Google Maps

Google  MapsYou knew it was just a matter of time before Google got into the online maps and directions business (especially with their Google Local tool and thier purchase of keyhole last year). They have officially released (in beta) Google Maps with a slick interface that you would expect from the search company. They have done a few things different than most of the mapping sites out there. Google Maps allows you to click and drag the map instead of clicking and waiting for the site to refresh.

This quick tour of the new mapping site gives a good overview of the features.

In the short period that I’ve been playing with it, Google Maps has already become my favorite online mapping tool. I love the click and drage feature. It’s extremely intuitive and just a whole lot easier to use than any of the other tools out there.

google map

Technical Difficulties

Technical DifficultiesIf you stopped by looking to find the brilliant ramblings that make up any time later Saturday night through Sunday afternoon, you may have noticed an error message… and no That is because I single-handedly destroyed the site on Saturday night. I was doing some cleaning on the site, removing some items that I hadn’t used for a while, and accidentally deleted some other vital files including pretty much the entire blog. Oops! Plus, to make matters worse, I hadn’t made a backup. Double-oops!

I was fortunate to find some old copies of the vital files on another computer in my Dreamweaver local site… whew! Functionality to the site was back! I was still missing a bunch of images from posts… images that I didn’t have any more. I mean, what could possibly happen to them once they were uploaded? They’ll be there forever! I was lucky to find a Google cache of my site with a good portion of the images still in tact… whew again!

So as far as I can tell, it looks like I dodged the bullet getting everything back up again. If you notice anything funny with the site let me know. So what lesson have we learned? BACKUP! BACKUP! BACKUP!

iLife ’84

Who needs the new iLife ’05 when there is iLife ’84 !

Hopefully you’ve got a machine the can run it.
System Requirements:

  • Macintosh computer with a Motorola 68000 processor
  • 8 MHz or faster required for GarageBand
  • 8 MHz or faster required for GarageBand software instruments
  • 8 MHz or faster required for iDISC
  • 512 KB of physical RAM
  • Mac OS v1.0 or later (Mac OS v6.0.7 or later recommended)
  • QuickDraw 6.4 or later (QuickDraw 6.5 included)
  • Display with at least 512-by-342-pixel resolution
  • Hard drive required to install iMovie
  • 4.3 MB of disk space required to install GarageBand, iTunes, iPhoto, iMovie and iDISC; or 250 KB to install iTunes, iPhoto, and iMovie only.

Check out that resolution!

TargetAlert Extension for Firefox

FirefoxWhile reading a post from about web designers not marking their PDF files, so you inadvertently click a link having to wait for the excruciatingly slow PDF plug-in to open. One of the comments recommended a Firefox plug-in called TargetAlert which will add a little icon beside all links to external documents (Word, Excel, PDF, mail, etc.). It’s a pretty handy extension.

Whenever you load a web page that has a link to a file that ends in .pdf, TargetAlert will append an Acrobat icon to the end of the link. Thus, a link that normally looks like this:

Sample Link to a PDF

Will look like this when using TargetAlert:

Sample Link to a PDF

I even found a way to change the icons that display for certain documents. It’s a little involved… (more…)

Google Releases TV/Video Search

GoogleGoogle released a beta of their new TV/Video search yesterday. This new search allows you to search the content of recent TV shows. Your results will be presented with thumbnail images of the show along with a short transcript of the clip.

I did a quick search for mentos, and it seems like they’ve used some sort of computer transcription for capturing the spoken content which isn’t quite 100%. Much of the content for “mentos” looks like it should have been for “mementos.”

This looks to be a cool tool none-the-less. I’m sure Google will continue to tweak it adding more and more features like they seem to do with many of their products.

UPDATE: I just read another story about this new search, and learned that Google is just using closed caption information for the search result transcripts. Does that mean that the closed caption people are putting in mentos instead of mementos?

Face Transformer

old scottEver wondered what you’d look like as an ape? The Perception Laboratory’s Face Transformer is a java application where you can upload a picture of yourself and then do all kinds of cool stuff to it. You can transform your face into all sorts of different forms:

  • baby
  • child
  • teenage
  • young adult
  • older adult
  • afro- caribean
  • caucasian
  • east asian
  • west asian
  • feminise
  • modigliani
  • botticelli
  • el greco
  • magna cartoon
  • apeman (50% chimp)
  • drunk

I found that it works best with a straight-on head and shoulders picture with a dark background.

Time to Buy Pepsi Again

apple logoHow terrible it is that I will buy Pepsi for a chance to win a song? Well, actually I would probably buy Pepsi anyway… I’ll just buy more now.

Pepsi is slated to kick off another “Drink, Win, Play” campaign where 1 in 3 bottle tops will have a code for a free song on iTunes. Supposedly bottles are already starting to filter out into stores.

Apparently the bottle tilt cheat still works as well.

Picasa 2.0 Released

Picasa 2
Google has just released a new version of their photo management software, Picasa 2.0.
New Features include:

  • Move and re-name pictures from inside Picasa
  • Make a label
  • Add a star rating
  • Keep one picture in multiple albums
  • Password-protect collections
  • Improved Basic Fixes for images
  • 12 new visual effects to improve your photos
  • Captions that stay with the picture
  • Zoom. Pan. Tilt. Get the angle you intended
  • Display EXIF data
  • Easier Send via Email (includes Gmail)
  • Integration with Hello and Blogger
  • Improved Slideshows
  • Burn to CD or DVD for archive purposes
  • Integration with Tivo Series 2 slideshow
  • And many more…

Give Picasa 2.0 a download!

Update: PC Magazine has a nice review of Picassa 2.0

New Round of Apple Goodies

Apple released a slew of new products today at MacWorld San Francisco.

iPod Shuffle
iPod ShuffleThis is the flash based iPod that has been rumored for a few weeks now. It’s no bigger than a pack of gum and it comes in two sizes: 512 MB ($99) and 1GB ($149). There is no screens since the iPod Shuffle is meant to do just that… shuffle. iTunes randomly chooses tunes from your library to place on the iPod and you just let ’em play randomly. It isn’t meant to be a replacement for the normal iPod where you can carry your entire library with you. It’s just meant to be for those who want to carry a few songs around to work out etc. With this release Apple jumps into the already very saturated flash-based mp3 player market.

Mac Mini
It’s just like a regular Mac only 1/10 the size… we will call it “Mini Mac” (pinky finger to the side of mouth). Mini MacThis is a pretty cool looking machine. It kind of reminds me of the G4 Cube only much smaller. It is only the about the size of a CD-ROM drive or an external hard drive, yet it is an entire Macintosh computer. Supposedly the box is smaller than the regular iPod box. Yes, with a box that small, there are going to be a few things missing. The keyboard, mouse, speakers, monitor, etc. are not included with the Mac Mini. As Steve Jobs said, “it’s BYODMK. Bring your own display, mouse, and keyboard. The Mac Minis come in two flavors 1.25 GHz or 1.42 GHz PowerPC G4 processors, and will be priced at $499 and $599 respectively. That makes it the cheapest and smallest Mac to date. It makes me wonder if this will bring more people to the Apple platform now that the price is much more competitive with a PC.

iWork Suite
A new grouping of software for Apple is now called the iWork Suite. It includes a new version of Keynote with several updated features including export to flash and quite a few new templates. iWork also includes a new application called Pages which is supposedly the successor to AppleWorks which hasn’t been updated for a LONG time. I haven’t really had a chance to look through Pages yet. From what I’ve heard it’s a clean slick word processing/publishing program that does away with the clutter of MS Word. Supposedly it’s compatible with MS products, but I’ll believe that when I see it.ilife & iwork

iLife Updates
Apple updated all the applications in their iLife Suite. iPhoto 6 has a bunch of new features including RAW format support and several new editing features. It also includes more control over making photo books. iDVD 5 has a bunch of new templates. iMovie is now iMovie HD, which you guessed it, now supports Hi Definition video. They’ve also included a one-button movie edit that automatically imports your video into separate clips, adds titles, transitions and music, all in one step. Garageband 2 now has 8 tracks for recording and several audio filters and live fixes. And finally, iLife ’05 includes the latest version of iTunes which has seen a few updates outside of the iLife suite.

FinalCut Express HD
This is an updated to Apples’ low end version of FinalCut Pro. They’ve finally brought the HD to Express. FinalCut Pro received an update to HD almost back in April.

iPods in Cars
Apple also announced several more car manufacturers supporting iPod controls similar to BMW’s support announced a little while back. Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, Nissan, Alfa Romeo and Ferrari will soon support iPod control from inside the car. Too bad I don’t have an iPod or a Ferrari!

It looks like a strong set of products from Apple. Like most things from Apple, the pictures rarely do them justice so I’m anxiously awaiting a chance when I can see them (and play with them) in person.

Using Google to Find Web/Security Cameras

Camera StillThere have been some neat Google tricks popping up lately (first seen on boingboing) to find web/security cams on the web. Some web cams that haven’t been secured have a specific syntax in their URL that Google has indexed and are searchable. Here are a few Google searches for cams:

Search 1
Search 2 (you can control these cams)
Search 3

SecurityFocus News has a short article about this recent find.

I got lost yesterday for about a half hour digging through these cams. They are pretty interesting to look through (even a little scary). Several people have put together collections of cameras online. Opentopia has a search that allows you to sort the cameras by country. Jesse from Bug Heaven put together a Python script to pull camera images from the search results. There is also this page from that is just a huge list of links to different cams.

Have fun… don’t get too lost in other places via the cams!

Technology to keep your plants alive

After returning from vacation to find my plant (lovingly named Bachi) near death… well, more near death than usual, I decided to order the Dr. Frog Plant Monitor. For only $5.99 you can get a doctor for your plants that let you know when they need water.

Don’t you wish your plants could talk back to you? They can if there is a doctor in the house. Simply insert Doctor Frogâ„¢ into the soil and it will alert you when your plant needs water. No more guess work or wondering. Doctor Frogâ„¢ constantly evaluates the moisture level of your plant’s soil. This friendly little frog will chirp and croak until your plant gets the water it needs. Your sleep will never be disturbed. A special light sensor ensures your plant’s watering schedule will be limited to daytime hours because Doctor Frogâ„¢ only makes house calls when he is exposed to light. Isn’t it time your plant had a check up?

Bachi will be so happy!