June 29, 2005
Google Earth free-for-all
I just came home tonight from a couple of days with my wife and children at our family's country house in southern Sweden. In my inbox, was a reply to an email I had sent a friend, trying to identify his island from above using Google Maps' satellite imagery.
While I had guessed right (for the purpose of privacy I'll defer from linking to the island from here), more importantly, the exchange prompted me to check keyhole.com (the company acquired by Google and the basis for all Google's satellite imagery) for the 43rd time, to see whether Google Earth had finally been released. Indeed I was in luck and have now been playing around with Google Earth for the last few hours.
While interface features like tilting and rotating are the big pluses in Google Earth vs. Maps, the real revelation is the user-generated layers (listed as Keyhole BBS), which allow us to collectively annotate the imagery. Already, there are links to webcams, SETI telescopes, locales of current events and Charlie Chaplin's Studio.
While I'm still not sure at what intervals annotations on the Keyhole BBS is integrated back into the data streamed to the Google Earth client, this is one of the first collective geo-annotation services that really works.
I've had to eat my old hat: Google 2 - Yahoo 1. Buy and buy.
June 17, 2005
No more pouring yoghurt in the coffee
Yesterday morning I was crumbling together an empty milk carton from the Danish dairy Thise. Suddenly my fingers crossed a series of dots which I had not noticed before. Indeed, it was a Braille printout embossed on the milk carton.
While I'm sure the superior smell senses - and in other situations touch - of blind people avoids mishappenings like those suggested in the title, it seems common sense that all products should have a braille readout embossed on them for easy identification at, for example, the supermarket, or when taking medication.
The use of sensory cues (even though I can't read Braille) quickly got me thinking about Matt Webb's, Chris Heathcote's, and Ben Cerveny's presentations at reboot7 this last weekend. In the digital world we so often rely more on the minimalistic defensive strategies of recognition so avidly pushed by the likes of Jacob Nielsen, than the use of senses and emotions, pushed - each in their own way - by Chris, Matt and Ben alike.
I wonder how digital tagging of physical objects through RFID (future) and barcodes (now) will change space and senses. Chris gave us some hints in his tangible computing session (should maybe be renamed tactile computing?) at reboot. Googling for hints shows that we're low on experience as the closest thing to a braille barcode reader was the talking barcode scanner.
June 15, 2005
AJAX web-based shell
Also check out other AJAX hacks, including MP3 players and spell checkers at Ajaxian.com.
June 01, 2005
Cone of Silence
Over the last two days I have seen a surge in traffic in search engine referers on "Applied Minds".
Curious to find the reason for this sudden spike, Google News gave me a hint: Applied Minds has invented the Babble, an electronic silencer, for furniture maker Hermann Miller.
As always, John Markoff at the NY Times has the best spin.