Monday, March 03, 2008

On Google Earth (Thing #14)

This week, we're also looking at Google Earth, and app I've played with from time-to-time (mostly depending on how well their current software works with linux). It's a pretty cool app, and is great eye candy.

The question I always struggle with when it comes to some of these tools is just how much of myself do I want to make available online? It's cool to zoom to my house, and I've navigated my way to work, to friends, and to vacation spots using Google Earth, but I don't know if I want to make any of that information available to the general public. For example, I'd

I did decide that despite my privacy concerns, I could share photos and the location of one of my favorite fishing trips. If you scroll towards the bottom left of the album, there is a link to view the photos using either Google Maps or Google Earth (or you can use this direct link).

On RSS Feeds (Thing #11)

It's Alive!!!

I had abandoned RSS for dead maybe about five or six years ago, and now it's back!

I had first played with RSS (or "RDF", as it's cousin was once known) using a java application server library called "Jetspeed", and later built my own RSS reader in PHP. At the time, it seemed like such a good way to share information that I thought we should jump on board. And since the home page stories were dynamically generated, it was relatively easy at first to create an RSS (actually RDF) feed for the city's home page stories.

Back then, I envisioned a time when all government sites provided RSS feeds. I even bought the domain "", thinking users could enter their zip code, and be provided the latest news from all their government agencies. But of course, it was too early - there were limited tools for the consumer, so there was little push for governments to provide RSS with their web sites.

What a difference a few years make!

Now, I have a home page that shows about eight different feeds - NBA, NFL, weather, slashdot, BBC News, etc. Of the feeds I subscribe to (ignoring the owner of the BBC), only one feed actually comes from a government site - US-CERT for security updates. There's still virtually nothing from my local government.

The city's RSS feed, by the way, was never really used, and ultimately abandoned when they changed the way home page stories were generated.

Ultimately, I believe RSS was given new life by the iPod, and their choice to use an extended form of RSS for podcasting. But it's still nothing like what I envisioned. It's a lot more fun.