Archive for July, 2011

July 21, 2011

Maps minus the map

With the approach of Google’s massive API deprecation at year-end, I have paid closer attention than ever to Google products. (The API deprecation news was followed by an announcement about winding down Google Labs earlier this week).

I really enjoy Google Maps, whose API is among the deprecated. While reading more about it, I happened to notice a most unusual looking Google-esque map.

This had that distinctive look and feel of Kotke to me. Although the image, see below, appeared on the Programmable Web blog, I promptly unearthed evidence that was highly suggestive of a Kotke origin. The title revealed all.

Google Maps without the Map

Google styles in maps

Showing off Google styles in Google Maps. Without the map.

I highly recommend giving it a try. Visit Maps without the Map for entrée. Try accessing some of the usual Google Maps features, like Streetview. I was pleasantly surprised at how well the version without the map, so to speak, is integrated with the real Google Maps. The sans map version uses JavaScript along with some CSS-like functionality for color choices.*

For explanatory details see the Programmable Web post (September 2010).

For visual fun, play with this image gallery of Google Maps Styles, and this excellent tutorial** on how to get the most out of Google Map Styles in general.

For specific usage guidelines, review the Google Maps Styles documentation.

Notes

*    Take a look at the map footer. The plain white Google logo featured in the sans map version is amusing!
**  I found the Google Maps Styles tutorial (May 2011) on the rather excellent BestFromGoogle website, an unofficial Google-themed blog. It is much more substantive than my own modest Google hobby blog. Features include code snippets, various tutorials and other cool stuff, in a readable, well-designed format.

July 15, 2011

Try a VeriSign SSL Certificate gratis

Network and data security has really been on my mind lately!

I visited the Symantec and VeriSign websites the other day. I’m not sure if this is a true “limited time special offer” or an ongoing promotional deal that I never noticed until now. Two sorts of SSL (Secure Socket Layer encryption) certificates are available from VeriSign.

Secure Socket Layer protection

30-day SSL test-drive

One is the standard type that is desirable for websites that are accepting payment data or collecting other sensitive personal information from users. VeriSign refers to this as a Production Certificate. It includes use of the distinctive VeriSign Trust Seal, for use on SSL websites.

The other type is an SSL Test Certificate. Applications developers who want to confirm that SSL encryption is functional in a test (pre-production ONLY) environment should select this. It doesn’t include display of the Trust Seal, because it isn’t intended for use with applications on the public web. Both are available for free, for a 30-day trial period.

Try a VeriSign Certificate* today!

There may be superior alternatives to VeriSign SSL authentication. Regardless of vendor choice or implementation, it won’t hurt to contemplate data security, given the almost daily news reports of DDoS, DoS and other attacks. Or disclosure of yet another 0-day vulnerability or data breach.

* No, I’m not a paid endorser. I hoped someone might find it helpful and informative. Me, for example!

UPDATE: July 30, 2011

I just noticed that VeriSign has another offer; a 60-day free trial for a VeriSign Seal. See the VeriSign website for more information.

VeriSign offers both SSL and non-SSL products

What is the difference between the Trust Seal and the Secured Seal?

Like the VeriSign Secured Seal, the VeriSign Trust Seal shows that a site is authenticated by the high standards of VeriSign… The VeriSign Trust Seal is free with the purchase of any VeriSign® SSL Certificate. It can also be purchased separately for web sites that do not require SSL for securing online transactions. The VeriSign Trust Seal provides a cost-effective way to establish trust on your site without installing an SSL Certificate.

Emphasis is mine. However, VeriSign prominently displays this advisory on the Trust Seal FAQ page:

If your Web site uses SSL, you must use VeriSign SSL in order to display the VeriSign Trust Seal.

I’m uncertain, but suspect that the 30-day Trust Seal deal includes SSL certification, which is actually the VeriSign Secured Seal. The 60-day special probably does not. In other words, it offers the Trust Seal but not the SSL certificate, and is suitable only for non-SSL websites..

July 10, 2011

Prediction API

The recent release of the Google Prediction API Version 1.2 seemed oddly, well, magnanimous to me! Given the investment of intellectual capital and resources, I am surprised that Google would be so generous.  Allowing access to the Prediction API means that Google is giving access to its in-house machine learning algorithms to external users.

1939 Ford pick-up truck

1939 Ford pick-up truck will not likely use the Google Prediction API though other Ford products will

The official Google Code blog post, Every app a smart app, dated 27 April 2011, suggested many possible uses for the Prediction API. Some of the more interesting included:

The last item on the list has the potential, but not certainty, of causing serious privacy concerns. I’m guessing that customer feedback based on structured data is another potential use for the API.

I noticed that Ford Motor Company has plans for the Prediction API, specifically for commuters driving electric vehicles (EV). Apparently, there is a fair amount of “EV anxiety” due to limitation on range of travel. The Prediction API could be used to mitigate those concerns. AutoBlog is an online publication for automobile enthusiasts. It featured a great slide show demonstrating how Ford intends to make use of the Google Prediction API.

The Prediction API is available on Google Code. This is not the first release of the Prediction API. I’m uncertain whether versions before 1.2 were restricted in some way. (Google often grants API access to developers initially, and later, after ironing out any bugs or unexpected problems, opens the product to the public.)

Do be aware that a Google Storage account is required for access. Visit the Google API Console to get started.