How to set Unity to 2D mode

As of Unity 4.3.2, when you create a new 2D project, the “screen view” and “editor mode” remain defaulted to 3D. If you’re creating a 2D project you’ll want to update these settings right away. You’ll also want to change the “Main Camera” projection from Perspective to Orthographic.

To change the “editor mode,” goto “Edit” > “Project Settings” > “Editor.” Then, in the “Editor Settings” inspector panel, change the “Default Behavior Mode” to “2D.”

To change the “screen view,” simply toggle the small “2D” button found at the top of the “Scene” panel.

To change the “Main Camera” projection, select “Main Camera” in the “Hierarchy.” Then, in the inspector panel, find the “Projection” dropdown, and change it from “Perspective” to “Orthographic.”

For more information here’s a short-ish Unity tutorial on the differences between 2D and 3D mode.

Lake Travis Water Level Historical Graph

With summer coming up, I’ve been curious about how Lake Travis’s current water level compares to it’s historic levels, so I graphed it real quick!

Here’s the result:
Lake Travis Water Level
* Note: Each data point is the average water level for that year.

Our current level (2/10/2013) is 631.43ft.
Historical Maximum (12/25/1991) 710.44ft
Historical Minimum (8/14/1951) 614.18ft

The lake is considered full at 681ft. That refers to it’s water level above mean sea level.

The lake’s max depth is 210ft.


Average steps per day touring Washington D.C.

On our recent trip to Washington D.C, my wife convinced me to dust off my FitBit and wear it during our trip, just to see, out of curiosity, how much we’d walk touring our nation’s capital. Turns out we averaged 17,584 steps per day on our 7 day trip. This is pretty remarkable for us, since our desk jobs help place us somewhere around America’s average of 5,117 steps per day. In fact, we walked so much we gave the Amish, who average 16,311 steps per day, a run for their money.

I looked up a few other countries average steps per day just to see how we stacked up.

Bar chart of average steps per day per country.

The general goal of folks who wear pedometers is to walk 10,000 steps per day. That’s the magical number that’s suppose to keep you fit. We did great during our vacation hurrying from monument to monument and strolling through numerous museums. However, it’s quite a bit harder to hit that magical 10,000 mark during the average day in the life of an American. As the joke goes, “In America a pedestrian is someone who has just parked their car.”

Tabular data and sources:

Group Steps Source
U.S.A. 5,117 Pedometer-Measured Physical Activity and Health Behaviors in U.S. Adults
Swiss 9,650 “Physical activity assessment using a pedometer and its comparison with a questionnaire in a large population study”
Japan 7,168 “Physical activity among the Japanese: results of the National Health and Nutrition Survey”
Australia 9,695 “Physical Activity Levels of Western Australian Adults: Results from the Adult Physical Activity Survey and Pedometer Study”
Amish 16,311 Physical Activity in an Old Order Amish Community
Our Vacation 17,584 My FitBit

Why isn’t Twitter charging for their API?

It feels like Twitter’s general attitude towards API developers has increasingly become one of annoyance. The reason the API has become such a pain to Twitter is because they’re just giving it away.

Why aren’t they charging tiered pricing based on required access? The API is already rate limited, they just need to adjust the rates based on the payment. Instead they’ve resold the Firehose via Gnip and DataShift, which they could be selling directly. And the rest of the API they’re resentfully giving away for free.

As a developer of the Twitter API, I don’t want to be resented, I want to be respected as a consumer of their product! Let me pay for access!

I’m talking $19, $99, $299, $999, $9999, “call us” style plans here. They could charge the whole developer market. Instead, they’re putting all their hopes in “Twitter stream advertising.” They have an extremely large potential revenue stream that they’re basically just giving away for free, and they’re giving off a vibe that they’re annoyed by the developers that use it.

Metrics and Perfectionism

Anyone who knows me knows I’ve become a little obsessed with metrics and analytics. (Have you seen my business dashboard?) Collecting and visualizing data can give you wonderful insights into your business and personal life. Knowledge and information brings control to chaos. It’s a powerful feeling knowing exactly what’s going on, and it can show you what you need to work on.

Despite my obsession with analytics, I struggle deeply with perfectionism. Perfectionism can be the demise of financial projections, fitness plans, and marketing plans alike. I have found that I tend to obsess too much on how accurately and completely I collect my data. When it comes to analytics, the 80/20 rule holds up.* Typically the point to measuring and visualizing data is to help you address or discover a problem and come up with  a solution. The problem is not how accurately and completely can you collect data, but how many new customers do you need to pay overhead, or how many fewer calories must you consume to lose weight. You simply need enough data to detect trends and make predictions.

SandwichFor example, I’m currently tracking my activity levels using a FitBit. I love this sort of passive data collection. However, one part of the FitBit I’ve been avoiding like the plague is calorie counting. It bothers me that recording a turkey sandwich doesn’t take into account that I’ve used low fat mayonnaise and 2% milk cheese. The thing I’ve struggled to come to terms with, is that reality and models are not the same thing. I’m not “cheating” myself by estimating the amount of calories that are in a turkey sandwich, nor does recording slightly too many calories change the fact that in reality I’m using low fat mayonnaise. These data points are simply there to illustrate the big picture. Obsessing about minutia creates unnecessary work, can lead to burnout, cause you to ovoid data collection all together, and in general won’t significantly affect the overall trends and solutions you can discover by collecting and analyzing data.

The take away? Just like in creative endeavors, perfectionism can poison your analytical efforts. Relax. So your financial projections are off twenty bucks, you can still see the trends of your business. In most real world applications “good enough” produces results, while perfectionism causes paralysis.

* side note: I should mention that some scientific experiments require a level of data accuracy greater than “good enough.” However, the analysis of most aspects of my business and life do not require such detailed data samples, and I suspect neither do most peoples.