Archive for December, 2010

December 30, 2010

The Virtues of Bing maps

Stamen Design says “I like Bing Maps and I cannot lie”.

Bing view of San Francisco

Interface and level of detail

I feel the same way.

A Crime Spotting Bing Map

Bing Maps can be, and often are, well, amazing.

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December 30, 2010

OAuth Playground

 

oauth

 

OAuth Playground.

December 17, 2010

Enterprise Maps and Earth

Google Earth in Sky Viewing Mode

This is another location-based service (LBS), similar but larger scale than those developed by foursquare, Gowalla and Facebook.

Google Earth and Maps for organizations

Google is different because it realizes that only a small consumer segment will remain active LBS users, in light of news about negative impact on
privacy rights.

As clear from the name, Google Earth and Maps for Enterprise is targeted toward businesses:

Make it easy for your employees to view, understand, and make decisions about location-based information. Incorporate your company’s data into Google Maps and Google Earth to be shared quickly and easily with colleagues and clients. The intuitive Google mapping applications require little or no training; your staff and customers will immediately realize the benefits of interactive geo-spatial information.

Google Earth Maps

Google’s enterprise version combines familiar Google mapping with added features designed especially for business users:

  • Google Maps API Premier
  • Google Earth Pro
  • Google Earth Enterprise

Bing supports a highly regarded 3-D mapping feature, requiring download and installation of the free Microsoft Silverlight application. There has been recent discussion of less support or other curtailment by Microsoft, but I am not certain, as I’ve read differing accounts depending on the source.

Note that Google also requires installation of an extra application on the user’s hard-drive to use Google Earth, as it is a 3-D mapping program.

December 17, 2010

Body Browser

The Google Body Browser is now accessible to the public.

Introducing the Body Browser from Google Labs

This is not like any other browser, based on the usual definition of the word. Specifically, it runs within the existing browser e.g. Chrome or Firefox. Modern features such as HTML5 must be supported by the user’s browser.

Body Browser

Logo

What does the Body Browser do?

The Body Browser is an interactive anatomical chart of the human body. Biological categories include musculature, skeletal, circulatory and nervous systems, as well as internal organs. Features include rotation and zoom. Complete labels in Latin are available as a toggle on-off option.

The Body Browser showcases the full glory of HTML5 and Google’s new image format, WebGL. For example, each of the biological categories can be enabled separately, producing a layered effect. A good analogy would be to Google Earth, in terms of realistic rendering of 3-D image complexity.

There may be other features about which I am unaware. I found the site via Twitter, this morning, Thursday December 16, 2010.

What of Zygote Media?

See the page footer credit:

Imagery Copyright 2010 Zygote Media Group Inc.

No hyper link or other information is available on the page for Zygote Media Group. Nor did I have any particular success searching for Zygote Media in any of the usual places. However, it seems that Zygote Media is Google Lab’s partner in this project.

UPDATE

I later found that ZYGOTE MEDIA GROUP INC. is either owned by or does business as 3D Science. More information may be found about Zygote Media from that source.

December 9, 2010

Source Meta Tags to Identify Original Publisher Content

In December 2009, the Official Google Webmaster Central Blog responded to publisher concerns about page rank penalties imposed by Google’s search algorithm due to legitimate cross-domain content duplication. Most websites would rarely (if ever) have valid reasons for displaying identical content on multiple and distinctly different domains.

Journalists of the past

Journalists in Radio-Canada newsroom, via Wikipedia

However, it is a common occurrence for news media sites with multiple syndication channels to legitimately publish duplicate cross-domain content.

Source Meta Tags

Google announced an extra feature for news publishers, to differentiate between the first version of a “breaking story” versus the re-distribution by others that follows. Such redistribution is legitimate, but publishers wanted to make sure that there was a way to give credit where credit was due to the most enterprising journalist for a given news story. Google responded with this suggestion:

News publishers and readers both benefit when journalists get proper credit for their work. That can be difficult, with news spreading so quickly and many websites syndicating articles to others. That’s why we’re experimenting with two new meta tags for Google News: syndication-source and original-source. Each of these meta tags addresses a different scenario, but for both the aim is to allow publishers to take credit for their work and give credit to other journalists.

original versus duplicate

Original versus Duplicate Website Content

Further details about Google’s introduction of “source” meta tags to help find original news was covered in the Google News Blog, and an even more in-depth description can be found in this excellent Search Engine Land article about meta tags including discussion of a recent algorithm patent granted to Google.

UPDATE

There is good reason for Google’s decision to implement these meta tags on a trial basis. Best practice, for both bloggers and publishers alike, requires attribution if using another source’s original work. Most reputable online content producers have credited their source with a link until now. However, there is some concern that they could stop doing that, and instead, merely use the meta tag. That would be a much worse outcome for the original writer, in terms of receiving much-deserved credit for their work.

The meta tags are useful to Google, as they give input to the page rank algorithm (which seeks to reward providers of original content). Yet I do believe that this is a good-faith effort by Google. It would be unfortunate if these new meta tags have the opposite effect from what Google intended.

December 9, 2010

Transition to server-side moves forward with Google Cloud Print

print from the clouds with Chrome OS

Google Cloud Print logo

Google has been extremely busy recently. Maybe a more accurate statement would be that they’ve been extremely prolific. Google introduced the Chrome Operating System Netbook, also known as the Cr-48, to select users. It shipped yesterday. That was probably the highest profile event.

But Google also quietly unveiled a new cloud print feature, now available in public beta.

Google Cloud Print

The landing page for instructions to connect a printer  to Google Cloud Print describes the product with a nicely stylized flow image (see below). Here is the official product description:

By connecting your printer with the Google Cloud you will be able to print to your printer from any computer or smart phone, regardless of where you are. Just activate the Google Cloud Print connector in Google Chrome and your printer will automatically be available to you from Google Cloud Print enabled web and mobile apps.

This page includes a button to install Google Chrome browser, stating that it is for Windows 7, Vista and XP. It probably refers only to the Chrome browser, not to the Cloud Print functionality. I came to this conclusion after reading a Cloud Print help page, “Where can I print from?”

We’re working hard to provide Google Cloud Print integration with many Google products and services, the first of which will be Chrome OS….

Flowchart for using Cloud Print

Flowchart for connecting a printer to Google Cloud Print

Still a beta product

I looked for more information in the footer of the Google Cloud Print Help page. I found and clicked on this Google Cloud Print link. I presumed this would be an “About” page, or maybe a post from the Google New Products site on Blogger. Instead I was surprised get a return of the same URL in the header,

http://www.google.com/cloudprint/intl/en

and the following text:

Missing X-CloudPrint-Proxy header.

Error 400

It appears that Cloud Print isn’t quite ready yet for everyone. For now, it is ONLY available for users running Google Chrome Operating System.

December 8, 2010

Fast Flip in the Wild

Finally, I present a Google Labs project observed in the wild!

Location was the ReadWriteWeb’s technical section, called ReadWrite Hack. Subject matter was the intriguing still new start-up company, FluidDB, and their Flimp tool for importing JSON, YAML or CSV data sources into FluidDB. FluidDB, the product, is a new type of database, which ReadWriteWeb says that FluidDB says is a

hosted database with the heart of a wiki

For the very very curious, Flimp is an acronym for FLuiddb IMPorter. I foresee a critical dependency on case sensitivity in this company’s future.

Introducing Fast Flip

Note the pleasing yellow smiley face in the last letter “p”. Fast Flip has been extant for some time, possibly as long as a year. I hadn’t noted it anywhere outside of the Google domain or Google product pages until now.

logo for fast flip

Google Fast Flip Logo

I thought that Fast Flip was merely the Google version of a slide sharing application. I was incorrect. Apparently there is far more functionality built in, as described by Google:

My Fast Flip Info

Fast Flip personalizes results based on many different signals. These include articles that you have clicked on, liked, or shared. Below you will find a summary of the preferences that Fast Flip has learned for you.

Since this is my first time using Fast Flip, the above was followed by this notification-of-sorts:

Sorry, no preferences have been learned for you yet. Use FastFlip some more and check back here soon!

Emphasis is mine.

Compare one to the other. I am uncertain if the project is named “Fast Flip” or “FastFlip”, given the alternative spellings used by Google, and on the same page. However, there were two instances of “Fast Flip”, actually three if I were to include the meta-data for the page, so I’m inclined to believe that “FastFlip” is a typographical error. Such is allowable. After all, Fast Flip is a Labs project, not a full-fledged Google Product!

Much more information about Google Fast Flip can be obtained from the official Google source, which is not a blogspot Blog this time. Instead, Google chose to use one of their Python answer pages for About Google FastFlip.

December 8, 2010

Parameter Handling Exhibition and Other Odds and Ends

I’ve used the clip-and-save service http://curate.us recently.  One of my most visually appealing posts on this very blog would not have been possible without the assistance of Curate.us.

Introducing  div class = cliply_clip

Curate.us is the service formerly known as Clip.ly 

I am obviously fascinated by the potential of Curate.us as an aid for content curation. Not to mention the ability to embed a screen shot without JavaScript, iFrames or JPEG image files. Curate.us does use an image format. I base that conjecture on the  img src markup when embedding. I’m not certain what variety of image it is though.

I also learned that Curate.us will not work on pages behind a firewall or pay wall. I was uncertain if it would work on a Google help page.

It does.

Parameter Handling

I chose a Google Webmaster Central help topic as my test subject. The topic was parameter handling.

Parameter handling is useful for purposes of search engine optimization. Parameters can manage duplicate content such as session IDs. Google introduced parameter handling on a limited basis in the first quarter of 2010. It was released to the public in November 2010.

Clipped from www.google.com | Share this clip

screen shot using curate dot us

Curate.us clipping from Google Webmaster Central Help Page

Closing remarks about image file formats

Google released an experimental file format for images in late September 2010, named WebP. At this time, it is available for developers only.

WebP was designed to be an improvement over the JPEG format.  JPEG is the most commonly used image file format on the web. It is a troublemaker for web developers, as it causes pages to load slowly. Further details are available from the Chromium Project blog about WebP or the Google Code blog.

December 5, 2010

Very Basic Google Analytics

self made by Thisisborin9 in Microsoft PowerPoint

Made in MS PowerPoint via Wikipedia

I do not like video training. It is often difficult to hear and understand what the speaker is saying. Attention span wanders in fifteen minutes, or less, for most of us!  The material delivery pace doesn’t usually match mine. I often find myself going back and replaying a section over and over and over until I understand it. Or until I crash my browser, or annoy everyone around me! That’s why I prefer slides or annotated screen shots, whether Microsoft PowerPoint, Adobe Reader or SlideShare documents.

This presentation was posted on SlideShare. The topic is Google Analytics with a focus on Chrome browser users. Although the time stamp is 2007, it covers Google Analytics in its current, post Urchin format. Urchin was an earlier form of tracking offered by Google Analytics, and no longer supported.

I found it worthwhile. It consists of twenty very well annotated screen shots from a Google Analytics account, as viewed within the Chrome browser. I was able to spend as little, or as much, time as necessary on each image. I didn’t get sleepy and distracted, as I do when watching the Official Google Analytics channel on YouTube. The content is basic, and fundamental enough that it isn’t outdated, insofar as I could tell.

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