Happy Easter all

Hope everyone had a great Easter long weekend.  Mine was especially good as I had the Thursday off too, 5-day weekend!  I decided to ban myself from the internet for the whole weekend and just focus on family time, so I’m catching up today.

  • Google released My Maps, which is really going to annoy all those people who have spent ages constructing exactly the same functionality with the Google Maps API on their own site. It’s pretty darn nifty though.  If any readers have created a map, please leave a comment to let us know.
  • You want to read this Washington Post article.
  • Dean Peters has finally emerged from wherever he was hiding to start teaching, rebuking, correcting & training in righteous web design again. He opens up with some links to ILoveJackDaniels.com’s excellent cheat sheets and then gets straight back into the action.
  • I’ve done a bit of housekeeping here.  I noticed a bunch of common 404 errors showing up which were just out of date or typo’d links, so I’ve updated my .htaccess file to redirect them.  This includes a whole lot of requests for atom.xml and index.rdf, which I’ve now redirected to my FeedBurner url.  It will be interesting to see if these were valid unique requests.
  • As well as this I realised that my 404 page was completely broken.  The page hadn’t been updated since I last changed my design here, so I’ve created a shiny new 404 not found page that has a bunch of (hopefully) helpful links, and an intuitive search box that looks at the referrer and tried to guess what the person was looking for. Here’s a fake URL for your testing convenience.
  • I now know I’ve made it as a .NET blogger, I’ve been linked to by Jeff Atwood! (Scroll down to the bottom of the comments.  Yes, OK, so it’s in a comment on a post from over a year ago, but it’s still a link dammit!)


USB-Rechargeable batteries

File this one under why-didn’t-I-think-of-that?

USB CellMoxia Energy, a renewable & portable energy company, have come up with a line of batteries that are rechargeable by USB called USBCell.  That is, they have a built in USB plug that will draw the power to recharge itself.

Currently there is only a AA version available, but they claim that they will soon have AAA, C & D sizes available, as well as 9V and phone batteries

The AA are a sealed Nickel-Metal Hydride (NiMH) battery, and surprisingly, weigh about the same as a standard battery.  In fact at 22g they’re 6g lighter than the Energizer NH15-1700 rechargeable, but also 400mAh less capacity, but 1300 mAh should be fine to power most devices that require AAs.

They charge to 90%+ charge in about 5.3 hours on USB, and then pulse charge after that.  If you absolutely need it to be full, a standard 250ma NiMH battery charger can be used (~7 hours). 

If you buy from their website they have free delivery to Europe, USA, Canada, New Zealand and most importantly, Australia. There are a few local retailers carrying them in the UK, but not in Australia or anywhere else for that matter yet. Probably will be soon though.

They sell for £11.49 in the UK (about AU$28.70). You can get a standard pack of 4 rechargeable NiMH batteries here for about AU$16. So for now you’re looking at about AU$14 per USBCell battery as opposed to AU$4 for a normal rechargeable NiMH. I imagine this price will drop though as demand increases and more retailers pick them up.

[via Web Worker Daily]

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Google Maps Australia search plugin for Firefox & IE

I’ve posted a search plugin to MozDev for Google Maps Australia.  You can install it into FireFox or IE7 by clicking on the ‘Google Maps AU – Hybrid’.  If there are two showing up on that page, use the second one, it’s the latest version.

Because this is the .au version of the maps search, you can put in the town and state (or even just the town in most cases).

Other cool things:

So much to see!  It’s a big country, go find somewhere new to go this weekend.  If you end up going on a trip, why not post the directions here and let us know where you went.

See yourself on Google Maps on Australia Day

Just in case someone in Sydney hasn’t seen this yet, Google will be having a plane fly low over Sydney on Australia Day (Jan 26 for those at home) taking super-high resolution photos of people celebrating. There’s a map on that page showing the area that the plane will fly in and a nifty little click-and-drag marker that shows the approximate time that the plane will be flying overhead.  The x marks the spot shadow and bounce on drop is a particularly nice effect, does anyone know if that’s a standard Maps API function or something custom they’ve written?

Anyway, if you can make it into Sydney on Australia Day, do something for the camera, and once the images go live, leave a comment linking to where you were.

Google plane area

[via Simon, Mashup, Google Maps Mania & Google Operating System]

Paint.NET 3.0 release candidate 1

The Paint.NET developers have put up the first release candidate build for the 3.0 release. This is a great application for image editing.  It’s fast & reliable.  And while it may not have all the super-professional features of Photoshop (eg. Pantone colours), it’s plenty powerful enough for the average home user and I’ve found it to be more than enough for web & application development work. The previous 2.x releases were good, but they were lacking.  Most notably they lacked a multi-document interface, ie. having more than one file open at a time.  The 3.0 releases have added this, along with a swag of other features.

  • More intuitive and more powerful toolbar
  • User-definable color palette (as opposed to just the color wheel)
  • Gradient drawing
  • “Merge Down” layer command
  • New effects: Clouds, Median, Unfocus, Outline, and an improved Sharpen

It also handles layers, with blending options and opacity. There’s a whole bunch of image effects with on-the-fly previewing. It also has my favourite feature: unlimited undos!  It’s also open source, released under the MIT licence.  The 3.0 releases also have built-in support for eight different languages: English, Chinese (Simplified), French, German, Korean, Japanese, Portuguese (Brazil) & Spanish.

There’s an active forum community for answering questions and reporing bugs.  That forum also has a bunch of plugins to download.

The only downside (for some people at least) is that it needs the Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0 and at least Windows XP (SP2).  Prior to 3.0 it did run on Windows 2000, but support for that was dropped with the 3.0 betas.  Works on 2003 & Vista.

This  application has become an absolutely integral part of my freelance development work, and we even have it installed as part of our standard developer image at my day job

Get Paint.NET!


This post is part of the O’Reilly Windows Developer Tools Day, celebrating the tools that make Windows developers lives easier.


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Australia gets its own Google Maps domain

Google Maps now has an Australian domain: maps.google.com.au. It’s the same site as maps.google.com, except it starts with the satellite view of Australia & you don’t need to put Australia in the search query when looking up Australian addresses. For example, if I was searching for Penrith in New South Wales, in Google Maps Australia I just have to search for Penrith, where as the regular Google Maps doesn’t find it, unless I add NSW Australia.

One other thing I noticed, while Google Maps is a fully fledged graduate of the Labs, Google Maps Australia is still in beta:

I’m hoping that this means, with the release of this domain, that business directory listings like what they have for the US & the UK aren’t too far off.

I’ve written up an open search plugin (a.k.a. Firefox search engine), which you can grab from the Mycroft site.

[via Google Maps Mania]

Google Video live in Berlin

Any Film You Can Imagine
Originally uploaded by _Jer_.

I love public art that interacts with its environment, especially with a sense of humour – this is an amazingly realistic video of a crowd of tourists in Berlin!

I’m not sure who’s put this up, whether it’s an ad for Google Video or just an artwork, but either way it’s great. If someone can actually find a Google Video of this, that would be truly Zen.

[via Googlified, who also posted the real live Google Maps icon]

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