Archive for March, 2007

New API functions…

Friday, March 30th, 2007

We’re happy to introduce some great new features added to the ZoomIn Mapping System (ZMS) API:



The mini map can be added to any ZMS map to give the users a quick overview of the area displayed on the map. It shows you more of the region and lets you navigate quickly around large areas. Find out how to use the mini-map.

Built-in projection translation

The API now contains functionality to translate between coordinates in WSG84 and NZTM projections. This is a great feature as it means that you don’t have to convert your coordinate data. We’ll do it for you. Find out more about Glatlong.

Text window


This innovative feature lets you annotate maps with text notes. Think of it as leaving PostIt notes on the map. Look at the examples) and the API reference to find out how too take advantage of this feature.

Scroll wheel support

Now you can use the scroll wheel on your mouse to quickly zoom in and out of the map. You can control whether you want this capability on your map or not. Find out how to implement the scroll wheel..

What's hot?

Friday, March 30th, 2007

Wellington is, right now, as the temperature charts on the Greater Wellington Regional Council website show. Now, if only they would publish the data as numerical RSS feeds rather than static GIF images, it would be great mashup fodder. Hmm, I feel a project coming on…

Anyway, one ZoomIn user has decided to do something about the heat: he’s created a ZoomIn Group of swimming holes in the Wellington region. At the moment, there’s only one place in the group, but that’s what the community features of ZoomIn are all about: if you’ve got your own favourite swimming places, go ahead and add them to the group.

Update: there are now 5 places, and counting…

About a blog

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

John has asked me to write about my blog WellUrban, and I thought I’d take the opportunity to discuss some of the aspects that have made it modestly successful.

Have something to say. To many people, the blogosphere is full of people writing about their cats or their personal problems… and that’s at least 90% true. If you want to start a blog, you’re presumably already confident that people will want to read what you’re writing, but it’s worth stopping and thinking: if I came across this blog myself, would I subscribe to it? Is there some information here that I can’t find anywhere else? Some people manage to be funny, charming or enlightening while writing about nothing at all, but unless you’re Jerry Seinfeld, it helps to have some content.

Fill a gap. This is a related point. One of the reasons that I started WellUrban was that I was frustrated about the lack of information available online about such things as Wellington architecture, so I new there was a gap to be filled.

Appeal to overlapping audiences. WellUrban’s tagline is “Personal reflections on urbanism, urban life and sustainable urban design in Wellington, New Zealand”, and if you think about that, that’s quite a broad selection. Urbanism and sustainable design between them cover things such as architecture, public spaces, urban form and transport, and these make up the more serious side of WellUrban. But I think that it’s the “urban life” dimension that has made it really popular, since it can cover pretty much anything from parades and protests to shopping and drinking. I’ve found that architects enjoy Martinis, and people-about-town care about what’s being built in their city, so I’ve managed to build up a wider and more diverse audience than if I’d written purely about one aspect.

I’m switching many of the more purely “what’s on”-type posts to Texture or The Wellingtonista, but I’ll keep writing on WellUrban about eating, drinking and shopping: I’ll just make sure that the posts have an urbanism angle. For instance, my recent post on new cafés doesn’t just list them, but talks about their relevance to globalisation, gentrification and the bypass.

Link like crazy. I’ve been accused of putting so many links in my posts that they become hard to read, and perhaps I should tone down the styling a bit, but I think it’s an essential part of the service I offer. It’s called hypertext for a reason.

I make sure I link back to previous posts that I’ve written, so that I can keep the train of thought going. I like to find “definitive” resources that I can link to on particular subjects, which is why I’ve always found ZoomIn helpful: whenever I mention a bar, shop or building, there’s a ZoomIn URL to link to. And if there’s not, I can always create one!

Link discovery can be the most time-consuming aspects of writing a post, but in the process of looking for resources to link to, I often come across facts that I hadn’t realised before, thus ensuring that my research is more thorough than it might otherwise have been.

Engage in dialogue. If you’re passionate about what you’re writing, you’ll no doubt already be writing comments on other blogs. Some people frown on the idea of seeding your comments with links back to your own posts, but sometimes it’s more appropriate to write a thorough post on your own blog and link back to it when you write a comment, rather than writing a dissertation in someone else’s comment stream. There’s nothing wrong with being a little bit shameless in promoting your blog: after all, you’re not spamming if you’ve got something real to say and it’s relevant to the readers that you’re targeting.

Find out what your audience is after. I’m always amazed, and sometimes amused, by what my visitors have been searching for. Sometimes, a steady stream of search terms can be a good reminder to write about something you’ve had on the back burner for a while. It can even tip you off to events before they hit the media: I first found out about Remiro Bresolin‘s death and Terry Serepisos‘ purchase of the Wellington football team by a burst of searches on their names. You should always write about what matters to you, but it’s good to know what’s newsworthy to your readers.

Images don’t have to be photos. They can be drawings, diagrams, graphs or maps. I come from a data visualisation background, so I know the power of images to convey complex information. They can be serious or flippant, but they add a dimension beyond plain old text.

I’ve been lucky to have access to GIS data and applications, so my demographic maps have been a popular feature. But anyone can use Excel charts or (of course) ZoomIn groups to create useful and informative graphs and maps.

Yahoo's approach to combat phishing

Sunday, March 25th, 2007


I was logging onto flickr this morning when I noticed that Yahoo has developed a simple approach to combat phishing.

Yahoo has added a user created seal that is unique for each user. (See the example above)
This looks like a simple way to ensure that a user is logging on a real yahoo page. (Note: It saves a cookie onto your computer, so you won’t see it if you log onto a yahoo service from another computer.)

Nice work Yahoo!

Link bait

Friday, March 23rd, 2007

I’ve been reading a bunch of links over the past week that I’d thought I’d share…

I would suggest that if you are interested in Entrepreneurship then you check out Y Combinator Startup News Aggregator, its a fantastic wealth of Knowledge. They have a lot a great stuff to read every day.


Entrepreneurship and Start-ups



Eurekster secures B round funding…

Thursday, March 22nd, 2007

Congrats to Eurekster securing $US5.5M in a Series B round of funding.

Here’s what Steve Marder says in the Press release:

“Not only are we thrilled with global investors TVP and Transcosmos joining the Eurekster family but this transaction marks the next phase of accelerating our leadership in the social search and vertical search areas. With their support, we will more aggressively deliver on our vision for social search driving brand reinforcement, user engagement and improved targeting all to the benefit of web publishers, end users and advertisers.”

Silverstripe become the first NZ company to be accepted to Google Summer of Code

Friday, March 16th, 2007

Congratulations to Silverstripe for being accepted in Google Summer of Code!

They had a fantastic plug from Chris Di Bona.

“I feel SilverStripe is a great example of a well-constructed open source project. It makes innovative use of technology but it is easy to use, which is just as important for open source, so it is a good candidate for Google to support. With so much going on in the web- development arena, it will be easy for Summer of Code developers to contribute, and with the mentors having helped students in the past, we were happy to trust SilverStripe to be the first New Zealand organisation involved.”

— Chris DiBona, Open Source Programs Manager, Google Inc.

So, if you’re a student and looking to work on kick ass project with some serious cool people AND getting paid by Google. Check out Silverstripe’s projects and apply to the Google Summer of Code.

Summer of Code pictures up on flickr

Thursday, March 15th, 2007

I have just added a whole bunch of pictures from this year’s Summer of Code on Flickr. Enjoy!

What the f**k ????

Wednesday, March 7th, 2007

I subscribe to a RSS feed that shows me how ZoomIn hits the blogsphere. I discovered today that someone is using copied ZoomIn content to seed their link farm. At first I thought someone liked our site and wrote about here and here.

On closer inspection, I noticed that it contained a “cut and paste” of our “About Us” text . And they took time to include pictures ????

Arrrgghhh!!! Why why why???

Oi ?!?!? who's that dude?

Wednesday, March 7th, 2007

As spotted on this years Where 2.0 2007 site