Zooming in (way in) on Google Maps

Google Maps zoom
How often have you wished that you could look in your own bedroom window using Google Maps, only to realize that you just can’t zoom in far enough to see any detail? Well, it turns out that maybe you can.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Pick a spot, any spot on Google Maps.
  2. Click on the satellite or hybrid view.
  3. Zoom in as far as you can (optional).
  4. Click the “link to this page” button on the right.
  5. Now go up the URL and look around til you find a string that says “z=”. It will probably have a number like 18 or 19 after it.
  6. Change that number to 20 and hit enter.
Now you should be zoomed in just a little bit tighter. It appears there are a ton of locations that you can zoom in to level 20 at. There are a handful of locations that you can zoom into 21, 22, or even 23. Those camels you’re looking at are hidden somewhere in the middle of Africa.

You won’t be able to see anything with this method that you couldn’t access with Google Earth, but it’s much cooler than Google Earth because umm… because it’s a hidden feature. Yeah, that’s it.

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The ultimate RSS feed: Twingly screensaver shows global blog activity

primelabs_screensaver.jpg

Although we normally don’t write about screensavers, this one by Primelabs has a cool factor mammoth enough to qualify as an exception. Twingly, as it’s somewhat perplexingly called, shows blogging activity all across the world. Judging from the video that the company put on YouTube, links to posts scroll along the left side of the screen, pointing to where they originated on the globe in the center.

When the data flow is too big (which probably happens all the time), the link list won’t contain every single blog post, so don’t feel bad if you can’t see your own — you’re still adding to the yellow dots on the map. And if you ever see a post that says, “Poop on all humans,” it’s probably those darn pigeon bloggers again.

PC users interested in pretending they’re in an episode of Jake 2.0 can download the saver for free from the Twingly site (no Mac version, sadly). Check out the video preview after the jump.

Primelabs, via The Red Ferret Journal


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Obama launches social network

After receiving a huge amount of support on Facebook before his campaign even started, presidential candidate Barak Obama has decided to capitilize on the popularity of social networking sites and launch a social network of his own. My.BarackObama allows you to create a profile, connect with friends, schedule events, send and receive messages, join groups and even write a blog essentially creating a Facebook or Myspace like atmosphere right on the campaign website.

The site I think will do a great job of organizing Obama’s current supporters, allowing them to easily get to know each other and about events going on in their particular area. After only being live for about a day the site has generated over 1,000 new groups. As far as bringing in any additional support off the web for him and his political campaign, I don’t see how it really helps. What do you think about using your own social networking site as a political tool?

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Wikipedia NOT on the verge of shutting down

WikipediaContrary to popular rumor, it looks like Wikipedia will not have to shut down in three months if it doesn’t raise enough money. Dozens of blogs and technology websites have spent the past few days reporting that Wikimedia Foundation chairwoman Florence Devouard said at the LIFT07 conference that Wikipedia “might disappear” if money is not raised.

But Laurent Haug, the founder of LIFT, went back and looked at his actual transcript of Devouard’s statements. Basically, Haug asked Devouard how much cash was on hand to run Wikipedia’s servers, and she replied three months.

Devouard also pointed out that the foundation is making plans for Wikipedia two years in advance, so there’s no expectation that the money’s going to dry up entirely. The overall point that was being made was simply that it costs more to run Wikipedia the more popular it gets, and as with any foundation, it’s important to continue raising money as you go along.

[via Scobleizer]

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Google Opens Gmail Signups Further

After opening its formerly invitation-only Gmail webmail service to anyone with a mobile phone in August 2005, Google removed that requirement Wednesday. Now, anyone can signup for a Gmail account by creating a Google Account.

The mobile phone requirement was designed to prevent Gmail accounts from being created by robots and stop spammers from signing up multiple times. As of Wednesday afternoon, the Gmail signup URL still redirected users to the SMS-based method, but a support article on Google’s site says the world is now welcome without an invitation or phone.

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What would happen if Yahoo designed the Google start page?

Steve Bryant from the Google Watch blog has posted a funny, but well thought, mock-up of what Google’s start page would look like if Yahoo designed it. Well, I can’t say that the result is surprising:

Yahoo_Google.jpg

What’s funny about this image, is that Google allows you to create a custom homepage that may end up looking a bit similar to the image above, but, it still looks better, and cleaner. Perhaps Yahoo should take this as a small wake up call and start thinking about a more serious makeover to their homepage. If it remains as bloated as it currently is I certainly won’t be using it for a long time. Even their (just) search page which supposedly, should be a non-brainer for designers is more bloated than Google’s.

Yahoo! Go 2.0 Beta released

yahoo go 2.0 mobileIn a grand movement to take over the mobile search application space, Yahoo! recently launched Yahoo! Go 2.0 Beta. This slick new mobile application download allows users with a Yahoo account to quickly and conveniently connect to email, news, and photos. Yahoo! has pushed other all in one mobile applications to the side with this solution. Google’s Gmail mobile is great to work with because of the minimal elements, but I was shocked at the ease of use and intuitive features the Go 2.0 beta has. The 597kb download took a few lengthy minutes to install on my Blackberry (might have been shorter, but I have to admit, I was getting a little impatient with the progress bar), and was set up in no time. Keep in mind that there are only certain phones that the Yahoo! Go 2.0 will support, with the full service provider and phone model list on the Go 2.0 website. Also, data charges will also apply for this service, and there really is no way to see how much data your are chewing through, but given the extreme use of imagery you can bet it’s quite a bit. When the application was launched, it gave me what Yahoo has coined, a menu “carousel”, filled with a widgetized menu system on the right, and the content displaying on the left side. (This might be different depending on your phone model. Some phones have the menu displayed along the bottom.)

When you choose a section from the carousel, the content area populates with your chosen data, targeted towards the location you have specified in your Yahoo! account when you signed up back in the day. The widgetized carousel list consists of One Search to search for anything online, including images and movie showtimes. You can view maps, city guides, traffic details and local happenings with Local and Maps. Yahoo emails can be pulled in with an easy to use and synced Yahoo! email inbox with all of your regular CC, BCC, Reply to all functions. Personal news feeds can be created to get the news you want when it happens. Sporting teams with sports headlines and tickers can be tracked. There is also a finance watchlist, market summaries, and financial news feeds straight from Yahoo’s highly rated financial data service. You can get your Celebrity and entertainment gossip instantly. Weather can be checked out complete with pretty weather condition icons and forecast outlooks. Again, this is synced with your city profile so the weather for your area will show up instantly. As for images, Yahoo has integrated your Flickr account into the mix, making it easier to thumb through and show off your pictures while on the go. You can also search and connect with other photos in the Flickr database.

This is a nice big step by the Yahoo! team to boost up user interaction with their products in the mobile environment. Will Google and MSN bite back? If they do, they have some work ahead of them. Yahoo! really seems to have risen to the top with this clean and easy to use mobile application.

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