Archive for July, 2008

Google Earth: Chart Plotter

Sunday, July 27th, 2008

Did someone mention a chart plotter? If so have a look-see:

Google Earth: Map Plotter

Its hot off the presses so don’t know what options it will need yet, just used three example zooms levels – other options would include the mobile map style. (You can change it by altering the link in Properties)

Also its standard Google Maps, as that is all the API offers. Ideally would be proper flight plan data, but would need a Static Map API to work.

Note: The map is centered on the camera position (so is ideal for the Flight Simulator) – and while it can be used in other modes it wont make much sense. If interest could make one that shows the center of the view itself.

Disclaimer: this is entering the gray area of what is possible with the Static Maps API, so might get pulled, etc.

More flight sim tools

Google Earth: Flight Simulator GPS Arrow

Saturday, July 26th, 2008

Behold a new network link from

Google Earth GPS

Once you have chosen a destination point, a small arrow will be shown in the bottom right of your Google Earth window, which points towards your destination! Ideal for use in the flight simulator, where you can play follow the arrow.

Note it only updates every 5 seconds, and comes with all sorts of disclaimers such as don’t use in life or death situations.

As Seen By The Colour Blind

Friday, July 25th, 2008

I’m colour blind myself (slightly), so sometimes feel the frustration when designs or sites lack the contrast to be visible easily, this is also why most of my sites make little use of colour, going mainly for grays with contrast.

Anyway this is just a post to point you towards a nice article on the blog, which nicely demonstrates how others might see some popular sites as well as explaining a bit more on colour blind – well worth a read!


Thats a mighty long way!

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

Google have recently added walking directions to the Directions feature on Google Maps.

This is a nice addition, and of course its early days, but does throw up some interesting results. The post says “If you’re going 10 km or less (some call this 6.2 miles)”, but if you want to test it out on longer routes, just add &dirflg=w to the url (use the “Link to this Page” link to get a link for the current map), and it does work!

Luckily it knows to avoid using the Motorway (phew!), but it still does favour bigger roads as noted here. Hopefully with time it can pickup on the shortest route rather than the ‘quickest’ which is generally what is used for driving.

I wonder if we will ever get to the point that it includes public footpaths here in the UK? (maybe it will via OSM?) – and as a refinement it could favour known ‘long distance footpaths’ …

Update: GEarthBlog also points out that can use my multi direction to KML tool, to view walking directions in Google Earth! Thanks Frank!

Search along a route

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

As a very rough, but somewhat nifty, proof of concept have created a little page, that answers (or attempts to!) the old age question of “Where is the best place to stop off for pizza along my route?”

Search along a route

as mentioned its very approximate, the search alogorithm is crude, I am certain there are better ways of doing it, anyone fancy taking it on?

absconding to Ireland and feckups at the hosting

Friday, July 11th, 2008

Sorry that and related services have been offline for most of the past week. I am currently away for a trip in (not so) sunny Ireland, and the first halve was camping so was away from Internet connectivity.

Anyway minutes before I went away I got a deluge of emails saying the site if offline? what?? It turns out my generic credit card had expired, and without warning (feck) the machine was switched off. But this was 12am so their phone lines where closed (billing at least) – so a hasty phone call on the move in the morning and with the new card details they said be back within a few hours – not ideal but the best could do. I carried on my merry way and didn’t think any more of it (my mistake!), but the real feck up was that yes they had re-enabled the machine, they just forgot to re enable it at the switch…

It appears to be back now after much international phone calls….

btw – feck isn’t considered a swear word in √Čire, and when in Ireland, do as the Irish do. (which is use it a lot!)

Update: as an amendum to the above, it turns out that on wednesday (3 days after it was switched off) a letter did arrive at home stating that they intended to turn off the server unless payment was received – and that it would take three days to reactivate the server. Which is at least factual.

Geograph by Bittorrent!

Tuesday, July 1st, 2008

Lordelph has just setup a new system to distribute the Geograph archive by bittorrent! For this to work really well we need as many people to help seed as possible, so if you are able please do!

I have a number of servers sitting around that could help with this, so I am particularly keen to have a client that can be setup on linux boxes easy, Lordelph pointed me towards rtorrent which so far seems to be working well. I don’t have time to document it fully now, but below is a quick start guide to what I did to get it going (on Fedora, other flavours very similar), with minimal fuss. The next step will be to have a script to automatically discover new torrents.

#install rtorrent (using yum as fedora)
yum install rtorrent

#create user and folder
adduser geotorr
mkdir /var/geotorr
chown geotorr:geotorr /var/geotorr

#setup initial enviroment
su geotorr
mkdir /var/geotorr/session
mkdir /var/geotorr/watch
cd /var/geotorr/watch/

#create config file (setting up to use created folder, and to setup watch and session folders)
# paste in the example from and edit
# or see my version available at
nano ~/.rtorrent.rc

#but see also (haven't read it myself!)

# then to add new torrents in future just drop the .torrents files in the watch folder
# - a little script that follows that RSS feed would do nicely here!

more… on the geograph forum.

Edited Tues PM for spelling and grammar – the previous post wasn’t proof-read!