit a 30 day max. The only issue right now? It's much too small for our big-time, real-time taste.
  • Przemysław Lib

    1) Its cool geek project.
    2) Its bad stat project.

    At LEAST pleas add link to METHODOLOGY.

    (Oh, and on my Lin machine text is cropped for some wired reason. Eg. if stat show 2 digit number “%” sign is rendered partialy) “of the internet is using” is rendered with some artifacts (wrong font?), and “A Windows P(O?)” is all I see from choosing Windows :D Something gone bad there :D
    However Chromium “23.0.1271.97″ render it properly.

    (Ubu 12.04 64, FF18.0.1)

    PS Judging from “Mac” usage you are counting mostly US, right?

    • Lauryn

      Thanks for the feedback – I provided some links for deeper reading on the FavBrowser site, too, but to reiterate:

      percentoftheinternet.com was a quick hack a couple members of the team built in about two hours just to see if browser usage fluctuates in real time. We thought others might be interested, so we opened it up.

      It uses the the Chartbeat API with data from thousands of sites of all sizes across over 30 countries. Here’s some detail around how we measure: http://blog.chartbeat.com/2010/02/05/understanding-what-chartbeat-is-measuring/

      If there’s more you’d like to see, let me know, and I’ll pass it along to the hackers :)

      Thanks again for your thoughts. Keep ‘em coming.