Microsoft option for quick, easy embedded graphics

Microsoft SkyDriveNothing beats hard-coding graphics and data right onto your website, but that’s not always possible – sometimes because of technical limitations and other times simply because of a lack of time.

For that reason, many of Google’s tools have become popular as embed options. But Microsoft would like a slice of the pie. A Microsoft representative at an Investigative Reporters and Editors conference in St. Louis recently showed me a slick alternative. I’ve begun using it in selective situations.

Simply take an Excel spreadsheet, spruce it up in the Excel “table” view and upload it to a Hotmail account in the document section known as SkyDrive. Use the share option to get an embed code. Take a look at the graphic at the bottom of this weather story. The bars add a graphic eliminate to what otherwise may have been a simple chart, and I like theĀ  ease for self-sorting.

Analyzing success in the NFL Draft


Few things in sports are analyzed as deeply as the NFL draft, especially in victory-starved and football-crazed Cleveland. But the discussion is almost always based on debating which players will be NFL stars by rating their talent.

We took a different twist in 2012, looking back at what has worked. We set the scale high – finding an All-Pro. This gave us a clear way to judge players from year to year. What we found said a lot about why teams are successful. The teams with the best records over the last decade also were the most successful on draft day, despite not always drafting as high. Accumulating a lot of top 100 picks seemed to be key. The Browns were among the worst on both draft day and on the playing field.

Take a look at what we found, including the likelihood of finding All-Pros in each round of the draft, and position-by-position trends (hint: All-Pros receivers were picked higher than any other positions).

Gerrymandering, Ohio Republicans prove it can work

Ohio Congressional District map, 2012-20

The current Ohio Congressional District map demonstrates gerrymandering.

Much is often said about the impact of who gets to draw the congressional district lines every 10 years; so we took a look at history and found it really does matter.

After the 2000 Census, for the first time in 50 years, one party in Ohio controlled the entire process – both chambers of the Statehouse and the governor’s office.

The Republicans, with that full control, drew the lines and won 62 percent of the congressional races in Ohio from 2002 through 2010 despite winning only 51 percent of the overall vote.

Read our findings. It will be interesting to see whether the GOP enjoys the same kind of success from their new lines forĀ  2012 through 2020. The lines were again drawn with the Republicans holding full control of the process.

The cost to non-athletes for Division I college sports

We took a dive into the funding of Division I NCAA sports and found that – outside of Ohio State – every other public school in Ohio is dipping into student fees, general funds or other public sources to operate their sports programs.

On average, it amounts to about $700 per student on campus – directly through mandatory student fees or other sources. Supporters say NCAA sports at the top level add to campus life and elevate the profile of places like Kent State, Akron and Cleveland State. Others question such spending, especially the part that goes to six-figure coaching salaries in some sports.

Read our award-wininng package on money in college sports. You’ll find details about all the Ohio Mid-American Conference schools, plus Cincinnati, Cleveland State, Wright State and Youngstown State. The private schools declined to share their information.