2008 Beijing Summer Olympics – Opening Weekend

“People always step up and do things out of the ordinary at the Olympics.” –Jason Lezak

US men's swimming 4x100 relay team

It’s only day four, but the Olympics are definitely exceeding expectations. From the killer Opening Ceremony to the rainmaking in synchronized diving, these Olympics have my friends (Lisa Chu shoutout) and I extremely pumped up. And who knew China has a history of rocking women’s weightlifting?

The biggest competition of the games so far has to go to the men’s swimming 4×100 free relay. And the biggest triumph goes to the U.S. men’s relay team. The race was absolutely absurd with records being shattered left and right. In the end, Jason Lezak swam the greatest anchor leg in history against France’s Alain Bernard to come from behind in literally the last 10 meters to win by .08 seconds.

“I’m not going to lie,” Lezak said. “When I flipped at the 50 and I still saw how far ahead he was, and he was the world-record holder ’til about two minutes before that, when Sullivan led off with the world record, I thought, it really crossed my mind for a split second, there’s no way.

“Then I changed. I said, you know what, that’s ridiculous. This is the Olympics. I’m here for these guys. I’m here for the United States of America. It’s more than — I don’t care how bad it hurts, or whatever, I’m just going to go out there and hit it.”

US men's swimming 4x100 relay team member, Jason Lezak

The 2008 Olympics are making it rain. And NBC is busting its butt to cover it all so go soak it all up.

Jajah and Jajah.Babel

For all of you lucky enough to witness the Olympics firsthand or are traveling to China for the next semester, Jajah.Babel is a pretty impressive voice translation tool that you should try out. Jajah built this service in conjunction with IBM which lets users call a free number to get a voice translation from Chinese (Mandarin) to English and vice versa. I wasn’t going to blog about this service since it seemed gimmicky, but I tried it myself and after the first translation, I was immediately impressed. Even if you don’t think you’ll find any utility for this service, it’s not everyday that you can experience some advanced language translation and speech recognition technology for free. So give Jajah.Babel (horrible name) a call at 1-718-513-2969 or visit the site for more local access numbers.

Beautiful Data Visualization Madness

movie chart

For the second day in a row, I have come across some sweet data visualizations so I think a post is warranted. Above is a screenshot of Zach Beane’s visualization of movie box office results. It is pretty similar to work done by the New York Times this past February except I find Beane’s effort much easier to understand and much more pleasing to use.

interactive graphic olympic medal count

Another piece that I came across today is the above interactive graphic from the New York Times displaying Olympic medal counts by country for past summer Olympic Games. I had no idea the New York Times did work like this, but I am now digging the fact that they do.