Archive for February, 2009

looking for Atlantis…

Friday, February 20th, 2009

There is lots of hype of Atlantis being found found in Google Maps, and while its clear its NOT Atlantis itself, maybe it is evidence of someone searching for it… 

The path followed by the ship is regular, as though its a search grid?

The question is did they find something? And the Sun exposee is just a coverup for the real discovery – hide something in plain sight and all that…



Leaky and verbose URL parameters…

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

Disclaimer: this post is a rant – turn away now!

I can’t keep quiet about this any longer, its getting me more and more annoyed. Google Maps includes a “Link” function – which creates a link to the current map, which is very useful – particully as the map is estentially ‘ajax’ style, but the parameters are definitly starting to suffer rot and lack of ‘love’ in maintaining them.

For example to just display a simple KML file, you get this corker:,+London,+UK&ie=UTF8&ll=55.053203,-3.208008&spn=17.762194,33.793945&z=5

There are so many things wrong with this url, its unreal. The first is the source – doesnt do
anything as far as I can see, an empty (but immensely useful) geocode, etc; but somewhat ironically I have HAD to edit the url provided by the function before I was willing to post it here, see that g param – yes that’s my (now made up!) home address.

Yes thats right, if you not careful Google Maps might get you to inadvertently share your home address – seriouslly WTF!


Geograph Germany (quietly) launches!

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

It’s very nearly happened a number of times before, but its now offical we have the first Geograph website for another country! 

This is the though the hard work of Hansjörg Lipp, fighting though the various land mines we have left in the open source code that powers geograph. As developers we (well mainly me – I am a lazy programmer!) have taken a number of shortcuts it just getting it to work the quickest way for us in the British Isles, so while the intention its should be easy to start another country it was never as easy as it should be.

You can see the site here:

which will hopefully be translated fully to Germany. There is also a English language version here:

which still connects to the same database :)

You can read about the experience of working with the code here :)

Its still early days for the project (it only covers a few provinces of southern Germany so far), but its really exciting to see a new site based on the Geograph concept (and code!), we wish Hansjörg Lipp and his team every success. (I wont embarrass myself trying to put any German in here!)

Ask the audience… how to promote long term seeding?

Friday, February 6th, 2009

Geograph offers bulk Torrent downloads, of images. All good (we hope!), but a major reason for doing this is to utalise the power of p2p and share the bandwidth bill. We have bordering on 150Gb of image data to share, but everybody downloading that data from our servers is, well a LOT, not to mention slow, and using bandwidth that could otherwise be serving regular visitors. (the alternative is to serve it from home – but using the upstream connection for that size is also really slow…) 

But to do this is needs others to help with the seeding – in the long term. For a while now 90% of downloading is coming from a seed I have on a server, ie people are peering while downloading, but as soon as the download is completed… its ‘thanks for the fish’ and they are gone.

(we could seed from our homes too, but with the server offering a big enough pipe theres no need – yes aware of the irony in that statement – but we already paying for the server) 

So what can be done to help encourage others to stick around and help?  One consideration is the torrents include the raw files – rather than a tar or similar, making it easy to keep the torrent software pointed at the folder that actullly use the images – without duplication. 

What if the files where made smaller?  (but would mean many more torrents – and the assumption is people are pretty much wanting most images, so picking and choosing isnt really going to happen) 

One critism is the metadata in the files, is hard to keep uptodate – the metatdata is updated on the site from time to time. But for the most part that can be considered a different issue, we can offer bulk downloads of data – on a bespoke basis. (and have an API

I’ve looked around the interweb, and this does crop up occasionally. But our case is somewhat unique; its a specialist market (so really at most 1 or 2 downloaders at once), the files on the large size, and we’er in this for the long term (decades ideally!).

Flight Simulator Recorder! (for real)

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

The new tour recording function introduced in Google Earth version 5, actually makes the ‘black box recorder’ I created a while ago, obsolete now :)

While in Flight Sim mode, hold down Ctrl and Alt and press B. Then right click somewhere in places and goto ‘Add’ and choose Tour. Then you can hide the sidebar by pressing the same combination again. Now press the record button and fly away!

Click the Record button to stop recording – dont forget to click the little disk icon if want to save the recording to Places. 

Tip. Right click the Tour in your places tree, and select Copy. Then paste into a texteditor (eg Notepad) and you can see the raw KML recording. 


If you have any recordings from my Recorder. You should be able to download the linestring, and click the little Tour icond beside the opacity slider, to playback. And while playing you can be recording it into a real ‘Tour’ for.

I’m just shamefaced I’m not a good enough pilot to feel confident in posting any of my recordings…. 


(I think this is probably the last post I will make for now, this is the fourth about the new version 5!)

Google Earth as a browser!

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

Just noticed the KML documentation website has been updated to reflect the KML extensions :)

But most interestingly note the <description> tag of balloons are now rendered by a webkit browser, one that supports JavaScript and iFrames!

WOW. Now goto to go and play with this, this could open up GE for more interactive content (like the plugin sort of offers) …

Update: also new: List of ‘GX’ extensions…
Other than the obvious touring language (which can even open balloons!), note it adds a new <gx:altitudeMode> to cope with underwater data (links with last post) , and even <gx:LatLonQuad> to cope with non rectangluar GroundOverlays!

Underwater Google Earth cables…

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

Besides the layers included in the new Earth Version 5 for Ocean data, I’ve just found this impressive collection:

Google Maps & Google Earth as visualization tools for marine data

Looks like much of this should load pretty well, one particully interesting (for me!) layer is “Submarine cables“. These load well in the new version, I’m guessing they will be updated in the future to work directly in new earth, but in the meantime you can change the data to underwater now!

  • Load a Layer as normal
  • Right click the top most folder of the layer eg “FT Submarine cables”, and slect Properties
  • Click the ‘Style, Color’ tab
  • Click ‘Share style’ button
  • Click the ‘Altitude’ tab
  • Change the dropdown to ‘Clamped to sea floor’ 
  • Press OK. 
and then zoom down to view the cables laying on the sea floor!
You can see how the cable routes do actully follow the underwater tarrain… :)

GE5. The Ocean – Time Machine – Tour Recorder – oh and Mars

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

Seems reports that Google Ocean where pretty accurate, Google have just released Google Earth v5, which besides the extra Sea floor data we saw last week, it actully makes the sea transparent so you can fly underwater… (not to mention a new ‘Ocean’ set of layers)

But thats not all, there are a wealth of other features…

  • Historic data, – you can now turn back time, and view older imagary. The data base is pretty comprensive – and quick! – but I guess (hope!) that more data will be added too…. 
  • Touring – From a couple of quick plays, GE5 has a new tour recording mode. Very easy to use, and seems to even capture changes to places (found by accident, correction: its “places” only, doesnt capture “layers” :( ), and even changes to the time slider
  • Planetry Bodies – The old ‘sky’ button is now a dropdown – with the addition of Mars. Its been possible to view mars imagry for a while, but its now in glorious 3D! (and gets its own set of layers) 
  • Update: Richer HTML balloons – now balloons are rendered by a webkit browser, with Javascript and iFrames support! (more in a later post)

other minor changes…

  • More sun – the sun works for not just the past 24 hours now it seems. 
  • New Timeslider – To ammonodate the new imargy and sun, the slider has been redesigned and moved. It even glows showing historic imagery, but its little difficult to get to grip – (update: not too bad with some practice! – perhaps it was just slow before…)
  • Overview Map moved – its now behind the Google Logo! Guess that saves space….
  • Update: Support for non rectangular groundoverlys. (more)
  • KML Extensions - When copying KML out of the client it starts with:

<kml xmlns=”″ xmlns:gx=”″ xmlns:kml=”″ xmlns:atom=””>

so it looks like extra stuff there – the new tours seems to be the main thing added in the gx namespace. Find out more about the Google Extensions Namespace: (more in a later post). Looks like this is going to be the way Google specific updates to KML is going to be handled now KML is controlled by OGC. 


re KML namespace: making a few play tours and copying out the KML, the ‘touring language’ seems very comprehensive, recorsds small changes to view as a bunch of <Camera>, and pauses. Also only just noticed a ‘mic’ button, gonna have to dig out a microphone to try it… (I guess it can record a soundtrack for the tour)

Oh of course, there are plenty of further readings… GearthBlog 1 2, Google LatLong, Offical Google Blog. Offical site 1, 2. Oh more about the gx extension namespace: Brian Flood

Looking at the screenshots on gearthblog, my sea doesnt look like that its all static , I guess I need a better graphics card….