I’ve liked the Google chart API ever since I first discovered it. Pack a text definition of an image into a URL
http://chart.apis.google.com/chart?YOUR-IMAGE-HERE and you’ll be served up a freshly cooked PNG. It’s free. There’s not even a watermark.
http://chart.apis.google.com/chart? # A chart, please &chs=320x160 # sized 320x160 pixels &cht=gom # of type swingometer &chd=t:70 # with 70% swing &chl=Nice! # labeled "Nice!"
Gone are the days when the documentation fitted on a single web-page. The API has fattened up and filled out. Every time I visit something new has been added: mathematical formulae written in TeX; a playground where you can sketch a chart directly; a validation option which tells you where you went wrong — much more helpful than a bare 404.
New to me: dynamic icons, which let you create “a variety of interesting callouts, pins, or bubbles that mix text and images”.
Mercurial manxman Mark Cavendish won an incredible 6 stages of last year’s Tour. Here he is, becoming the first Briton ever to win the final showdown on the Champs-Élysées, and winning it by an immense margin. For me, it was a bitter-sweet moment: that sprint should have put Cav in the green jersey, but he’d thrown away his chance in the points competition earlier in the race with an act of petulance which I still struggle to understand.
The Champs-Élysées may have a cobbled surface but it’s level and straight — definitely one for the sprinters. How about something twisted and mountainous? This second tableau recreates Fabian Cancellara’s dare-devil descent during stage 7 of last year’s tour. Defending the maillot jaune, Cancellara got dropped by the peleton following a wheel change. Watch him weave between team cars and camera bikes at top speed to regain his place. Awesome!
Now for a real classic — when Stephen Roche dug deep during an epic mountain stage in the 1987 Tour. Pedro Delgado, wearing yellow, had built a substantial lead over his rival on the climb up La Plagne. Yet somehow Roche clawed his way back into contention, appearing at the finish line just 5 seconds down on Delgado. He surprised everyone. He collapsed, exhausted, and had to be given oxygen, but he’d done enough. Roche went on to win the Tour. Formidable!