Tag Archives: Google Maps

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Three Reasons to Go Get Firefox 3.

Firefox 3 is officially out, so go and get it.  Wondering why you should be excited about a new web browser?  Here’s three quick reasons why you should got get Firefox 3 now:

1.  It is much, much faster when it comes to complicated javascript, AJAX, and multiple iframes.  I don’t have any benchmarks on me, but I do some pretty intense stuff with Firefox and the improvement is immediately apparent.  This is very important because even normal web browsing is becoming pretty intensive, from Google Maps to Gmail to normal blogs with 100 widgets plastered on their sidebars.

2.  It’s even easier to manage add-ons and downloads.  The real power of Firefox is the ease of creating and installing extensions, and the interface has been improved making it easier to find new add-ons.  The download manager has been polished as well, which should help end the old “where did that file go” blues.

3.  The smart address bar is very cool.  I almost never have to finish typing urls anymore…  and it gives me immediate feedback on typos as well.  Hopefully this will put a damper on lame business models like typosquatting.

Announcing Localographer: find an apartment or house with Google Maps

Localographer logo Earlier I wrote about using Photoshop to create a heat map and to use data maps when house hunting.  I got a pretty good response to those tutorials but the process is a little too labor intensive for most.  So when I moved to California, I decided to do something similar, using the Google Maps API, so that it would be easy for anyone to make their own heat map.So here it is:  Localographer – build interactive heat maps for house and apartment hunting.  You can see a screenshot below:Screen shot of a Bay-area heat map from LocalographerLocalographer is a beta release right now, so watch out for bugs and random downtime.  Also, I have to add a disclaimer:  this is not an official Google project, this is something I did on my spare time.  In fact, most of the work was done before I started working at Google in preparation for our move to California.The site takes you though a series of steps to build your map:

  1. Pick your city and create your map;
  2. Add places you’d like to be near (like your job or your school);
  3. Add potential locations (houses, apartments, condos) to see how they compare.

I’ve got a ton of ideas for additional functionality, so hopefully I’ll have time to add more in the next few weeks.  I’ll also be working on the site’s design, making it a bit more usable and interactive.Here’s how a map in Localographer compares to my Photoshop heat map of the Cleveland area (click on the images to see larger versions):Screen shot of a Cleveland-area heat map from Localographer   Heat map we used for house hunting, with hotspots placed at locations we need to drive toIn case you’re interested, the site was developed in PHP with a MySQL database.  The maps use the Google Maps API with some hand-written functions to correctly draw the hot spots.Please take a look and let me know what you think.  Post and problems, bugs, or new feature ideas in the comments below.  Later I’ll post a poll so you can vote on new features and other enhancements.