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Current Events

Realtime Flight Tracking

fboweb.JPG

Hey it’s Friday so here’s a little gee whiz technology to play with over the weekend. Aeroseek has added a button to their realtime tracking service that downloads an overlay file that you can view on Google Earth if you have it installed. It updates every minute so you can watch grandma march across the Wyoming on her way to San Francisco.

Containers as Commerce Packets

Shiptracker

The first newspapers came about back in the 1700’s to fulfill a need for importers and others with an interest in trade with the New World to keep track of the shipping schedules and see who was due into port that day. Tucked away in the business section of some papers you still see announcements of the day’s arrivals but it’s just a vestige of what I’m sure it used to be and I’m sure no one subscribes for this sole purpose.

Today, Jason Kottke points to Shiptracker which uses voluntary weather reports from ships around the world to track the location of ships in realtime. Imagine each of these dots pilied high with containers and then you get an idea of what kind of logistical problem faces an agency that wants to examine everything before clearing it for commerce. According to one document I found, US Customs cleared 5.7 million containers in 2001 but only checked the contents of 2% of them. There’s also later news reporting a much higher rate to the contrary.

In the old days, sending CDs via FedEx used to offer better throughput for businesses that needed to send large files back and forth to each other. I wonder what the true throughput of today’s shipping network is and how it’s changed since September 11th?

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Current Events

Google Earth, the ultimate time sink

So I thought I’d spend some time catching up on some reading tonight but nooooo. . . Google released a new service called Google Earth and the rest of my evening was blown playing around with the program and then making a screencast just to see if I could.

I punched in a bunch of addresses of places that I lived and created a little fly-by tour complete with narration using Windows Media Encoder and you can see the fruits of my labor in the video below.

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Current Events

Real Estate as an API

This is a great case when two APIs get hooked up to make something greater than what each service could offer on its own. Paul Rademach, a tech lead for animation tools at Dreamworks, has connected Google Maps to Craigslist to present a visual UI for real estate listings. You can set your location and price parameters and get a map that you can zoom in on and scroll with pinmarks for every “hit.”

A yellow pin indicates that photos are associated with the listing and clicking on the pin will bring up the information from Craigslist as shown in the image on the left.

I dreamed something like this would be possible with other layers being added in as needed like those old Mylar overlays you would see in atlases or anatomy textbooks. I can already think of two overlays that I’d like to see if I were a homebuyer. Comparables and School Districts. Once geo-locater enabled web services are exposed for this data, it would be fairly trivial. I think much harder is getting this data.

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Current Events

Maps? Cool. Satellite Overlay? Wicked!

So those of us on the bleeding edge have all seen Google Maps and have commented upon the clever use of XML datasets to create a seamless browsing experience. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, BLAM! Google took the wraps of an overlay which provides a satellite image of any map you bring up.

This includes driving directions so you can zoom in and “fly along” your commute to work. Nice touch is that the speech bubbles that are used to annotate the addresses generate a shadow on the satellite image.

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Current Events Office

Wonderful Web World

As I look for the cross-section of schools and interesting-but-reasonably-priced places to exist (does such a thing exist in the Bay Area?) I found myself wanting for a school district map overlayed on top of a map showing available placed to live. I’ve found pieces of the puzzle:

SF School District Map
greatschools.org
SF Zip Code Map

If only I could overlay the available listings which you can pull up in realtor.com or apartments.com using a zip code then I would be set.

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In the course of looking for a tool that could tie zip codes to neighborhoods to school districts, I ran across this wonderful site by MIT Media Lab doctoral candidate, Ben Fry. His interactive Zip Code tool is one of the coolest things I’ve seen in awhile.

UPDATE: Now 10 years later Google Maps has started to layer this information as an extension of their Google Maps service. Check out the mash-up of greatschools.org ratings and Google Maps.

Check out more mashups at the Google Maps Gallery.