Visualizing “When do students submit assignments?”

Last week Florian mentioned, that it is quite interesting to see when students submit their stuff for an assignment. I thought this was quite interesting. To answer this question visually, I used data from the courses “Introduction to Computer Networking” and “Mobile and Ubiquitous Computing”. Both courses had assignments over two weeks and a deadline set to Monday, 8:00 AM. The data consists of 811 submissions over a total of 8 assignments.

The data is exported from the ILIAS submission system. It is then parsed and an SVG is generated. The code I wrote therefore and the datasets are available via GitHub. After playing around with different styles and layouts I ended up with the above punchcard visualization (Benjamin deserves credit for bringing up the punchcard visualization idea).

It is interesting to see that students in fact submit stuff the whole night before a deadline. Interesting peaks are at midnight and between 7-8 AM. Especially the hours right before and after midnight are quite heavily frequented. To me, the most suprising fact was that students actually really do submit their stuff during the whole night :-).

Informatiktage 2013 in Bonn

I spent the last few days in Bonn at the Informatiktage 2013. The event was quite nice and I got the opportunity to meet some interesting people. I attended a two-day workshop by a big tool manufacturers IT manager. The workshop was about scalability and shifting some non-crititcal components into “the cloud”. Though I am quite sceptical about the cloud-thingy, the workshop held quite some insights for me. The thing that stuck most with me was their strict implementation of the design principle “design for failure and nothing will fail“.

As part of the event a three-page paper/summarization of my bachelor thesis was published within the proceedings (first time something of me got published — yay!) and I held a poster session (the poster is linked below). For me, the exchange with other students/activists/hackers is very important. Often just simple thoughts or hints on technologies I didn’t know about, inspire new ideas and projects. During the last 2-3 year I have attended a lot of meetups, BarCamps and other events and I took something from each of them.

Open Data Hackathon February 2013

On February the 23rd the datalove university group participated in a global Hackathon centered around Open Data. We gathered within a room at the university and worked on different projects all day. At peak level we were around 17 people: university students and personnel, students by the university of applied sciences and local politicians. We organized enough food, coffee and stuff for everyone and spent a nice day working on many different projects. Mainly to highlight:

  • Falco worked on updating the LiveMap, which we have created about two years ago in an 48hr hackathon. For most of us this had been the first bigger node.js project and so it was time to correct some faulties. To paraphrase Stefan: “While looking for better ways on how to do such a project, I only found other people who forked our stuff.” Well, we are not entirely certain, if that is a good thing ;).

    Some Open Data activists from Cologne are currently adapting the project to their city: schienenliebe.de. It is always very nice to see other people being able to build upon your work!

  • Benjamin took use of the shape files (= geodata of local city districts) for Ulm. We gathered this data under a free license about two years ago, but never had any use for them — until now!
    Check out Click that ‘hood!
  • I took the time to work on an idea which I had in mind for a long time: visualizing different facilities within Ulm which are currently open, on a web based map. This can be used to e.g. find out which bakeries in the inner city are still open on a Saturday evening. The application is online via oeffnungszeiten.ulmapi.de.

    The opening hours data is gathered from the Open Street Map project. I plan to regularly export it from there, although I first have to manually correct some of the entries, since not all of them are valid. I also plan to add new opening hour entries to the map, though I am not yet entirely sure about how to approach that.

  • Stefan is working on visualizing the household budget of Ulm. The respective data has been made available to the public under CC-BY in the meantime. If you have any knowledge on Doppik calculations, I am sure he would appreciate help!
  • Some friends were brainstorming about network visualizations considering the university. When I heard of the idea I was quite enthusiastic and went to talk to the local network administrators. As a result we got a nice data treasure: sanitized log data of all (~360) access points on the university terrain over the duration of one week. Under ODbL v1.0. _This_ is quite nice. The data is available here. I spent nearly all of the Hackathon writing a parser for the data. When you have 76 MB ASCII stuff (> 500 000 entries) a database is worth it. In the meantime the parser is finished but we are still missing geolocations for the access points. For this purpose I wrote a very simple web application to crowd-source the process of collecting geolocations for all access points. But this (and the resulting visualizations) are material enough for one separate blog post, once the project is finished!

The sourcecode for most of the projects described is available online via GitHub, either on github.com/UlmApi or on github.com/cmichi.

OpenCityCamp 2012


The last two photos were shot by stk, who also wrote an article on the event.


To quote phil: “Isn’t it a little bit late to write about this?”. Yeah I know it is, I am just catching up with some stuff which I didn’t get around to write down so far.

About 1.5 years ago we founded the datalove group at university. In the meantime members of the group have met up with people from the city, created some projects and even participated in consultations with government representatives. datalove fellow stk has even participated in the writing of a book. The LiveMap, which we did create last year, has been shown at the CeBIT ’12 as part of OpenData initiatives within Germany.

In May our efforts culminated in the organization of a BarCamp around Open Data. One week before the BarCamp Benjamin and I were guests in the local radio program “Plattform” at Radio Free FM. We talked about Open Data in general, Open Data within Ulm and about the OpenCityCamp. The recording of the show is online and can be found here (in German).

The BarCamp itself was pretty interesting. We managed to get a pretty decent sponsoring which resulted in awesome Catering and a really nice event. We didn’t really know if people would show up to give a presentation, but in the end everything went fine. We were able to have two parallel sessions most of the time. The whole event had about 50-60 participants.

There were several things we did, which I haven’t seen on other BarCamps. Most notably: Etherpads for each session. Nowadays you can most certainly say that within each session of a BarCamp there is probably at least one person with a laptop. People attending the sessions started to note opinions, interesting stuff, links and questions there. This worked pretty good! Even now you can look the pads up (here).

Second most notably: Hanging a huge plain sheet of paper at the wall, so that people could note their thoughts there.

The whole event took place in the university. This enabled us to use the equipment there (to spontaneously bake apple pie for example :)).

The BarCamp was also a good opportunity for some people to push the development of a local Freifunk community. Visit http://ulm.freifunk.net for more information on that.

About Me

I am a 32 year old techno-creative enthusiast who lives and works in Berlin. In a previous life I studied computer science (more specifically Media Informatics) at the Ulm University in Germany.

I care about exploring ideas and developing new things. I like creating great stuff that I am passionate about.


All content is licensed under CC-BY 4.0 International (if not explicitly noted otherwise).
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