Sunday, December 30, 2012

The mobile meta tag

    If you have ventured into the world of Mobile web development, you would have realized the importance of the viewport meta tag in the head section of your HTML page. Without the proper meta tag included in your HTML, your web page would zoom, move, be dragged around and basically not client acceptable. To avoid all of this, we need to include a viewport meta tag in the HTML in the head section.

    Jquery mobile suggests the users to use the following viewport meta tag.


<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width,minimum-scale=1.0,maximum-scale=1.0">

    By using the above viewport meta tag, the width would be set to pixel width of the device. This would avoid the resizing of the page and there-by the web page would not be draggable any more. However, this would not disable our zooming issue. The user can still zoom the web page by tapping the screen or by pinching it. Jquery mobile suggests that this is a feature that should be included, however, many a times, in most cases, this is not desirable. By using the above meta tag, your web page won't zoom when the device is in the Portrait mode, but when you change the orientation of the device the user can start zooming the web page. To avoid all of the above issues, the following meta tag should be used instead of the one suggested by Jquery Mobile.


<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width,minimum-scale=1.0,maximum-scale=1.0,user-scalable=no">

    The user-scalable=no property disables the zoom feature of all the mobile devices in both the orientations. Hope this post helps a lot of web developers who are or would have faced this issue. Do share the post if it has helped you and you can follow the blog by liking the Spatial Unlimited page on Facebook.

If this post has helped you, leave a comment or show your love by liking the Spatial Unlimited Facebook page. You could even consider buying me a coffe! Till next time; happy coding!

Jquery Mobile - Single Page Structure

    We have been introduced to Jquery Mobile and have also seen some of the key features of the rich web framework in the previous posts. Today we will take a look at a general page structure using Jquery Mobile. So be ready to start off programming using Jquery Mobile.

    The Jquery Mobile page structure is optimized to support a single page or local, internally linked multiple pages. What does this mean? Well, single page architecture means, having multiple pages that are linked to each other using the normal process of using the anchor tag. So, each page will have its own header, content and footer. The multiple page structure is basically having multiple pages in one single page within different DIVs. So each page becomes a DIV which is linked to another page using an id for that particular page DIV.

    The multiple page architecture, though available is not popularly used because it results in a performance issue. The DOM becomes heavy as multiple pages load at the same time and the website becomes sloppy for the user. The multiple page architecture can be used for websites which are only content based with just 4-5 pages in it. However, for a decent enough website or an application, using the single page architecture makes more sense.

    If the above 2 paragraphs have not made any sense to you, do not get discouraged, take a look at the following to examples, and things will become much more clear.

Example #1:
    The following example shows a general structure of a page using Jquery Mobile. Take a look at the example, the code the result and I will explain the components of the code in further detail.



    You must have already taken a look at the example above. Let's begin with the important parts of the code first.
  • The HTML5 doctype - The HTML5 doctype has to be used to extract the maximum out of this framework. Any device with a browser that does not understand the HTML5 doctype ignores the doctype and custom Jquery Mobile attributes.
  • The viewport meta tag - The viewport meta tag tells the browser how the page zoom levels and dimensions are to be displayed. By setting the viewport attributes to content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1", the width will be set to the pixel width of the device screen. Now here, we are faced with an obvious question?
    • What happens if the viewport meta tag is not included?
      • In one line; your page would look bad. If the meta tag isn't set, many mobile browsers will use a "virtual" page width around 900 pixels to make it work well with existing desktop sites but the screens may look zoomed out and too wide.
    • However, there is a problem with the usage of this meta tag. The page still can be zoomed, and though Jquery Mobile says its a feature, many a times it is not desirable. To restrict the zooming of the browser, we need to use a more better and refined meta tag, the details of which you will find in this post.
  • Links to Jquery Mobile style-sheet and javascript files and the jquery javascript file.
    Let's come to the body of the code. You would have observed a few things like "data-role=page", "data-role=header", "data-role=content" and "data-role=footer". Inside the  tag, each view or "page" on the mobile device is identified with an element (usually a div) with the data-role="page" attribute. Although the page structure outlined above is a recommended approach for a standard web app built with jQuery Mobile, the framework is very flexible with document structure. The page, header, content, and footer data-role elements are optional and are mostly helpful for providing some basic formatting and structure.

UPDATE: The following example makes use of the next stable version of Jquery Mobile 1.3.1


    Here, we conclude our today's discussion on the Jquery Mobile Single Page structure. We would discuss the Multi-page structure in the further post. Including the multi-page structure in this post would make the post really lengthy and hence we will discuss this in the next post. Do let me know, if you have followed the post and also if you haven't, of any mistakes that you would have come across in this post.

    Hope you enjoy coding using Jquery Mobile and share this post if you have liked it. You can also follow the blog on Facebook by liking the Spatial Unlimited page.

If this post has helped you, leave a comment or show your love by liking the Spatial Unlimited Facebook page. You could even consider buying me a coffe! Till next time; happy coding!

Jquery Mobile Features

    The always improving and always progressing Jquery Mobile framework is currently in stable version 1.2.0. This version works with  versions of jQuery core from 1.7.0 to 1.8.2. Let's take a look at the various key features of this very powerful and truly cross-platform mobile web framework.

  1. Built on Jquery Core - This helps in consistency in syntax as it uses the standard Jquery syntax and makes use of the Jquery UI code and patterns. This also reduces the learning curve to a great extent due to the familiarity with Jquery.
  2. Compatible with all major mobile, tablet, e-reader & desktop platforms - This is probably one of the most important feature of this web platform. Jquery Mobile is compatible with a wide range of devices like iOS, Android, Blackberry, Palm WebOS, Nokia/Symbian, Windows Phone 7, MeeGo, Opera Mobile/Mini, Firefox Mobile, Kindle, Nook and all modern browsers with graded levels of support.
  3. Progressive enhancement approach brings core content and functionality to all mobile, tablet and desktop platforms and a rich, installed application-like experience on newer mobile platforms.
  4. Responsive design techniques and tools allow the same underlying codebase to automatically scale from smartphone to desktop-sized screens. This is very useful we have the same design for all device sizes like phones and tablets.
  5. Touch and mouse event support streamline the process of supporting touch, mouse and cursor focus-based user input methods with a simple API.
  6. Unified UI widgets for common controls enhance native controls with touch-optimized, themable controls that are platform-agnostic and easy to use.
  7. HTML5 Markup-driven configuration of pages and behavior for fast development and minimal required scripting.
  8. Powerful Ajax-powered navigation system to enable animated page transitions while maintaining back button, bookmarking and clean URLs through pushState. This feature comes in handy when the user has to bookmark pages on an e-commerce site or any other site for that matter. We as developers do not have to take extra efforts for bookmarking and back button functionality.
  9. Lightweight size and minimal image dependencies for speed. This proves really helpful as Jquery Mobile is used for devices which have a lesser computing speed as compared to our desktops and laptops.
  10. Modular architecture for creating custom builds that are optimized to only include the features needed for a particular application. This allows the application to be reduced in size even further.
  11. Accessibility features such as WAI-ARIA are also included to ensure that the pages work for screen readers (e.g. VoiceOver in iOS) and other assistive technologies. WAI-ARIA, the Accessible Rich Internet Applications Suite, defines a way to make Web content and Web applications more accessible to people with disabilities - users who rely on Screen Reders or users who cannot use the mouse. It especially helps with dynamic content and advanced user interface controls developed with Ajax, HTML, JavaScript, and related technologies.
    With all these features provided by the Jquery Mobile framework, the developers have a very strong platform on which they can build extensively branding based, customized and uniform applications across all devices and browsers.
If this post has helped you, leave a comment or show your love by liking the Spatial Unlimited Facebook page. You could even consider buying me a coffe! Till next time; happy coding!

Jquery Mobile - Touch Optimized, Jquery and HTML5 based web framework

    Jquery Mobile - The next level of "Write Less, Do More" mantra of Jquery. Just recently, I started working on a project using the Jquery Mobile framework and just instantly fell in love with it! Jquery Mobile gives immense power and flexibility to developers and enables truly cross-platform and cross-browser and multi-device development. I have just loved it and have decided to share my knowledge with the readers of Spatial Unlimited.



    Jquery Mobile is a touch optimized web framework for smartphones and tablets. It's a unified, HTML5-based user interface system for all popular mobile device platforms, built on the rock-solid jQuery and jQuery UI foundation. Its lightweight code is built with progressive enhancement, and has a flexible, easily themeable design. This is one reason why I love Jquery Mobile. It is easily customizable - no head-ace of themeing; Jquery Mobile does it for you.

    Instead of writing unique apps for each mobile device or OS, the jQuery mobile framework allows you to design a single highly-branded web site or application that will work on all popular smartphone, tablet, and desktop platforms. This is another reason for the growing popularity of this web framework. Jquery Mobile takes care of all the cross-platform, OS specific issues and is continuously improving the support. Jquery Mobile has a very good developer community adding to the fast progress and device support for the same.

    Jquery Mobile has a wide range of UI widgets and elements, all following a fluid design, that we will be taking a look at in the following posts. I am on my learning curve and hope to take several along with me and on the way learn a lot from the many web-gurus here. Hope you like this new initiative from Spatial Unlimited and continue to show your support by sharing the knowledge, suggesting things and correcting me if I go wrong anywhere.
If this post has helped you, leave a comment or show your love by liking the Spatial Unlimited Facebook page. You could even consider buying me a coffe! Till next time; happy coding!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Google Maps Santa Tracker


    While everyone is gearing up for Christmas, Google too is gearing up to spread the cheer with the world this Christmas. On Christmas Eve, Google will be showcasing a preview of Santa's dashboard - the technology that powers his sleigh during his around-the-world journey. Google has received this special preview from one of Santa’s many developer elves, who are hard at work in the North Pole helping Santa prepare for his big day.

    Santa’s dashboard - featuring the latest and the greatest in Google Maps technology and sleigh engineering - will allow all of us to follow his progress around the world, and also learn a little about some of his stops along the way.

    While Santa gets ready for his journey, we are all invited to visit and explore Santa's village. You are bound to find some fun activities and meet some interesting elves. Hope you all enjoy your visit to Santa's Village and let me know what did you enjoy the most - The Present Drop activity or the Present Jetpack activity or the elves at the Briefing section or the other elves at so many other places in the village.

    Wishing all the readers, merry Christmas and a very happy new year to come...



UPDATE:
    Santa is already on his way across the globe delivering gifts and presents to all the kids waiting eagerly for the big white beard Santa Claus. The Google Santa tracker allows you to view his journey around the world. Here are a few images from Santa's Dashboard.

 When Santa arrived at Omsk

 When Santa was on his way from Omsk to Pavlodar
 
Santa's Dashboard
If this post has helped you, leave a comment or show your love by liking the Spatial Unlimited Facebook page. You could even consider buying me a coffe! Till next time; happy coding!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Where is Google Street View?

    Quite a number of people ask this - "Do you know where the Google Street View Cars are currently running?" "Which places have the Google Street View?" These question and so many similar questions are time and again asked on sites like Quora too. I was browsing through the stack of such questions and decided to look for an answer. I am sharing with you all, what I found from Google.

    Head to the Google link here and you will be able to see a map which shows the availability of the Google Street View images across the globe. Scroll down to the bottom and you will see a drop-down, where you can view the list of places in a particular country where the Google Street View cars are currently driving.

Google Map displaying the availability of Street View
    
    The blue overlay shows where Street View imagery is available. You can zoom in to an area to see more detail. The information shown in the "Where our cars are currently driving" section might not always be the most accurate. The reason being, many a times the cars might not be driving in the listed regions due to several unforeseen circumstances like weather, bad roads, etc. However, Google tries to maintain a most updated list at this site. Currently, as of December 18, 2012, the Google Street View cars are driving in the following regions of the United States.

 
    Hope I have answered a very common question among the Google Maps users and fans. If you have any other questions regarding the Google Maps, do write in the comment and I will try and answer those questions. If you have enjoyed this post, please take a moment to share it across your network.
If this post has helped you, leave a comment or show your love by liking the Spatial Unlimited Facebook page. You could even consider buying me a coffe! Till next time; happy coding!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Where does Google have live traffic information?

    Where all can I see the real-time traffic data? This question has been asked a several hundred times by several hundred people on several hundred forums. Probably you too have had this question. Well, we now have an answer to it and a very good one.

A map displaying the availability of traffic data

    Click on the image above and you would be redirected to a map from Google which will show you all the places at which live traffic data is available. Hope you'll enjoy this and quenches your thirst to know more about the Google Real Time traffic data. If haven't already read from where Google gets it's traffic data, be sure to check out this earlier post.

    Do post any question you have about the Google Maps, and I will try and answer as many as I can. For the question which I won't be able to answer, there is always our dear friend Google =)
If this post has helped you, leave a comment or show your love by liking the Spatial Unlimited Facebook page. You could even consider buying me a coffe! Till next time; happy coding!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Diwali Greetings

    Wishing all the readers of Spatial Unlimited a very happy and a prosperous Diwali!

If this post has helped you, leave a comment or show your love by liking the Spatial Unlimited Facebook page. You could even consider buying me a coffe! Till next time; happy coding!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Google Street View Image API

    Street View is one of most used feature of the Google Maps and why not? You can actually see any part of the world as if you are visiting the place at that very moment. And now with the Google Street View Image API, you don't even need to carry a camera with you to the places you visit. You can take-in all the scenic beauty without even bothering about clicking a single picture. You can come back from your vacation and get a few images using the Google Street View Image API and show those images to your friends and relatives. Create an album of high definition images and go ahead and share it on Facebook for your friends to have a look.

    Using the Google Street View Image API is very simple and anybody can make use of it without any programming knowledge required. I will walk you through the entire process of effectively using the Google Street View Image API. So if you are set, let's go on an amazing ride across the globe with the Google Street Views.

    The Google Street View Image API lets you embed a static (non-interactive) Street View panorama image in your web-page without using any sort of Javascript. You can might as well get the image using the API and save it to your machine, create an album and share it on Facebook, Twitter or any other way you wish to share! The viewport is defined with URL parameters sent through a standard HTTP request, and is returned as a static image. This means that, what you get in the static image is all controlled through a HTTP web link and nothing more.

The Faber Bistro atop Mount Faber, Singapore

    The image above is of the Faber Bistro atop Mount Faber in Singapore. This is an excellent place to visit in Singapore and should take the Faber Loop Walk here. You will definitely enjoy the views of the island city from here. The fries at this bistro after walking along the Faber Loop are definitely worth a try.

    Well, let's get back to the Google Street View Image API and how to use this API. All you need is to generate a HTTP request to get a static image. Take a look at the image below. This is the famous Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. You can easily spot the URL in this image. This is an example of the URL that needs to be generated. I will explain each of the parameters used in this HTTP request.


    A Street View Image request is of the following form:

http://maps.googleapis.com/maps/api/streetview?parameters

    The first of the required parameters is size. Size specifies the output size of the image in pixels. Size is specified as width x height - for example, size=600x400 will return an image 600px wide and 400px in height. The maximum size of the image returned is 640x640. If you use the Street View Image API for Business then you can get images of up to 2048x2048.

    The next parameter that is required is location. Location can be either a text string (such as Marina Bay Sands, Singapore) or a lat/lng value (1.28821, 103.854121). The Street View Image API will snap to the panorama photographed closest to this location. Because Street View imagery is periodically refreshed, and photographs may be taken from slightly different positions each time, it's possible that your location may snap to a different panorama when imagery is updated.

    The third and the last required parameter is sensor. Sensor indicates whether or not the request came from a device using a location sensor, like a GPS to determine the location sent in this request. This value must be either true or false.

    The next four are optional parameters but very important. Proper use of these parameters will enhance the outputs of your Street View Image request.

    The first important optional parameter is heading. Heading indicates the compass heading of the camera. Accepted values are from 0 to 360 (both indicating North), with 90 indicating East, 180 indicating South and 270 indicating West. If no heading is provided, a value will be calculated that directs the camera towards the specified location, from the point at which the closest photograph was taken.

    The next important optional parameter is fov. Fov or Field of View is expresses in degrees, with a maximum allowed value of 120. The default value for fov is 90. When dealing with a fixed-size viewport, as with a Street View image of a set size, field of view in essence represents zoom, with smaller numbers indicating a higher level of zoom.

    The next optional and another very important parameter is pitch. Pitch specifies the up and down angle of the camera relative to the Street View vehical. This is often, but not always flat horizontal with default value being 0. Positive value, with a maximum up to 90 angle the camera upwards while a negative value with minimum up to -90 angle down the camera.

    These three optional parameters usually play the most important part in displaying the correct Street View image. To get the perfect image in the scope, you need to play around with these 3 optional but very important parameters. The fourth optional parameter is key. When you will have an API key for using the Google Street View Image API, you will have to use the key parameter as well.

    So, to summarize the parameters that form the Google Street View Image HTTP request call,
  • Required parameters
    • size
    • location
    • sensor
  • Optional but important parameters
    • heading
    • fov
    • pitch
    • key
    How you enjoy the Street View Image API. Do let me know how you would be putting it to use and which places you would visit through the Street View. Do share and comment and let me know of any questions regarding Google Maps that you would like to be answered! Till the next post, enjoy your vacations using the Google Street View.
If this post has helped you, leave a comment or show your love by liking the Spatial Unlimited Facebook page. You could even consider buying me a coffe! Till next time; happy coding!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Spatial Unlimited turns 2

    Today on this day, 2 years back, I started writing this blog Spatial Unlimited.I can't believe it's been two whole years since I started sharing my little knowledge with the community across the planet.

    Since the blog officially went live on November 9, 2010, we have received:
  • 76,800 page views and counting...
  • Several 1000 shares and likes and comments across the social networking sites.
  • Over 500 email followers and around 100 likes on the Facebook page
    Not bad at all, for an unknown guy, new to the world of Google Maps and new to blogging.

    When I look back at the last 2 years of sharing and learning, I realize that I have got so much from the community. Got the opportunity to help a few with their Google Maps problems and learned as much from them. Writing this blog has helped me keep updated with the Google Maps technology and things around it!

    Moreover, I’d like to thank each and every one of you who visits my blog, reads my content, views my codes, and takes the time to comment.  To each and every one of you readers out there - thank you very much.

    Today, I would like to share with you all, 25 blog posts, my personal favorites from this blog. Hope you enjoy them and keep visiting the blog as always!





If this post has helped you, leave a comment or show your love by liking the Spatial Unlimited Facebook page. You could even consider buying me a coffe! Till next time; happy coding!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Google - Geoeye Insurance Solution Set

    Google will now soon be entering the market of risk management and crisis event response. With the extent of satellite imagery and the extent of geospatial expertise available with Google, this was an obvious thing coming. People, especially from the insurance industry, have long being pondering on the fact, that why Google had not moved into the the Catastrophic Risk Management avenue before. But now, the wait is over and Google is soon stepping into the Risk management domain that may bring a stir in the market dominated by companies like RMS and AIR.

    Google is teaming with GeoEye to help insurance organizations across the globe, more effectively address risk management and crisis event response.  Google’s mapping solutions, combined with GeoEye’s Earth imagery and geospatial expertise, provide a platform for enabling strategic decision making, optimization of people and assets, and powerful location-based applications across the enterprise. Insurers know that having an accurate understanding of an asset’s location and associated risks (natural disaster potential, crime, lack of fire stations, high replacement costs, etc.) is critical to evaluating risk in the underwriting process.

    Having such kind of accurate location based understanding of the risks associated with the insured locations becomes all the more important in the aftermath of a crisis event when claims get filed. It helps to have an accurate view of the affected areas over time and geography.

    Google and GeoEye have developed the solution set to address these scenarios. Google had GeoEye, together hosted a webinar just recently, where Google’s Hillary Renderman and GeoEye’s Andre Kearns described several use cases, and were joined by Google’s Chris Sierra and GeoEye’s Alistair Miller, who gave a demo of the solution set.

    The slides of the presentation are as follows:



    Some of the key points from the webinar included:
  • About Google Enterprise that takes Google's most popular and innovative consumer web services and makes them ready for Businesses, Governments and Educational Institutions; aligning the way people work with the way they live.
  • Geographic information is mission critical - yet most of it remains silo ed or unused." Although more than 80% of organization data has a location dimension ... this information is rarely exploited."
  • Trends in Insurance:
    1. More efficient asset liability management models and analysis to help improve risk management
    2. Regulations on governance risk transparency and compliance
    3. Expected compliance on regulatory reporting
    4. Using Big Data to help estimate claims, credit, and market data
    5. Increase in ability to provide access by mobile and and voice for product and service delivery
    6. Analytics to help with customer insight and more efficient business processes.
  • Why Google Maps & Earth for Insurance:
    1. Better planning
    2. Optimise People, underwriting and Assets & Facilities claims
    3. Insight into policies
    4. Incident Management
    5. Regulatory Compliance better targeting for sales Disaster Deployment and marketing.
    Will this move from Google cause a stir in the issuance market? Will this change the face of the Risk Management Industry? Will catastrophic risk management and underwriting change for better? Would this solution set prove to be a threat to the risk management players in the industry? There are so many questions to answer, but will all of this lead to a better and a safer tomorrow?
If this post has helped you, leave a comment or show your love by liking the Spatial Unlimited Facebook page. You could even consider buying me a coffe! Till next time; happy coding!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Street View Army

    Google's Street Views have caused controversy more often than not. Sometimes for privacy issues, sometimes for security reasons. But whatever the media has to say, we can't deny the fact that Google Street Views has brought the entire world at your finger tips. You can visit places that you would not be able to visit ever. You can walk the roads, that you had only imagined of treading. You can experience for yourself, various cultures, events, religions and lives of people across the globe all at the comfort of your home. You can visit the deserts, the snow clad mountains, the giant rivers or the gushing waterfalls. Today, let's take a look at the efforts Google is taking to capture the world for us.

Google Street View Car


    Aha! We all know this vehical. More popular than the Mercs and the BMWs, this street view car has roamed the streets of many a cities since May 25, 2007. Street Views started out as an experimental project with a SUV packed with several computers in the back; cameras, lasers and a GPS device mounted on the top. The car drove around the streets of US, to capture the first images of the Google Street View. Google then switched to a van for a brief period, before switching to a fleet of cars that scaled up the Street View project throughout US and around the world.



    After several iterations of the car and camera technology, the latest car has 15 lenses taking 360 degrees of photos. It also has motion sensors to track its position, a hard drive to store data, a small computer running the system, and lasers to capture 3D data to determine distances within the Street View imagery.

Google Street View Car with the camera assembly


Google Street View Trikes

    Some of the most interesting and fun places around the world cannot be visited in a car! And Google soon realized this and one day while mountain biking, Mechanical Engineer Dan Ratner realized he could combine his favorite hobby with Street View to explore new places, and set to work building a bicycle-based camera system. And so the Street View Trikes came into being somewhere in 2009. And as a result of the trikes, As a result, we’ve been able to see the parks and trails, university campuses, and even sports stadiums.

 Google Street View Trike with the camera assembly

Google Street View Snomobiles
     
    Once Google was able to take the Trike to all of these interesting places, they got to thinking about where else they could go and had the idea of putting their Street View equipment on a snowmobile. In typical Google fashion, they were able to put this together over the course of a few weekends using some 2x4s, duct tape, and extra hard drives wrapped in ski jackets to last through the freezing conditions. Fortunately the folks at Whistler Blackcomb were just as enthusiastic, so now we can explore, even the Whistler in Street View.

Google Street View SnowMobile with the camera assembly

Google Street View Trolleys

    With the success of the Street View, Google now had to get into the buildings, monuments and museums, and to achieve this, there was need for something small that would fit through museum doorways and navigate around sculptures. Again Google wore its thinking cap and came up with the compressed push-cart lovingly dubbed Trolley, to bring the museums around the world to our homes.

 Google Street View Trolley in action

 Google Street View Backpacks
    When you consider the myriad of locations to which the Google Street View team has been – from the Amazon rainforest to the Antarctic and just about everywhere in between – it’s kind of surprising that until now it hadn’t set foot inside a place pretty much on its own doorstep: the Grand Canyon. How could Google possible over-see this. To capture the images of the Grand Canyon which is accessible by foot alone, Google came up with a special camera-laden backpack dubbed the Trekker. “The Trekker" — which is controlled by its operator via an Android phone, automatically gathers photos as he walks. This enables the collection of high-quality imagery from places that are only accessible on foot.


The Trekker

    Well that's not all. If you thought that Google just brings to you the images from places above the Earth's surface, then be amazed! Google has now added its first underwater panoramic images to Google Maps, the next step in their quest to provide people with the most comprehensive, accurate and usable map of the world. With these vibrant and stunning photos you don’t have to be a scuba diver—or even know how to swim—to explore and experience six of the ocean’s most incredible living coral reefs. Now, anyone can become the next virtual Jacques Cousteau and dive with sea turtles, fish and manta rays in Australia, the Philippines and Hawaii. The experience was made possible by the Catlin Seaview Survey, a partnership between the global insurance company Catlin Group Limited and nonprofit Underwater Earth. The survey used the SVII - an underwater camera with a depth range of 100 meters -- was used to continuously capture thousands of 360-degree panoramas, giving people the opportunity to take virtual dives.

Glimpse of the Under-water street view

The SVII in action

    Hope you find this article interesting and continue enjoying your journeys across the globe with your very own Google Street View...
If this post has helped you, leave a comment or show your love by liking the Spatial Unlimited Facebook page. You could even consider buying me a coffe! Till next time; happy coding!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Rail Radar - Map your Train Live!


    Rail Radar - An interactive map that allows users to watch the movements of trains that are currently running in India. This means that you can now know the status of your trains live! Rail Radar is a real time tracker of the Indian Railways passenger trains. This live tracker is shown on our very own Google Maps and this long awaited system is a result of a collaboration between the CRIS - Center for Railway Information System and RailYatri.in.

    Since this is a live tracking system of the Indian Railways, a few questions that will pop up in the minds who have ever travelled by railways will be - "Is this system really reliable? Is the data accurate? Can I trust the Rail Radar?" Well, the system is reliable and you can trust the data since the information and intelligence behind the Rail Radar is extracted and harnessed from volumes of data from the official Indian Railway's train running operational data. With regards to accuracy – this is fairly accurate in the normal running scenarios. However, there are several factors that can affect a train while it is on its route. Weather, breakdowns, congestions, local control-office directives, and more. RailRadar tries to continuously update this information. However, since the data on the Radar is displayed few minutes later than the actual, the tourists should double check the train running information using the traditional train status search mechanism – also offered by TrainEnquiry.com

    At present the Rail Radar is configured to refresh every 5 minutes. For security and regulatory reasons, the information published  on the Rail Radar is delayed by 5 or more minutes. Apart from this, the system has to do a lot of data crunching before the data is updated on the map. This to contributes to the delay.

    The Rail Radar system has a really cool feature in it. If the system is able to capture the location of the request based on the IP, then the Google Map that is used in the system pans to that location. Now; isn't that cool? So, if you are in Pune, then chances are that when you open up Rail Radar in your browser, you will be taken to Pune, which happens to be a junction in Maharashtra state. It also shows the number of trains that are currently active and also the percentage of trains that are delayed.

    Well my take on the entire application...
  • The Indian Railways needed just such a kind of system, since India has got the largest network of railways in Asia.
  • This system is really a  big boon to the frequent train travellers, who have experienced the agony of waiting for delayed trains at railway stations.
  • The application makes use of really cool Google Maps Satellite view and shows train icons as map markers.
  • Clicking on the train icon, shows you the details of the particular train and a simple mouse over gives you the name of the train you are looking at.
Train Details - On Mouse-over
 
Train Details - On Click
 
  • The User Interface(UI) of the application is not so good, and with 2 big adds at the bottom and bottom-right will be a big turn off for visitors.
  • Overall a very good and much required application for the people travelling by railways in India.
    You can visit the application at Rail Radar and take the benefits of this fabulous application. Do share with us your take on this brand new Google Maps powered live train-tracking application - the Rail Radar.
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Monday, September 24, 2012

Panoramio Hangout Game

    Google has launched a new web based game powered by the Panoramio and Google+ Hangouts platform. The concept of the game is to guess where a photo was taken on Google Maps. You compete with your friends to make the best guess. The game is played in rounds. In every round, one player is the round master and the other players are the guessers. The round master chooses a photo. Then the other players take guesses at where the photo was taken from. When the time is up, the player who made the best guess wins, and becomes the round master for the next round.


    In more detail…
  1. The round master sees a map. He or she can drag and zoom the map, or enter a place name in the search box. Meanwhile, the guessers need to wait.
  2. Next to the map, the round master sees a selection of photos from the area shown in the map.
  3. The round master chooses a photo by clicking on it.
  4. If the round master is satisfied with the photo, he can click on "start round with this photo" to start the round.
  5. Then all the other players will see the photo, a world map, and a countdown.
  6. Each guesser can drag and zoom the map, or enter a place name in the search box. Once he thinks he knows where the photo was taken from, he can click on the map to drop a pin at the chosen position. Until the round ends, he can click more times to change his guess. Meanwhile, the round master will see the guesses of every player.
  7. When the countdown reaches zero, the round ends. The player whose guess is closest to the place where the photo was taken wins. Every guesser gets some points based on how good his guess was. The winner becomes the round master for the next round.
Following are a few tips that will help you master the game:
  1. You need to guess the place where the camera stood when the photo was taken, not the place that is shown on the photo. So you thought this was an easy round, because you recognized the Empire State Building in New York? Think again. All other players will recognize it too, but who will find the exact corner where the photographer was standing?
  2. You can change your guess any number of times until the time runs out. So start with a rough guess, and get closer and closer if you have time. It's better to be wrong by a thousand miles, than not to guess at all!
  3. Precision counts. Google has designed the scores so that every little improvement counts. Once you've found the right country, try to guess the city too. Then the building, then the exact point on the street. Or, if it's a countryside picture, try to find the correct point in the path, not just the correct mountain. That is, if you have time. Every little improvement will give you a score boost that can be very valuable, if you play multiple rounds, to make up for an unlucky guess later.
  4. It's in a Hangout! You can ask the round master for hints, you can send other players on the wrong track; you can all gang up against the round master, and instead of competing to make the best guess, try to be the round master that chooses the most difficult picture. It's your game.
  5. You make it fun: If you are the round master, you need to choose a good photo. Sunsets look the same everywhere, so the game will be boring if you choose a photo of one. If the photo is too hard, you may want to give some hints.
  6. The more people you play with, the higher the scores get. If you want to improve your high score, play with more friends. You'll see that you will get higher scores even though your guesses are equally successful if more people take a guess in that round.

    The photos that are used in this game come from , a community-powered website for exploring places through photography: cities, natural wonders, or anywhere you might go. Panoramio is a showcase for the talents of its contributors, a place to see the world, and a community to discuss about photography.

So what are you waiting for...Get online and start exploring the world with your friends and compete to be the best explorer...Cheers!
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