Archive for the ‘Location Links’ Category

Geolocated websites on the go?

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

Want to quickly access location based websites, while on the go?

Then enter:

into your mobile browser.

Very privative, only goes to the nearby location links service, and a few pages on geograph. But between them give access to a fair number of (UK esp) websites.

Disclaimer: Only tested on a Google Android phone so far. Doesn’t seem to pickup GPS position (yet). To be honest surprised not found something like this in the Android Market.

If works out will probably add direct links to other websites, and possibly make it configurable so can choose which sites to show :)

URLsnipper for Google URLs

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

I am often copy/pasting links to Google searches – particully on Google Maps. Nearly every time I have to hand edit the URL – mainly as I KNOW a large proportion is redundant. Quite frankly a long url is scary, and others know it too. 

Anyway so I created a little script for my own use to cut down the URL automatically:

URLsnipper for Google URLs

It has a good understanding of Google Maps URLs, and reasonable for Google Web search, so it makes a fair attempt at deducing unneeded bits, however it also provides tickboxes to truely customise the result to your own taste :)

Example (a fairly mundane one)

will add support for other urls at some point, blogsearch, news etc. 


Partly inspired by this

Serving Google Earth static content with Apache

Tuesday, November 6th, 2007

This could probably be classed as technical post (gosh!), and is probably only of interest if involved in hosting content to be displayed in Google Earth or Maps etc.

I’ve been meaning to write this up for a while, basically a set of tips for setting up Apache 2.X for hosting content for Google Earth. The same tips can probably be used for other webservers but won’t begin to look at the various ways it could be configured… Also these could easily be placed in httpd.conf, but using .htaccess as the example as thats probably easier, and not all hosting providers allow access to the file. Much of the stuff here originates from YSlow, but adopted for what I know about Google Earth.

These settings assume you not going to change the content much, so is good for serving up large static content, or the ‘chrome’ for a large layer. Regally updated content is likely up be output from a script anyway so that can setup its own headers, I’ve also done quite a bit of work on getting PHP to output good headers, so will post that in a follow up post.
First and foremost is setting up the MIME type, to ensure the Google Earth is launched when a user clicks a link, so these lines are added to the .htaccess file:

AddType application/ kml
AddType application/ kmz
AddType application/xml dae

Next is the Expires header, which tells a UserAgent how long it can cache the content, we set nice future dates, which mean in the main the content will stay cached for a while, potentially saving quite a bit of bandwidth.

ExpiresActive On
ExpiresByType application/ "access plus 30 days"
ExpiresByType application/ "access plus 30 days"
ExpiresByType application/xml "access plus 30 days"
ExpiresByType image/jpeg "access plus 180 days"

I’ve included JPG here, as it’s often used with GE, esp. how with the introduction of PhotoOverlay. The same idea can of course be extended if you use png files for example.
Now Apache out of the box supports sending Last-Modified headers, which means conditional GETs can be made later, which will only return 304 Not Modified. I’ve seen suggestion to turn off Last Modifed headers (if you have far future Expires as above) – but after testing, I would NOT recommend this.

Next is Etags, now YSlow recommends disabling these in most cases, and Apache useually comes with them on, and can easily be misconfigured, esp. on clustered hosting, so they need to be turned off. I’ve dithered on this one for a while, it seems silly to disable a feature that could potentially be useful, however the clincher here is that I don’t think GE will use them, and besides we can save a few bytes be not sending them in the first place.

FileETag none

I’ve no evidence if it helps, but if you have enabled on the fly GZip compression, then you might get a small boost by turning if off. As GE doesnt support HTTP-GZip compression, and KMZ and JPG are both well compressed. The only small benefit might be if you have a KML based loader, that might get downloaded by the browser in which case it can GZip’ed. So turn it off globally in this folder, but turn it back on for KML:

AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/

As a final tip, the following allows you to upload a index.kml file and it will be served as the index for a directory, doesn’t help performance, but useful in a few cases,

DirectoryIndex index.kml index.html index.php

Get all of the above in one file ‘ere, use or don’t use at will :)

Geograph Superlayer v2

Thursday, March 15th, 2007

Following the recent introduction of the Superlayer to explore Geograph Photographs in Google Earth, have updated so that transitions between ‘levels of detail’ are much nicer, as well as sporting new custom icons!

If you have previously downloaded it then you should get the update automatically – otherwise right click the superlayer in My Places and select ‘refresh’ to fetch the latest version. It seems sometimes GE doesn’t reload the styles – so if all you see is a mass of yellow push-pins, restart GE and it should then return to nice circles and blue camera icons.

Or just download it here:

Geograph Superlayer (Google Earth Version 4+ REQUIRED)

Landranger Coordinates

Thursday, December 7th, 2006

Not sure if this really deserves a post of its own, but it is mildly exciting to delve back into the Perl of the Coordinate converter

Anyway it can now understand ‘Landranger References’ which are common in some walking books (that’s the main place I seen them anyway!), basically where just the digits of a Grid reference are specified along with a Landranger sheet number.

Example: OS52 894334 which is 894334 on Landranger sheet 52, converted to NN894334 as a standard Grid Reference.

Getmapping images for Great Britain

Thursday, May 25th, 2006 has released detailed aerial photography for Great Britain, in the form of data from, great!

I’ve heard rumours that Microsoft are allowing certain imagry to be used in Worldwind, wonder if that is worth checking out…

(edit: seems I was quite slow on picking this up! Interestingly also adds ‘birds eye views‘)

Ireland support

Monday, May 1st, 2006

It seems there was few issues with Northern Ireland Postcodes, the Coordinate converter and API should both handle them properly. As well as adding support to the Maps section.

Location Linking to Google Earth

Saturday, April 22nd, 2006

I found an interesting hidden feature today, you can link to Google Earth by location, by using a little re-director on Google Maps, this works for postcodes, addresses, and even coordinates. Of course its quite easy to write such a re-director and I use one, but using Google’s should be more robust. Found via the Google Toolbar button ;)

Update: Experimenting with this it seems you can also manually invoke the non slick interface in Google Maps. (so, so far can found js, kml, and html do something different to normal maps interface)

Update2: over on woowoowoo‘s blog, theres an excellent idea for a bookmarklet to utalise this trick (it seems it work’s on all countries and even for directions!). I have also extended (just add to your favorites/bookmarks) said link to work without having to click ‘link to this map first’.