Websites, Mashups and more

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Fotoland.us

Please visit my new site Fotoland. The new website allows you to view thousands of Flickr photos while navigating a Google map

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Using Yahoo Maps

I started recently experimenting with Yahoo Maps. I was drawn to them for a number of reasons to mention a few: Their use of Macromedia Flash and ability to load markers without affecting performance.

Yahoo has two types of Maps. The AJAX version which is very close to the Google Maps one and the Flash version which has huge potential. One main distinctive feature that sets the Yahoo maps apart from Google is the ability to run the Maps locally on the computer. Google requires you to run the map from a website. The Yahoo AJAX Maps API is very similar to the Google Maps API. I am almost positive that they have decided to replicate everything that Google came up with including function names for the API. As far as performance, I noticed that the Yahoo AJAX maps load fast and has the ability to handle markers better than Google. I still need to run more tests to compare other features. Yahoo AJAX Maps however have a very lame Bubble window. The Google Bubble window on the other hand is more complex and has a better interface.

The Yahoo Flash Maps is a different beast. The API calls are very different than the AJAX version. I will give this map more testing. The Flash Maps has a nicer layout than Google and Yahoo AJAX maps. However, the map performance when it comes to dragging and refreshing images is not as good.

In the next few days I will run a head to head comparison between the AJAX and Flash versions of the Yahoo Maps. And a comparison between the Google and Yahoo Maps features

Categories: Dynamic Maps_

Monday, February 06, 2006

Blogger Categories in 5 minutes (A different approach)

After I got feedback from users I have made an update at the end of this posting.
-----------------------------------------------

This is an update to my previous posting on categorizing blogger entries. As I mentioned in my previous postings, Blogger.com has no categories. There are a number of ways to bypass this problem such as using delicious or using the blogger search. I use the Blogger Search Engine to categorize my postings by inserting the name of the category in the posting's title and using the blogger search to find entries for a category. For more details read my previous posting.

After using my method for a couple of weeks I realized that it has some problems.

  1. By inserting the name of the category in the title, the title became too long and overcrowded.
  2. The postings title is also used to create the URL for the posting. As a result, if you want to add your posting to a new category the URL will change. This will cause problems if people already made links to your posting

For these reasons I have made a number of changes to my method. The category's name will no longer by placed in the title but rather in the posting's body. I have also decided to use CSS to either hide the category name or give it a special look. The following is the set of steps you need to take. It will take you five minutes at most:



1) When you login to your blogger account go the "Template" tab. Insert the following javascript code right before the body tag (<body>)




<script language="javascript">
var blogUrl = "BLOG_URL_HERE";
function showCategory(category){
category = "\""+category+"_\"";
var url = "http://search.blogger.com/?ui=blg&as_q=" +
escape(category) + "&bl_url=" + blogUrl;
window.location.href = url;
}
</script>



replace URL_BLOG_HERE with your blog's url. For example, the url to my blog is websitesandmore.blogspot.com. so the line should look like

var blogUrl = "websitesandmore.blogspot.com";

make sure not to include http:// or the www

2) Now we will create the categories section (or menus). In your blog template go the section that start with following text



<!-- Begin #sidebar -->
<div id="sidebar">


Insert the following text:

<MainOrArchivePage>
<h2 class="sidebar-title">Categories</h2>
<ul>
<li><a href="javascript:showCategory('Category 1');">Category 1</a></li>
<li><a href="javascript:showCategory('Category 2');">Category 2</a></li>
</ul>
</MainOrArchivePage>

Make sure to replace Category 1 and Category 2 with the real names of the categories

3) (This Step is Optional) In your blogger template insert the following piece of code in the CSS area
(The area starts right after the following line <style type="text/css">)



.category { font-style:italic;}


If you want your categories to be hidden then insert the following instead


.category { display:none;}


4) Finally, when you create a new posting for your blog insert the categories text at the end



Category 1_, Category 2_, Category 3_,...


If you are using CSS from step 3 above then insert you categories in the following format



<span class="category">Category 1_, Category 2_, Category 3_, ...</span>


Make sure to append your category names with the "_" character. You can separate cateogry names using commas (like the examples above), spaces, semi colons, etc...


IMPORTANT
Keep in mind that when you create a new posting the blogger search takes at least 10 minutes to index your posting and insert it into its records. This means that your posting will not show up directly under that category. Some people might complain about this. Personally, I think this is not a big issue because eventually the posting will get indexed. So far, the average time it takes to index the posting is 10 minutes. The most that I have experienced so far is half an hour.


Categories: Code Snippets_ , Blogger Categories_

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Very busy

It has been 5 days since my last posting. I am trying to post regularly but I am very very very busy. To add spice, I started working on a New York City Guide section for the Virtual NYC Tour. I am glad to announce that I have hired my first two part time employees or actually writers. They provide my NYC Guide section with weekly articles satisfying both travelers and the search engines appetite.

On the good side, I have been doing some thinking over my categorization technique and came up with some brilliant enhancements (at least to me). Soon enaugh I will post an article explaining the new updates. As far as the experiement goes it is still in my todos list. I though I would ehance my categorization technique before I start.

Categories: Main Blog_

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Blogger Categories: Using CSS for categorizing with the Blogger Search Engine

I was going through the list of recent comments on my blog when I passed by one made by Paulo He is using my Blog Search method for categorizing posts. However, He includes some enhancements by using CSS. His posting is available under the following link . By using CSS the category name would become invisible in the title. For example

title --> <span class="hide">CATEGORY A:</span>Flowers are nice

The only problem is that the HTML markup will appear in the RSS feed. I wonder how the postings URL would look like too. I will take a closer look at his method and see if I can enhance it. I will also include it in my Grand Experiment which is supposed to Debut this weekend.

Blogger Categories: Experiment Update

Things are getting worse. I am getting involved in more projects. however, this weekend I will be able to start the experiment. stay tuned

Main Blog: New Website and code

For the past few weeks I have been working on a new mashup website. The website uses technologies from Google, Yahoo and some 3rd party application. I will be posting more info later. I am trying to keep the idea of the website secret until we release.

In the next few days I will be posting more code snippets regarding Google Maps and Geocoding. Geocoding enables the user to get GPS coordinates for a specific address. Online maps uses geocoding to pinpoint an address. Currently, Google Maps does not provide this feature in their public API. more to come. stay tuned

Virtual NYC Tour: New Features

I am working on a large and very interesting new feature (at least for me). I am currently adding a new section called "NYC Guide". It will basically feature articles, news, info on galleries and museums and other travel services. Building the section will take some time since it contains multiple sub sections and require the creation of many articles. I will probably end up spending all weekend working on it.

Yesterday, I have sent my first email letter to my members. The list included over 200 emails. I had problems sending a mass email from my host. I have been getting good feedback. At least nobody requested to be removed from the mailing list

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Blogger Categories: Postponing the Experiment

I have decided to postpone my Grand Experiment for few days. I am working 20 hours a day on my Virtual NYC Tour. Fuses in my brain are starting to pop.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Virtual NYC Tour: One Month Anniversary

Today is the one month anniversary for my Virtual NYC Tour website. I have went through hell during this month working almost none stop on the website and working 20 hours days. You have to remember that I also have a day job which takes a big chunck of my day.

During this month many things happened. The website had 30,000 visitors. Most of them occurred in the past week. The website has been featured on many popular blogs, websites and news. To mention a few

  • Blog Google: A CNET.com blog
  • Google Maps Mania
  • MSNBC
  • Digg.com (992): If you guys are kind please make it pass the 1000 mark
  • Cool Google Maps
  • Gothamist
  • inpactvirtuel.com (French)
  • pathfinder.gr (German)
  • ehrensenf.de (German or Dutch)
  • useloos.com (French)
  • illasaron.com (Spanish)
  • programmableweb.com
  • madville.com
  • dailywireless.org
  • zorgloob.com (French)
  • labs.cybozu.co.jp (Japan)
  • diggdot.us
  • blogywood.blogspot.com
  • skytg24.blogs.com
  • blog.programmableweb.com
  • and many other...
I have included many new sections and features during this month:
  • Directory section
  • Store section
  • A revamped menu system
  • Added Hints to the navigation panel
  • Improved many of the scripts for speed
  • Created a mailing list
  • Added user reviews
  • etc...
I would like to thank every person that visited the website. Thank you for the emails and feedback. Thank you for making this website possible

Blogger Categories: The beginning of the Grand Experiment

Today will mark the beginning of an exciting experiment. Few days ago I have made a posting on Categorizing Blogger entries using the blogger search engine (Categorizing Blogger Entries). I got a number of comments and emails in response. In the posting I have mentioned that I was not a fan of the delicious approach. That started a series of emails between me and Greg, the creator of FreshTags. FreshTags adopts the delicious approach.

I decided to be open minded and fair. As a result, I will start an experiment using both the search engine and the delicious approaches. The experiment will run for a month or a little more. During this period I will probably end up testing both approaches by making posts via the blogger administrator website, email, the Blog this option available in some websites, etc...

I will keep everybody posted on my day-to-day findings. I will also keep Greg informed. I will try to be as unbiased as possible.

I am not sure what to name the experiment. I was thinking of one of the following:
  • The Grand Experiment
  • The Category Experiment (Blogger Search vs. Delicious)
  • Blogger Categories (Blogger Search vs. Delicious)
  • The Categories Grand Experiment (Blogger Search vs. Delicious)
I will make up my mind sometime today. Please, Please, Please, send me suggestions for a name.

I will setup my blog either today or tomorrow to accept both types of categories. I am currently busy with my Virtual NYC Tour website