Google Maps with terrain

The Google Maps Team have out done themselves yet again. This time adding Terrain maps ("Explore new terrain" from Google LatLong Blog) to their already robust web service. You remember a few months back when they added customizable routes, not so long after adding StreetView, which came not to long after Traffic. The active imaginations fueling the internet giant seem to have no end to their outstanding ideas!

The new terrain view is beautiful! What was called "Hybrid" is now a labels feature of the Satellite view. Terrain is a graphical view of elevation. I can't wait to program it into the INDY Gallery, it will make the perfect backdrop for the photo mapping.


NY Times misses the point of the Grinch

For over a year now, I've found myself becoming increasingly environmentally concerned and conservative. It began last year with my interest in saving fuel which was spurred by the article I posted about here: OmniNerd - Articles: Fueling a Lifestyle. Things really picked up last month after I took that entertaining ecological footprint quiz I talked about in my post titled "Your impact on the planet". That quiz switched on my "green light" and since then I've continued to do what I can to lighten my load on both the planet and the family finances.

In part, those benefits are what I wanted to talk about today. Not only does green-thinking better our planet, but it has also been improving my family's finances (e.g. saving $50+/month on electricity and natural gas, saving money on fuel due to hypermiling, saving money bringing our own bags to the grocery store, etc.). So why then do I find a post at a blog I frequent which points out an article in the NY Times on How the Green Grinch is Stealing Christmas (TreeHugger)?

As you will find, if you read the TreeHugger blog entry, the NY Times essentially trashes environmentalism because of its avoidance of thoughtless consumption. It's infuriating!

However, there may be a way to turn the NY Times article on its ear. Let's take a look at the original Grinch of Dr. Seuss. In the story of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas", a shady green creature steals the Christmas gifts from Whoville to prevent Christmas from coming. In the end, though, Christmas still comes because it is about more than just the decorations and presents. In 2000, Ron Howard's live-action remake of the story of How the Grinch Stole Christmas (IMDB) even has the Grinch as the catalyst that actually awakens Whoville to the fact that Christmas is about community NOT materialism.

So, I ask this: Is it really bad to be a "Green Grinch"? After all, in the words of Lou Lou Who: "You can't hurt Christmas, Mr. Mayor, because it isn't about the... the gifts or the contest or the fancy lights. That's what Cindy's been trying to tell everyone... and me. I don't need anything more for Christmas than this right here: my family."

And that's right where I'll be spending my holidays this year, in a house full of the Love and thoughtful generosity of my family too! Happy holidays, everyone!


"Please Don't Print this E-mail" Revolution

The Daily Green has a small story today about The "Please Don't Print this E-mail" Revolution.

The "Please Don't Print this E-mail" Revolution can be summed up as the efforts of individuals across the nation adding a simple message to their automatic signatures spurring environmental awareness by asking email recipients not to waste paper by printing emails.

Who knows if this will catch on, but I'll be jumping in on this one by adding the following message to the signatures of my emails: "REDUCE - Print only when necessary. REUSE - Turn unneeded print-outs into scrap paper. RECYCLE - Recycle when you're through."


More new features for the INDY Gallery

In addition to the video capability and the subfolder listings already in place, I have now added to more features to the INDY Gallery: invited-public albums and Google Maps.

Invited-public albums, as I am calling them, refer to any album of the INDY Gallery in which the security level for it has been designated as "public". However, the only way to access said album is through a direct link. Meaning that an individual would have to be given the URL in order to go directly to the specific album. Any attempt to navigate outside that album would result in a authentication prompt (if the destination is secured). The feature exists at least, now it's just a matter of whether or not LK and I feel comfortable making any of the albums with the INDY Gallery public.

This next feature is one of my favorites.... I sometimes use my GPS receiver to sync Latitude and Longitude into photos. In the old gallery, I used a plugin to access that data and display the photos on a Google Map. Well, that plugin stopped working in the old system quite a while back and I've been anxious to regain the ability to view GPS tagged photos on a Google Map.

Yesterday, I tried using a Perl script called Tim's GMapper. Well, it was a great idea, but it was too limited in scope and didn't play well with the SPGM gallery I'm using. So, I decided to expand on his work and design a system myself which could be ported to pretty much any website configuration, but also worked very well with SPGM.

The end results were a reprogrammed Perl script and a set of modifications I'm calling SPGM-Map for use with Simple Picture Gallery Manager. (I'll eventually release the mods for SPGM-Map into the INDY DevDom along with the SPGM-Vid mods.)

If you're surfing around the INDY Gallery and see a link within an album to view a Google Map, click on it and you'll be shown a Google Map of the photos within that album containing GPS tags.

I'm going to take a few days off of programming while I formulate some more ideas and spend time with LK. To those of you who are able, I hope you enjoy the new features and that you are finding the new INDY Gallery setup to your liking!


Internet People! Flash Video

A friend of mine just sent me a link to this entertaining flash video: Internet People! -The Meth Minute 39 | Channel Frederator. It's a humorous run through of many of the more well-known internet fads. If you've ever witnessed or participated in any of these, you should find this video quite fun.

INDY Gallery now with video

I've completed one of the planned improvements to the INDY Gallery: adding audio and video support! I tweaked some code in the SPGM-Vid plugin to get things just the way I wanted. And the best thing is, I've been hiding videos within the albums of the gallery for quite some time. Go back through the years and you might find some hidden treasures. (For those of you interested in my SPGM-Vid tweaks, I'll be releasing them to the public in the INDY DevDom.)

Enjoy! More will be coming soon! Next I'll be working with LK on opening certain albums to the invited public. More on this when the idea is further developed.