Monday Nov 12, 2007

More about Plazes

As you may know, I am a fan of Plazes and one thing I havn't had time to document is that our friends as plazes have fixed one of my informal RFEs (More...). You can remove a traze from your trail now. The remove activity button is all over the site. This'll make managing the plaze trial easier and more accurate. The mobile phone interface seems to remain problematic, but the whole site is becoming useful for keeping touch with highly mobile colleagues.

Sadly there is no Solaris agent and the Linux one seems to have gone into hiding, but I have a few ideas and am trying to work on an answer between other projects.

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Monday Jul 30, 2007

Is it safe to go out?

As an occasional sailor, the weather forecast is important to me and I have experimented with various ways, short of looking out the window as to how to get an accurate forecast. I have just updated my South Coast Travel public google map to include placemarks with links to the BBC and Met. Office weather reports. I am disappointed that google have no obvious weather icon and that the i icon is available in only one colour.

Also I'm grateful to Alec Muffett for showing me the current BBC local pages, which are really rather good. As usual with my blog, hover or click to view it.

I did poke around the Google maps API pages and may take this further so that I can incorporate the page into http://www.davelevy.info.

Otherwise its screen shot and link to the Google Maps URL, like this.

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Saturday Jun 23, 2007

Plazes 2.0

Plazes, which I wrote about here...  just updated, actually a couple of days ago,  their agent and presumably the back-end infrastructure and proved the Web 2.0 permenant Beta adage as the true as ever. Its an interesting problem with their architecture that they need to update the laptop clients. I hope they have improved their network update functionality as the automatic update failed to work on my XP client and the manual downloads did not become available for a couple of days. I was still able to use the phone to update the web site though so no catastrophe.

The web site functionality seems much richer so thats good.

To me one of the biggest outstanding problems is that they don't stimualte a self-help community. It would be easy enough to copy the games companies, or even Dell and Sun's developer forums. Its sort of interesting who does and who doesn't. For instance I can't find a Sony-Ericcsson official community site but have found an unofficial bulletin board for Sony Errison users. Flickr has a help site although I have only found two forums, New Ideas and everything else. My favourite of the official sites are the games sites of which Bioware Forums are a good example offering personalisation tools to allow people to track their own interests. Several of the Bioware fan forums use Invision's community management software. Two implementations that illustrate the strength of community and the personalisation capability within this tool  are Gibberlings 3 and Spellhold Studios, while RPG Dungeon uses Simple Machine Framework. As ever, you need to read the small print to discover which are free and open source. Both these solutions have RSS.

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Tuesday May 08, 2007

Where am I now?

During my last trip to the USA, I took out a subscription to plazes, this'll allow people to know roughly where I am. They have a flash badge which I have inserted onto the sidebar on my "About me!" page.

Its also here...

Download Flash plugin

Unfortunately, I can't find the Linux version of the plazer (their client agent), despite having asked them for a pointer, and attempted to 'google' it  and so given I'm mainly using Solaris as my desktop, which they rudly describe as 'legacy' the timeliness of the geographic data is less than it might be, but it should give you an idea of where I am. Let's face it, a bit of inaccuracy is probably good, close enough for my friends, far enough away for the rest of you :)

They distribute agents for windows and the mac, and they claim Linux. I propose to see how good the Solaris Express Linux compatability offerings are when I get myself a Linux agent. 

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Tuesday Feb 28, 2006

about: Yahoo Maps

I've been checking out the Yahoo Maps beta. I've not yet posted an application yet but I have discovered the following links which I need to return to sometime.

Yahoo Maps Beta Demo - San Francisco :: Yahoo! Maps Developer Community, a yahoo group :: Yahoo! - Simple API Reference Manual :: Yahoo! Map Services - Sample App. :: Yahoo's Sample .xml :: GeoRSS.

I also did a query to discover the latitude and longtitude of Oxford, the centre of the UK, and discovered these links. Oxford, Long/Lat @ Google :: Oxford @ Wikipedia :: UK Towns.

These links are posted here to avoid flooding my del.icio.us, but this article will be linked.

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Monday Feb 20, 2006

Coutries contiguous to Russia

In my last article, I wrote that we'd played "Wipeout" with "the countries contiguous with Russia". We had a row about Latvia which was settled by someone at the table next to ours, who confirmed that Latvia does share a border with Russia. Being a pedant, I've looked it up and the obvious countries are "Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and China". (11) This leaves some very interesting geography in Europe, where for some reason I don't know about, the city of Kalingrad and its coastal hinterland are Russian. This makes both Lithuania and Poland, Russia's neighbours.

We agreed that the USA (Alaska) was not a contiguous neighbour and by this argument, neither is Japan. Interestingly, Kazakhstan acts as a buffer between Russia and the ex-soviet republics of Uzbekistan, Kyrgystan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan, and while the winning player did not name the first three of these states, he did use the last.

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