Archive for July, 2009

Health insurance is a solved problem

The current health care debate is reminding me how upset I am that most Americans don’t understand Economics. Paul Krugman, the master of economics journalism, explains it well. There is no debate. There are some types of goods for which markets work well, and others for which markets don’t work well. The simple fact is, health insurance is one of those goods that is most efficiently provided as a government monopoly. Just like defense or public parks. This is not controversial among economists.

Yet somehow politicians get away with meaningless arguments like “we need competitive markets.”

It seems incredibly dumb to spend so much time arguing about a solved problem. Especially when there are millions of people with sub-par health care that have to continue to wait for progress.

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It Turns Out You Can Make Error Bars

Since OmniGraphSketcher is such a general-purpose graphing program, the possibilities are almost endless. So endless, in fact, that it took me until today to realize that making vertical error bars (a popular feature request) is actually pretty easy. Read more on the Omni blog:

It Turns Out You Can Make Error Bars With OmniGraphSketcher

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I suppose that given a big enough forest, eventually one tree is bound to fall so precisely against another tree that it stays…

(I took this photo on Orcas Island, WA)

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OmniGraphSketcher 1.0

When I first noticed, almost seven years ago, that there was no good software for sketching Economics graphs, I never imagined that this small observation would grow into such a major project. After several independent studies, conference papers, a masters thesis, and an acquisition, today my little project has reached a new milestone: the official release of OmniGraphSketcher 1.0.

This software application has always proven somewhat tricky to describe. I think this is partly because it is the first product of its kind, and partly because the word “graph” has such a wide range of meanings. I completely reframed the description at least five or ten times while writing my masters thesis. But my new favorite summary is by Omni’s documentation and UI master, Bill:

OmniGraphSketcher is a quick, straightforward tool for creating graphs, whether you have specific data to visualize or you just have a concept to explicate. And it doesn’t assume that you have gobs of free time and attention to learn how to use it.

You can find out more about OmniGraphSketcher in Linda’s entertaining Omni blog post and on the official product page.

As for me, I want to acknowledge again all the friends, mentors, usability testers, beta testers, and users who have continued to give feedback, find bugs, and suggest further improvements. The software would never have come this far if they had not repeatedly convinced me that it was actually useful.

So thank you, and enjoy OmniGraphSketcher! It’s a different kind of graphing program. I know there are many possibilities for expanding its functionality, and I look forward to exploring them. Even after seven years, this is version 1.0 – just the beginning.

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