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Journal Journal: Microsoft Supporting

It's a dream come true. After MapQuest and Yahoo actively supporting the Wikipedia-like map initiative Microsoft announced that they hired OpenStreetMap's founder Steve Coast for their Bing Maps team. But there's more, they committed providing orthorectified aerial imagery and more to the project. From the official announcement: "Continuously innovating and improving our map data is a top priority and a massive undertaking at Bing. Thatâ(TM)s why weâ(TM)re excited to announce a new initiative to work with the OpenStreetMap project, a community of more than 320,000 people who have built high quality maps for every country on earth. Microsoft is providing access to our Bing Aerial Imagery for use in the OpenStreetMap project, and we have hired industry veteran Steve Coast to lead this effort. [...] As a first step in this engagement, we plan to enable access to Bing's global orthorectified aerial imagery, as a backdrop of OSM editors. Also, Microsoft is working on new tools to better enable contributions to OSM." Microsoft already added the OpenStreetMap layer to Bing Maps last August.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Slashcode is dead, long live Slashcode? 3

The good news is Slashdot is still an interesting site to me, continues to evolve and is in active development. But the good news about Slashdot do not apply to Slashcode, Slashdot's open source engine. I'm the main manager of a small Slashcode-based website. Despite my enthusiasm, the truth is Slashcode is dead. It has been dead for quite some time and I wonder if it can be resurrected. How can Slashcode be dead? There is no community behind it anymore. There has been no official release since 2002, granted you can and should use the CVS tags, but it has not been updated with anything recent such as the AJAX code used on Slashdot for the last few years.

Rebuilding the community? Maybe, but enthusiasts quickly hit a wall. Slashcode's own main page is not up to date, there's a lot of missing information and my previous efforts at helping updating it got no answers from the site admins. How can you build a community when there's no way to learn who's in the boat with you? Ah! The mailing lists, of course! There are two main Slashcode mailing lists. On the Slashcode-general list, there was only 8 threads in 2008, 3 so far for 2009. For the Slashcode-development, it's worse: 2 posts since May 2007, both from our small team. You can ask questions, but you never know if someone will answer the phone.

A few years ago our small team developed a plugin that adds webmaps to stories and GeoRSS to the feed but failed to get much feedback from anyone. We're far from the community and the development workforce than, to name just one, the one behind Drupal, which has its own conference and 2000 developer accounts. Slashdot's responsibility? None directly, Slashcode is open source software, they rightfully have no obligation to contribute to a community.

Slashcode still has some attracting features and an excellent auto-moderation system. So, what's Slashcode future? I'm interested in the insights you have to share. I fear my own Slashsite will die out of technological obsolescence and that other Slashsites have no future. A Slashcode community won't spring out of the digital blue overnight, but it all has to start somewhere. Is it too late to try to build a vibrant Slashcode community?


Journal Journal: Microsoft Offering 3D Photo Stitches on the Web

Microsoft announced today the integration of Photosynth with Virtual Earth, enabling free navigation of photos in 3D on the web. The NASA offers an example of the results (Silverlight required). Photosynth has been publicly available since last summer. It somehow competes with Google's Panoramio and even Google StreetView since Photosynth have exploration in Virtual Earth capabilities (even on the iPhone!). You can also make private 'synths' with MicroSoft's GeoSynth. Hotels and travel sites are amongst those expected to use this free 3D photo browsing on the web opportunity from Microsoft. With the release last month of the Google Earth 5.0 Plugin for browsers, the battle is heating up.

User Journal

Journal Journal: MacOS X vs Ubuntu from a User Standpoint

Here's my problem: I use macs at home. Ok I admit it, it's not a really problem because I believe it's the best overall user experience for me. Even if I'm a heavy open source software user (and sporadic contributor) and enthusiast, I still haven't been convinced Ubuntu is ready for me. I don't have a lot of Ubuntu experience despite using Debian at work, but Slashdot users do! I don't want or need a flamewar, I'd like to get your informed feedback. I wrote a short personal assessment of why I stick with Macs instead of switching to Ubuntu right away. Where I am wrong? My short text quickly looks at the software I, and any average user, use on a computer: email (Apple's Mail vs Thunderbird / other), Spotlight vs Beagle, etc. To reassure Ubuntu fans, here's an extract: "I found this interrogation from one of my colleagues, "will MacOSX forever stay more advanced than Ubuntu?". I tend to believe the answer's no and as a consequence, you'll eventually see me use an open source operating system on my primary computer at home. We're not just there yet."

User Journal

Journal Journal: China's New Secret Naval Base

In not-so-secret arms race news, the Federation of American Scientists details, with recent satellite imagery, the new Chinese secret naval base on Hainan Island. What's interesting is China's new capabilities, such as a demagnetization facility. What's not that much interesting is so many resources spent worldwide for military defense, but hopefully, it's harder and harder to hide such behavior to other governments. From the article: "The SSBN base on Hainan Island will probably be seen as a reaffirmation of China's ambitions to develop a sea-based deterrent. To what extent the Chinese navy will be capable of operating the SSBNs in a way that matters strategically is another question. China's first SSBN, the Xia, was no success and never sailed on a deterrent mission. As a consequence, the Chinese navy has virtually no tactical experience in operating SSBNs at sea. Yet the Jin-class and the demagnetization facility on Hainan Island show they're trying."

User Journal

Journal Journal: World of Warcraft-like Google Earth MMO Game

What happens when you mix two popular software such as World of Warcraft and Google Earth? You guessed right, a Google Earth MMO game is in beta (screenshots included). Visit this forum to learn more. This is part of the new crop of Google Earth-based games. From the initial announcement: "You pick a race (Warrior, Elf or Mage), then go around the world fighting enemies, earning experience points, increasing your level, buying weapons/spells/potions, etc. Some other features:
- Each major city is guarded by a different boss who must be defeated. Each city you defeat earns a crystal.
- You can team up with other players to take out difficult enemies.
- All gameplay (including battles, shops, messaging, etc) is done completely in Google Earth with no add-on software or web browser calls required.
- The battles are turn-based, similar to the Final Fantasy games, using our GEfootball engine.
- The shopping and messaging use Flash-based forms to handle the data, using code from our GEboards application.
- There are currently 9 cities, 14 different enemies (over 7,000 of them roaming the earth), 12 items, 8 spells and 6 weapons. All of those will likely be increased as we finish testing.

User Journal

Journal Journal: iPhone GPS Add-On with Open Source Software

Recently, Engaget shared rumors of TomTom developing it's own GPS module for the iPhone, while the new Google 'My Location' feature now works with the iPhone. Forget TomTom and Google, here's a third-party GPS add-on for the iPhone and iPod Touch that will start shipping in February at the price of 89$US. The great news: the software used is open source, the bad news: it requires your iPhone/iPod Touch to be 'jailbroken' (maybe this will change with the upcoming SDK?). The description: "The iPhone locoGPS module allows jail broken iPhones to finally have GPS functionality. This module is in development and will be shipping in February. All software is open source and more applications are being written every day. The locoGPS module gives you the ability to explore all the benefits of GPS from a device that is small enough to put on a keychain." Of course, you can wonder if the iPhone really needs a GPS, use OpenStreetMap data instead of Google's, read KML/GeoRSS directly on the iPhone.


Journal Journal: Google Launches Collaborative Mapping and Shaded Terrain

Google's official Lat Lon Blog announced the addition of shaded terrain to their free Google Maps site. In addition to adding the Terrain button, they've removed the Hybrid button, combining it the Satellite one. A single look at it is enough to convince anyone this is very welcomed even if Yahoo! Maps, Microsoft's Virtual Earth and Maps offered something similar for quite some time. Also released this week, Google Maps searches are now providing a thumbnail of the related street view photo, and arguably a major new feature, the My Maps feature somehow becomes Our Maps, allowing to collaborate directly on someone else's My Maps, this has a lot of potential of getting big, and last, you can more easily share KML and KMZ files and GeoRSS feeds through My Maps. From the Our Maps announcement: "Just click the "Collaborate" link and enter the email addresses of the people you want to invite. They'll receive an email invitation with a link to the map. Once they open the map, they should be able to edit it, as long as they are signed into a Google Account that's associated with that email address. You can also open your map to the world so anyone can edit it by selecting the "Allow anyone to edit this map" checkbox." Competition is not sleeping, Microsoft had a recent major release of Virtual Earth in addition to 33.7 Terabytes of new worldwide imagery.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Major Microsoft Virtual Earth Release

Microsoft unveiled their new version of Virtual Earth, and it's major. The Google Earth Blog actually reported this story yesterday. My apologies to the blog's author. Here's the official Virtual Earth blog entry. SharpGIS offers a few interesting screenshots. Ogle Earth also has his own interesting report. Amongst the juicy improvements, there is GeoRSS support, GPS GPX support, and even Google's KML format support (this format in being standardized by the Open Geospatial Consortium, which Microsoft just rejoined), there's Bird's eye view in 3D and even a SketchUp competitor in for 3D modelling. A longer more detailed list can be found here in the Virtual Earth Developer Forum.


Journal Journal: Support for GeoRSS and KML in Google Maps Announced

Can you improve something great? Yes. Google Maps just announced the support of GeoRSS and KML mapping in their Google Maps API. In short, GeoRSS is a standard supported by the Open Geospatial Consortium that incorporates geolocation in an interoperable manner to RSS feeds. The applications are numerous. With Yahoo!'s support of GeoRSS, the future looks bright for this emerging standard. As for KML, Google Earth's file format, this new Google Maps integration is not unrelated to the recent announcement of internet-wide KML search capabilities within Google Earth. From the announcement: "To start we now support GeoRSS as a data format for geographic content in Google Maps. We want to enable users to create data in whatever format is most convenient for them, and feel that by supporting both KML and GeoRSS we can enable a wider variety of people and applications to contribute content to Google Maps."
User Journal

Journal Journal: Does Wiktionary has a Future?

Based on Wikipedia's enormous success, does one can believe Wiktionary is destined for the same treatment? I find it very useful and even contribute sporadicly. I'm trying to find out if my time spent contributing is worthed. The Wiktionary wikipedia article is quite informative and helped me understand Wiktionary's context and competition. This picture shows Wiktionary really took off last year and the curves clearly show traffic is rising significantly. Slashdot has not discussed Wiktionary yet.

User Journal

Journal Journal: launched!

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User Journal

Journal Journal: Me.

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