New Feature for POPURLS

POPURLS is a great news aggregation site that I have talked about before. When I first saw POPURLS I was impressed by the slick coding and ease of use that this site oozed. I still am that impressed and enjoy a visit from time to time. Since I use a stand-alone application for reading feeds I don’t have much cause to make regular visits. But it is still a pleasure to take a trip.

So I noticed that POPURLS has a new feature, or it is more like a new related site. Called POPURLS.TV. It is yet another Google Maps Mash-Up that tracks in real time the stories that users are clicking on the POPURLS homepage. There is a list view at the top of the page that gives you the top stories over the last hour, the last 24 hours and the last 78 hours.

You can also switch the font size size and also the background colour if you please. Nice features. The listed stories are clickable as you might expect. Watch in Full Screen if you please as well.

Another voyeuristic look at the world I guess, but it is nicely done in typical Thomas Marban style and that is nice to watch. As good a reason as any to check it out.

POPURLS.TV

Add Platial Maps Widget to Your WordPress.com Blog

As you can see there have been a few changes around here. I found some motivation from somewhere and decided to update the widgets and ended up with a whole new look. I am still working on a few things but if you find something that isn’t quite right let me know. Since I was editing the widgets for the new theme I came across a new widget for WordPress.com users. It looks like I got the hop on the WordPress guys on this one as they are yet to release it.

You will notice in the sidebar widgets that there is now a Platial Mapkit widget available. Add it to your sidebar and it will show a mini map of the starting location that you specify when you set it up. Cool, but it gets better, you can add places with placemarks and readers can add their own with comments. Tag placemarks, add users as buddies and more.

Platial Mapkit Widget SampleThe Widget displayed is the one you see here. My options have been included but you can make yours up to whatever you wish. You will have to create an account if you wish to use the widget in your blog. I have also added a placemark for the approximate location of this blog’s HQ, so you can see what they look like.

The map is powered by Google Maps and therefore includes either a map view a satellite view or a mix. As well as zooming in and out and all the usual Google Map goodness. I also noticed a Google Earth link on my homepage map I set up on Platial to take a look at it.

I have not added the widget to this blog, I’d rather keep the lines that I do and not stuff it full of other stuff. Plus it is another thing I have to keep track of if it was here. Although the map I created is available to view, you can see it here. Platial is not only open to WordPress.com users but all bloggers and site designers. So if this is your cup of tea then take a look. The design is simple and to the point and the size is good for a blog, it will fit most if not all blog sidebars. I had not heard of the service before now but it looks pretty good and a bit of fun.

WordPress.com users need to click the link on the widget when it is selected in the set-up. The link is in the text “Making maps at Platial is free”.

Create an account and configure it as you wish. It is fairly simple and straight forward. You can edit these settings easily after you have joined as well so don’t worry too much if you make a mistake.

The last bit is a bit tricky, since I had no “instructions” from the guys here at WordPress I had to work it out. The widget asks you to type in the “Platial Map Id:”. This is the last digits that you see at the end of the Bookmark for your map widget that you have created. That is the Map Id that you need to enter into the widget field and hit submit.

Once that is done just slide the widget into place on your sidebar and save the changes and your done. WordPress we have maps!

Platial Screenshot

Google Earth 4 Released

For those of you that are still staring at the Apple keynote, here is some other news to prod you with. Google Earth 4 is out of beta and available for download as of today. Isn’t it great when something really big happens and then lots of other stuff follows, I think Google are just making sure you have not forgotten about them.

Seriously though, Google Earth 4 is a nice upgrade from the last version. I have been using the beta version for a while now and the features are impressive and functional. The interface is much cleaner and easier to use while supporting some nice additions to the regular “Earth Browsing” experience:

  • 3D Models
  • Time Animations
  • New Appearance
  • Now Supports Controllers such as Joysticks and 3D Navigation Devices
  • Heaps of Regions and Layers to Play with – both serious and fun

If you have not used Google Earth before then now is the time to. It is a great fun piece of software. In addition to that there are some very interesting features that make it more than a toy. Such as the new integration with Wikipedia and National Geographic, in a cool way; not boring at all. Or what about some historical maps? There are far too many features and exciting new additions to mention here. Go and discover!

Google Earth 4 Homepage

Global Security Threat Map

This would have to be one of the more unique uses of a Google Map Mash-up that I have seen. I would that that it would be somewhat useful, especially if you were travelling or just plain paranoid.

The site is Global Incident Map. It is somewhat “old school” as far as the appearance goes but that is not what is important. The main feature is a Google Map that has all of the current “threats” or incidents that have or are occurring from all over the world. These threats are categorized by their own icon on the map:

  • Airport and Aviation Incidents
  • Biological Threats as well as Hoaxes
  • Bomb, Explosives including Hoaxes
  • Chemical Incidences
  • Dam Incidents
  • Radiation Incidents including Smuggling and Proliferation
  • Chemical Attack
  • Shipping and Maritime, Ports and Waterways Security
  • Railways and Train Stations
  • Bus Stations, Buses and Related Security
  • Bridge and Tunnel Incidents
  • Shootings and Sniper Attacks
  • Assassinations including Attempts
  • Terrorist Arrests and Kill Locations
  • General Non Terrorism News
  • Other Suspicious Activity

The map refreshes automatically every thirty seconds. Included is the ability to search the database for events based on type, event, date and city. Or you can click the map and be taken to another screen that zooms in on the place of interest and includes details of the event above.

This is a very well done mash-up and includes lots of data and interesting stuff. Security buffs will love it and the rest of us will be curious or it will make us paranoid. Useful if you were travelling to get an idea of how safe or unsafe a country, town or place might be now.

The mission statement taken from the about page reads:

“This free public service website was created to give the public, law enforcement, military, and government individuals a new way to visualize, and become instantly aware of terrorism and security incidents across the world.”

I thought that it is well implemented and useful. As well as an interesting source of information and news, as it happens. Being a visual tool makes it very clear and understandable. You get an instant appreciation for what is happening and where.

The only thing I thought of was that I truly grateful to live in Australia. The worst thing that happened here today was a blade was found in a Christmas cake!

Global Incident Map Screenshot

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StumbleUpon Video… Yep It’s Good

StumbleUpon Video LogoStumbleUpon, is a great service that allows users to install a toolbar in their browser and “stumble” around the web. But rather than being random it sends you to sites that are A: Tailored to your preferences and interests and B: Where you go is constantly adapted and modified according to what you like and don’t like. The result is custom made surfing, good stuff. And them came video.

StumbleUpon is approaching 1.6 million users, most are fans. Although I have had my reservations. Now they are sure to add more to this number with the addition of video. You can log into the video page using your StumbleUpon log-in. Logging in means that your history is remembered just like with the original and the results get more in tune with your taste over the time you use the service. Although you do not have to log in to use the service, once you clear your cookies your results are reset.

The videos are sourced from YouTube and Google Video and I am sure that more services will follow. You can choose from different “channels” ranging from The Arts to Video Games. Watch a video and see which other users liked it as well, plus you can watch from their favourite videos as well. Can’t remember a great video that you watched? Have a look at your own history; what you have watched and if you liked it or not. There are options to share a video and send it to someone straight from the page. In my opinion there should a link that you can cut and paste into whatever communication that you wish to use, such as Instant Messaging.

The other thing that shines with StumbleUpon Video is the fact that you stop moving the mouse, everything but the video showing dims down giving you that “Cinema” feeling. Tops, I can’t wait to try it out tonight… That’s the kid in me. Nice touch though and attention to detail. There are no ads no commercials (so far). The fact that you don’t have to go anywhere and great content is “pushed” to you is the best thing of all. All making for a great user experience.

I agree with //engtech that to go to Google Video and YouTube is tedious in so much as the signal to noise ratio is way to high. Meaning that you have to sift through hours of rubbish to find gems. That has been much more the case as time goes on, if I ever see two teenage girls lip-syncing some crappy song again I’ll scream. With StumbleUpon Video that is hopefully a thing of the past. This is the cream of the crop from YouTube and Google Video in one place and not only that; as you watch and rate it, it gets better!

This is a sure winner. Video is the hottest thing on the Internet right now. People want this type of experience. Users like me avoid YouTube for all the rubbish but this makes it worthwhile and I am sure that my usage is going to go up because of it. The best ways to watch on-line video to date.

StubbleUpon Video Screenshot