Results tagged “maps” from kwc blog

Google Maps adding 3D-like buildings

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googlemap3d.b.jpg Google Operating System: 3D Buildings in Google's Street Maps

Google Maps now has isometric projections for buildings in select cities, possibly drawing on 3D building data they have been gathering with their Google Earth product. It's not as cool as Microsoft's Virtual Earth 3D, but at least it works in any 'ole browser.

Checkout Boston or read the Google OS blog entry for more.

First Google "My Map"

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I made a map of my Hawaii Vacation to try out the new Google Maps "My Maps" feature. There are numerous sites out there that do something similar with Google Maps, but its nice to see that Google is now providing an in-house version. As an added bonus, you can export your map to KML, which is their format for Google Earth.

Update: Added some whale watching, Byodo-In temple, and Spitting Cave photos

My vacation map is a bit incomplete as I still haven't uploaded my photos of humpback whales or West Oahu yet. I similarly mapped my photos using Flickr's builtin mapping features, but this is much more fun as you can create your own distinct map instead of a single universal map of all your photos. Of course, it also takes a little more effort to do it the Google Maps way.

mymaps.png

Maps as culture

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GeoCarta has a post on a new collection of Holy Land Maps available online. What was striking for me, in addition to the beautiful maps, was this Geocarta observation:

Most of the early maps are oriented to the east, reflecting the view point of European mapmakers looking in the direction of the Holy Land. It wasn't until the Renaissance that cartographers began drawing maps oriented to the north.

i.e. a simple 90-degree rotation in maps summarizes a key distinction between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

I also liked the subsequent tidbit: "Reviewing the collection, one can see a change toward the end of the 18th century as maps began replacing pictorial elements with symbols and legends."

Cordurl

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Cordurl mapPaul launched with a new toy I like: Cordurl. It's like tinyurl for geographical locations. For example, http://cordurl.com/M9G-6E 'links' to a NASA Shuttle Landing Facility. Paul even integrated it with geonames so that links to related Wikipedia articles show up.

The 4th Dimension in Google

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Just last week at lunch, we were discussing Google Earth and MS's Virtual Earth 3D and how cool it would be once there is enough data to start adding a time slider to it all. Move the slider on Mountain View and you'd get to watch the town collapse all the way down to a stage coach stop. Move the slider over San Francisco and watch the skyline appear and the Golden Gate Bridge come into fruition.

Well, as it turns out, we were discussing a feature that is, in some ways, already there. The new Google Earth 4 comes with a time slider, which works with any timestamp data. It's not the all encompassing time machine, as it is a feature that still awaits massive amounts of data, but people have already put it to work with Hurricane Katrina, London buildings, and more.

There's also another feature they've announced that fits well with all of this: new historical map layers.

This, to me, is a critical tipping point for consumer mapping applications. Before, they could only show us the present. Now, they can show us our past, i.e. give us glimpses into our cultural memory, take a walk down Memory Lane in 3D. Now, we just need data.

Google Earth Blog: Google Earth 4th Dimension Redux

Virtual Earth 3D

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I've been playing around with Virtual Earth 3D, and at least when it comes to flying through realistic 3D models of major US metropolitan areas, Microsoft has gone into the lead over Google Earth. You have to install an Internet Explorer plugin, which isn't so bad when you consider that Google Earth is a separate application and didn't have a Mac client for quite awhile. Once you install it, I've enjoyed easily switching between map, satellite, birds-eye, and 3D views.  For some reason I am getting SimCity flashbacks.

There's room for improvement. The zoom controls are very wonky: 3 out of the 7 zoom levels launch you into outer space and it loses track of where you are on the map! Their attempt at incorporating virtual billboards into the models is also fairly crude (see screenshots below) and they are still missing models for some very landmark buildings (e.g. Prudential Center and Fenway Park in Boston). Nevertheless, this delivers one of the best out-of-the-box 3D mapping experiences for this sort of software (i.e. Google Earth), and it seems that Microsoft made very good choices in acquiring Vexcel and Geotango to make this all work.

San Jose: nice model of the new Richard Meier City Hall building, but what's that weird spec over the hills? Why, it's one of Microsoft's floating billboard ads in the middle of nowhere!

San Francisco: When I last checked Google Earth, you couldn't get a good model of the Transamerica without downloading custom models (a pain, really). Virtual Earth 3D includes nice models of the Transamerica and Coit Tower, but I don't seem to recall a large floating orange billboard atop the Transamerica.

Boston: Impressive model of the Christian Science Church Park and Hancock building, but what's a Boston skyline without the Pru (Prudential Center, large flat area just above church)?

More info: * O'Reilly Radar on 'Spaceland' preview * Windows Live Local blog

Nice outdoor vacation tool

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The National Park Service has a "Find a Park" page that makes it easy to browse lists of national parks by activity, proximity, or both. There are convenient pop-up descriptions that make it easy to quickly find out more about the parks you've listed.

Find a Park

A9 drops a bunch of stuff

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A9 has launched a redesign which features a nice continuous scrolling feature, but their redesign always comes with heavy cutting: bye-bye A9 Maps with street photos, Amazon discount, yellow pages, history, bookmarks, diary, and toolbar. Where other services like Google and Yahoo are racing to add more, A9 has opted for less, which would be admirable if I didn't happen to like what they dropped. The A9 maps and Amazon discount were the only two reasons I ever went to a9.com. The A9 maps were a bit under featured to be killer -- they could never tell me what I was looking at -- but it did make it a useful service distinct from other mapping sites. It's difficult now to look at a9.com and see what they offer that's unique other than their own fancy UI widgets.

A9: What's New

What are these blue spots?

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I was playing around with Wikimapia, which seems to be a fun site because people have annotated a Google Map so that you can find out various things like apartment complex names, bike path entrances, sites of former dumps, etc... One of the best features of the site is that you can easily select a region of the map to post to your blog, like I did above.

The area above is the entrace to the Dish loop off of Junipero Serra -- anyone know what those blue spots are?

And speaking of maps: I hope to see the Old Maps group of Flickr grow.

A few links

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MareNostrumchurch.s.jpg nielsenstrike.jpg jackpc.jpg

30boxes: it's all coming together

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30boxes.gifLast month, 30boxes added e-mail integration to their online calendar tool. You forward the e-mail to their add [at] 30boxes.com address and whatever is in the subject line is used as the "one box" event information (e.g. "Birthday Party May31 5:30pm tag birthday"). Handy and essential, but not much of a "Wow!" factor for me.

More recently, 30boxes added event mapping support. If you add a location to an event, which they make pretty easy, it will mark it on a Google Map and display the weather forecast. The map nerd in my scores this with a wow factor, even if it isn't as useful as e-mail integration. Between the two it means that you can pull up a calendar event, check the e-mail that started it, look at where the event is, and even find out what the weather will be like when you get there -- pretty much everything that I might want to check prior to an event. You can even get the same mapping support with events from your upcoming.org calendar that have location data.

30boxes has worked with upcoming.org from the start and they keep coming up with more and more features between the two that increase my usage of both. I've signed up for a Google Calendar but 30boxes has held my attention. Google Calendar is a good Google product, but it does things the Google way. In order to support public calendars, Google crawls the entire Web and gathers every calendar it can find. That's great if I quickly want to find the Redskins' football schedule, but the Google way precludes great synergistic integrations like 30boxes and upcoming.org. I'm sure the GCal + GMail integration will be fantastic, but with 30boxes is better targeted at a Web-savvy audience.

Cali was an archipelago

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image by Ron Blakeybldgblog has done a nice job of putting together Ron Blakey's beautiful maps of the formation of the North America continent:

It cleans while it maps

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A co-worker of mine strapped a laser on top of a Roomba and turned it into a mapper: Roomba Mapper. For $2000 you could build one of our own :).

Almost useful Caltrain site

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iamcaltrain is an attractive mashup of Yahoo maps, Flickr, and the Caltrain schedule. I've posted my own Caltrain hacks before (Caltrain vis, Caltrain tags), so anything that makes my commute easier is bound to catch my attention. iamcaltrain almost did it, but it needs a couple of tweaks:

  • I can get a station-to-station schedule, but I can't bookmark it
  • Reloading clears the schedule I'm looking at
  • Bug: To get from Mountain View to Menlo Park leaving right now it gave me the option of taking the next train to Menlo Park (15 minutes) or taking the same train all the way to San Bruno and catch a train back (1 hour 24 minutes).
  • Bug: If I type the name of a station in the start or end boxes, it assumes I'm typing an address

Old links to clear out 2005

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Yahoo Maps (beta) and Local Events

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The Local Events Browser mashup is a nice demo of the new Yahoo Maps beta. It helped me find out about the "Gross, Gruesome, and Gothic" exhibit (10/1 - 3/12) over at the Cartoon Art Museum (I keep meaning to go there sometime). It is also a good visualization of how lame Peninsula life can be: zoom out a bit and the Peninsula looks like the eye of the hurricane, the perfect nothing calm surrounded by the torrent of SF, Berkeley, Oakland, and even San Jose.

Short bits

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More Japan recollections coming, but I'm a bit sick from my adventures which is slowing me down. In the meantime:

Question: What do you call two typographers in one room?
Answer: An argument?
(retold on the new MS Font Blog)

Speaking of fonts, here's Vitaly Friedman's list of 20 best license-free fonts

In case you're tired of "As Long as You Love Me" on repeat from the Chinese Backstreet Boys, they have plenty of more adventures: collected videos and Chinese blog.

Frappr is a nice, simple tool for groups. It lets you map out who's where which can be useful for groups that you normally interact with online. My fraternity alumni have just started using it.

Final links before I go

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Fun tools and resources

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Gmaps Pedometer: a great Google Maps hack that lets figure just how long that bike ride to work is and even send that route as a link to friends.

NumSum: for those simpler spreadsheets that don't need Excel (i.e. all of them).

Five Ingredient Recipes: when cooking for myself I try not to exceed three steps in my cooking process, which includes unwrapping the package to stick it in the microwave. Five ingredients implies at least five steps, but I may be willing to sacrifice.

Rapid Afterimage: this optical illusion still throws me.

As a followup to my Craigslist + Google Maps post, Josh sent me a link to urbanrenter, which does with the Craigslist/Maps brainmeld did, with a few bonus extras.

Urbanrenter uses data from Craigslist to display both macro- and micro-level rental details -- you can tell, for example, that living south of 280 is hecka expensive (darker map shading), and if you zoom in there are circles representing individual Craigslist listings. This provides a good resource for figuring out where you can afford to live as well as finding apartments for rent there.

Urbanrenter also features draggable maps like Google Maps, a feature that Peter Norvig noted as one of Google's "differentiating features" at the BayCHI panel two nights ago. The implementation is a little different -- Urbanrenter uses a single, over-sized map image, whereas Google Maps uses multiple map tiles, with some lying off-screen (somewhat akin to old videogame implementations). Google's implementation gets the nod for now (dynamically resizable, smoother loading), but it's good to see that others have this feature.

Overall, I'm also preferring the Craigslist + Google Maps meld to Urbanrenter for the task of finding an apartment. C+GM is easier to use overall -- Urbanrenter requires you to type in a street address or zip code (neither is an easy detail if you don't already live in the area) to get the listings, and the overlays showing the locations of listings is not as easy to read. These seem like small quibbles that could easily be fixed.

Craigslist + Google Maps

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I've seen several Google Maps hacks since its recent release, but this one takes the prize for actually being useful: Craigslist + Google Maps

You can see all of the Craiglist apartment rent/sale listings overlaid on a Google Map, and if you click on a listing it will show you the details for that listing, including pictures. You can also narrow the listings down to your particular price range.

Having used Craigslist before to find housing, I know that this would have saved a lot of time and effort.

SF salt beds

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I love it when my flight into the Bay Area takes me over the salt beds in the South Bay -- the color from the air is so brilliant, and each 'tile' of water is so distinct. They're not quite as impressive when viewed from the ground, partly because of the rotten aroma, though it is interesting to see the salt caked up on the retaining walls when you cross the Dumbarton Bridge.

I finally took the time to lookup more information about these salt beds and found out that they were started by Cargill Salt over a century ago, and many are still in active use today. The Cargill Web site has a brief virtual tour that explains some of the process of converting Bay water into the salt product.

In 2003, many of the salt beds were bought by the state/federal government to be turned back into wildlife refuge. The John Cang Photography site has a photo essay that shows the potential future of these salt beds, juxtaposing wildlife in the salt beds with the same wildlife enjoying the Palo Alto Baylands Preserve.

I also grabbed two images, one from Keyhole and the other from Cargill's site that you can compare. The shaded blue represents salt beds that are now under refuge status.

04-05-05.saltbeds.rot.jpg

04-05-05.cargill.saltbeds.map.gif

credit A Whole Lotta Nothing for reminding me of the topic (though his WAG may have a couple inaccuracies)

Maneesh Agrawala, Julie Heiser, and Barbara Tversky Tutorial session at AAAI

Two implemented systems explored for automated design of visualizations: map routes and assembly instructions. Map routes system (LineDrive) used by MapBlast (now mappoint.msn.com).

Three parts to talk: cog sci/CS background, map routes, assembly instructions.

Y! Maps got Wi-Fi

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In the never-ending battle between Yahoo and MapQuest, I now give the edge to Yahoo, which is including Wi-Fi hotspot locations on their maps:
- Mountain View

It is unclear to me how they are getting this data -- you won't find your neighbor's access point listed on it, and some retail locations I know of are missing (Dana Street). They do have every Starbucks and McDonald's listed (sometimes twice), along with apartment complexes, miscellaneous stores (Borders, Apple) and coffee shops.

This is good advertising for those retail chains and apartment complexes. It also means that the next time I visit Boston I won't have to walk up and down Newbury Street with my signal strength indicator trying to find a place to drink coffee :) (Boston Wi-Fi map).

(via asa)

Orkut map

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I'm sure stuff like this will cause another privacy stir, but you can get a geographical map of your friend network on Orkut. - Here's mine (red is friend, blue is friend-of-friend)

My map points how my Boston and Virginia friends aren't really represented at all; just a big gob of people in SF. Although it would be nice for these to fill in, the fact is that orkut has become rather boring, and I sign in about once a month nowadays (the same with Friendster).

meta points to dodgeball as an example of social network service that has some potential. Dodgeball lets you use SMS to announce to your social network where you currently are, which is nice at night when you're bar hopping. Having seen it in action, though, I'm willing to bet that it will go the way of the dodo; it's simply too annoying to be receiving text messages all the time and it's not clear to me that a cellphone has a rich enough of a UI to make it not annoying.

(via joi ito)