30 September 2013

Sonic Offenders—By The Numbers

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Everyone knows that in the new series, the sonic screwdriver might be a bit over used... just a little. But the closest anyone gets is, "Moffet writes too many sonic uses for Eleven." or "Davies never let Ten put the thing away." But is it really true that these two are the worst of the bunch? Or could there be other writers which are more horrendous? Merely counting the number of uses is only one aspect of this problem and doesn't reveal the whole truth. Not only do you need to count the number of sonic uses written but you also need to take into consideration just how many hours/minutes a writer submitted to the show. Ahh, you need their ratio of uses/{story time}.

The dataset uses the writers from the shows Doctor Who [classic and new], Torchwood, and The Sarah Jane Adventures. All sonic devices from all these shows are included [i.e., the Doctor's sonic screwdriver [et. al.], River's sonic screwdriver, Ms Foster's sonic pen, Sarah Jane's sonic lipstick, Jack's sonic blaster, etc.]. It does not use the Master's laser screwdriver [it should be obvious why]. A complete article and list will appear in a forthcoming entry. Don't you love coming attractions.

So maybe they are the worst offenders and maybe they aren't. I invite you to Take a look at the numbers and then decide.

The Charts

Let's start with a simple one, the one everybody normally thinks of. That is, which writers are guilty of writing excessive numbers of sonic screwdriver uses. Of course we know the answer for the top two slots—Davies and Moffat are a given there.

Top Ten In Writing Sonic Uses

Top Ten Offenders of Sonic incidents
Writer# sonic uses writtenFailures
Russell T Davies1709
Steven Moffat16715
Phil Ford742
Gareth Roberts463
Chris Chibnall460
Mark Gatiss311
Toby Whithouse264
Helen Raynor224
Neil Cross192
Stephen Thompson180

The top slots are populated with writers from the new series. Seeing that when the show came back, the sonic had an even bigger comeback. Christopher Eccleston in 10 stories/13 episodes had as many sonic uses as Tom Baker [the Fourth Doctor] had in all seven of his seasons. But this chart really doesn't tell us much except that many of the writers for the new series are, in essence, screwdriver crazy.

Davies tops the charts due to the totally excessive use of the sonic lipstick used by Sarah Jane. But then again, all the writers on SJA were over-active lipstick users...

Most Prolific Offenders

So what do you need to know in order to find the most prolific offenders? The number of uses is useless without comparing it to some other reference point. It needs to be charted against something to show whether a writer's number of uses is out of whack. This can't be the number of stories/episodes because stories/episodes are different running length and in the case of this analysis, two-parters are considered as single stories, as are the multi-parters from classic Who. No, stories/episodes won't do. Instead, it was decided to work with the total amount of time that their writing was shown on screen. That removes the problem of the classic Who stories be three, four, six, or even twelve parts. Time is time no matter how many stories it encompasses.

So writing a lot of story time with lots of uses is where we're headed. So I calculated the amount of time each writer contributed which enabled this next table putting the numbers from the first table [number of sonic uses written] into perspective.

Top Ten Prolific Writers
WriterHours of show written# sonic uses written
Russell T Davies36.85170
Robert Holmes [C]29.369
Terry Nation [C]25.1613
Malcolm Hulke [C]24.3310
Steven Moffat21.20167*
Bob Baker [C]15.2815
Dave Martin [C]13.6811
Terrance Dick [C]13.235
Gareth Roberts12.9846
Phil Ford12.5474

[C] denotes writer for classic Who

* I expect this to change as of 23 NOV 2013

NOTE : The above table has been reordered to show descending order by number of story time written.

Ahh, that seems to change things quite a bit. Davies and Moffat is still at the top but six of the other slots are filled with new people, many of the writers from classic Who. I find it interesting that Russell T. Davies wrote only seven more hours than Robert Holmes yet Davies' sonic use number is over 18 times larger. It's nice when the numbers tell their story.

The number of classic Who writers also shows how much of the show was contributed by classic Who writers. Are you surprised by the amount of story time contributed by Terry Nation? And how many of you recognize the names Bob Baker and Dave Martin? It's surprising that those two actually wrote more than Terrence Dicks. Being a script editor was not factored in to these calculations. If it was Robert Holmes might just be most prolific writer.

But even this doesn't necessarily tell us who the biggest sonic offender is. We need to do another calculation on this information first.

Highest "Sonic Uses/Storytime"

A big consideration has to be just how much story time did each writer contribute compared to the amount of sonic uses they wrote? I had the hours each writer contributed, and yes, it was a massive undertaking but necessary for this analysis. And it wasn't just the stories In the new series there were many other little tidbits, especially during Moffat's reign. So the TARDISodes from Ten's first season and all the little Minisodes from Eleven's time. I was surprised how much it actually tacked on to some writers.

So after all the times were compiled I was able to get an accurate measurement of who might be considered the worst offender by finding out the ratio of story time written / number of sonic uses.

Ten Ten Offenders Uses/Time
Writer# sonic uses writtenHours of show writtenMinutes / sonic uses
Neil Cross191.480:04:41
Clayton Hickman10.080:05:00
Stephen Thompson181.520:05:05
Phil Gladwin50.480:05:45
Neil Gaiman151.530:06:07
Toby Whithouse263.160:07:18
Stephen Greenhorn121.50:07:30
Keith Temple60.750:07:30
Steven Moffat16721.20:07:37
Mark Gatiss314.50:08:43

Moffat still reigns as writer the most uses but with the number of hours of story time he's written, story time/sonic, his use ratio is actually a lot lower than you might think. I know for all you Moffat dislikers out there, this isn't what you want to hear. But there are the numbers. Seems like Neil Cross, with a ratio of a sonic use for every 4 minutes 41 seconds of story time is our worst offender. Moffat is almost twice that ratio clocking in at one use for every 7 minutes 37 seconds. That's still pretty bad, but you can see there are eight writers with worse scores than Moffat. As much as it saddens me to say, Moffat is by far NOT the worst sonic offender.

Highest Failure Rate

And just because I had the data available, I figured I'd find out who was the most prolific writer in terms of having the screwdriver fail. Well, we have to go back to the early days of Who to find Malcolm Hulke. He is not the person who would have come to mind to top this chart, but you never know. He is the only writer from classic Who to appear on this chart.

Highest Failure Number
Writer# sonic uses written# of failuresFailure %
Malcolm Hulke [C]10220%
Helen Raynor22418.2%
Toby Whithouse26415.4%
Steven Moffat167158.9%
Gareth Roberts4636.5%
Russell T Davies17095.3%
Neil Cross1925.3%
Mark Gatiss3113.2%
Phil Ford7422.7%
Terry Nation1332.3%

[C] denotes writer for classic Who

So once again Moffat does not achieve the number one spot ending up fourth. But then again, I never remembered the Doctor's screwdriver failing that much in the episodes he wrote. Still, fourth position is still in the top ten...

And In Conclusion

So what did I learn while compiling the information for this dataset? I learned that this information was not to be found all in one place. I needed to watch [or at least scrub through] every episode which could have had a sonic use. It needed to be compiled and finally beat into submission till it gave up it's answers.

So what did you learn? Given the numbers shed some light on the facts about the Doctor's screwdriver I hope you learned something too.

In the weeks ahead I will be putting more charts and graphs together and, hopefully, a few more networks to give this more of a visual display. Cause it's always easier looking at pretty pictures than columns of numbers.

Till next, take care.

29 September 2013

Acoustic Science Table

I cleaned up the table a bit and have what I'd like to think of as a finished comparison. The left column is the physical science which the sonic screwdriver is mimicking and the right column is the acoustic science which I found that explains the real science available to actually perform that function. Granted, the science exhibited today is pale in comparison to what the writers have the sonic screwdriver doing on the show but it proves that these sciences actually do exist.

Physical ScienceSonic Style
acousticfrequency pulse
acousticamplify current
electricityconvert sound to electricity
electricitymagic wand
electromagnetismamplify current
electromagnetismconvert sound to electricity
electromagnetismconvert sound to EMR
electromagnetismconvert sound to magnetism
electromagnetismsolder with sound
electromechanicalconvert sound to electricity
electromechanicalmagic wand
electromechanicalsolder with sound
intermolecular forcealter particle fields
levitationacoustic levitation
nanotechnologyconvert sound to electricity
neurologybinaural beats
non-usemagic wand
powerconvert sound to electricity
record dataacoustic-assisted magentic recording
scanningacoustic microscopy
tardis mechanicsconvert sound to electricity
tardis mechanicsconvert sound to magnetism
tardis mechanicssolder with sound
tardis mechanicsacoustic microscopy
tardis mechanicsconvert sound to magnetism
telemetryjam radio waves
telemetryreceive radio waves
telemetrytransmit radio waves
thermodynamicsexcite/slowdown molecules
thermodynamicsweld with sound
threatenmagic wand
vector field physicsalter particle fields

Yes, you will find magic wand among those functions cause there are just some things that can not be explained no matter how much you delve into acoustic sciences.

Note : Figures. Shortly after posting this table, I found a few other entries which needed tweaked. That's what has been holding it up for a while. Tweaking the data in order to align it properly.

Acoustic x Physical Sciences

Things have gotten a bit busy on the home front. Mostly with attempts to find a decent job. So I've been away, but now i'm back.

And about that article we finished for Whotopia. As always, the graphics you submit aren't necessarily the final images. We created a network showing the connections between the physical sciences that the sonic screwdriver was mimicking and the acoustic science which could reasonably be used to explanation those effects. After the article was submitted I had a conversation with Jürgen and we agreed that a few of the items were not correctly correlated and two of the physical sciences were actually not necessary and needed to be changed to something already in the network.

But that was minor. The chart is pretty much as submitted and we won't languish on those little points.

Acoustic Sciences vs. Physical Sciences
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Jürgen felt that the network showing the connections between the physical sciences and the acoustic sciences would be the strongest graphic. After all, we were trying to show how open door is not a function so what better than to show what we actually think the explanation is. It all depends on what type of door it is on how the screwdriver can open it. Magnetically for older metal locking mechanisms and electromechanically for futuristic servo-powered doors.

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It's a little crowded but that's due to the size of the content area in this blog. And yes, you do see the magic wand category. On more than one occasion The Doctor has pulled out the screwdriver, waved it around with it emitting light and sound but absolutely nothing happened. In those instances, it appears as nothing more than a magic wand.

We're working on the next article but currently have no place to submit it yet. The Whotopia editors are taking a break for a couple months which means we are looking for another outlet.

20 September 2013

The Sonic Screwdriver's Little Brother Obviously...

Best title of a scientific paper I've run across in a while.

Radiation forces exerted on arbitrarily located sphere by acoustic tweezer

Acoustic Tweezer!

And people outside Doctor Who have a problem with Sonic Screwdriver. Mabe the Doctor keeps these tweezers in his other jacket.

19 September 2013

Reason For A Break

I was forced to take a break from typing recently. Not from lack of wanting to post but from a lack of coordination. I had a little accident in the kitchen the other day and the result is one of the more used fingers is unable to hit the keys very well.

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I'll be back as soon as the bandages come off and it doesn't hurt anymore.

15 September 2013

General Update...

I've been giving a lot of thought lately to the [slight] rift between the Classic Who and New Who fans. It can be quite annoying at times which is the reason I left the Facebook group. It was too much of the If you only started with the reboot, you need to check out the classic series. On the other side you get, The Tenth Doctor was my first Doctor. I wanted to be a more well-rounded fan by watching some of the classics but they are too slow, have crappy special effects, or Those Doctors/Companions just don't stack up to "our" Doctor Who.

To wit, I thought a good subject might be to dwell into The Gentrification of Doctor Who. What should be one large fandom has fractured into multiple smaller ones each taking a side with a few on both sides actually drawing a line in the sand. And that's not good. It's only a show people.

Next Screwdriver Article
Still working on about how certain writers seem to writer more screwdriver scenes than others. There were writers who didn't use the screwdriver in their scripts while Moffat and some other writers never let it leave his hand.

Continuing to learn the new language. Each day brings me closer to what I've always envisioned I should be able to do on the web.

The 50th Anniversary Episode
I thought I'd be a little more excited about 23 NOV 2013, but I'm not. I've got a certain amount of trepidation about how this story will unfold. I can't say I've been happy about some of Moffat's other stories. Problem is, this isn't just another story, is it. You only get one shot at this and all we have is Moffat.

Facebook Doctor Who Group
After much consideration I decided to leave the group on Facebook. Although there was some excellent people writing really good posts, the in-fighting between the classic fans and the new fans got on my nerves. Sure, I enjoy the classic series more but that doesn't stop me from watching all the new episodes [even when they're penned by Moffat]. But at times it got down to nasty name-calling. It got so bad that the group had to go to a moderated state. And even then, it wasn't pretty. Such is life...

14 September 2013

First Successful Network With d3.js

Well it took a little while but I got a force-directed network up and running. It's barebones right now and I'm working on getting it actually display the information about the nodes and links, but that will come. You can grab a node and move it around. I need to find the code to do that. And the link distance and charge need adjusted to spread out the network better. I'm just glad the network shows up.

Jürgen says I should concentrate more on getting the information visualized first either with a mouseover of a separate Information Area..

Yea. That's next on the agenda...

13 September 2013

Where Next?

I just talked to Jürgen about what we should do for our next article. I suggested we concentrate on the aspect of the writers and their overuse of the sonic screwdriver. There are quite a few writers who never once had the Doctor pick up the screwdriver and then there are writers who never let it leave the Doctor's hand. It seems strange there's such wild divergence in behavior but different pens for different writers.

Anyway, we had jokingly talked about the biggest sonic offenders and detailing who wrote the most uses per number of minutes of stories. He thinks it's a good one to do next. Besides, all the information is currently in the dataset and is ready to be set into some good charts and graphs.

And some people will be surprised when the final numbers come out as to who is the biggest offender. I will tell you it's not Steven Moffat. Yes, he has written the most uses but he's also written a large chunk of stories. And that makes his numbers ratio drop.

So the writing has commenced.

But first will be a little piece I've been meaning to write on The Gentrification of Doctor Who.

11 September 2013

Sonic Devices in Illustrator

As work progresses on the sonic screwdriver dataset I took a little time out to fiddle with Illustrator. I needed a little practice with the program anyway so this seemed appropriate to do. It was a quickie set and I'd like to fix a few problems I had but I think they will be making an appearance later on in the process. Especially since I recently started working with the gradient mesh which makes colouring a lot easier.

ETA 1 : the image does not show up properly on my iPad. Need to look into this problem. Must have something to do with giving it percentages for width and height.

ETA 2 : The iPad doesn't like it when I specify an image by percentages. It wants pixel width and height.

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10 September 2013

Sonic Screwdriver Usage Charts

I've just sent the article over to Jürgen one last time and after he signs off on it, off the editor it goes. This is the first article in the series and it's just too bad that the magazine is going on hiatus shortly. Means we need to find another outlet.

How We Defined The Sonic Uses
Using our sonic screwdriver list we categorized every use to the closest physical science a function was attempting to mimic, and which acoustic science could possibly explain those results. So every physical science is connected to one or more sonic science depending on the use. This isn't as easy as it sounds. I lost track how many nights I wander the dusty corridors of the intratubes looking for the merest scrap of potential research that could explain one of the uses of the screwdriver.

For a while I was saying the screwdriver acted like a mass spectrometer when the Doctor used it for scanning [that was before the acoustic eureka moment]. But a mass spectrometer is not a non-destructive device. Whatever it examines is destroyed in the process. I needed something non-destructive to explain how he could scan a person and not harm them. That's when I ran into acoustic microscopy. And that's when I decided that every use needed to be explained by an acoustic science.

797 uses later they are all explained. Well almost all of them. There's still those pesky magic wand uses that can never be explained. But there should be some mystery behind the screwdriver.

Uses by Character Chart
The first thing we needed to do was calculate just how many times each character used any sonic device. And that job fell to me so I scrubbed through every episode from Fury From the Deep to The Name of the Doctor looking for every use. It was daunting but was the only way to get a complete list. And when it was all said and done, the following chart emerged. The Doctors start at the 12 o'clock position with The Second Doctor and follows through to the 10 o'clock position where The Eleventh Doctor ends. That's over 80% of all the uses.

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Physical Science by Acoustic Science Network
This chart shows the connections made during the initial stage of What acoustic science can explain that use? First every use was gathered into the dataset logging in the episode, who used it, and what exacting it was doing. At that stage, I didn't really know how I was going to catalog these. I will be writing up that part of process in a later posting.

After the idea of researching all the acoustic sciences happened and all the uses were nestled into their respective categories, it was time to put it into a network. Jürgen saw that an interesting view came from comparing how the physical and the acoustic sciences interconnected. There is a defined area where the electromagnetic uses clump together with only thermodynamics being connected to this cluster.

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The article goes into some detail about the explanations of connecting the acoustic science to the physical science. It was amazing how much of the science to explain the sonic screwdriver actually exists today. No really, I saw a video where a scientist caused a disc to revolve in a liquid using only an ultrasonic device. And that motion harkens back to the very first use in Fury From the Deep when the Second Doctor turned that very first screw.

09 September 2013

Final Draft of the Article

I'm working on the final draft for The Sonic Screwdriver: Open Door Is Not A Function. Jürgen is working on the conclusion [cause he's had more experience writing them] and I'm working on the network graphic [taking it through Illustrator and cleaning it up].

We should have it completed by tomorrow.

Looks like we'll have to start looking for another outlet for the next article. It was nice that we had a 100% chance of getting what we wrote published in Whotopia. Now we have to start all over again with someone else. But that's writing I guess. A never ending uphill battle.

I will posted the network graphic when it is finished.

08 September 2013

Last Whotopia Magazine Issue

Whotopia Magazine
After submitting my article to Whotopia I was informed that #26 will be the last one for a while. That makes me sad. Any discontinuation of a good magazine is not good. Especially when they were publishing my articles. In their reply they stated one of the problems was finding a new layout guru.

In my reply to their reply I said I was sorry to see it end. Then I asked what they were looking for in a layout guru who would like to see the magazine continue I went on to tell them that I was a graphic designer and if it fit into my schedule I might be up to the task of attempting to fill the position.

This would accomplish two things. 1) I could continue publishing articles in the magazine; 2) getting experience in the magazine publishing field. I call that a win/win for everyone.

Let's see what their response is...

07 September 2013

Writing and Programming

Whotopia Article
Just got an email back from the editors of Whotopia agreeing to allow us an extra week to finish the article. I just hope they also agree to let the article grow to 3,000 words. Even at that length we had to cut a lot of information out. Part of today will be spend on polishing up the article mainly with the addition of the humour. Like the description of one of my favorite magic wand incident. In The Impossible Planet Ten and Rose land on the station and the Ood enter the room saying, "We must feed..., We must feed". Ten whips out the screwdriver, points it at them, and it glows and buzzes... and absolutely nothing happens. What the hell was supposed to happen? Those are one of the areas that are classed magic wand.

And that's why I'm working do hard to get this information up as a d3js page. I can envision how one page would be able to present an enormous amount of information choosable by the viewer. On one page clicking various buttons would present the information of each Doctor. On another page would be the Acoustic Sciences. And the possibilities can be expanded beyond what I can think out now.

So as I'm sitting here, waiting on the next step of the tomato sauce preparation, I am continuing to work at conquering the d3js learning curve.

06 September 2013

Sonic Update

Whotopia Article
Just met with Jürgen yesterday going over the article for Whotopia. Have decided the first article should be titled Open Door Is Not A Function as this article attempts to correlate what the sonic screwdriver does to real life acoustic sciences. And every time I heard someone talk about how the screwdriver opened a door I knew this had to be the first topic. It's due by Saturday and it's not finished. Real Life has a habit of rearing its head at approximately the wrong time. But I'm working on it.

The Dataset
After coming across a few more uses the total, up to The Name Of The Doctor is 797. I'm quite sure the total will crest 800 with no problem once the 50th anniversary is broadcast. After all, it has the two most sonic-welding Doctors appearing.

The Sonic On The Web
Currently working on developing some interactive web pages using the sonic data. Static images are nice but what this dataset needs is a way to actively change the view of the data. Using the JavaScript library, d3.js I'm working on building some nice visuals to display the data. The potential is there, I just have to learn how to harness it.

The Next Subject
Jürgen and I agree that developing the charts showing the biggest offenders of sonic usage is a good subject. And people will be very surprised that the top of the heap is not ruled by Steven Moffat. He may had written the most uses but he's also logged in a lot more minutes of showtime. But that's after the acoustic science charts are finished.

Have a day...

01 September 2013

Data Visualization vs. Datagraphic vs. Infographic

What's the difference between data visualization, data graphics, and the lowly  infographic?

I've been researching data visualization and there seems to be quite bit of bad imagery. So that's what I'm trying to avoid. Infographics also have an extreme bad reputation—mainly due to too many graphically challenged people doing graphics on any and all subjects. 

I just hope I learn my lessons well when it's time to start visualizing the sonic data. Thankfully I have a good teacher who is not only good with the math but has an excellent sense of aesthetics. 

Another programming language?

I promised myself a few years back I was done with programming. It was getting complicated needing to know multiple languages to do anything. FInished I said. I went on to learn network analysis.

Then along came more of those interactive graphics on the web. guess what you need to be able to do. So contrary to my promise, it was back to the books to learn d3.js. It was the only way I was going to move past the static graphics I was producing and make the data visualizations that I had in my head.

I joined a data visualization group and the head of the group is a Ph.D student in network analysis and he works with d3. I hope to have the first graphic up shortly. Won't be anything super-fantastic but hopefully it will be a start. I just have to see how to make it work on this blog. I've gotten it semi-functional on my web site [seeing I don't have complete and utter access to the entire code], but it will work if coded correctly. Now it's time to explore getting it working on Blogger. It's so much more difficult trying things on platforms like instead of a made form the ground up web site.

Another Twitter test

Twitter Test

Now that I'm finding more time to actually write it was suggested that I set up the blog to automatically post to twitter.

So here comes the test.

ETA: no post on Twitter. Will need to research this more after tomato sauce is made...

Whotopia article

Working on the Sonic Screwdriver Unification Theory article. Well, that's what I'm calling it for now. It's due by September 7th and its far from finished. 

This part of the project looks at explaining the functions of the sonic using only acoustic sciences. Let me say that some were difficult to place. Fact is, some just needed to be called Magic Wand and be done with it [ i.e., Ten affixing Ursula's face to the cement]. 

But most of the functions are placed into real sciences and when looked at in this manner actually make sense, really they do. 

After the article is published I will be doing a full charting of them. Hopefully this will include an interactive page using the d3.js I'm learning.