Links: Traveller’s edition

Pardon the mess, but I’m traveling, so the pile below pretty much reflects the state of my mind right now. In no particular order, then:

  • Network links in Google Maps: Here’s the official developer’s account of the new-found support for KML network links in Google Maps, over on Maps API Blog.
  • Arc2Earth v.2: Mentioned better late than never: Arc2Earth Version 2 is out of beta, reports Briant Flood, with a list of what’s new — including KML 2.2 support and full two-way importing/exporting of KML and GeoRSS.
  • No GE in Iran: You can’t download Google Earth in Iran either, it turns out. Punitive US export regulations are the culprit.
  • 3D Virtual Earth building how-to: Earthware blog has a review of the new 3D building tool in Microsoft Virtual Earth and also a video tutorial.
  • Plone mapping: Sean Gillies’s PleiadesGeocoder, a plugin for the Plone CMS that lets him add geospatial attributes to content and then output it as KML or GeoRSS gets an update. Sean is using it for the Pleiades atlas of ancient places.
  • MSFT => OGC: Microsoft rejoins the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC). The OGC is now responsible for making KML an open standard, so it is fitting that Microsoft should join a few days after adding support for KML in Virtual Earth.
  • Atmospheric pollutants as KML: AlphaGalileo reports on a new KML file by the Netherlands Institute for Space Research that shows global atmospheric pollution concentrations as measured by ESA and NASA satellites. Here’s the page with the network link, with folders for carbon monoxide, methane, nitrogen dioxide and aerosols. There are also some nice context layers, such as population densities and rice paddy distribution. (Rice paddy use corresponds with methane levels, it turns out.)
  • Nokia N810: Nokia is turning itself into a moving target for Apple. Enter the Nokia N810, my next object of lust. (Press release.) It comes with built-in GPS and voice commands so that it pretty much can take over as a satnav device in the car. The reasons for that purchase of Navteq are getting ever clearer — Nokia is pulling out all the stops on mobile computing. The N810 doesn’t compete directly with the iPhone, as it has no phone, though it lets you Skype via wifi or a bluetooth phone, which the iPod Touch doesn’t let you do.
  • Universal avatars: IBM and Linden Lab (makers of Second Life) are working on “making avatars interoperable” between virtual worlds, reports the NYT. Google and a slew of other companies are on board, says the article. Tim O’Reilly chimes in on the significance of this. These “avatars” will soon be used beyond the 2D 3D web, methinks. They’ll become extensions of your profile on Facebook, or whichever Facebook competitor ends up being the most open. One property of your profile might be where you are at this moment, and that might be visible in Google Earth. Soon, the web will come to you, and your avatar will be your way of telling people what or where you’re paying attention to.
  • Google + Multiverse redux: Remember the Multiverse-Google partnership that was supposed to be announced last week, as reported breathlessly by CNET in a scoop? Has anyone heard anything more about this from either Google or Multiverse? Did CNET jump the gun on the story? The technology really does seem to exist — CNET has a screenshot of “Architectural Wonders” — but where is the official announcement?
  • Virtual Worlds + MSFT: Microsoft is also getting into the 3D virtual world business: “Schiappa declined to give more specifics about Microsoft’s virtual world plans, but hinted that anything Microsoft does will likely involve its Virtual Earth mapping platform and probably its robust video game business.”
  • Community mapping feeling the heat? So the user-generated map-hosting business has been getting a lot tougher, mainly because Google Earth’s own product is so now robust, no-nonsense, and comes with the ability to add your own profile, so that it gets that community feeling. Meanwhile Platial is merging with Frappr, and other players like Everytrail are beefing up their features and/or finding their niches (see,, Wikiloc, Tagzania or Crankfire). Let’s hope the best innovators win — there are always plenty of features that Google Maps doesn’t carry, though the variety and versatility of those mapplets requires some serious thinking out of the box. Perhaps by offering analysis tools?
  • Map lit: MIT Technology Review’s How Google maps the world. One for the parents.
  • Virtual Earth reference links: Virtual Earth’s interactive SDK version 6.0, with an explanation of what’s new. MapCruncher, already the best and easiest tool for easily placing overlays onto the map, gets an overhaul too, and is now officially in Beta (Windows only).
  • EarthNC content update: Tide predictions and marine weather forecasts. For the US; registration required.
  • S60 mapping: Google Maps Mobile gets a GPS location function. Memo to self: Test this and compare to Mobile GMaps when you have a moment.
  • PhotoKML: PhotoKML lets you create KML files for georeferenced photos on your Mac.
  • Where 2.0: Where 2.0 2008 will be on May 12-14 in California, as usual. There is a call for participation; deadline: 26 November, 2007.
  • Seeking alpha: Leszek Pawlowicz over at Free Geography tools is looking for alpha testers for a new Google Earth utility he’s making. His previous tool was a KML time embedder for PC.

4 thoughts on “Links: Traveller’s edition”

  1. Hey Stefan, I’ve wondered the same thing about that CNET Multiverse story. I kept checking for several days after it came out, but have never seen a real press release…

  2. Stefan, I’d like to point-out that the Iranian government’s censorship commission does actually block access to the Google Earth file network. Thus, regardless if anyone were to download Google Earth, it would be rendered practically useless. Iran, for the mostpart, is ‘blacked out’ to the rest of the world, and due to their own policies in what they allow their society to have access to. (That’s not a political commentary — it is an actual fact based on looking at analytics and maps tied to traffic analytics demostrating it as fact.)

    I’ve experienced the interesting issue of a developer in Iran requesting help on how to work with Geotiff images — to then discover in the conversation that said person cannot view their own organization’s web site.

    It’s a common problem within Iranian society, as well as Turkish, and Chinese society, so the issue is more complex and misunderstood.

    Unfortunately, as well — I felt compelled to forward that person onto a developer group instead of explicitly helping — for my own fear of repercussions from my own government. Unfortunately, it would seem that person cannot view the source that I pointed them to.

    In my opinion, the sanctions levied on a foreign government only provide the basis for a foreign government to continue censoring their citizens from the outside world. In that sense, it gives them more possibility to assert to their own society the common misconception that it’s the US government or its policies which are the sole driving force for censorship. This equally goes for other countries who do not share in similar philosophical or idealogical basis for decomocratization of the Internet, and freedom of expression and speech.

    For instance, Congress awarded his Holiness, the Dalai Lama, the Congressional Gold Metal. The Chinese were apparently disturbed by this gesture, requesting that President Bush did not attend the ceremony, claiming that the American government was ‘medalling with internal affairs’. To me, this isn’t much different than locking-out web sites to the outside world — as it’s the same thinking which causes such paranoia and a sense of need to control or dominate society.

    As a human being of Planet Earth (not simply a country), I have a difficult time not feeling sad for those who are treated this way by their own leaders. In many ways, I also question my own leaders’ thinking in sanctioning countries, whose citizens are the ones who suffer most by not having access to resources via the Internet.

    But… Who am I, but a pixel in the big picture?

  3. Daniel, the guy who asked the question said that he gets the message from Google that says “Thanks for your interest, but the product that you’re trying to download is not available in your country.”

    This tells me that he can access the server, but that it is Google who is not allowing him to donwload the file.

  4. I’ve had a couple people from Iran attempt to contact me, to ask why they can’t get Google Earth to work for them as well.

    So, I think some are finding ways of downloading GE, but are also running into a brick wall because their own government is blocking access to specific servers.

    Thus, a double-edged sword.

    But like I pointed-out — I definitely feel that these kinds of sanctions do not benefit anyone, except the government that eagerly uses such sanctions as a method to claim that it’s not them who are blocking access.

    If the US, for instance, lifted those sanctions — then who would they have to blame, except their own government?

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