Birds eye view

When it was first launched, Virtual Earth from Microsoft was nothing more than a Google maps clone, with older aerial photographs.

Then came the ‘Walk the streets‘ function which was very impressive, but never actually made it into full production and has remained in ‘Preview’ mode and thus still has only limited availability (San Fransisco & Seattle) which makes it untenable.

Birds eye viewFinally though, the Microsoft Live development team have come up with something unique and worthwhile. Birds eye view mapping.

Using Virtual Earth, users can now see images from a Birds eye view of most major (and quite a few minor) cities and towns in the UK in their web browsers.
The images are much closer and more detailed than the aerial photography that was used previously and the shots are far more recent.
I have analyzed the shots taken over Cardiff and have come to the conclusion that they were taken sometime in the early summer of 2006. Perhaps May or June.

Here we see Cardiff Castle, as viewed from the South, looking North.

Another great feature is that you can change your vantage point, you can choose to look from any point of the compass. The magic of this is that the map is not simply rotated, but separate photos have been taken from each different view. If you are looking from the North to South, you can see different sides of buildings, etc. It’s all very impressive.

Here we see Cardiff Castle, as viewed from the North, looking South.

The images have more than likely been taken from an aeroplane, or perhaps even a helicopter, which has clearly spent a lot of flying time shooting all of these high quality images.

The software is impressive too, as AJAX applications go, this is pretty neat, and being written using AJAX, no dowload is required to view the maps. There don’t appear to be too many glitches, especially when using IE7. I have come across the odd few, but nothing too major, certainly nothing that inhibits the use of the website.

Bravo Microsoft, you have outdone yourselves this time.

Microsoft Virtual Earth (Live Search)

Youtube users to get share in profits

Talking to the BBC, Youtube founder Chad Hurley has confirmed that a scheme will be rolled out in the next couple of months that will “reward creativity”.

Youtube are clearly using this to give users an incentive to make their own videos and not to upload copyrighted material.

The money will come from the advertisements which are displayed when a video is viewed on the website, this is another system which the Youtube team are working to re-vamp, more than likely taking away the banner ad system which currently graces each page to be replaced by rolling advertisements before or after the video.

Revver, an alternative to Youtube, has already started a revenue-sharing system like the one proposed by Youtube, but it’s user-base is nowhere near as large as it’s rival and thus the impact has been limited.

So, does this mean that my videos could start making me money enough money to quit my job and become a full-time Youtuber?
Well, no, and not just because my videos are awful, but because the amounts that the user will actually receive are likely to be very low, even less than 1/4 of a penny per view would generous.

Berman in the firing line, again

The full text of this article was retracted on February 5th 2007.
Please read the retraction notes for more information

CPZ LeafletCan we go three days without somebody calling for Rodney Berman to resign please? It’s getting boring.

Neil McEvoy, an unsuccessful Plaid Cymru candidate for various offices, isn’t happy with the fact that Cardiff County Council is attempting to keep its residents informed about a proposed ‘Controlled Parking Zone‘ scheme.

Mr McEvoy wants the head of Rodney Berman, council leader, on a stick for pushing leaflets through doors that give information on the proposed changes which are going to a referendum on Friday.

According to the BBC, Mr McEvoy said: “It is appalling that the Lib Dem Cardiff Council leader is scurrying around Canton with his activists, dropping anonymous leaflets through people’s letter boxes”.

It seems as though Neil would prefer the residents of Canton to just vote against the council rather than know exactly what they are voting against, which obviously is extremely non-constructive. I can only guess that Mr McEvoy is doing anything that he can to get himself some press-time before the Assembly elections in May.

The leaflet in question is freely available from the Cardiff Council website in PDF format, and from what I can see, bar any subliminal messages that I may have missed, the literature is simply a fact-giving material, so quite what McEvoy is trying to get at is quite beyond me.

Former one-term Councillor McEvoy hasn’t done so well in his endeavours to get into public office of late, after losing his council seat in the 2004 local elections, he came just 4th in the race for the Cardiff West seat at the general election in 2005.
Switching his efforts to Assembly candidacy for 2007, no doubt he is hoping to do better this time around, but with his latest aggrievement being petty and grossly overstated, I sincerely doubt he will be gracing the chamber of the Senedd any time soon.

Restaurant apartheid

If I put up a sign in my theoretical restaurant window which said “British diners only”, would I get away with it?

With the focus of the entire country on racism this week, thanks to a certain pug-ugly degenerate, a hostel in Cardiff has hit the news for having a “Foreign passport holders only” policy.
Is this legal?

According to the Comission for Racial Equality, it isn’t.

In my imaginary restaurant with my sign, it hasn’t been up for more than 2 hours before a complaint is made and a horde of police are outside with a battering ram preparing to smash the door through.

The reasoning behind the Cardiff Backpacker having a ‘No British guests’ policy is equally as racist as the sign.
Apparently, it is to make the stay as pleasant for foreign travellers as possible. Guests from these native isles are too unruly, according to the owner, Sion Llewelyn.
The only difference here, is that the hostel is discriminating against the prodominant race of this country, which is where people tend to be less reserved.

Back to my dreamworld, I’m stood in my restaurant, the gang of Bobbies that just put four of my windows through want an explaination as to why I have that sign in my window, I give the explaination that ‘Foreigners always run after paying’. I’m in trouble. I’ve just stereotyped 6 billion people.

This is what Mr Llewlyn, the Cardiff Backpacker and the majority of racists have concluded when they made their policies or beliefs, that every single person in a particular race have similar traits, and this is what racism is based on, no matter if it is racism of blacks, whites, Chinese, Mexicans or the French. It’s textbook closed-mindedness and ignorance which should not be tolerated.

Yes, racism is the story of the week, just like out of control dogs were the week before and no doubt there will be something next week, but this one goes far deeper and back further and does not ever seem to end.