Google Earth should make the sea floor rendering optional?

July 5th, 2010

Way back when, I wrote a rather scathing review of the then new “sea floor” imagery. This takes the form of a rendering supposed to represent the ’3Dness’ of the sea floor, persumably to improve the feel when exploring under the water surface.

Indeed it would look off, to ‘fly’ under the sea, and then see surface imagry projected onto the both bottom.

Alas that comes at a high price, namely that this imagery is ‘allways on’, so you see it even when not exploring the oceans. This has the effect of obscuring valuable imagry in shallow water areas (where real features are visible in the imagry), with the low resolution rendering.

But also where the ‘switch’ happens between the aerial imagry and the subsurface rendering is somewhat arbitary, and results in a ugly join when viewed at close range. At a distance the colour differential between the shallow sea and the greenish land is greatly reduced (to my colour blind eyes at least), leaving the land boundaries very hard to discern.

So, if you agree, please see:

Petition: Google Earth should make the sea floor rendering optional

Extra note: Of course anothe benefit of bing a ‘optional’ layer, Google Earth could even be made to automatically turn the layer when fly below the water surface, but above the surface its off.

Sea Floor: [X] Off, [ ] On, [ ] Show when under the water serface

Full UK postcodes in the API!

April 30th, 2010

Thanks to OS Opendata, the Nearby Converter API now can convert to and from full Unit UK postcodes!

So as not to break applications expecting Sector postcodes in the API, there is a new API endpoint:

API requests against this domain will give the position of the full postcode, and also reverse geocode (return you the nearest) full postcode!

- The Original URL for the API is still available – and will continue to be. I’ve also taken the opportunity to add a version number to the URL. It’s been 4 years since I created this API, and learnt lots in that time, so should be able to create a better version 2 :) When introduce that don’t want to break compatibility.

Of course the ‘Coordinate Convertor‘ is now using CodePoint Open too – the end of having to pay a commercial provider!

(sorry this has taken so long, OS Opendata was introduced at the beginning of the month!, its been a busy month)

Will take the opportunity to duplicate the copyright message:

Contains Royal Mail data © Royal mail copyright and database right 2010.

As it serves as a useful thank you, for making this data available.

Deadline extension for Geograph Mashup Challange

March 27th, 2010

Due to lack of entries, the date has been extended until 11pm 30th April 2010.

See the original post for more details of the event

So an extra month to work on entries. Also gives me a bit more time to come up with an even better website for the competition!

P.S. The Geograph API has recently been extended to have a JSON API, meaning can be used directly in a Javascript based mashup :)

Geograph Mashup Challenge (new deadline!)

February 27th, 2010

We are pleased to announce a developer challenge to build a cool Mashup using Geograph Data/Photos. The closing date for entries is 11pm 31st March 2010, extended until 11pm 30th April 2010.

The first prize is a Space Navigator, with 5 runner up prizes of a Geograph key ring!
Judging will be by a panel of judges and possibly a user vote on a the Challenge showcase web site (TBA).

The rules are simple:

  • Create a web site, mobile, or desktop application (or similar) that uses Geograph data
  • The application must be available for free
  • Of course free to mashup the information with other sources (in fact its encouraged!)
  • Welcome to submit multiple distinct mashups – but each needs to be substantially different.

Other than let your imagination and ingenuity run wild.

Geograph will provide to all entrants:

  • Live API to search/download Photo data – includes hosting for thumbnails only
    • (includes bespoke development at Developers discretion – will try to provide to all that ask within resource constraints)
  • Static Dumps of pretty much the whole Geograph Database (mysql format)
  • Torrent Downloads of a sample of 250,000 images
  • Potentially help with hosting if you don’t have available (please ask!)
  • All confirmed mashups will be showcased/linked on the Challange Website.

This is for Geograph British Isles, but if can incorporate Geograph Germany data too, all the better – what data is available may vary.

For inspiration, offer up my pithy attempt:
Geograph Photos on a OpenSpace Map

Entry Form!

(note this is not sponsored by 3dconnexion – its entirely Geograph run)

Faceted browsing of Geograph images in Flamenco!

January 16th, 2010

Totally accidently, via a recent Ask-Slashdot post looking for a Search Engine interface, happened across Flamenco search interface framework. It didn’t suit the asker, but its pretty close to great for Geograph, which has lots of categorization. I’ve been looking to build something like this, and have been slowly building the components, scattered around the Geograph website, but havn’t had the time and dedication to pull together. However this interface, does lots and creates a single consistent interface for browsing geograph images, by browsing multiple dimensions of data.

Flamenco screenshot

After a few stumbling blocks getting the python application running on my server (a python noob), set about importing a sample of the Geograph Archive. And frankly the results are nothing short of amazing – esp considering this is the venilla application, next to no customization for Geograph was needed. Try it out by clicking on the screenshot above, or here, wont say too much about how to use it, but its pretty intuitive. Or Direct link to an example results page

Really want to get it going on the whole Geograph archive (1.6 million photos plus) – have a few doubts about running that on my own little server, but definitely going to work towards that.

UK Onshore geology maps 1:50 000 scale in Google Earth

January 3rd, 2010

The BGS recently publised the Geology of Britain website, which makes available a Geological map of Great Britain online in an interactive Map Viewer. They make available a 1:625 000 scale layer for Google Earth, and a the 1:50 000 scale version via WMS only.

Unfortunatly the WMS doesnt play nicely in Google Earth for some reason, so here is a hand tuned Google Earth layer to display the 1:50 000 scale Geological Maps:


The Google Earth/Maps Terms of Service

December 17th, 2009

Slashgeo has been for the last few months running a poll on users acceptance of the Google Earth/Maps TOS. The poll has now been closed and the results published.

Pretty interesting, aside from the tidbit that most people don’t read the TOS, the number of people actively put off by them is quite high!

I think most of the ‘issue’ comes from the fact that the Universal Terms applies to users, use of both products. In part 11.1. it says “By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive licence to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services.

- which to my non-legal mind means Google can take a copy of any data you display in Google Earth or Google Maps – and do what they like with it. It’s irrevocable remember.

On the whole don’t have an issue with this for Google Maps – you pretty much understand you posting public data there. But for Google Earth – which is an application on your own computer – you expect data you display there to NOT be shared with Google and its partners.

Now I am not saying Google will invoke this right and take a copy of your data, its questionable if they would want to, as the data probably lacks context, and there is probably a large amount of it. But they could if the wanted to. And the fact they chosen not to revoke this right, suggests they wanting to leave their options open.

(The Google Maps API has a different TOS, which doesnt encompass the universal terms, so a developer doesnt have to give up a copy of their data unless they choose to)

via Slashgeo

Google powers your GeoDatabase

December 13th, 2009

Update: Dec 16th, Offical Blog post is out. And just for interest a TechCrunch post too.

Sometime recently* Google has added ‘geo-filtering’ and attribute filtering to the Google Maps Data API, I haven’t seen any announcement of this or other mention (if it was, it was below my radar), other than a tiny footnote in an Article about doing geo-queries on AppEngine.

Anyway for people not aware of the Google Maps Data API, its basically a programmatic access method to the ‘My Maps’ feature of Google Maps. So with the API you can use Google Maps as your Geo-Database. (Subject I believe to a limit of 10,000 features per ‘Map’, but can have many maps)

However it wasn’t all that useful, as all you could do was inject your data, or read it all back. But now that searching and filtering is possible, it makes the API a viable method store your data for a Google Maps API or similar mashup. As soon as you get beyond a trival number of markers, you need to store your data in a database, and being able to only fetch the features in the current viewport is a good way of only working with a small subset at once.

Curouslly, there doesn’t seem to be a ‘limit’; so a big bounding box, could potentially still access many features. But hopefully that will be rectified soon.
Update2: Seems there is a max-results : handy!

Google Earth – sans GoogleUpdate!

December 8th, 2009

I not sure how new this is, but something I only just noticed…

Google now (officially) offers to install Google Earth without the dreaded GoogleUpdate!

It’s only offered when clicking the small ‘advanced setup‘ link on the main Download Earth page. But I think that is ok, using the updater is probably a sensible default, most people will get along just fine with auto-updating. What I have long bemoaned is there was no official way to opt out for people needing or wishing to.

Here’s that link again just in case:

Advanced Google Setup

Thank You Google!

Geograph Images + Google Maps + Geocubes

December 6th, 2009

Geograph Images as you Drag - Screenshot
Quite pleased with the latest update to the Geograph Clusters Map. This displays all geograph images on a interactive draggable Google Map. The clustering is powered by Geocubes :) .

However the most exciting part of the update, is the ‘Enable Photo Display’ button. Which once clicked, enables loading a selection of thumbnails as you drag and move the map. Zoom in close enough to see many blue pins for best effect. As you move again, more images will load; the ones shown should always be within the current map view. The data to show images again comes from the Geocubes API, although we load actual thumbnails via our own API.