Playing with Virtual Earth

I have to admit that I really like Google Maps.  It’s an impressive web application, and has completely altered how I use maps – and send map information – to friends, family, and coworkers.  It’s now so easy to quickly locate something on Google maps, get the link, and send it.

As of yesterday I started to experiment more with Microsoft’s Virtual Earth, and I now think that I found something I like even better than Google Maps!  I was listening to the Virtual Earth podcast from Where 2.0 and Stephen talked about the features that are there … many of which I hadn’t realized.

First, if you put in a query, it will display the results contained in the map you are viewing.  As you pan the map, the query results update.  You can use the compass for “game-panning” by clicking your mouse on the compass and holding the mouse button down.  You can also use the Tools->Scratchpad to drag and drop locations that you want to keep.  It’s then easy to e-mail these to a friend.

I’m going to continue to use both, and comment on which I like better.  I also am going to start to experiment with the developer APIs.  I have some ideas of some data that I want to place on a map.

[tags: ]

Your Identity on Pluto!

It’s actually too late to sign up … but you could have had your name
included on a disc being sent via a spacecraft to Pluto! Be the first
one on your block to have your identity known to Plutonians? Click here to read more.

Send your name to Pluto. Want your name to be included on a list in a spacecraft headed to Pluto, and be returned to earth in 50,000 years? Click Here [The Hawker Squawker]

[tags: ]

Public Distributed Sensor Networks

I remember talking with Phil Windley
about one of his ideas to leverage OnStar
as a distributed sensor network. He posited that all of these
cars tend to have temperature sensors, some form of GPS, and the
wireless communications … they could be used to create a nationwide
temperature map.

Now here is another article about taking this further to use cell
phones as the source of distributed sensor information. Very cool
idea. Everyone carrying the right kind of cell phone could opt-in
to providing sensor data to one or more servers. A huge variation
on SETI@Home!

Let’s see … what would someone pay me to participate in this? And protect my identity …

Saving the World With Cell Phones.
Scientists work to turn mobile phones into a distributed network
capable of measuring pollution levels — and possibly detecting
biological weapons before they can be launched. By Rachel Metz. [Wired News]

Accelerando … Science Future

If you have not yet read Accelerando I suggest that you purchase or
download (Yes! He has a free version that you can download!) a
copy.  I am a big fan of Neal Stephenson’s SnowCrash and Diamond
Age, and this is yet another a fun book to read.  Charles Stross
has done an awesome job of extrapolating today’s technology and
research into a great possible future.

Go get it … read it.  Welcome to the future …

Jamais Cascio @ AC2005

I have to admit that I am geting tired, and really just wanted to
listen to this presentation and not think about blogging.  The Participatory Panopticon
was the theme … and it was a great talk … well presented … on the
future world of always on cameras.  Jamais is a very good
presenter …

John Udell @ AC2005

I have always liked reading John Udell … I think this might be the first time to see him present. His talk is on Annotating the Planet
and started with a very cool mash-up demo using Google Maps. He
reviewed the various Google maps mash-ups, and then went into some
details on his various bike rides that he is mapping with the Gmaps Pedometer.

He touched on the areas of privacy and geotagging of all sorts of information. Referring to David Brins book The Transparent Society
he had some commentary on how to potentially protect ourselves from the
abuse of this information, and how to control who can get at this

He pointed to David Rumsey’s web site,
and quoted from his talk at a recent conference. David has an
amazing collection of maps … and is doing some very cool synthesizing
of old and new maps.

The death of Meetup?

When I first saw Meetup come on-line, I
thought it was really going to be an interesting medium for social get
togethers.  I started to use the free service, and felt that they
could really start some good momentum going, and leverage the various
locations for their revenue.  Well … they quickly were
overwhelmed by their own success.

What I found was that it was difficult to add new venues – locations –
to their system.  I started to make suggestions, however they were
not able to incorporate them.  Then they chose to start charging
for stuff … and then they wanted committments from “organizers” …

Bummer … IMHO, the whole thing kinda fell apart.

I got two e-mails today with the subjects “Last chance to save Salt
Lake Wi-Fi and Wireless Meetup Group”, and “Last chance to save Salt
Lake Slashdot Meetup Group” … broadcasting the lack of
interest.  It seems to me that someone is not modifying their
business plan to accomodate and cater to the potential clients.

Google Maps, cellular phones, and the adventure continues

After reading Nat Friedmans post below, I had to start experimenting
with Google Maps.  This is too fun.  I’ve had several calls
with friends now, when their were driving someplace.  I quickly
ask them where they are, and start to zoom on Google maps … tracking
their travels as they are driving.  Too much.

As Nat describes his conversation, I have now had numerous like
it.  I called my friend Joe while on his vacation driving up the
coast of Oregon.  Once he told me he was at a drive through coffee
shop in Florence, OR I narrowed him down to this area.  As they drove north they told me they were crossing 35th street right here!

I talked with him about the golf course coming up on the left … it
was funny to hear his comments about the scenery and the various
buildings etc. that I could ask him about.  Funny … I can almost
see this as the next step for Google.  I joked with Phil Windley
and our CTO Roundtable group last week … it’s almost like my friend
Joe was getting live access to personal Google Maps … and I was
getting a virtual tour at the same time.

I’m thinking about my first Google Maps hack … I’ve got some ideas and can’t wait to play with it.

Living in the future. #


Later in the drive, we called Joe on the speakerphone and he gave us an aerial tour of the region using Google’s satellite maps. It went like this:

Joe: There’s a golf course on your right.
Us: Cool.
Joe: Huh, what’s that strange building coming up on your left?
Us: It’s a Marriott.
Joe: Oh. Cool.

[nat friedman]

New Palm Zire 72 … and new applications!

Well … my Handspring Edge died.  I have now gone over a month
without it and I just can’t go any longer.  I have been using Palm
devices for a long time, starting with one of the original Palm
Pilots.  I find that it is just plain useful.

While growing up my father was always keeping lists.  Writing down
everything that he wanted to do each day … lists of errands … 
shopping lists.  Even to this day when I vist him at his home,
he’ll have a list of tasks, topics, and questions for us to
share.  I obviously picked up the habit from him … but I have to
admit that I moved from paper lists to the Palm.

I had to do some looking around, and although I had a lot of people telling my to go with the Treo 650,
I just really had no interest in having a larger phone.  I also
have heard a lot of complaints about the Treo devices.  In digging
around, I finally chose the Zire 72.

The Zire 72
has got a lot of nice features.  First off, it’s a Palm device
that will do everything that my old Palm did.  Plus it has a color
screen, is a digital camera, can play MP3 music, and has a SD slot for
expansion cards.  The one other feature that really hit me was the
Bluetooth wireless support.  It will actually talk to my Nokia
cell phone and allow me to send and receive SMS messages, and even dial
phone numbers from my Zire address book.

It is this last feature that really got me excited.  While
ordering I began to think about what possible applications I might
create where I have my Zire sending SMS messages for me … Hmmm. 
During the checkout process they of course pushed all of the various
accessories that I could purchase … and I did buy one – a SD
GPS!  I’m thinking that I want to create an application that
allows me to send and receive GPS data via SMS from my Zire 72.  I
can’t wait for it to arrive to begin to explore what is possible …

EnOcean … impressive combination of technologies …

A friend of mine Dave Cline just sent me a link to EnOcean
This is a very impressive company that is leading the wave of the
future when it come to distributed sensor networks.  They have
addressed some of the key elements of a successful solution:

  • No Batteries – the sensors create energy from their environment
  • Wireless Communications – they sense and send their data
  • Mesh Networking – they use a hierarchical mesh networking system

This is some very impressive work, and ought to get people thinking about what is going to be possible soon.