Interactive

Frugal, Yet Fine Living

Michael Animation, Interactive, Photo July 23, 2018

Some handy projects* to elevate the city living while adding a bit of DIY fun:

  • Non-conventional AC installation:

    Imagining side panels generating little or zero drafts, we got customized, hand-crafted acrylic or poly-carbonate sheet glass panels, for all 3 air conditioners. Crisp clear view and double pane for winter-proofing! [Over 10 hours of labor though.]


Not sure about the foam’s life expectancy, as in a couple of weeks there’s already a strip of dip along the dripping line.

Read More

A Cheat Sheet on Citywide Gifted & Talented Programs in NYC

Michael Interactive, Photo July 20, 2018

It’s been quite a journey for us to finally secure a seat at one of New York City’s Citywide Gifted & Talented programs. It’s a success that has taken both hard work and luck. We are very proud for Evan Yoyo to join NEST+m and we cannot wait to see him further grow and learn while enjoying chess and other things the school has to offer.

Here below is just a cheat sheet to get an idea of some overall considerations while choosing which ones you like, or not. But there’s just so much more to what this table can present, even though it’s a good start. [Commute times below are calculated based on a Forest Hills area home location.]

Our best one-sentence advice would be: start the prep work and research as early as possible. If you can get your child into the Kindergarten of a G&T program, you have an astronomically better chance of getting in than trying first grade.

Last but not least, education is so much more than what a school can provide for children, although a good school means a lot in the equation. We know that this will be a learning journey for the whole family, and those who we will be having a role along the way. After all, it takes a village.

Read More

Take Your iPhonography to The Next Holiday Season Level

Michael Interactive, Photo December 21, 2016

There is really a ton of visual pleasures out there beyond our everyday naked eye sight. (Maybe our eyes zoom and pan and focus too well, don’t they?)

iPhonography 2016

Before iPhone 8 can do more amazing photography miracles, there are simple and inexpensive tools out there that will empower your already neat iPhone like those cool DSLR lenses. Above is what I got a few months ago and in this holiday season I am gonna use it to have a lot of fun. Here is a sample the iPhone took with it. Read More

Moonshot 2016

Michael Animation, Interactive, Photo November 13, 2016

November 2016 has been an eventful month in the US. Someone has made a moonshot in the most colorful presidential election. And here below are some of my moon shots, starting with the biggest full moon in almost a century on November 13, with a few variations of shutter speed, in GIF:

moon_shutter-speeds_20161113

Read More

Poll: When Will Sea Level Rise to Deadly Levels

Michael Data & Graphics, Interactive, Photo October 1, 2016

做气候变化和环境议题也有些年头了,理论和模型也了解了不少,但是这个跨世纪的全球大难题最确定的就是诸多的不确定性——比如海平面上升啥时候真的会威胁到我们的海滨城市呢?【点这里看ClimateCentral.org的一系列全球升温两摄氏度和四度的海平面上升对城市影响的系列假想图。】

在举国度假的闲暇,还是一起娱乐一下吧,不想总是那么严肃和忧虑了,看看自己朋友圈里的大伙们是乐观还是悲观占主流吧【纯娱乐,没有正确答案,如果声称掌握正确答案的,可以请Elon Musk的SpaceX过几年发配火星了】:请从四个答案中选择一个你认为最靠谱的,海平面上升会淹没很多海滨城市CBD核心区的年份!

[playbuzz-item url=”//www.playbuzz.com/michaelz14/when-will-the-bund-in-shanghai-or-lower-manhattan-in-new-york-city-be-flooded”]

Read More

Quiz: Attendance and Literacy for Kids

Michael Data & Graphics, Interactive September 30, 2016

Now that I have a loved one in a public school already (I know, time flies), I have more space or CPU in my brain to pay attention to early education and issues related to school. It is a steep learning curve, but an enlightening one.

One of the days in my son’s first month of his PreK year, I went in to be lectured about attendance, and came back home appreciative that I went. The biggest take-away is that attendance, even at an early age like kindergarten could have striking influence over a young child’s reading competency by the third grade, at least that is what a 2011 California study finds. Here below have some fun guessing how much 5% absence or less (during both kindergarten and first grade years) will translate into young students’ reading competencies two years later.

[playbuzz-item url=”//www.playbuzz.com/michaelz14/attendance-and-literacy-for-kids” info=”false” shares=”false” comments=”false” recommend=”false”]

Read More

GIFs: Wuhan’s Shrinking Lakes

Michael Data & Graphics, Interactive, Photo July 11, 2016

动图组:武汉被吞噬的湖泊

沙湖曾是武汉市仅次于东湖的第二大“城中湖”,2000年以来被房地产开发潮不断蚕食;卫星图显示2000.11.1 - 2.16.2.20

沙湖曾是武汉市仅次于东湖的第二大“城中湖”,2000年以来被房地产开发潮不断蚕食;卫星图显示2000.11.1 – 2016.2.20 【新华社原文

This year’s rainy season and floods have wrecked havoc on the city of Wuhan, which was home to 127 lakes in its urban areas. Now the city has 38 lakes remaining. Even though this many have survived the dramatic urbanization and land reclamation over the past few decades, they have most likely shrunk a great deal. With many new neighborhoods on low-lying lands that used to be lakes, the battle against floods this year is a particularly difficult one. Here below are a couple of examples viewed from space, thanks to Google Earth and those who care to find these images. [Tap on the link in the above image’s caption for original Xinhua post in Chinese language.]

Shahu Lake (or literally translated as sandy lake) used to be the second largest lake after the East Lake in Wuhan City. Since 2000, due to the encroaching real estate development and urbanization, the lake has been divided by a road and surrounded by high-rise buildings (above). Read More

GIFs: Shale Revolution & Scars in Texas

Michael Data & Graphics, Interactive June 23, 2016

Recently I took an eco-advocacy film to China. It’s called Dear President Obama, and is narrated by Mark Ruffalo. It calls for President Obama to reverse the “drill, baby, drill” on the so-called “clean” natural gas and visit many of the victims who have fallen ill in the wake of millions of fracking sites around the country. (Film trailer below)

I am a proud resident of New York, which seems to be the only state that has banned fracking in the U.S. Yet the industry has already wrecked havoc, in places like Texas that accounts for almost 30% of the national natural gas production. The scars left behind, in rectangle boxes in maps below, are disturbingly sad, to say the least:

In the early 2000s, the area east of Cotulla, Texas, was dry, sleepy shrubland. By 2015, a bustling network of roads and rectangular drill pads had completely transformed the landscape. The pair of satellite images below shows how much the landscape has changed. Landsat 5 acquired the upper image on December 17, 2000; Landsat 8 captured the lower image on December 18, 2015.

In the early 2000s, the area east of Cotulla, Texas, was dry, sleepy shrubland. By 2015, a bustling network of roads and rectangular drill pads had completely transformed the landscape. The pair of satellite images below shows how much the landscape has changed. Landsat 5 acquired the upper image on December 17, 2000; Landsat 8 captured the lower image on December 18, 2015. Full post on NASA Earth Observatory

A bigger picture around Cotulla, Texas between 2000 and 2015. Full post on NASA Earth Observatory

A bigger-picture view around Cotulla, Texas between 2000 and 2015. Full post on NASA Earth Observatory

Read More

GIFs: Indian Drought Now and Flood 10 Years Ago

Michael Data & Graphics, Interactive, Photo June 17, 2016

India is too hot, literally. This, again, comes from NASA Earth Observatory:

Monsoon rains began arriving across India in early June 2016. For many Indians, it was not a moment too soon. After three underwhelming monsoon seasons, broad swaths of the country have been gripped by drought. An estimated 330 million people have been affected by depleted water supplies.

Of all of India’s reservoirs, Panchet Hill in Jharkhand was among the lowest compared to the 10-year average. In the first week of June 2016, the reservoir stood at 4 percent of capacity; the average for June is 40 percent.

Of all of India’s reservoirs, Panchet Hill in Jharkhand was among the lowest compared to the 10-year average. In the first week of June 2016, the reservoir stood at 4 percent of capacity; the average for June is 40 percent. These two images were taken on June 10, 2015 and June 12, 2016

This is what it looks like at night on June 17, 2016, with much of India hotter than China’s biggest dessert in Xinjiang.

Some parts of India were as hot as 45 degrees Celcius in the evening of June 17, 2016, via earth.nullschool.net

Some parts of India were as hot as 45 degrees Celcius in the evening of June 17, 2016, via earth.nullschool.net

Read More

GIF: Global Temperatures, Dubai Palm Island Building

Michael Data & Graphics, Interactive, Photo, Video May 27, 2016

Month after month, the world’s temperature records have been reset over and over again. And NASA Earth Observatory archive has it all. First one below on the rising temperatures on a global scale over more than a century, decade by decade with latest one of 2005-2014; second one about the first artificial palm island Dubai built on a beachfront.

According to an ongoing temperature analysis conducted by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), the average global temperature on Earth has increased by about 0.8° Celsius (1.4° Fahrenheit) since 1880. Two-thirds of the warming has occurred since 1975, at a rate of roughly 0.15-0.20°C per decade.

According to an ongoing temperature analysis conducted by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), the average global temperature on Earth has increased by about 0.8° Celsius (1.4° Fahrenheit) since 1880. Two-thirds of the warming has occurred since 1975, at a rate of roughly 0.15-0.20°C per decade.

 

The first Palm Island constructed was Palm Jumeirah, and the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) on NASA’s Terra satellite observed its progress from 2000 to 2011. In these false-color images, bare ground appears brown, vegetation appears red, water appears dark blue, and buildings and paved surfaces appear light blue or gray.

The first Palm Island constructed was Palm Jumeirah, and the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) on NASA’s Terra satellite observed its progress from 2000 to 2011.
In these false-color images, bare ground appears brown, vegetation appears red, water appears dark blue, and buildings and paved surfaces appear light blue or gray.

Dubai, in early-morning hours, still registered temperatures in the 30s on May 28, 2016, only cooler than India.

Dubai, in early-morning hours, still registered temperatures in the 30s on May 28, 2016, only cooler than India, via earth.nullschool.net

GIF: Amazon Deforestation & Mountaintop Mining

Michael Data & Graphics, Interactive, Photo May 23, 2016

Another couple of pieces of gem from NASA Earth Observatory’s archive, first about the catastrophic mountaintop mining happening in West Virginia (1984-2015) and the other about deforestation (2000-2012) in the Amazon.

This time-series of images of a surface mine in Boone County, West Virginia, illustrates why this controversial mining method is also called “mountaintop removal.” Based on data from Landsat 5, 7, and 8, these natural-color images document the growth of the Hobet mine as it moves from ridge to ridge between 1984 to 2015.

This time-series of images of a surface mine in Boone County, West Virginia, illustrates why this controversial mining method is also called “mountaintop removal.” Based on data from Landsat 5, 7, and 8, these natural-color images document the growth of the Hobet mine as it moves from ridge to ridge between 1984 to 2015. See original post for animation of a lot more images.

 

By the start of this satellite time series from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite, the frontier had reached the remote northwest corner of Rondônia. Intact forest is deep green, while cleared areas are tan (bare ground) or light green (crops, pasture, or occasionally, second-growth forest). Over the span of 12 years, roads and clearings pushed west-northwest from Buritis toward the Jaciparaná River. The deforested area along the road into Nova Mamoré expanded north-northeast all the way to the BR-346 highway.

By the start of this satellite time series from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite, the frontier had reached the remote northwest corner of Rondônia. Intact forest is deep green, while cleared areas are tan (bare ground) or light green (crops, pasture, or occasionally, second-growth forest). Over the span of 12 years (2000-2012), roads and clearings pushed west-northwest from Buritis toward the Jaciparaná River. The deforested area along the road into Nova Mamoré expanded north-northeast all the way to the BR-346 highway. See original post for animation and more images.

The state of Rondônia in western Brazil — once home to 208,000 square kilometers of forest (about 51.4 million acres), an area slightly smaller than the state of Kansas — has become one of the most deforested parts of the Amazon. In the past three decades, clearing and degradation of the state’s forests have been rapid: 4,200 square kilometers cleared by 1978; 30,000 by 1988; and 53,300 by 1998. By 2003, an estimated 67,764 square kilometers of rainforest—an area larger than the state of West Virginia—had been cleared.

GIF: Yellow River Delta Engineered

Michael Interactive, Photo May 22, 2016

It is well known that the Yellow River, a.k.a. China’s mother river, dumps billions of tons of sediment to the sea and its floods cause havoc on the people along the watershed. Yet I first heard about that China tried to engineer a re-routing of the very end of the river flow right before it reaches the sea, via this NASA Earth Observatory post:

Between 1989 and 1995, the delta became longer and narrower along a southeast-bending arc. In 1996, however, Chinese engineers blocked the main channel and forced the river to veer northeast. By 1999, erosion and settling along the old channel caused the tip of the delta to retreat, while a new peninsula had formed to the north.

Yellow River Delta between 1989 and 2009

Between 1989 and 1995, the delta became longer and narrower along a southeast-bending arc. In 1996, however, Chinese engineers blocked the main channel and forced the river to veer northeast. By 1999, erosion and settling along the old channel caused the tip of the delta to retreat, while a new peninsula had formed to the north.

The new peninsula thickened in the next five-year interval, and what appears to be aquaculture (dark-colored rectangles) expanded significantly in areas south of the river as of 2004. By 2009, the shoreline northwest of the new river mouth had filled in considerably. This may be the outcome that the engineers were anxious to achieve: the land northwest of the newly fortified shoreline is home to an extensive field of oil and gas wells. Their protection is a primary concern.

The World’s Heat Map (also wind map)

Michael Data & Graphics, Interactive, Photo May 20, 2016

I used to awe at this genius’ work pulling off a live interactive map that shows the latest (not by minute though) winds blowing around the world. And there are actually more gems to be found here, when I read about India’s recent record breaking temperature of 51 C. Here below is in the middle of the night in Asia, when Beijing was at a cool 15.8C while most of India was approaching 40C.

The Temperature Map captured on earth.nullschool.net at 3AM May 21, 2016 China local time

The Temperature Map captured on earth.nullschool.net at 3AM May 21, 2016 China local time

For precise positioning of major cities, you can wikipedia your city of interest and pinpoint the location by modifying the URL’s location coordinates, such as “…loc=116.383333,39.916667”

For instance, if you are trying to find Beijing, you’d enter the above coordinates value at the end following “loc=” as you will find the coordinates of Beijing by clicking this on Beijing’s wikipedia page 39°55′N 116°23′E which leads to this GeoHack page for Beijing.

 

GIF: Beetle Infestation Eats Up Forests in the Rockies

Michael Interactive, Photo May 18, 2016

Another interesting bird’s-eye view of the wipe out of large forests in the Rocky Mountains, via NASA Earth Observatory:

In Colorado, severe beetle infestations showed up in lodgepole pine forests about 50 miles west of Boulder and Fort Collins around 2000. Over time, the affected area grew so that by 2011 the infestation had spread east to ponderosa pine forests that were much closer to the two cities.

In Colorado, severe beetle infestations showed up in lodgepole pine forests about 50 miles west of Boulder and Fort Collins around 2000. Over time, the affected area grew so that by 2011 the infestation had spread east to ponderosa pine forests that were much closer to the two cities.

A single pine bark beetle is about the size of a grain of rice. But when the beetle population swells, it can have a major impact on forest health. And that’s exactly what has been happening across the Rocky Mountains over the past decade.

GIF: Time Traveling in China by Dheera Venkatraman

Michael Data & Graphics, Interactive, Photo May 18, 2016

Really amazed by this MIT scientist/photographer who has taken this to an artistic level, documenting the dramatic changes over the landscapes of many Chinese cities. There are more on his site here.

Pudong, Shanghai, circa 1920-2009

Pudong, Shanghai, circa 1920-2009, (Unknown, Dheera Venkatraman)

Shanghai via satellite, 1984-2012, (Google Earth)

Shanghai via satellite, 1984-2012, (Google Earth)

 

Lanzhou, China, circa 1930-2016,

Lanzhou, China, circa 1930-2016, (Unknown, Dheera Venkatraman)

 

Chengdu, China, 1994-2016, (Unknown, Dheera Venkatraman)

Chengdu, China, 1994-2016, (Unknown, Dheera Venkatraman)

 

Guangzhou, China, circa 1970-2016, (Unknown, Dheera Venkatraman)

Guangzhou, China, circa 1970-2016, (Unknown, Dheera Venkatraman)

 

Yibin, China, circa 1940-2016, (Unknown, Dheera Venkatraman)

Yibin, China, circa 1940-2016, (Unknown, Dheera Venkatraman)

 

Guiyang, China, circa 1920-2016, (Unknown, Dheera Venkatraman)

Guiyang, China, circa 1920-2016, (Unknown, Dheera Venkatraman)

Original post on ChinaFile.com

iPhone 360 Video Capture: Falcon 9 Landing on Sea

Michael 360°, Interactive, Video May 17, 2016

I’ve posted something advertising for SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket landing on the drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean. But that post has some issues while viewed on a mobile device to watch the 360 video. Here below is a recorded iPhone screen playing back that 360 video via a Facebook 360 post. With an Mac and iPhone, it’s a lot easier to record the phone’s screen, inspiration here.


If you are behind the Great Fire Wall, watch below:

GIF: Cities Under Water 2C vs. 4C Temperature Rises

Michael Interactive, Photo May 15, 2016

A few months ago, I wrote on ChinaFile.com about the dramatic renditions of climate change impacts on major cities around the world, with large swaths of urban centers flooded by rising waters, between the 2C and 4C temperature rise scenarios. A huge tip of my hat to ClimateCentral.org for their genius and artistic work on visualizing the consequences of climate crisis.

Shanghai under water 2C vs. 4C temperature rises, via ClimateCentral.org

Shanghai under water 2C vs. 4C temperature rises, via ClimateCentral.org

Lower Manhattan under water 2C vs. 4C temperature rises, via ClimateCentral.org

Lower Manhattan under water 2C vs. 4C temperature rises, via ClimateCentral.org

Sydney under water 2C vs 4C temperature rises

Sydney under water 2C vs 4C temperature rises, via ClimateCentral.org

London under water 2C vs 4C temperature rises, via ClimateCentral.org

London under water 2C vs 4C temperature rises, via ClimateCentral.org

GIF: Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge Half Built

Michael Interactive, Photo May 14, 2016

Here’s the first half of the world’s soon-to-be longest water crossing, before it was built and now half way there, via NASA Earth Observatory:

Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge over Pearl River Estuary 2013-2016

Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge over Pearl River Estuary 2013-2016

If you want to get from Macau or Zhuhai to Hong Kong, you either have to take a boat or drive at least four hours (200 kilometers) across southeastern China. An ambitious engineering project intends to shorten that drive time to 40 minutes.

The HKZM connector will include roughly 42 kilometers (26 miles) of bridges over water, with another 7 kilometers (4 miles) passing through a submarine tunnel. The estimated $132 billion (Hong Kong) project will include three cable-stayed bridges and long stretches of causeways; the longest bridge section will be 29.6 kilometers (18.4 miles) long. Three lanes of traffic will move in each direction, roughly east-west across the water. Once completed, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge will be one of the longest water crossings in the world, equivalent to about 15 Golden Gate Bridges.