Tag Archives: Google Map Maker

PTJ 142 News: You’ve Got Sale!

This has been quite a year for mergers and acquisitions — or at least attempts thereof. This week, Verizon Communications announced it was buying AOL. Inc. for $4.4 billion dollars. AOL Inc. produces digital content and advertising and claims to be the 4th largest online property in the United States with 200 million customers.  The Huffington Post is expected to be spun off, but Verizon should keep some spare cash handy — the company also needs to pay $90 million to settle a US government probe into unauthorized charges on customer bills.

No more grand Windows OS launches? Microsoft is changing the way it does these things and says  Windows 10 is going to be its last major revision of the system. At the Microsoft Ignite conference in Chicago this week, Microsoft development executive Jerry Nixon said that going forward, Windows will stop being a standalone system with and become a service, with updates and improvements rolling out regularly.

androidMIt’s developer conference season at last! The Google I/O 2015 Conference is later this month, May 28th and 29th at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. (There may also be a celebration of Google’s self-driving car program, which has now covered 1.7 million miles and only been involved in 11 minor accidents — and none of them was the Google car’s fault.) Attendees are expected to get  the inside scoop on things like on Android M, the next version of Google’s mobile operating system, Android Auto for car infotainment, the Chrome operating system for netbooks, Google TV, wearables and other projects. Then Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference rolls into town 12 days later, starting June 8th and running through the 12th.

If fancy Apple computers aren’t in your budget, keep your eyes peeled for the CHIP (shown below), the new $9 computer envisioned by a startup called Next Thing Co.  A funding drive to build CHIP went up on Kickstarter this week with a pledged goal of $50,000 needed to buy components in bulk. As of this week, the project was closing in on $1.1 million.

CHIP

If you hate those unintentional selfies from taking pictures through windows, you’ll be glad to know that the smart folks at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology now have an algorithm for that. The algorithm can sense discreet dual reflections from double-paned windows and remove them from the image. The MIT team will be presenting their findings next month at the Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition conference in Boston.

The Warner Music Group released is second-quarter earnings report this week and had one bit of surprising news: music-streaming revenue surpassed music-download revenue, as the press released stated it “for the first time in the history of our recorded music business.” Fluke or paradigm shift? Time will tell.

There’s a new social network in town (and in beta) and it’s designed for members of the build-it yourself maker community to show off projects and share knowledge. The new site is called MakerSpace and it’s the official community for Maker Faire.

firefox-logoMozilla released Version 38 of the Firefox browser this week. In addition to the usual bug fixes and speed bumps, Firefox 38 now includes integration with the Adobe Content Decryption Module to play back copy-restricted content within the HTML 5 video tag. This could let users watch DRM-enabled content in Firefox — although only on the Windows version of the browser at the moment.

Microsoft is making it easier for more people to try the preview of the new Skype Translator for Windows 8.1 and Windows 10.  While the original version required interested users to sign up for the software, Microsoft had removed that bit of electronic paperwork and now you can just go to the site and download it to get yapping with someone in another language.

Google’s director for law enforcement and information security, along with one of the company’s lawyers, did a Reddit Ask Me Anything last week and during the course of the question and answer session, it was revealed that Google does not use end-to-end encryption for its Google Hangout chats. So yeah, those Hangouts could, in theory, be wiretapped by government request.

And finally, from the Department of This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things, Google announced this week that it had to temporarily shut down the online Map Maker component that lets users add their own content to Google Maps due to vandalism. The service has been plagued with pranks and obscenities in recent months, including an image of the green Android taking a leak in the Apple logo and an area of the White House called Edward’s Snow Den. Google said earlier this year that it planned to build a spam protection system into Map Maker, but perhaps it’s time step up those efforts. If they can make a self-driving car, how about a self-driving map bot that cruises the site looking for the naughty edits?

mapmaker

PTJ 89: Amazon Just Might Have Your Number

J.D. tells us how we can make a correction on a Google Map and  Pedro hopes The Big Apple finally gets its recommended daily allowance of Google Fiber. In the news, Amazon is said to be working on its own line of smartphones;  Facebook is ripping out the messaging functionality from its smartphone apps; Google purchases Titan Aerospace out from under Facebook; Samsung’s Galaxy S5 makes its official debut; Windows Phone 8.1 is getting raves; and a Linux distribution that leaves no trace on the host computer.

(Hopefully) Helpful Hint: Maps and Legends

Even though it sometimes feels like they feel like it’s been around since the Web was invented, the Google Maps service has been available to the public for less than a decade. The Web version of Google Maps went live in 2005 and within months, had incorporated now-familiar features like satellite imagery and directions. The standalone Google Earth program, with its inventive use of satellite photos and 3D navigation, also arrived that year. (2005 was a very good year, indeed.)

The mobile version Google Maps app got a huge new user base in 2007 when the iPhone arrived to kick off the smartphone races. Google has been a dominant force in the world of online maps long before Apple’s ill-fated adventures in digital cartography showed the superiority of the Google Maps app.

Google itself diligently updates the material with its Street View cars, fresh satellite images, and other enhancements and it recently revamped Maps Web site. But one of the reasons Google Maps may seem so thorough is that the company allows users to help update the content and even make corrections to maps that are out of date — or just plan wrong. If you know an area of town and see a mistake on a Google Map, there’s a Report a Problem link right there on the page so you can let somebody at Google Maps HQ know.

beepsmapsBut Google Maps invites much more participation than just corrections. With the free Google Map Maker tool, you, local citizen, can add places to a Google map, edit a place that’s already there, and add buildings, roads, hiking trails, bike lanes or other points of interest to a map. You can also review edits and additions made to maps by other Google users. When you go to the Google Map Maker site, you can get basic step-by-step instructions for editing maps and there’s a Getting Started Guide for the Map Maker Interface online. There’s also a Google Map Maker Help Center, MapUp meet-ups and an official forum available.

A couple of caveats: not every country is mapped by Google and yes, your own edits are reviewed by experts and others before they officially become part of the map so you can not name your neighbor’s house Jackhole Estates or anything.

So if you’ve every been led astray by an outdated Google map (perhaps a closed road or a point of interest that’s since closed), here’s you’re chance. Jump in, correct the record and save the world — or at least that part of the world for people who are lost in it.