Tag Archives: charts

Bracket Challenge Scenarios

bracketI find myself in an NHL playoff pool. The rules are simple: pick the winner of each round. We’ve been going since the beginning of the playoffs, so points have been accumulating thus far. Suffice it to say, the remaining rounds are worth 50 points for each conference final and 100 points for picking the Stanley Cup winner, so there is still some jockeying to be done.

If you haven’t been following, the conference finals are well underway, meaning there are 4 teams left (Chicago, Anaheim, Tampa Bay, and New York). You can also deduce that there are now only eight scenarios remaining for how the rounds can shake out.

This graph removes all mystery as to how we will each fair, for each scenario.

Refractometer: ABV Calculator


I got a mysterious package in the mail yesterday – by the time I figured out that it was a Christmas present from my brother, it was too late.

Turns out the gift was a refractometer, a device used to measure an index of refraction, or how light gets bent going through another substance. Few people outside laboratories have much use for such a thing, but along the way some science-savvy beer brewer realized that you could measure the amount of dissolved sugar, and thus the amount of potential alcohol, in freshly brewed beer. By comparing the amount of sugar at the beginning and end of fermentation, you can infer the amount of alcohol by volume (ABV) in the finished beer.

Most homebrewers use a hydrometer in a similar manner, but this requires several chances of contamination (each time the wine-thief is filled, often several times) and wastes a good deal of beer along the way (about 100ml for each measurement). Refractometer measurements use a mere couple of drops which are collected only once per measurement.

Unfortunately, once alcohol is present in the liquid (i.e. any time after the initial measurement), it messes with the refraction measurement and a mathematical correction must be applied in order to compare the two samples. Using formulas from Northern Brewer, Primetab, Realbeer, I made an interactive calculator for calculating ABV from initial and final refractometer readings (in Brix units), and you can find it here. Drag the bars up and down to match your initial and final measurements.

Notes: there are tons of other online refractometer calculators, and I’ve seen some that use different formulas (or at least different coefficients), so beware. Also, if you’ve got Matlab, my brother made a library for charting and doing the calculations for yourself (blog post here).

My First InfoVis RGraph


Here‘s my example of an animated RGraph (stolen almost entirely from here). Although this is a pretty cool way to view data, it won’t be useful as the family tree I intend to make because it is non-directional (i.e. you lose who is the parent and who is the child immediately). So, I’ll be focusing on InfoVis Spacetrees for the time being…

Example: Highcharts JS


I was looking at alternatives to Google Chart Tools and came across Highcharts JS, which is my new favourite charting API. It’s extremely customizable, fast, and free for personal, academic, and non-profit use(*). You can also include buttons to print or save each chart as an image. The charts are also optionably zoomable through click and drag. Finally, Highcharts has been exhaustively documented, complete with JSFiddles for almost every feature. Check out my example Highcharts here.

* Note: I’m obligated to point out that Highcharts is not available for free for commercial use. See here for pricing.