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I gave a talk at Google I/​O in June this year with fel­low Goo­gler Brendan Kenny, on the top­ic of Spa­tial Data Visu­al­iz­a­tion using the Google Maps API:

If you’re inter­ested in play­ing with the demos your­self, fol­low along with the slides, and per­haps even take a look at the source code!

Cross­pos­ted from Google Geo Developers Blog

With a paper map, you can truly make it your own by get­ting out a pen or a pen­cil, and adding your own annota­tions to it. You could circle all the museums that you want to vis­it, or trace the route that you will take on your road trip.

Maps API applic­a­tions can now offer users this sort of tact­ile inter­activ­ity using the new Draw­ing Lib­rary. The Draw­ing Lib­rary provides a tool­box which enables users to draw mark­ers, lines, and shapes on the map, much as they would in any draw­ing applic­a­tion. The tools can be used for col­lect­ing annota­tions from users, or for select­ing regions to search or high­light. Applic­a­tions can listen for events when over­lays are added and respond accord­ingly, such as issu­ing the search query or sav­ing the annota­tions to a data­base.

Shapes on a map, includ­ing shapes users have just drawn using draw­ing tools, can also be made edit­able so that users can modi­fy or cor­rect them. For example, the user could change the bounds for a geo­spa­tial query with the drag of a mouse. The Poly­line, Poly­gon, Circle, and Rect­angle classes have a new edit­able prop­erty, which toggles the vis­ib­il­ity of con­trol points on these shapes.

For more inform­a­tion on using the draw­ing lib­rary and edit­able shapes, please refer to the Maps API doc­u­ment­a­tion. The Maps API for­um is a great place to dis­cuss these new fea­tures, or raise any oth­er Maps API issues that you may have. We hope that these new fea­tures will res­ult in even great­er inter­activ­ity for applic­a­tions built on top of the Maps API.

Chrome advertisement on

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At around 3am Sydney time, You­Tube went down:

Google’s mon­keys are still slav­ing away at it as I write this. And it looks like it’s just affect­ing Aus­tralia:

For future ref­er­ence, if you’ve got a box out­side Aus­tralia with ssh access, you can always quickly set up a proxy like so:

ssh -D 1337

This sets up a SOCKS proxy on loc­al­host (your own com­puter) at port 1337 (sub­sti­tute port num­ber to taste) — then simply point your browser at it. With this, I veri­fied that the You­Tube out­age at the very least didn’t affect the United States, by ssh-ing into nointrigue​.com, which is hos­ted in the US.

Related post from a while ago: Sil­ver­hawks: Get­ting around con­tent restric­tions. (Using -D with ssh is easi­er than the meth­od with Privoxy men­tioned in that post, though.)

Happy Aus­tralia Day.

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Optus, Optus, Optus. You really like screw­ing over your cus­tom­ers right? I really didn’t appre­ci­ate hav­ing to work out why my home net­work print­er stopped work­ing right in the middle of exams — because you screwed with DNS to earn a few easy quid. (Same goes for you, Tel­stra.)

19 Nov 2009 | No comments

The Inter­na­tion­al Free and Open Source Soft­ware Law Review — about time, although, of course, it’s more for law­yers than FOSS enthu­si­asts.

18 Oct 2009 | No comments

When the SUITS web serv­er went down a couple of weeks ago, the skies darkened and there was much out­pour­ing of grief.

In the words of one com­mit­tee mem­ber:

At approx­im­ately 1445 today, suits­beta shut itself down, nev­er to wake up again. Attempts were made to revive it by power­ing it up, but alas it failed to POST. Our thoughts go out to its fam­ily and friends.

Anoth­er expressed regret:

It was nice know­ing you suits­beta. We’re sad that you toiled alone and in sick­ness for your last few months.

But it was well-loved:

Although I did not log into suits­beta many times I did appre­ci­ate the machine and the con­tri­bu­tion it made to this soci­ety. Few can claim to have sus­tained such con­tinu­ous ser­vice to the soci­ety and its mem­bers, nev­er ask­ing for recog­ni­tion or relief.

How­ever, death can give rise to hope:

The memory of suitsbeta’s cranky innards will live on in the cron mes­sages, reboot requests, and data­base errors that pep­per my email archives. May the met­al be reborn and the warn­ings silenced.


Update: It turned out to be a prob­lem with the Light­box plu­gin I was using. I’ve replaced it with anoth­er plu­gin that provides sim­il­ar func­tion­al­ity, and the error has now gone away. Les­son learnt: hav­ing many scripts on the same page can be a recipe for dis­aster. Thanks Nuffn­ang for help­ing me work through this issue.

I recently added a Nuffn­ang ad to the side­bar — I hope none of you mind too much!

Any­way, all was going well until Inter­net Explorer threw a span­ner into the works (well, well, which browser always throws a span­ner into the works?).

It appears that on Inter­net Explorer 7 and earli­er (using my par­tic­u­lar Word­Press tem­plate at least), the addi­tion of the Nuffn­ang ad code can cause the page to fail to load with an Oper­a­tion abor­ted error:


This error is par­tic­u­larly trouble­some: after the hope­lessly unin­form­at­ive dia­log box is dis­missed, the page dis­ap­pears and gets replaced by a nav­ig­a­tion error page. (Thank­fully, this hideous beha­viour was changed in IE8, which might explain why I didn’t pick it up earli­er as that is my installed ver­sion. But it still begs the ques­tion, why do people insist on using Inter­net Explorer?)

I’ve let Nuffn­ang know about the poten­tial prob­lem, and with any luck, it will be resolved soon.

In the mean­time, I’ve made some changes to the ad code:

What this does is that it first checks wheth­er the browser is Inter­net Explorer. If it is not, the Nuffn­ang script can be called upon dir­ectly. If it is Inter­net Explorer, an iframe dis­play­ing /nuffnang.html is added to the doc­u­ment. /nuffnang.html just con­tains a copy of the ad code as provided by Nuffn­ang placed into an oth­er­wise blank HTML page.

Why? Isol­at­ing the Nuffn­ang ad code in a blank page by itself seems to avoid the error con­di­tions as described by KB927917. But even if an error were to devel­op, the error would be con­fined to the iframe and the rest of the page can still be dis­played.

If you’re hav­ing sim­il­ar dif­fi­culties, give the above a go and see wheth­er it works for you.

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I recently star­ted doing soft­ware devel­op­ment on a cas­u­al basis for GPlates, at the School of Geosciences, Uni­ver­sity of Sydney. Think back to high-school sci­ence class where you learnt about Pangaea and Gond­wana­land and how the Earth’s tec­ton­ic plates have ever-so-slowly shif­ted over mil­lions of years. GPlates is soft­ware that allows sci­ent­ists to “wind the clock back” on these plate move­ments and visu­al­ise what the Earth might have looked like all these years ago. It’s open-source, so if you’re curi­ous, grab a copy and play with it.

I’m quite glad to have met the GPlates team. It’s dif­fi­cult, I think, to find qual­ity soft­ware engin­eer­ing in Aus­tralia, and GPlates devel­op­ment is led by a bunch of developers who are pas­sion­ate about writ­ing qual­ity, well-designed, best-prac­tice C++ code. It’s cer­tainly not your aver­age in-house or aca­dem­ic research soft­ware. And it sure is more intel­lec­tu­ally safis­fy­ing than work­ing in cor­por­ate IT.

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I just got my Google Wave developer sand­box account! I can’t wait to play with it, but I think I’m going to have to put my excite­ment on ice until I fin­ish my exams in a week’s time. Boo.


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