Thursday, October 13, 2005


Bloglines interface changes

Bloglines have made a number of interface changes, perhaps prompted by last week's introduction of Google Reader.
The keyboard hotkeys are certainly one feature Google pushes hard, but not one I actually use. In many areas I'm a keyboard junkie - using a command prompt in preference to flashier but ultimately less useful visual tools most of the time, but for me, feed reading is an entirely mouse driven experience. This is where Bloglines, with its plain HTML rather than AJAX interface wins massively for me - the mouse wheel lets me scan through lots of posts very quickly since Bloglines presents the data in a long pane, with a standard scroll bar.

I pin a lot of messages, so the change to the way of presenting the count I find very useful. I'd like to take it a stage further, and have a way to just show me real new messages, without the pinned messages.

Update: The new features are now mentioned on the Bloglines About page.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


Bigger maps at Google Local

Google Maps (aka Google Local) have rev'd their javascript again, to version 25.

Not sure what the changes all mean, but I have noticed that if you type in a placename into the search box, such as "New York", you now get a full width map - the results panel down the left is removed and given over to showing more map.

Hurrah - perhaps they can also do something about reducing the height of the banner across the top of the page, so that we can also get to see more map vertically.

Friday, October 07, 2005


Google Earth and large data files

As people discover the power of Google Earth, they are producing larger and larger collections of placemarks.

Some fairly large collections include:
However, these are all eclipsed by two collections (presumably produced from the same raw data) of about 36500 cities in France: Collection 1, Collection 2.

Beware though - Google Earth shows why it it still in beta - it's extremely unstable, and when given sizable files is very prone to crash. Note that a crash will lose any placemarks you have accumulated since you last started Google Earth - even if they are in the "permanent" section of the placemarks (ie. not just in the Temporary Places section).

So Google Earth team, please get your act in order, and do two things:
I find that the safe limit on the number of placemarks in a file is somewhere in the low hundreds - I've not had a problem with my countries file (and noone else has reported problems with it to me), but stepping up beyond 500+ placemarks more often than not causes a crash.


iPod iWay providing maps for iPod and nano

iPod iWay are offering a service that packages Yahoo Maps driving directions for display on the iPod or iPod nano.

The proceedure is to enter your source and destination addresses, which you can then preview to check that the directions are OK. When satisfied, you then select the "get directions" button, which packages them up into a zip file which you down load, and unzip into your iTunes folder, from where it is transferred to the iPod. The directions are a series of GIF images, comprising the text directions converted to images, along with the turn images that Yahoo already provide.

The service could be improved in a number of ways:
However, the biggest drawback is outside of iWays' control - Yahoo Maps only offers directions for USA and Canada!

Thursday, October 06, 2005


The demise of Google Maps

Google Maps is no longer - it has been absorbed into Google Local, and the combined product, under the banner of Google Local is now out of beta.

This transformation took place in a number of stages yesterday - I first noticed the map had swapped sides, but then there was a further round of changes - the javascript has been revised again, to version 23.

I've taken the time to redo my CSS file which modifies the mapping UI. The main change is to make the map occupy the whole of the browser window, and to use transparency for the other controls that get placed in front of the map.

The revised CSS file is now available - as before I recommend using the Mozilla/Firefox developers toolbar to apply the CSS file to the page.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005


Google maps new layout

Google Maps has a new layout, where the most obvious change is that the map has moved from the left to the right of the page.

Unfortunately this breaks my CSS redesign of the page - I'll let you know when I have had a chance to fix it to work with the new version.

The javascript indicates it is up to version 22, in just 8 months (the original maps went live on 8th Feb this year), so the rate of change of the service is very fast. I wonder why they didn't take the opportunity of this redesign to add the one useful feature that MSN Virtual Earth has that is missing from Google Maps - the ability to change zoom levels with the scroll wheel.

Update: 6/10/05 I've updated the CSS file now. It's now apparent that the early changes I spotted were part of a much larger change - where Google Maps has now been absorbed into Google Local.