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Month: August 2006

Mapping my photos the Flickr way

My Flickr MapYahoo’s purchase of Flickr, the excellent photo hosting/community site, is starting to generate some interesting things. Finally. Flickr’s been integrated with Yahoo Maps to allow you to “geotag” your photos – add information about where the pic was taken to the photo itself, and then display the results on a map. You can see mine here.

A colleague and I have been playing around with it today (you can see his thoughts on Flickr Maps on the Travolution Blog), and have come to the same conclusion: the quality of the maps outside the US sucks really, really badly. Happily, though, Flickr is aware of the issue:

There’s been a lot of grumbling about the maps detail and coverage of Yahoo! maps outside the U.S. We definitely hear it, and the Yahoo! Local/Maps team, which happens to sit across from the Flickr team hears it (and feels it!) … loud and clear. The maps in much of the world are not good enough yet. We agree.

But, fear not: maps are continually being upgraded and street-level detail for more countries has been in the works for a while already. Satellite imagery upgrades already happen a couple of times each month (the Earth is big, y’know) and in the months since the new Maps beta launched, they’ve already made significant improvements. More are coming.

So, with a bit of luck, we’ll see some big improvements in a couple of months. I’ve long felt that map-based information was going to be a big thing going forwards. This might just prove my point for me.

links for 2006-08-30

the truly online journalist

I notice, via Anil Dash, that Google has shifted Gmail for your domain to become Google Apps for your domain.

The more I look at this, the more I think we’re only a couple of steps away from something that will be perfect for the roving reporter. All they need to do is add Writely, the online word processor, and you’ve got something much more efficient that VPNing into the company network and accessing your files and data that way, using applications on your laptop. You can work anywhere there’s an internet connection and a web browser, and access your key files.

It’ll be a while in coming, and it might not be Google that does it, but I think I just saw the future of journalism flash before my eyes.

physics is hard, and that’s a good thing

While I was away in France, the annual fracas over improved A level results broke out. Now, I know where I stand on this; I know people who work and teach in Higher Education and they’re seeing a decline in the educational quality of freshers, not an improvement.

Here’s an article by Boris Johnson on the subject that I heartily agree with called Physics at A Level:

We must stop this flight from the crunchy subjects, not just because it is slowly denuding the country of scientists – it is hardly surprising that 30 per cent of university Physics departments have closed in the past eight years, when the number of Physics candidates at A-level has slumped from 46,606 in 1985 to 28,119 in 2005.

We must stop this disaster because we are cutting the roots of our civilisation: when I think what has happened to Latin and Greek and modern languages in the maintained sector, I alternate between rage and black depression.

His description of the difficulty of understanding a Physics class reminds me all too clearly of my time studying Physics at Imperial College. However. the principal point is that Cambridge is saying that potential students must have at least two A levels in “crunchy” (ie rigorous) subjects to be considered for entry. It’s the first. Others will follow, and then employers will start to take the same approach. We’ll soon see a two tier systems of A levels, with some considered serious and others, less so. It’s much the same as already exists with degrees. People know that a 2:1 from Oxbridge or the bigger London colleges is superior to the same degree from a lesser university, even if there’s nothing in the degree certificate to prove that. In fact, I’ve known editors who would point blank refuse to employ anyone with a media studies degree because they come in with a head full of irrelevant theory, a lack of intellectual rigour and a lack of any practical experience.

The reality is that you can pack as many people as possible into the grade A category, but both academia and business need a way to differentiate the very good from the good or average, and they’ll find it if the A level fails to offer it.

on the absence of hoodies

Excitement! Thrills! Drama!

On my drive into work this morning, I saw a teenager being arrested for car-related nefarious activity. The coppers had him bang to rights, guv, and had handcuffed the blighter.

I was, however, deeply disappointed to note that he was wearing a tracksuit, not a hoodie. Doesn’t he read the Daily Mail? Doesn’t he know how these things are done? Still, I suppose it saves you from a David Cameron hug.

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