Posted on June 29th, 2005 No comments
It was inevitable! Google has taken over Planet Earth. Sort of.
As if we all need another reason to ogle Google — check out Google Earth. It’s truly amazing. This is the next version of Keyhole, which Google bought last year. This free software has not only full 3D topography of the earth, but shows buildings in 3D from major cities. (See a screen shot of Los Angeles below).
What I find most indredible, and concerning for traditional media, is that they also overlay data from Google Local about local coffee shops, restaurants, banks, hotels and more. You can also search Google’s local listings right from the program and see results on a 3D map which you can zoom around, or do the reverse — click on an icon for a restaurant to get a popup that lets you search Google for listings, get directions to and from the place, and so forth.
While they haven’t surfaced it yet, I also see that they’re planning to overlay crime stats, census data and earthquake data. Based on what people have been able to do with Google Maps (like housingmaps.com), I have to think that more real-time data like houses for sale, gas prices and maybe even news headlines aren’t far behind.
(P.S. if you were a subscriber to the earlier Keyhole product, Google has also extended your premium subscription to Google Earth, and it now expires a year from now. Cool!)
Posted on June 24th, 2005 No comments
Gotta love the Open Internet. A friend of mine, Bryce Glass, visited a few months ago. I took him to a brewery in Boulder, and not only did he not have a beer but he seemed disproportionately interested in seeing the Mork and Mindy house — really, almost to a fanatic degree. I kept throwing him lines hoping he’d forget about it. “Yeah, I think it’s around here somewhere, we’ll find it on the drive out, yadda yadda.”
Turns out that I really had no idea exactly which street the house was on. AFter I’d had a couple beers we stumbled around several streets before I finally had to claim defeat and tell him that I’d show him next time after a little research. Bryce was crushed.
Fast forward to two weeks ago when I was back in Boulder with my folks, who were visiting. We just happened to be driving out of Boulder again, and wouldn’t you know it — we drove right by the Mork and Mindy house! So I snapped this picture from my cell phone and sent it to him in a text message:
Minutes later, Bryce had the picture on his blog.
Based on the last time I wrote about something with a cult following (a blog entry referring to how people were still coming to my site for a 10-year-old old story about John Wilkes Booth), I now fully expect to get e-mails from people who are obsessed with the Mork and Mindy house. And that’s … OK. I like talking to Mork fanatics and reflecting on the true nature of Mearth.
The Booth people? It’s not that I don’t like you — I just don’t understand you.
It’s a new world!
Posted on June 14th, 2005 No comments
Hi, everyone. Apologies for being silent for so long, but I’ve had my head down while managing the development and release of a new version of Bakotopia.com. Check it out and let me know what you think!
This new site is part of a multi-phase project that will ultimately power more than just Bakotopia, so take this as a work in progress. The new features of Bakotopia include:
- A rich text editor that lets users add bolding, fonts, colors and all that fun stuff.
- A nifty content manager for registered users that lets them “delete” and repost “deleted” items. If they really want to nuke something forever, they can do that but it takes an extra step.
- A tabbed UI that lets users get to their content manager and settings from one place.
- Now users can also respond publicly to posts in the form of comments. Our admin area lets us remove comments that violate our terms of service.
- Users can now post with their user name visible, and these user names link to a public profile that shows all of their other public posts (but not anonymous posts — the authors of those posts always remain confidential). Users can also add photos and information about themselves to their profiles.
- Full compatibility with the latest versions of IE and Firefox. (There are a few issues on IE on the Mac, but what else is new? Since Mac users make up less than 2% of our users we’re not terribly concerned about this, and we provide instructions on how to download Firefox).
- Finally, we updated our design and layout so that we can feature more of the cool content people are posting.
There are a lot of other cool things that go on behind the scenes, and we have a lot more in store in the future. Unfortunately I can’t talk about that stuff, but I’ll let you know when there’s more to check out.
This new platform is wholly owned by the company I work for, The Bakersfield Californian. Unlike many community initiatives out there that use existing open source tools like Drupal (or our previous site, which used a modified version of Noah’s Classifieds), we built this new platform from scratch. There are many reasons we chose to go down this path, but the biggest was that we wanted a backend and database that was capable of powering more than just a Classified ads site. Like many newspapers, we’re always looking for ways to create a seamless user experience that doesn’t require users to sign in multiple times with different users IDs to do different things. One solution to that problem is to force multiple products and vendors to use one registration system (which they hate to do), but another is to build everything in one system as we did here. We felt that it was better to just integrate everything from the beginning, and I’m really happy with the results.
While we built this application ourselves, we did use the open source PHP and MySQL foundation so that we can potentially allow other people to help us build upon it.
This new site is more of a community than ever, and we will be moving even further in that direction going forward. As I’ve said often over the last few months, I feel that the biggest “threats” to traditional newspaper Classifieds aren’t online classifieds per se, but rather online communities of which commerce is just one part.