Sunday, July 31, 2011

First G1000 Install Completed On Cessna CitationJet


CJ G1000 with sky Last summer, the Garmin G1000 integrated flight deck was certified for installation on the Cessna CitationJet. Since then, we are excited to report several Citation Service Centers have completed installations. Here's the story of the first installation by Cessna's Wichita Citation Service Center:

For Click Bond Inc. of Carson City, Nev., the G1000 upgrade to its CitationJet met all expectations for an on-time conversion to the all-glass avionics suite that gave the company a more productive aircraft. It was the first aftermarket Cessna Citation CJ1 installation of the Garmin advanced avionics suite.

“From the moment that we picked up the airplane from the Wichita Citation Service Center through today we have not had any glitches or bugs in that G1000 system or in the GFC700 autopilot,” says Click Bond’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing Karl Hutter, one of the company’s three Citation pilots.

Patented Click Bond Fasteners
Click Bond is a successful business that designs and manufactures assembly solutions and fastening systems for a wide range of aviation, space, and marine vehicles. Its patented core technology replaces the mechanical fasteners traditionally used for attachment of nutplates or brackets with modern high strength adhesives – the “bond” in Click Bond, Hutter says. The other Click Bond pilots are Hutter’s father, Charles Hutter, the founder, president and CEO, and professional pilot and A&P Jere Marble.

Job_service_wichita,0The Click Bond trio of pilots provided a range of flying experiences that served to verify the design philosophy and seamless approach to integration that the G1000 brings to the aviation industry.

Karl Hutter explains, “We’ve got three pilots who have three different sets of experience on different sets of equipment.

500+ mph with the Garmin Nuvi 265WT GPS during flight

We took the Garmin Nuvi 265WT GPS from take off to cruising altitude and speed in a Cessna 750.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Google Places Testing New Layout

With all of the system wide quirks of late in Google Places, there has been speculation that the under the hood snafus were a reflection of bigger and more visible changes to come. This screen shot could be one of those changes. Sent to me by Nora and Yam Regev of, it shows some striking differences with the current Places Page.

It is too early to know if this is what the final product will look like or if it is just a test. It is missing owner description (an oft noted complaint recently in the forums), 3rd party review sentiment snippets (also recently removed from many search results), and even the highlighted 3rd party review that was associated with each review site. The links to 3rd party reviews have move down the page while the call to action in writing reviews and signing in are dramatically more obvious.  The lack of 3rd party summary reviews on the Place page display could explain the recent change of not showing the 3rd party review counts in the main search results.

As Linda noted below, the business description is appearing in most examples and is probably missing due to the recent bug. The big change, as noted in the comments, is the missing citations.

Friday, July 29, 2011

How to track hurricanes in Google Earth


The 2011 hurricane season is in full swing, and Google has recently added a nice set of hurricane-related data to Google Earth. Simply make sure that your "Places" layer is enabled, and you'll see icons appear in the water wherever hurricanes and/or tropical storms exist. For example, here is Tropical Storm Don, currently located in the southern part of the Gulf of Mexico.



This new feature in Google Earth is quite solid, as it provides quite a bit of data about each storm, along with historical tracks and future track predictions. However, it's a bit odd that this appears in the "Places" layer; why not somewhere in the "Weather" folder? As they explain, Google is trying to make the hurricane data easier to find by leaving it in the main "Places" layer, which is likely turned on for a lot of people. Still, if people dig around trying to find it, I'd expect most will go to the "Weather" layer first.

In past seasons we've seen other great hurricane trackers, such as the one from 'Glooton' that we've used for the past five years or so. However, that tracker is no longer working, and we're having a difficult time finding any decent tools beyond the one now built-in to Google Earth.

Gmail Snooze with Apps Script

What can you do with a little bit of Apps Script?

At Google, we all use email very heavily-- for communicating with other Googlers, for task management, and to mail around funny pictures of kittens. Because of the volume of email we all deal with (the internet is full of kittens), a lot of Googlers subscribe to the “inbox zero” philosophy. In inbox zero you try to keep your inbox empty of all but the emails you currently need to deal with.

What is Gmail Snooze?

In managing our inboxes, one feature that we really wanted was for Gmail to let you “snooze” an email. To snooze an email means to archive it for now, but to have it automatically reappear in the inbox at some specified time in the future. With Apps Script you can extend Gmail yourself to add this functionality and a lot more.

The Solution

Here is the Apps Script code for a “Gmail Snooze” extension. First some configuration details. Setting these variables determines whether “unsnoozed” mail gets marked as unread, and whether it gets its own special label.
var MARK_UNREAD = false;


The “setup” function creates a new “Snooze” label in your Gmail, along with 7 sublabels for snoozing for different lengths of time, and potentially an “Unsnoozed” label. Running this function will also prompt you to authorize the script to use Gmail. This function makes use of the “getLabelName” helper function, which will be used by the code below.
function getLabelName(i) {
  return "Snooze/Snooze " + i + " days";

function setup() {
  // Create the labels we’ll need for snoozing
  for (var i = 1; i <= 7; ++i) {

Moving the Snooze Queue

The “moveSnoozes” function moves messages one day forward in the queue, so that messages snoozed for 6 days are now snoozed for 5 days, etc. Messages in the 1-day label are moved back into the inbox, and potentially marked as unread. To make this work automatically, you’ll need to create a nightly event trigger to run “moveSnoozes”. See the more detailed instructions at the bottom of the post.
function moveSnoozes() {
  var oldLabel, newLabel, page;
  for (var i = 1; i <= 7; ++i) {
    newLabel = oldLabel;
    oldLabel = GmailApp.getUserLabelByName(getLabelName(i));
    page = null;
    // Get threads in "pages" of 100 at a time
    while(!page || page.length == 100) {
      page = oldLabel.getThreads(0, 100);
      if (page.length > 0) {
        if (newLabel) {
          // Move the threads into "today’s" label
        } else {
          // Unless it’s time to unsnooze it
          if (MARK_UNREAD) {
          if (ADD_UNSNOOZED_LABEL) {
        // Move the threads out of "yesterday’s" label

Using Snooze Label in Gmail

To "snooze" a thread, use Gmail’s “Move To” button to move the thread into the "Snooze for X days" label and archive it. Every night, threads will move up through one day of the queue, and at the appointed number of days they will reappear in your inbox, unarchived. If you want the messages to reappear as unread, just change “MARK_UNREAD” at the top to be “true”.

Because this is an Apps Script, you can edit the code any way you like. If you’d like different snooze times or for unsnoozed messages to get starred, you can easily change the code. And if you have an even better idea for how to use Apps Script to improve Gmail, you can post it to our Gallery (Script Editor > Share > Publish Project) to share with the world.

If you don't know how to setup a script, it's pretty simple. Create a new Google Spreadsheet, and choose "Script Editor" from the "Tools" menu. Paste in all of the code from above and then click the “Save” button and give it a name. In the dropdown labeled "Select a function to run," choose "setup" and click the blue run arrow to the left of it. This will ask you to authorize the script, and will create the necessary labels in your Gmail. Then go to the "Triggers" menu and choose "current script's triggers." Click the link to set up a new trigger, choosing the "moveSnoozes" function, a "time-driven" event, "day timer," and then "midnight to 1am." Click save and you are done.

The new way to visualize data in Google Earth

As we've seen over the years, Google Earth is an amazing tool for data visualization. We've shown you tools for visualizing census data, CO2 emissions and a variety of other items.

DataAppeal is a new data visualization company that is doing some neat stuff. They allow you to upload XLS files, which are then converted into 3D models and/or animations. The resulting models are quite well-done, as seen here:


Because they're a young company and are still building our their product, it's entirely free to use right now. That will likely change in the future, but hopefully they'll continue to provide a free option.

Their tool is already being used in mainstream publications in the Globe and Mail a few months back.

Nadia and her team have put together a solid tool, and it'll be fun to see how it develops in the coming years. If you build any interesting items with this system, leave a comment below and show it off to everyone.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The nuclear tweets with Google Earth


Over the past few months, we've shown you a few neat features that Hidenori Watanava has released relating to the Japanese earthquake and subsequent nuclear issues, including a variety of photo overlays and a data-heavy map with tons of great information.

In addition, we've shown various ways that users have tied Twitter into Google Earth, such as tools like EarthTwit and TwitterVision.

Now Hidenori is back with a with a combination of the two in the form of a real-time visualization of nuclear-related tweets around the world, tying the tweets to one another and also back to the Fukushima Nuclear Plant. It looks quite impressive.


The blue lines in the map are a line between the tweet and the Fukushima Plant, and the red lines are between a retweet and the original tweet, when applicable. He's also incorporated Declan Butler's map of nuclear reactors to add a bit more context to the tweets.

To get yourself added to the map, simply include "#nuclear" in one of your tweets and you'll appear automatically. The location is based on geocoding the location provided in your Twitter profile.

This is a very unique visualization to the see the nuclear discussion around the world, and it's interesting to see where the discussions are taking place.

Have you seen any other great Twitter / Google Earth mashups that we've missed? There's a lot of power in geographically visualizing conversations like that, and I'd love to be able to share more examples of it.

Java App Engine outage, July 14, 2011

Last week, we posted about a limited outage on July 14, 2011 affecting approximately 1.9% of all App Engine traffic at peak. Now that our internal postmortem is complete, we thought you would also like to get more detail about what went wrong and what we are going to do to ensure this doesn't happen again.
Root Cause and Analysis
The main lesson learned is to improve our live traffic testing as a relatively minor bug triggered a corner case for some of our customers. The bug was in a new release of the infrastructure in the App Engine Java execution environment. During development, testing, and qualification, this bug was essentially hidden from view because it only manifested itself under specific load patterns. During the outage, requests to affected applications would fail with errors when traffic was routed to affected instances. Application logs would have shown affected instances experienced high latency, error rates, or were not reachable from the Internet. This could have been caught by letting the live traffic testing run longer.
In order for live traffic testing to work properly, we need to improve our monitoring as well. In this case, having more points from which to do black box monitoring would have helped immensely. We are currently working on much broader monitoring for App Engine and will be integrating more extensive black box testing in upcoming quarters.
Once again, we’d like to point out that we could have done a much better job of communicating issues to all of you. While we strive to strike a balance between letting you know about major issues and not bothering you about the day-to-day operations; we clearly should have communicated this incident to you sooner. Rest assured you’ll be better informed of issues in the future.

July 14, 2011 - 11:30 AM US/Pacific - The new Java execution environment is released to production.
July 14, 2011 - 5:00-6:00 PM US/Pacific - The previously scheduled Master/Slave read-only maintenance period occurred.
July 14, 2011 - 8:00-9:30 PM US/Pacific - Monitoring shows error rates and latency for Java applications in the Master/Slave system are slowly increasing across the entire system. Investigation reveals that the new Java execution environment is malfunctioning.
July 14, 2011 - 9:30 PM US/Pacific - Rollback of the Java execution environment to the previous version begins. Latency and error rates begin to fall.
July 14, 2011 - 11:30 PM US/Pacific - Rollback of the Java execution environment to the previous version completes. Java Master/Slave applications are functioning normally.
  • Faster notification on our status site and downtime-notify mailing list
  • More live traffic stress tests for new releases
  • Better black box monitoring to detect small impacts more quickly

3D buildings in Google Maps for Android

Last December, the release of Google Maps 5.0 for Android ushered in the next-generation of mobile maps where you can rotate, tilt, and zoom in and out of 3D maps. Whether you’re on the go or playing with a new phone, seeing a 3D skyline spring up in New York City, Zurich, Milan, and other cities is a helpful, fun, and unique experience--an experience we want as many of you as we can to have for your city.

We've been adding more cities and you will now find that 3D buildings are available in London, Paris, Barcelona, Stockholm, Singapore, Lisbon, Boulder, and 11 major cities in South Africa.

3D buildings in London and Barcelona
You don’t need to update the app, just open Google Maps for mobile on your phone with Android 2.0+ and zoom in to a city with 3D buildings.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Google-don't be evil

Bing Maps , brings location data to life 5

Bing Maps brings location data to life 4

Bing Maps brings location data to life 3

Bing Maps brings location data to life 2

Bing Maps brings location data to life 1

Microsoft Enhances Bing Maps Service Through Gigwalk

Microsoft has launched a new campaign that will allow users to conduct visual surveys and do a wide range of tasks using the Gigwalk app. But, the highlighting point of this new campaign is, however, not the fact that Microsoft is crowd sourcing its projects - but those users who participate in the program, will be paid by the company.
According to reports, thousands of projects have already been assigned to users, the end results of which will be featured into the software juggernaut’s Bing Maps service.
The company announced that over 7,430 tasks will be completed in the region in and around South Florida, most of which will be paying about $5. However, a huge segment of the assignments have been granted to iPhone 4 users as the Apple device is equipped with one of the better smartphone cameras available today.
The company had also revealed that more than 116,000 gigs have been already listed all over the country, while the number of users of the Gigwalk app has already surpassed the 50,000 mark. It’s important to note here that it has been almost a couple of month since the Gigwalk app was unveiled in May this year.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

UCOSP: A model for getting undergraduates involved in Open Source

UCOSP (Undergraduate Capstone Open Source Projects) brings together students from all across Canada to work together on open source projects. Students learn first-hand what distributed development is like. Each team has students from two or three schools, and uses a mix of agile and open source processes under the supervision of a faculty or industry lead. Heading into our fourth year, we believe we have developed a good model for introducing students to open source projects during the regular academic year.
In the past year, we had 78 students from 15 universities across Canada working on 15 different teams. The projects range from web and mobile applications to video processing. We would like to thank the project mentors, faculty mentors, and our sponsors.
Why are we doing this?
In academia, we have long had students working on project courses and even sometimes on open source projects within individual universities. By collaborating with multiple universities, we offer students opportunities that just were not possible at a single institution. UCOSP students are typically enrolled in an independent study course as part of a full load of courses. The infrastructure of UCOSP provides a valuable connection between the goals of an ongoing open source project and the constraints of fitting project work into the academic environment.
By including students from different schools we accomplish several goals:
  • Students learn how to interact in a distributed environment. They learn to use IR channels, blog posts, mailing lists, and code reviews to communicate.
  • Students work on real systems, with technical mentorship from a project expert and academic oversight from their home university and the UCOSP committee.
  • Students meet and compare notes with students from other schools.
  • Students from smaller schools have an opportunity that might not otherwise be available to them.
Most importantly, the students have a blast. They rave about their experiences and what they learned, telling us about communication and time management, rather than the cool technology. Of course, another advantage of working in the open source community is the opportunity for students to show prospective employers their peer-reviewed contributions to real projects.
The Code Sprint
Bringing all the students to one location for a 3-day code sprint near the beginning of the term is the key to making UCOSP work so well. All the teams put in three days of hard work to kick start their projects, and by meeting their teammates in the flesh, they develop a stronger bond, and work better together for the rest of the term. Project mentors also attend and get a chance to learn the strengths and weaknesses of their team members. This is the main financial cost of the program.
Academic oversight
One of our challenges has been convincing faculty from a variety of universities that we can provide feedback and effectively monitor the progress of their students. As the program has evolved, we have developed a system for soliciting feedback from both project mentors and students and informing the students and faculty from their home departments about their student’s progress. At the end of the term, the project mentors work with the UCOSP committee to send reports to each student's home faculty mentor. This mentor sometimes requires additional reporting from the student, and combines the committee's recommended grade with their own assessment.
The projects
Recent projects have been quite varied and many have been part of Google Summer of Code: POSIT, ReviewBoard, MarkUs, EOL, and FreeSeer. We try to work with a wide variety of projects to meet the interests of the students.
We are very happy with the success of UCOSP. We'd be happy to talk with anyone about the program and how we have made it work. We are always looking for more open source projects that students can contribute to. It has been a real pleasure to get to know the project mentors and see their enthusiasm. The greatest reward of the program is to see the students arrive at the Code Sprint looking a little overwhelmed, to watch them rise to the challenge, and to see just how much they accomplish in the program.

Googlers Flock to Portland for OSCON

Two weeks from now Googlers from all over the world will be gathering in Portland, Oregon for OSCON, O’Reilly Media’s annual open source convention. OSCON is being held at the Oregon Convention Center from July 25th - July 29th and we are all looking forward to meeting up with 2,000+ of our friends in the open source community.
This year 17 Googlers will be hosting sessions on a variety of topics at OSCON with dozens more attending the open source conference. Below is a comprehensive list of the speakers and their sessions in chronological order.
Tuesday, July 26th

Wednesday, July 27th

Thursday, July 28th

Google will be sponsoring 2 “Ask Google Engineers Anything” sessions after a successful session at last year’s OSCON. The sessions are intended to help developers work better with Googlers and Google technology and to answer most of the questions that developers might be baffled about.
Friday, July 29th

This year OSCON has added two additional conferences co-located with OSCON. OSCON Java, which focuses on open source technologies that make up the Java ecosystem and OSCON Data, the first event of its kind focused solely on open source data infrastructure. We have speakers at both events; for more details click on their sessions below.
OSCON Java - Tuesday, July 26th
Josh Bloch will be delivering the keynote, and then giving a talk later in the afternoon on “The Evolution of Java: Past, Present, and Future”.
OSCON Data Wednesday, July 27th
We hope to see you at OSCON!

Let Historypin is guiding you

Editor’s Note: Today's guest author is Nick Stanhope, co-founder and executive director of an awesome and inspiring website out of the UK called Historypin. We collaborated with the site for its launch as a beta last year, and Nick is writing a guest post to announce today's official launch of Historypin with a new mobile app and expanded global availability. His team’s labor of love illustrates the amazing ways individuals and organizations can use Google Maps and Street View to share new (or in this case, old) views of the world around us.

A few years ago, just before she passed away, my Gran and I spent a lot of time together looking through some of her old photos and family videos, sharing stories and learning a bit more about each other’s lives. This picture of my Gran and Great Auntie Jenny, working as land girls in the summer of 1943, was one of my favourites.

Everyone can identify with this sense of wistfulness and nostalgia that memories often evoke. Sometimes it’s triggered by talking to a grandparent about what they did at your age, by learning more about the guy in the photo who looks like a Victorian version of your Uncle Phil, or by chatting with an older neighbour about how different Main Street looked fifty years ago.

This is what Historypin is all about: conversations between different generations and neighbours, time spent around sights and sounds of the past, stories remembered and shared and comparisons made between then and now. And today, we’re thrilled to announce its graduation from last year’s beta phase with worldwide availability, the addition of a new mobile app, and a bunch of other exciting new developments.

Historypin is a website and smartphone app that uses Google technology in new and creative ways. You can explore old photos, videos and audio clips that have been “pinned” onto Google Maps (which you can search not only by location but also by date), compare these glimpses of the past with how they look in today by seeing them overlaid onto Street View, immerse yourself in local history using the Android app, journey through Tours and Collections of featured content and, best of all, “pin” your own history as photos, videos, audio clips and stories to the site.

And by continuing to work closely with Google, we’re excited about the improvements to come as well. Later this year, we’ll launch additional new features like embed tools that enable you to put Historypin on your own site, Historypin channels that will allow you to create your own distinct experiences, and pinning games that invite the community to pin content that we and our partners know little about.

But, really, it’s not about the tech. It’s about those conversations - little ones, across families and streets, and big ones, involving millions of citizen historians. Through all of these conversations, we can create a place to explore history in amazing ways and help families and neighbourhoods come together around what we all share: history.

How To Use Google Maps to Show Your Geographic Competence

There have been a lot of complaints about real estate appraisers appraising properties in an area they are unfamiliar with.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Updating the Maps of France, Monaco, and Luxembourg

The only constant is change, and today we’re proud to announce further progress in our ongoing effort to build a map that can reflect the changes that occur in the real world. Just as we’ve started using map data from a wide range of authoritative sources in the US, Canada, and a number of other countries, we have now updated the base map data for France, Monaco and Luxembourg.

You'll notice improvements in all of our Google Maps products and services for those three countries, such as more comprehensive maps of cities and hillsides. Integrating specialized map data from highly respected organizations like the Institut Geographique National will help both locals and visitors more quickly and easily navigate these unique places.

What’s more, starting today you can share your direct feedback about the maps for France, Monaco and Luxembourg. When you’re zoomed in to any of these regions, you’ll now see the "Report a Problem" tool in the lower right corner of the map. So if you want to tell us about any updates you think need to be made - like a street becoming one-way, or a new housing development in your area - let us know and we’ll do our best to update the map quickly, often within just a few days.

The 2011 National Geographic Bee Champion

After preparing for months and working their way through a field of several million participating students, the top 10 geographic student masters, met in Washington D.C. today at National Geographic headquarters to compete in the National Geographic Bee. After 124 questions (including the championship round), Tine Valencic from Texas answered this one correctly to take the championship crown:
Question: Thousands of mountain climbers and trekkers rely on Sherpas to aid their ascent of Mount Everest. The southern part of Mount Everest is located in which Nepalese national park?
Answer: Sagarmatha National Park

Google is proud to support National Geographic Bee, for the 3rd year in a row. National Geographic and Google share the same passion for inspiring and encouraging our future generation of leaders and innovators to learn about and explore the world around them. Being geographically literate and understanding the world is a vital skill for students of all ages. Technology, like Google Earth, has helped make the world a more accessible place and students need geographic skills to be prepared for a global future.

Students who participate in the National Geographic Bee finals are fourth through eighth-graders from every state, the District of Columbia, Atlantic Territories, Pacific Territories, and Department of Defense Dependents Schools. They won their school Bees that were held in thousands of schools across the US. These school winners then took a written qualifying test, which was scored by the National Geographic Society in Washington, D.C. From the school winners, the top scorers in each state are eligible to participate in the State Bees. You can learn more about the students who won their State Bees using the interactive Google Maps gadget on the National Geographic YouTube Channel at

The first-place winner, Tine Valencic, won a $25,000 college scholarship, a lifetime membership in the National Geographic Society, and a trip to the Galápagos Islands. The second-place winner and recipient of a $15,000 college scholarship was Georgia's Nilai Sarda and third place and a $10,000 college scholarship went to Kansas' Stefan Petrović. The seven other finalists, who won $500, were Andrew Hull, of Alaska: Luke Hellum, of Arizona; Tuvya Bergson-Michelson, of California; Kevin Mi, of Indiana; Karthik Karnik, of Massachusetts; Alex Kimn, of South Dakota; and Anthony Cheng, of Utah.

The top 10 national finalists from both 2011 and 2010 are eligible to be selected for the three-person U.S. team at the National Geographic World Championship to be held at various locales in the San Francisco area in July 2011, with the finals taking place at Google headquarters in Mountain View.

Congratulations to Tine Valencic and to all of the students who participated in this year’s National Geographic Bee. We look forward to following all of you as you continue to explore the world and we expect to see some of you at Google after you have earned your degrees.

Displaying Labels on top of Bing Maps Custom Tile Layers


Before I go any further, I ought to mention that any credit for this post should go to Bing Maps MVP Nicolas Boonaert, who first pointed out this technique in this post on the MSDN Bing Maps forum. Thanks Nicolas!

Generally speaking, when you place custom tile layers on a Bing Map, they are superimposed on top of a base tile layer. Historically, that tile layer could either use the road map style, or the aerial style (with or without label), as shown below:

Road Map Style (“r”)

Aerial Map Style no labels (“a”)

Aerial Map Style with labels (“h”)
There’s two points to note here. Firstly, there was no way to display a road map without labels, and nor was there a way to separate the labels from the aerial tiles – labels were either pre-rendered onto the map styles in question, or they weren’t present at all.

Then last year, a new “Lavender” road map style was introduced in two flavours – one with labels and one without:

New road map style no labels (“r”, “stl=h”, “lbl=l0”)

New road map style with labels (“r”, “stl=h”)
However these labels, like those before, were still pre-rendered onto the tile image. This meant that, if you created a custom tile layer and inserted it on top of the base map imagery, you couldn’t easily see any labels on the map, since they always lay “behind” your custom tile layer. This problem is demonstrated well in this image taken from my previous post, in which the weather radar tile layer obscures the placenames in the base aerial tile layer:


However, as Nicolas pointed out, it seems that we also now have the ability to request transparent tiles that contain only the labels, separate from any other features of the map. These labels are available in styles to match both the “old” and “new” road map styles, as follows:

“Old” Label only style (“ho”)

“New” Label only style (“ho”, stl=”h”)
What this means is that you can now use either the aerial or road base map layer without labels, then overlay your custom tile layer, and then insert the labels on top. For example, to add “classic” style labels to my previous weather map, you can use code as follows:
// Define the tile layer source
var labelTileSource = new Microsoft.Maps.TileSource({ uriConstructor: '{quadkey}?g=671&mkt=en-US' });

// Construct the layer using the tile source
var labelTilelayer = new Microsoft.Maps.TileLayer({ mercator: labelTileSource, opacity: 1.0 });

// Push the tile layer to the map
And you can now see the labels on top of the radar imagery as follows to see some of those places that were previously obscured (note also that the weather has changed since I wrote my first post – the NOAA WMS server is updated in near real-time):


Friday, July 15, 2011

The new Android Market for phones, with books and movies

Recently, we’ve been hard at work improving Android Market to give you new ways to find great applications and games, purchase books, and rent movies. Today, we’re releasing a new version of Android Market which makes all of these available on phones (Android 2.2 and higher).

In the U.S., you’ll be able to rent thousands of movies, starting at $1.99, right from Android Market on your phone. With the Videos app, available in Android Market, there’s no more waiting for downloads, syncing, or worrying about storage space. Simply sign into Android Market with your Google account, and you can rent movies from anywhere – the web, or your Android phone or tablet – and start watching instantly. You can also download movies to your device so they’re available for viewing when you don’t have an internet connection.

Also in the U.S., you can now purchase books from Android Market on your phone. Like movie rentals, books are linked to your Google account, so they’re instantly available across all of your devices – computer, phone, or tablet – without the need for wires or downloads.

You’ll be delighted to find we’ve overhauled Android Market to make it faster, easier, and more fun to discover great apps, movies, and books. We’ve created more space to feature some of the most interesting content of the week on the home page. We’ve added more top charts, with newer, more relevant items, and we’ve made it easy to swipe through these charts as you browse the store. We’ve also introduced new collections of great content, like staff picks and Editors’ Choice apps.
The new Android Market will be rolling out in the coming weeks to Android 2.2 and higher phones around the world. You don’t need to do anything - the update is automatic on supported phones. If you’re in the U.S., you’ll also be able to download the Videos app, rent movies, and buy books once you receive the new Android Market.

Your phone is about to get a lot more interesting! Enjoy the new Android Market.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Nokia X7

Nokia X7 Testing

A Tough Phone built for the Wild West....
Testing of the New Nokia X7 is going well, impressed with the solid build and speed of the new operating system.
Nokia X7 Testing
Stands out with a 4-inch AMOLED Screen - 8 megapixel Camera creates an impressive 3264 x 2440 pixels image (image from great for viewing HD videos and Photos.
The Nokia X7 is the only smartphone with a large Nokia 4-inch screen. The larger screen means movies come to life and playing games is a great deal more immersive [tested].
Screen size also views maps and navigation effortlessly. No QWERTY keyboard (uses the virtual keyboard sans input) then the Nokia X7 is the way to go.


Symbian Anna Operating System
Symbian Anna is the latest version of the Symbian installed on the Nokia X7, delivering a faster and smoother user experience, quicker load times and a host of new features. Comes with a 680 MHz processor.
Unique Design and Solid Build.

If you like a solid metal feel to your phone own the Nokia X7. Too many smartphones simply look.The Nokia X7 is all about standing out from the crowd with its opt-angular sided styling. It’s a winner.

New Nokia Maps (3.08) Reviewed
This comes with a new version of Nokia Maps, 3.08. which brings a number of changes to the Drive (car navigation) functionality of the application. The new feature is the ab
utility to use live traffic information to automatically re-route you around traffic delays. New look and feel to the user interface ( have added "Just drive" mode), This version has can set a contact as a destination and an easier to use settings menu. The new beta also marks the brand switch from the Ovi Maps back to Nokia Maps.
Nokia Maps 3.08 beta is available for all Symbian 3 devices: Nokia N8, Nokia C7, Nokia C6-01, Nokia X7, Nokia E6 and Nokia E7.
New Nokia Maps 3.08 Reviewed
Faster Nokia Maps - And GPS Fix with assisted GPS is fast under 30 seconds.
(source of image All About Symbian)

Camera - X7 Camera Shots
by Glenn Letham

and Roland Tanglao

Plastic is dead bring on the stainless steel
Nice design, the age old plastic phones is gone a makes the smartphone sporting and good to hold. The stainless steel of the Nokia X7 adds sturdiness without compromising on weight. Expect a rugged life.
Big thanks to womworld/1000heads for their organising and hospitality so far. Post will be updated through the weekend.
Map of the Ranch with Photos..

Google Maps: Film Locations

Spott is a mobile phone application that lets you check for nearby places that have been used in movie or TV scenes.

Using Spott you can view a Google Map that shows locations near you that have been used in iconic scenes in films and TV shows. You can also search a particular city for locations or search by actor or film.

Registered users of Spott can add locations to the map and can even take photographs of themselves at film locations and add them to the Spott image gallery.

Spott is available both for the iPhone and Android phones.


Filmaps is a film locations website that also uses Google Maps to show the locations of movies. Filmaps want to help movie fans find the locations in their favourite movies.

It is possible to search Filmaps for a particular film or it is possible to search a location to see which film was made there. For example, a search for the Eiffel Tower reveals that four films in the Filmaps database have used the famous landmark as a location.

Each film has its own Google Map. When you are browsing a film's locations it is very easy to add another location if you know of one that hasn't already been added. To do so you just press the 'add a location button' and complete a very short form.

Movie Landmarks

Brian Lane's is a "location-based movie landmark search engine". Location and media data are added by users and the resulting data is then mashed up for all to explore! For an example check out this Blues Brothers landmark.

The post is "lifted" from Google Maps Mania

Monday, July 11, 2011

@JHuber – Head Of Local at Google, Needs Tweeting Ideas


For those of you that may have forgotten, Jeff Huber is new Head Of Local And Commerce at Google. Jeff is one of the top five folks at Google, having been appointed to the post in the reorg of early April when Larry Page took over. He is in charge of Places, Offers, Maps, & Boost to name a few.

I am sure he is a busy guy but he seems totally (or is it intentionally?) clueless about Twitter and his recent experiment there seems to reinforce that point. Here is a tweet that he sent out Saturday night at 6:30 EST:

Here are part one and part two of his “experiment” upon reaching 10,000 followers on Twitter:

Since his appointment to the head of Local on April 8 he has tweeted a total of 20 times (17 “original” and 3 Rts). Here is a typical tweet from one of the folks in the world that is probably more influential over our lives in Local than God:

I am traveling but I have a huge favor to ask of you all. Send @jhuber a woot, woot tweet today and let him know what you would like to hear about local from Google. I am sure that you can think of something.

Disease Mapping with the Google Maps API

The mapping of diseases has a long and distinguished history.

Perhaps the most famous disease map is the spot map created by John Snow in 1854. Snow created his map to plot an outbreak of cholera in Soho, London. The map helped to prove that the Soho outbreak of the disease was caused by water that came from one pump in Broad Street.

The dominant theory at the time was that cholera was caused by "bad air", so John Snow's map helped to prove that water was the true cause of the disease.

This video gives a good account of what John Snow's map making achieved,

Singapore Dengue Fever Map

WaetherLah has created this Google Map to track cases of Dengue Fever in Singapore. The map uses dynamic map markers to show the number of cases reported at different locations in the city-state.

Google also has a Dengue Trends website that uses a number of search terms as indicators of dengue activity. Google Dengue Trends uses aggregated Google search data to estimate dengue activity and then creates a heat-map to display locations where there is currently likely to be high Dengue activity.


HealthMap is a Google Maps based application that plots real-time worldwide infectious disease outbreaks from around the world.

The map gathers data from disparate sources, including online news aggregators, eyewitness reports, expert-curated discussions and validated official reports.

Toronto Start STD Map


Back in 2009 the Toronto Star created five different Google Maps showing the rates of Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, HIV, Infectious Syphilis and Other Syphilis in different neighbourhoods in the city. The data for the maps was supplied by the Ministry of Health in response to a freedom of information request.

A good analysis of the maps is available on the Toronto Star's website here. It would be interesting, to see these maps in conjunction with other data, such as average income, levels of health insurance etc.

Also See

Mapping Swine Flu
- a round-up of the outbreak of mapping following the Swine Flu epidemic in 2009

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Google's 45º imagery for summer vacation

School is out and it’s time to pack those bags and get ready for summer vacation! We’ve been working hard to get everyone the latest imagery from all over the world. Does your family have any annual traditions? If not, now is a great time to start some, check out our latest additions for some great ideas on where to travel this summer.

What a better way to start a tradition than to visit the happiest place on earth, Disneyland in Anaheim, CA! Use Google Maps to scout out the area, plan out your multi-day adventure all in the comfort of your own home before you head out and enjoy the sites and scenes found there.

View Larger Map

While you’re in sunny Southern California, you can check out Downtown Los Angeles, Universal Studios in Hollywood or visit the Staples Center, home of the 16-time NBA Champions Los Angeles Lakers.

View Larger Map

If you’re a baseball fan, nothing says summer like a good ole fashioned baseball game. Grab your baseball cap and head over to the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville in Jacksonville, FL, home of the Suns! Downtown is just around the corner from the stadium.

View Larger Map

So whether it’s by plane, train or automobile, from all us at Google, have a great and safe summer. Check out the this map that shows you where all of our 45º imagery lies.

Full list of updated cities:
Anaheim, CA. Jacksonville, FL. Tampa, FL. North Las Vegas, NV. Los Angeles, CA. Downey, CA. La Chaux de Fonds, CH. Visalia, CA. Corona, CA. Meadowlake, NM. Continental Ranch, AZ .Picture Rocks, AZ. Greater Sun Center, FL, Bastrop, TX. Martinez, CA. Paradise Valley, AZ. West New Orleans, LA. Fentress, VA.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Facts of Uni Courses

This post is of interest to those in education but hasn't anything to do with maps beyond discussing a GIS course.
Best Buy Facts of Uni Courses: Recently its been announced that English universities will have to collate and publish a set of 'key facts' about each course they offer to the public, kind of the equivalent of the Annual Percentage Rate (APR) that credit cards must publish enabling customers to easily compare card with card to see how much interest they'll be paying. In theory I like the idea but the devil is in the detail of what measures you use and what they communicate to students. Amongst a series of possible problems that were suggested at the GEES conference I was at last week one is particularly close to my heart: the measure of teaching contact time with staff. I unpack this issue in the rest of this post.
Value of Blended Learning: The main project I'm working on this summer is developing a blended learning course: We have over 300 students due to take a second level GIS course this autumn and who need to complete practicals on computers. Running standard face to face computer room practicals has obvious problems so this year I am rewriting the practicals so they can be completed without face to face support. In effect we are making a big investment (my time) to produce highly polished written materials. These will offer students a better learning experience whilst avoiding the cost of face to face support. Students can still get staff support but it will be via forums and drop in sessions. If I can pull it off, blended learning offers the best solution for the staff and students in this situation.
Contact Time = Good? The problem is that this blended learning solution reduces staff contact time. Every student will think that high contact time with tutors is a good thing when looking at the key facts sheet. However, that measure has not included the value of my highly polished practicals that (I hope) more than make up for the lack of direct support.
My expertise in converting courses to blended learning comes from my time at the Open University who offer distance learning courses with even less contact time, I wonder what they think?

Mapping the World's Sea Turtles


Powered by a network of well over 500 people, the SWOT (State of the World's Sea Turtles) database is one of the most comprehensive global databases of sea turtle nesting sites around. You're able to view all of the data on a customizable Google Map, and as you'd expect, you can download a KML file to view all of the data inside of Google Earth.



The map is highly detailed and customizable, allowing you to filter by location, and it highlights both the species and colony size with various colored shaped icons.

The depth of data on the map is quite impressive as well, containing data for over 120 countries around the world. If you're familiar with the WIDECAST Atlas, the SWOT database includes their dataset in there and displays them together. All of the SWOT reports and non-interactive map data can be found over at

If you're looking for more ocean conservation tools in Google Earth, you can check out these ocean biographic maps from a few years ago, or simply dive in and explore the ocean itself, a feature available since Google Earth 5 was released a few years ago.

iPhone as a work station

During the Tuesday afternoon session of Getlisted Local University it became clear that big changes were going on at Google with an interface upgrade AND Google+. Jeff Huber, Google VP of Local and commerce, kept leaving juicy comments on my blog and I just didn’t want to be off the grid….

But we had scheduled some family time at a friend’s cottage at Rondeau Provincial Park in Ontario. The problem wasn’t that we had scheduled family time, my family understands and even enables my blogging addiction. It was that there was NO wifi for 20 miles although there was some sporadic cell coverage. Because I travel rarely and when I do, have access to hotel wifi, I don’t have 3g for my laptop.

My solution? An iPhone with just enough accessories that allowed me to “keep on posting”. Here are the details of my setup for those of you that want to travel lightly, aren’t willing to pony up for a Macbook Air with a Verizon card and are willing to make a few compromises.

-my iPhone
-an Ultra Pod stand. cost: $24.99
-an Apple wireless keyboard. cost: $49.
-the mobile WordPress app

Total cost: $75 + tax.

The WordPress iPhone app has gotten very good, the keyboard is simple to sync and is very light and the tripod serves triple duty for me as a bike accessory, AV stand and a monitor display when blogging. You could cut costs on both the stand and the keyboard but both are durable and very functional in this configuration (and they look good too :) ). The only thing holding me back from traveling exclusively this way is my need for last minute PowerPoint updates prior to presenting.

I’d be curious to hear of others who have made the switch to a smartphone instead of a laptop as travel device.

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