Pincoding India

I was running through the book, Visualizing Data by Ben Fry and came across his pincode example for USA. I decided to replicate the example for India. Thus began my search for an geo-tagged dataset of indian pincodes. Sadly it does not exist. The best set of easily available data is hosted by datameet at

I ran the set through Tilemill and found large parts of India still untagged especially almost all of Maharashtra and Bihar. I asked Arun and he told me that ” there are no official public datasets available. But there is reasonably good coverage in the openstreetmap data. The simplest way to view the data is to probably use” which I will try to explore for now.


You could help by mapping your own pincode on this website. Go on, it only takes a minute.


Visualizing with TileMill

While browsing through the the schedule for Open Data Camp 4, I came across and etherpad entry containing details of the ‘Data and Maps’ crash course on Day 2.

Tilemill (by Mapbox)fascinated me and I downloaded and installed it. It has a wonderful crashcourse to introduce beginners to the map designing scene. The Map styling is done using CartoCss which is similar to CSS. The interface has layers like Photoshop and good import and export features(Mapbox free accounts offer 3000 map views/month and 50 MB space). Poking around in the documentation provided you will be able to locate data set sources, shape files and how to import data.

Below I shall explain how I went about re-doing a class assignment using TileMill.

Earlier this semester we played around with Processing to visualize data sets. I decided to try visualizing a data set that I had prepared earlier. Not knowing any way to scrape data off a website, I had manually collected the statewise distribution of the US olympians by birth(excluding/clubbing athletes of foreign origin).

Before I could use the data, I had to geocode the data. To do this I first uploaded my Excel sheet to Google Drive and then installed a script (Tools > Script Gallery > Search 'Geo' > Install 'Geo' by . This helps convert addresses into lat, long values which TileMill can identify. I used Mapquest to convert for me and it was far from satisfactory, maybe the Yahoo provider would work better. I then used Google Map to manually get the co-ordinates. Alternatively you could use GetLatLong to get/verify co-ordinates.

Next I published the datasheet on the web via Drive (inbuilt) and used the csv format as a datasource for a layer in Tilemill.

I also used the US State border line shape file provided by the US Census.

With a bit of tweaking with the CartoCss, I was able to come up with a fairly decent looking visualization with minimal interactivity.

Statewise distribution of US Olympians 2012 (excluding foreign born)
Statewise distribution of US Olympians 2012 (excluding foreign born US Citizens)

Do feel free to critique the visualization choices so that I can improve them. This was an experiment to see how TileMill works and what I can do with it.

Disclaimer: There could be a manual error when I created the data set hence I am not linking the dataset here.

Update: Here’s a more detailed tutorial for beginners.

8bit Tribute

Sometime in November 2011, after some contemplation i decided to buy, then i after much dawdling i finally uploaded version 1 somewhere in february. My main intention of buying the specific domain is for using domain name hacks making my personal site having a url: Very existential.

So version 1 was just something i pulled online without giving much thought. When i got shortlisted to NID second round, i decided to code a portfolio using deck.js and uploaded it.

Essentially, i havent yet done anything much on the domain that i would be proud of i.e., until now. Work has been hectic and in between 12 hour days and work on Saturdays i somehow got a Sunday for myself and spent it reading manga. Sunday evening was when i decided to code something new onto the domain.

I like pixel art. I use Gmail’s High Score theme. I grew up playing cartridge video games. The love for the 8 bit is ingrained in me. So here’s my personal tribute to video games.

First, i stole background images from Gmail for use. Please be excusing my plagiarism. So i coded up a design that had been growing in my head.

Then i needed a pixel font. So i went ahead and tried out using @font-face for the first time.

Finally. A video game tribute would be incomplete without having a Konami code* reference. So a quick google found me a library which was widely used to recreate konami code.

So now with that out-of-the-way, i finally release on this blog. Please head down there and then enter the Konami code for the pixel version that i am proud of.

*Konami Code: ↑ ↑ ↓ ↓ ← → ← → B A Start(Enter)

Fonts used: My Logo: Pacifico, a Google Web Font. The Text is Silkscreen via fontsquirrel.

Being Social

Pair is the latest app/social network that is creating a buzz in the west and most people would be wondering why anyone didnt think of it first ?  Actually they have but none have been successful.

A social network targeted at couples and especially at those maintaining a long distance relationship is quite a well thought fork to the idea of social. The Y Combinator backing they have is also giving them the essential technology press so that they will need to sell an idea that has been thought of before but never well executed enough to survive.

Pair also has some unique features like the “thumbkiss” which will surely be the next “poke”. Monetizing this app also would be simple and easy.

However i wrote this post not to share this app with you but because i was pondering on the unique negative scenarios that this app would produce  if it became the next big thing.

  1. An app can be installed only once in a phone, therefore would this reduce cheating ?
  2. Could this app actually help people cheat ?
  3. In case of a breakup, would an option of deleting the app signify an end to the relationship ?
  4. How about a new relationship ? would that mean that you would have an option to start using Pair from scratch ?

Also you should have noticed by now that the idea of social is shifting from the “have more friends”(Facebook) to “share with close friends”(Path) and the emphasis being on your “friends” being a very close knit group. This is the future of Social networking. Privacy concerns are the reason for this shift and come on, you wouldn’t really want to share many of the parts of your life with your entire network. That is why when i realized that, i stopped updating this blog in a diary like manner and its become more of a article like blog. Because you never know who’s watching.