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Monthly Archives: February 2008


Notes and links from last night's presentation on web mapping and the Google Maps API to the New York Web Standards Meetup Group. Thanks to everyone who made it!

Please contact us if you'd like to present at the March or April meetup.

Listen to Part 1 of this event

Listen to Part 2 of this event

Subscribe to the podcast of the event

Feedburner podcast link

Web Mapping Part Two: Google Maps and Beyond

We'll discuss best practices, our favorite mashups, and what makes the good ones so good. We’d also like to see if anyone in the group has any experience with the Mapstraction library.

Google Maps Wrap-up

Last month we talked a little bit about web mapping in general and ran through a Google Maps tutorial. All of the materials from last month's meetup are available on our website, including a podcast of the presentation.

Any questions about developing Google Maps? Any observations?

Other Mapping APIs

Has anyone here worked with Yahoo! Maps, Live Earth, or MapQuest? If so, what do you think?

I remember that Marco was very concerned about the fact that Google is a corporation last month, but OpenLayers is an open source solution.

I briefly worked with MapQuest in 2006, prior to driving directions in Google Maps, but I found it kind of a pain and would stick with Google—their API is faster, cuter, and easier

When initially working with the the MapQuest OpenAPI, I had a lot of difficulty getting the map to render correctly. The culprit turned out to be the DOCTYPE directive! Remove it if you want your map to display at all in Firefox and correctly in IE. Not sure if this is still true.

Open Discussion

What are the best practices when doing a mashup? Is it using abstraction layers? What makes a good UI? What are people’s favorite mashups and why? What makes a good one so good?

Google has a New Year's Resolution to help produce more usable maps.

Favorite Mashups

Vincent Lim sent this one: http://www.onnyturf.com/subway/. Custom tiles. Stemless markers.

From Dominic Espinosa: Stamen Design: Oakland Crimespotting

They also released an open source interaction library called Modest Maps for displaying tile-based maps like Google's in Flash.

NYC bike maps
CrimeStat 2.0

MapCruncher

Mapstraction—Client-side abstraction layer

As I was perusing the glorious mess of code, bits and other fanciful nonsense we refer to as the “web”, I came upon some delightfully useless .js files and could think of no other purpose for it than to share them with the small, yet potent & planetary contingency that is our Readership…

Behold, disbelievers! A tutorial that allows you to change the favicon in your browser (on Opera and Firefox only) via a tickling of your keys…Have a peek.

Michael Mahemoff, a wildly talented London-based software & usability dude, as well as the author of Ajax Design Patterns, presumably came up with these scripts, so don’t for a second think that we’re slagging the cat. You will find it a worthwhile expedition to dig around his site.

But seriously, if you can think of a real world application of the mighty Favicon Demo, please let us know. Or perhaps, sometimes you just have to do stuff because you can, and ask the questions later…

From Google Maps API Blog:

This seems like a very cool idea and I think theMechanism will get involved:

Posted by Mano Marks, Geo APIs Team. Our friends up at NetSquared recently opened a mashup challenge to engage developers in helping nonprofits realize some of their web ideas. The concept is pretty simple. First, nonprofits post ideas on data they have and what they'd like to be able do do with it on the web. Then, product managers and developers peruse projects and sign up to help produce specs and bring them to life over the course of the next month. Nonprofits with the coolest mashup at the end are eligible for grants totaling $100k at this year’s NetSquared conference in May. This year there's extra emphasis on openness, from standards and data to software and ideas. If your mashup can itself be mashed up, all the better. Mix and match APIs from different sources as you see fit—the only goal is to meet a need that a nonprofit has expressed. We like this idea a lot, and we want to help it—and potential volunteers like you—succeed. On March 7, we’ll be hosting a hackathon at the Googleplex in Mountain View, California, for participants, where you’ll be able to talk shop with API experts from Google. We'll also be inviting gurus from other API providers in the area to join us so you get all the help you need. If you sign up to work on a project you’ll hear more from NetSquared about this event and others like it. Go check out some of the projects, think about how you might be able to apply your design skills and API wizardry to help these groups out, sign up, and mash away!

Misery Loves Company

February 01st, 2008  |   business

bill gates guitar heroMicrosoft Corporation has made an offer to Yahoo, inc. for $44.6 “Bazillion” dollars (…it might as well be). This confirms that Microsoft has begun the floundering process by which they are snatching what they can in a bitter realization that Apple has won the computer operating software battle for now, and perhaps the entire war. The fact that Microsoft’s stock continued to drop after the announcement, shows how much faith their stakeholders have in the decision as well.

While the obvious signs of Microsoft’s future demise is evident in their slow, torturous, pre-recession slide into stock hell, I first really, and truly believed that Microsoft lost the PC war right after the holidays, when two hard-core IT professionals remarked on the beauty of the shiny new iMac in our New York Bunker. They also gleefully chortled that they now “love Macs” and proudly own them at home. As soon as the foot soldiers of Microsoft: the IT dudes, begin to jump ship, something is wrong in La La Land. With all that said, this slow, calculated downfall will not be without a fight. Expect hordes of viruses invading our precious Macs like ants to a picnic basket full of honey covered iPhones. Remember, for every IT person who adores their new Mac, there will likely be several others who will do their best to destroy Apple machines with tawdry new viral treats. What else are they supposed to do when Microsoft viruses are no longer pressworthy?

Which brings me back to the impending Microsoft/Yahoo connection. It’s like asking a bear to french-kiss a beagle. Yahoo has recently begun to reach the nerds they’ve craved since Google started giving them noogies on the playground with the unveiling of pipes, a cool mashup tool. On the other side of the playground, Microsoft realized that the only thing that they still had a stronghold on was their precious Microsoft Office software, so ensconced in the collective of business as we know it, it would take generations for them to screw it up. However, from around the back door of the playground, came Google with the novel idea of putting an easily shared version of Microsoft’s Office tools online. When Google released a docs, the mighty Apple thieves saw the tables turned on them and began to wet their neatly pressed slacks.

After the Zune disaster, and new realization that the children of IBM have been drinking Apple-flavored kool-aid for the past couple generations with increasingly improved results, Microsoft is possibly modifying their strategy and slowly exiting the operating system and software market. Changing the downward spiral of two “once great companies” will not be easy, but since the mightiest of all opulent nerds, Bill Gates, has taken up Guitar Hero for his retirement, and is saving the world with U2, all bets are off that Microsoft will be able to continue to bully the playground dorks anymore. Ultimately, misery loves company, and ol’ Microsoft and Yahoo, inc. might make magic yet. But I’m investing in McDonalds, because when the going gets tough, the tough buy $1 burgers…

Maybe Google will be the next to freak out and make a bid on Apple. Then the recession will be in full swing…

Dave Fletcher is a Founder and Creative Director of theMechanism, a maxi-media firm in New York City and London. He’d be crazy to say that he believes that Microsoft is in as much trouble as he claims they are in this article. He just wants Google to buy Apple so he can make more money on his two whole shares of stock…