Friday, March 30, 2012

Code Samples Indexed

       Considering the request from a number of blog readers to index all the code samples on the blog, I have now created a page from where you can refer to all the code samples in a sequential manner. You will be able to see a "Code Samples" tab on the top of every page on the blog from where you can access all the code samples you wish to! The code examples are now live and you can actually see the outputs here itself on the blog. No need to copy paste the codes anymore!

       Hope you find this simple page helpful! I would be happy to hear from you all. Please leave your feedback and comments!
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Monday, March 19, 2012

Why this difference?

       Several of you must have observed this like I did, that the Google geocoder returns different results on the Google Maps website and Google Maps API v3 for the same address string. To understand why this difference exists, I dug deeper into the web and came up with the following.

       The first and foremost place to look for an answer was the Google Maps API FAQ section. The FAQ section did not let me down of course! The FAQ section says:
The API geocoder and Google Maps geocoder sometimes use different data sets (depending on the country). The API geocoder occasionally gets updated with new data, so you can expect to see results changing or improving over time.
        What I concluded from the above is that, in a lot of cases Google licenses data from other companies like DigitalGlobe, Infoterra Ltd & Bluesky, GeoEye, Getmapping plc, Tele Atlas, etc. When negotiating a licensing agreement for copyrighted map data the two companies have to come to a mutually satisfactory agreement. In some cases, a company might be willing to license data for use in regular Google Maps but not through the Google API. For example, in the UK you have to buy a license to access the post code (Zip code) to longitude/latitude database. Google has precise info for regular Google Maps, but if you do the same query through the API you get a much less precise longitude/latitude. Why? Well if you are the company with the post code to longitude/latitude database and you currently charge people for access, then Google starts giving away access for free, probably no-one's going to want to pay you for access to it any more. So you'd only agree to let Google give away your product for free if they gave you at least as much money as you make by charging for the product!

       Though this is a pretty good conclusion, but then I could see people who have posted several instances on different forums of the same address getting geocoded differently...So I started verifying. One address and an explanation appealed to me and I am sharing it here!

       The address to be geocoded was "brussels (municipality)". Now this address geocodes to "City of Brussels Belgium" through the Google Maps website, whereas using the API returns "Brussels City somewhere in the Philippines". Now, consider the address "brussels (This is a nice place)". This string returns the same address in both - the Google Maps website and Google Maps API v3. Assuming that Google geocoder does not consider the contents in the brackets, then how come "brussels (municipality)"  is geocoded differently?

      Well I couldn't answer this one and so decided to throw this question to all you guys and gals reading this. Could you give a possible explanation?
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Friday, March 16, 2012

You can't Google in Google

       Yes! You can't Google in Google, for Google or 'Googal' (as it is seen on Google Maps) is a sparsely populated village on the banks of river Krishna in the Raichur district about 510 km from Banglore - the IT hub of India. No wonder only a handful villagers know of their famous namesake in the cyberspace. You can seen "Googal" on the Google Maps.


Googal - Google Map link

        The story goes that 12th century saint poet Allama Prabhu stopped by in the village while traveling from Basava Kalyan to Shreeshailam in Andhra Pradesh. The cave he stayed in has been described as 'Gavi Gallu' (cave of stone). The village was since know as Gavi Gallu, which later became Googallu and now it is Google or Googal! There is a temple atop the underground caves now. Devotees crawl through a hole in the ground to enter the cave, which has an idol of Allama Prabhu and a small well.

         Another story that makes the rounds is that, the Helavas, who went around telling people about their ancestral history, say the village was named after rocks that seemed to sing. The name comes from 'Kooguva Kallu' (stones that make a pleasant sound when river water strikes them). The sound wasn't actually produced by river water but by people who wanted to communicate with villagers in far-off places.

        Now that Google has been spotted on the Google Maps, will there be any name copyright cases against Google Inc. or will people see at this as a mere simple coincidence? Should Google adopt this small village for e-development or something?
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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Girlfriend to fiancée...

       Does this post title "Girlfriend to Fiancée" seem a bit out of place here? Well, actually no! A googler recently had his girlfriend navigate a proposal with Google Maps for mobile.

       Ari Gilder - Software Engineer with Google decided to propose to his girlfriend Faigy. He wanted to do something special and different but also meaningful. And this resulted in his developing a mobile application using Google maps to create an ultimate romantic scavenger hunt!

      Ari wanted Faigy to visit places around New York city that were filled with memories of their relationship. His plan was to construct a map of the route and get Faigy from one destination to another, all with an element of surprise and Google maps provided him the tools to create the magic.

     Ari used Google My Maps to plan out the route - from the Trader Joe's where they shop at on the Upper West Side, to Magnolis Bakery where they spent part of their first date, to Hudson Bar & Lounge where they enjoyed a night of dancing, to Carnegie Hall where Faigy had once surprised him with tickets to a Beethoven concert, all the way to the lighthouse on Roosevelt Island where they had gone on their second date.



     He had secretly coordinated with Faigy's manager at work to give her a Nexus One preloaded with Google Maps for mobile, a camera and instructions to go to the first location. He had a friend stationed at each of the six locations before the final stop to give Faigy a rose, take a picture of her with the roses and to make sure that she checked in with Google Maps. Meanwhile, he anxiously awaited her arrival at the Roosevelt Island lighthouse.



        Faigy's phone had a custom mobile app that Ari had built with the help of his fellow Google engineers Andrew Oplinger and Matt Keoshkerian. The app was built in such a way that it allowed her to check in at each location and then she would be prompted for a password to find out the next location. Ari had provided each of his friend with a question to ask Faigy, tied to their memories of that particular place, the answer to which would be the password. When she would enter the password, the app would automatically initiate walking navigation to the next location.



        When Faigy got to the checkered pin that marked her last destination, her seventh and the final rose came with a question - but this was from Ari and it wasn't an ordinary question. I'll leave it to you readers to guess what Faigy's answer would have been to Ari's question!


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Monday, March 5, 2012

Google Public Alerts

       I was in the office having my lunch today with my colleagues, when we felt the tremors of a 5.2 magnitude earthquake whose epicenter was at Bahadurgarh in Haryana about 46 km (28 miles) from Delhi - the capital of India. I went back to my desk and that is when I came across this new initiative of Google - Google Public Alerts. Google Public Alerts is Google’s new platform for disseminating emergency messages such as evacuation notices for hurricanes, and everyday alerts such as storm warnings.

       Google Public Alerts is actually a project of the Google Crisis Response Team, supported by Google.org which uses Google's strengths in information and technology to build products and advocate for policies that address global challenges.Google Public Alerts has started by showing relevant weather, public safety and earthquake alerts from US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Weather Service, and the US Geological Survey (USGS) when you search on Google Maps.

       You can see the latest and the most important alerts from across the web when and where they are needed the most.


       Do write in to say what you think of Google's new initiative - Google Public Alerts.
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UFO or what?

       Is it really an UFO or what, was the question that struck my mind when I saw the following image on Google Maps.


         This object looks like a perfect circular light object surrounded by multiple circular lights equidistant from the central light sphere. You can also see a single ray of light between each of the outer spherical lights and the inner spherical light globe. This UFO is located on the the Laguna AAF Airport in Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona. You can see the object for yourself by typing the coordinates 32.866436,-114.385992 into Google Maps.

         Now this UFO could also be an helicopter as seen from above. Good and logical explanation some would say. But, photographs of an helicopter with or without their blades rotating look nothing like the image that we see on Google Maps. Moreover, even with the rotating blades, the main central body of the helicopter should have been clearly visible. Don't you think so?

        Well, I clearly think and believe that though the above image might not be a UFO, there definitely are UFOs. What do you think? Any theory that you can come up with to prove whether the above sighting is a UFO or something else?
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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Hilarious Google Maps

       I came across these simple yet wonderfully done illustrations based on the Google Maps Street style by Christoph Niemann - Illustrator for the Times Magazine. These illustrations are absolutely stunning show of creativity, design, execution and general beauty. All the illustrations show exactly how it is on the roads in New York. Sit back and enjoy the show.























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