Posts Tagged ‘google maps’

Twitter’s Location field and your privacy

Twitter has a wonderful Location: field, and a lot of clients, like TwitterFon (for the iPhone), or twibble (for Symbian devices), tend to update the field automatically. They tend to update it with the phone’s built-in AGPS, so at worst, your accuracy in location, is about 100m or so. Location on Twitter

I find this to be a tiny problem. You can copy the location string (GPS coordinates), paste it into Google Maps and find out that the person at the Location above, is at MidValley Megamall.

Who cares when you’re in a public location? That can be a good thing for bumping into friends. But what about stalkers who now know where you live? Or an angry wife, that knows you weren’t working late, but chilling out with the guys at a nearby pub?

This is where Google Latitude kind of makes sense. Its opt-in. You only share the location with your friends. Twitter is just open (very rarely, do people’s profiles remain private).

Anyway, I thought it would be cool to write a quick Greasemonkey script to send me to Google Maps automagically. After all, Dive Into Greasemonkey still applies… Quick search on, and I found Twitter Google Maps Link. It does exactly what I want, so I didn’t need to hack up some JavaScript. Win :)

Google Maps Malaysia launched

I was at the Google Maps Malaysia launch at No Black Tie yesterday. All round, the Google chaps did a great job at organising a fun-filled event, which basically meant I got to talk to a lot of friends (it was a combination of Barcamp, open source hackers, entrepreneurs and some new media folk – I think I spotted a smattering of bloggers too), and also meet a few new ones ;-)

  • I guess the big deal about yesterday was the launch of No longer will you be re-routed to the States, and have to specify, sometimes even up to postcode level. This kind of stuff has mostly been working for a while, but I guess its now official.
  • When asked when Street View will come to Malaysia, there was no comment on the timeline.
  • I saw KLue being mentioned, but there was no speaker from there. It seems like their event guide has been extracted via a mapplet, and placed on AppSpot, to give you a Events in Malaysia map “overlay”. Pretty cool, and can really be integrated well, into something else…
  • VirtualMalaysia spoke at the event, showing how they did some copy/paste of the mapplets, and how they built somewhat of an app out of it. I think Yoon Kit tweets it best:

    Virtual Malaysia copy and pasted the javascript for Tourism Msia. @arzumy asks “How much did u charge for it?”. Its our money eh? #mymap

  • Back to Mapplets: they’re mini-applications to run in Google Maps. You have data, it can be overlaid with Google Maps. This is worth playing with.
  • Not maps related, but the AJAX API’s Playground is a useful learning tool. You can talk to all the Google APIs, and it becomes easy – copy/paste and things happen.
  • When its finally time to write code, don’t redo, just reuse – check out gmaps-utility-library. Its all Apache licensed, so convenient to pop into your code.
  • Its worth noting that searching for properties to rent/buy should be easier now, considering now is also powered by Google Maps.
  • Are you a local business? Make sure you add yourself, in the local business centre.
  • There were a bunch of international sites using Maps, but the only one that caught my eye was Travellr. I’d have remembered more sites, had the Internet been working…
  • Highly amusing to see that there were people from the event management company, trying to show us how to use Google Maps Mobile. Poor girl had “fun” trying to demo this to Yoon Kit, Han, Ditesh, Kevin and I. Problem is, Yoon Kit, Han and I were already playing around with Maps on the mobile for a while, and had been sharing our locations with Latitude with each other for a while (for example, we knew that Han was on a highway about 16 minutes before he arrived for the event!)
  • Naturally, no Google event is complete without a t-shirt. We’re all now proud owners of a blue t-shirt, which has a marker that says “I am here.”

Now a bit about the location (which in my opinion, was a little crappy):

  • Kudos to Google for getting the valet service going at No Black Tie. I’ve never been there before, but my trusty GPS told me how to get there — and then I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be cool if I had a device, with just Google Maps, and a 3G connection, and some intelligent caching (for when I hit network blindspots), and a GPS chip on board? I’d prefer that any day over Malsingmaps on my Garmin…
  • WiFi was fail. Maxis Broadband 3G was fail. It seemed like Celcom was fail. The event location, near the stage, basically meant that you got no Internet. My phone (DiGi) still had EDGE though ;-)
  • No Black Tie, doesn’t seem to have the best management. I personally would never hold an event there. Why? Because the management is quite liberal at trying to embarrass the event organisers. I was going to get a beer, when I was told that we were over the RM2,000 quota, and I can’t get a beer. He shows me his chit, saying how much over the tab we are — I don’t need to know this, and this is something you should never tell a customer. Take it up with the organisers, and solve it amicably. But what took the cake? Another bloke asked for two beers and he shouted at the top of his voice, that the tab was dry. I mean this is Google we’re talking about — they’re not exactly a company short on money, and they splurge on things, all the time. I don’t represent Google, but I felt bad for them. For what its worth, in under 3 minutes and 25 seconds Google had extended the tab ;-)

Flickr, and a GPS enabled camera phone

I have always been excited about location based services. I’ve found it daft that its taken so long to get a camera integrated with a GPS chip for this amount of time, considering how cheaply available GPS chips are.

Yes, its taken a while for me to go the GPS-phone route… Nokia has had a bunch for a year-18 months already I’m sure (their Navigator phones, the N95, etc.), but for me it all came with the E71 purchase.

I like photos. Its quite natural, that I like Flickr. Its also nice to know that EXIF has so many unused fields, that you can embed location data. Flickr takes the embedded location data and then pairs it with a map. Just look at the following photo of a garden.

The garden

The meta information includes Latitude, Longitude, Altitude, as well as GPS Time/GPS Date. The Time/Date fields seem inaccurate (or non-parsed), but the Latitude, Longitude and possibly the Altitude are very correct.

Unfortunately, when I click “map”, I am disappointed. “We’re sorry, the data you have requested is unavailable. Please zoom out to see more map information or refresh your browser to try again” is the sad message I see. Yahoo! Maps doesn’t work too well… but…. Google Maps does! I enter the latitude/longitude combination, and it shows me street level accuracy. In fact, the phone’s GPS picked up the data almost as accurately as a device from Garmin did.

Flickr (and by this I mean, Yahoo!) should tear down the walled garden, and allow people to let the “map” link point to Google Maps.

How does all this work?
In Flickr, make sure you allow it to Import EXIF location data.

On the E71, I installed Nokia Location Tagger. I run this application, allow it to auto-hide, and the camera does its thing. The only way I know Location Tagger is running, is when taking a photo, has a significant lag, as the GPS data is being written. This software can start in the background – just make sure you have a fairly sensible data plan.

I upload images either via Share Online (direct to Flickr from the camera) or via transferring the images to my laptop and then uploading them. The way it gets to Flickr is immaterial – the location data is embedded in the EXIF tags.

Other thoughts
Some say this is a violation of one’s privacy. Because now, people may know where you live, and stalkers may show up. Sure.

I’ve seen examples of this on Picasa (which integrates with Google Maps, and is cool), but I haven’t used the service myself.

Searching for Creative Commons photos, by location, can be a really useful technology for stock photography. Might this disrupt the industry? Might this help, enhance the industry for someone who harnesses it?

Where I used to live (or how I played with Google Street View)

Where I used to live - Google Street View

This is interesting. Google’s Street View. Yes, I’ve seen a lot about it on the blogosphere, but I decided to finally try it out. The photo is of the house, where I used to live. Zooming in, now I can tell you that to the left of that, is where my dodgy landlord still lives ;)

Actually, more to the point. These pictures were definitely taken this year. I know this because I had the room in front, upstairs, and there were things sticking out between the shutters and the window. This picture is too serene, so must’ve been after November 2007.

I see good potential in Street View. Think about mashups with a site that focuses on you finding rental properties. Now people can comment on the property, look at the surrounding neighbourhood, and basically help you make a better choice at renting.

The real estate industry has moved online (in Australia, I can think of Ray White, LJ Hooker, at the top of my head), but its not really been disrupted. No, isn’t disruption – look who owns it?

I was mildly surprised to find out about from the e27 unconference I attended a few weeks back. Its focus currently is only for homes that are for sale, but they focus on the important aspects – like is it near an MRT, what kind of shopping malls are nearby, if you’re buying a property and have kids in mind, what zone to head to and so on.

They’re mashing it up with Google Maps. Pity there isn’t Street View in Singapore, huh?

Street View does 360° views as well. Nifty, if you ask me. See the surrounds. Does anyone know of a real estate disruptor in Australia, yet? Otherwise, there’s definitely room to start coding one…