Google Maps is now charging

…if you reach a certain number of mapviews.  You have up to 25K/day mapviews free, which works out to just over 9 million map views a year.  My understanding of those limits is that they are per-business, not per domain or site.  Here’s the announcement on their blog.

Alternatives for javascript map generation:

Google Maps has made mapping ubiquituous (I’m sure Brian Timoney would agree), and in doing so has done the web a great service.  It will be interesting to see what happens as they try to charge for this service.


December 2009 BDNT writeup

I went to the Boulder Denver New Tech Meetup last night, and as always, had a good time.  I ran into Brett Borders, and had a good discussion with him about why BDNT is worth going to.  I only go every couple of quarters, but I always learn something, and meet some interesting people (last night, including Marty Frary), and get jazzed about technology again.  This particular episode was packed–standing room only.  In addition, in the spirit of the season, there was a food drive, which was a nice touch, and a giveaway.  One additional change was that the twitter stream was off during presentations, though available during the q&a period (here’s a twitterstream horror story from the presenter’s point of view).

Brad Bernthal gave an overview of Silicon Flatirons (and asked for $ support).  This is a center focused on tech, law and entrepeneurship, which puts on a number of programs supporting the Boulder tech scene (I attended and reviewed one a while back: IP Crash Course for Entrepeneurs).  Which raises the question–where is the CU CS department?  Why is the Law school hosting BDNT and other users’ groups?  The CS department does host Colloquia (I attend about one a year), but I don’t think those compare to BDNT, et al.

After Brad, we moved on to jobs and events.  I was glad to see a number of jobs pop up.  Over the last year, at BDNT there were always some developer jobs available, but this time there was also a marketing job.  Hope it’s a sign that the Boulder tech job market is thawing (for folks other than developers).  There were 8 job announcements, though one of them was equity only.  About half of the presenting companies said they were looking to hire as well.  As far as events, KGNU is having a fundraiser called ‘Beers With Brad’Ignite Boulder 7 is only a week away (here’s an interesting post on how to organize Ignites).

On to presentations…

  • The Blog Frog presented on their platform to turn blogs into communities.  This is an interesting space–you can see competitors in Ning, MyBlogLog and Google Friend Connect, though they all approach the issue from a different angle.  The Blog Frog is aimed at automating community creation, and have focused on mommy bloggers (as a large, valuable group).  We did not get a demo from them, and I haven’t signed up for their service for any of my blogs, but they definitely have a cool value proposition–helping niche content providers build their communities and reach advertisers and interested people.  You can see a presentation from them 7 months ago; it sounds like their business model has evolved significantly.
  • The Unreasonable Institute presented next.  They bill themselves as ‘Techstars for social entrepeneurs’, but they have a few differences.  Instead of picking applicants and providing them money, they want applicants to fundraise to provide a fee and idea validation.  After applicants are selected, they do get funds throughout the 10 week program, as well as mentoring, chance to pitch, etc, etc. The presentor said that the applications already received were split equally between the for-profit, non-profit and hybrid models.  So, the funding pitches would include VCs/angels as well as foundations–an interesting twist and a great way to increase connections between those communities.  They are accepting applications for the 2010 summer until Dec 15th.
  • Letitia Pleis, from Metro State College of Denver, gave a great talk on the tax implications of equity as payment.  She covered three scenarios.  Unrestricted (‘here’s 10% of the company, please write software!’) which is taxed as income at the time of the grant and also implies a great deal of trust in the payee.  Restricted (‘here’s 10% of the company, it vests in 3 years’) which is taxed as income at the time the grant is vested, possibly leading to a massive increase in taxes due, unless you perform an section 83(b) election within 30 days of the grant (one person spoke up and said they’d be bitten by this).  Unrestricted profits interest gives the grantee claim on a percentage of future profits.  She was at the end of her time, so we didn’t hear as much about this option as I would have liked.
  • Next up was a gadget review.  I’m not a gadget head, so I didn’t take notes on this, but they did give away a Sonos system.  Well, the winner earned it by knowing what the original cost of a Apple I system was ($666.66).
  • Public Earth presented next.  They are a wiki of places; the presentor said just like Netflix lets you collect your favorite movies, Public Earth will let you collect your favorite places.  (And they hope to have scale like wikipedia–he said that they plan to move beyond the ‘where’s the nearest restaurant’ level.  I looked for ‘slot canyons’ in UT, for example, and they had some.  I think they need to work on their linking, because I couldn’t get a link for my query to post.  But, on the upside, they don’t support IE6!)  They have 5M points in their database already, and just went live.  The wiki aspect is very interesting to me; I wonder whether they’ll get a critical mass of users to do spam policing.  It’s an interesting contrast to Google My Maps–PE has a slicker interface and more sharing features.
  • Last was RTP, with their sick iphone app, Real Ski.  This is an augmented reality application that helps you locate points of interest (bathroom, particular runs) when you’re out skiing.  They obviously couldn’t demo it at BDNT, but they had a video demo, and it looked killer.  It should be on the App Store soon–5 area maps free, 99 cents for every other ski area map.  They also asked for advice from the community about selling a B2C app; RTP apparently is a B2B company.  Pricing, scale, and accuracy were mentioned, but nothing really profound.  This question might be a better asked on twitter, or in some forum that allows more interaction.  (I searched, and was interested to see that no one had posted advice for them on twitter.)

The only complaint I had with this BDNT was that there were no demos (apart from the gadgets).  Several pseudo-demos (aka powerpoint slides/videos), and interesting and relevant presentations, but I think that live demos really add a lot and are in the spirit of the meetup.


Denver BDNT Sep 2009

I helped Brian Timoney, of the Timoney Group present last night at the Boulder Denver New Tech Meetup.  It was my second experience presenting at BDNT.  (I presented in Jan of 2008 on GWT.)  But it was my first time at BDNT Denver–down at the Tivoli.

Co-presenting is always different than presenting alone.  I actually had a pretty small role in the presentation–I mostly just drove the demo (underwater navigation with Google Earth to visualize sonar coverage data–it’s very cool, but I don’t feel comfortable putting the demo login up–contact me if you want to see it).  I worked with Brian on the presentation format.  Brian has deep knowledge of GIS concepts (he recently ran a workshop at GIS In the Rockies), but he’s used to having more time to cover concepts, and 5 minutes just enforces a certain brevity.

We had a mentor–Josh Fraser of EventVue took some time to run through our presentation with us.  It was really great to have a third party, especially one in tune with the BDNT, give us feedback.  As I told Robert Reich last night, we went into the mentoring session with one presentation, and left with an entirely different one.  If you’re thinking about presenting at BDNT, please get a mentor (and you might have to ping the organizers a few times to get one–we did).

If I ever present at BDNT again, I’ll follow the format we arrived at:

  • 15 sec intro
  • 1 min talking about problem
  • 2-3 min demoing software solving problem
  • wrap up
  • contact info on screen during questions

However, one of the difficulties in presenting for 5 minutes to a varied audience is that it is hard to know what knowledge to assume (about, say, GIS).  I talked to some people after the presentation, and it seemed like we assumed our exposition of the problem was better than it actually was.  I guess one way to address that would be to have a 30 sec intro spiel that you could deliver or not deliver based on a show of hands.  Not sure if there are other ways to deal with this issue.

Finally, we were the only formal presentation last night.  It sounds like BDNT Denver isn’t as supported by the community as BDNT Boulder, in terms of participation.  I hope it doesn’t end–so, if you’re in Denver, consider attending this meetup–it’s a great place to network and get excited about tech.  Here’s the calendar of meetups.

Instead of other presentations, we went unconference style, a la BarCamp.  People broke into 5 groups and discussed a tech issue (personalization, structured data, real time web) in detail for 10-15 minutes.  Then someone from each group presented 1-3 minutes.  The twitter feedback seemed pretty favorable.  I like BarCamp formats, and enjoyed the change.  I found that everyone in my group had lots to say about personalization, including some pretty creepy personal storied about advertising on the net.  I believe someone was going to write up the resulting presentations–will link to it when I find it.

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Data.gov–freely accessible data in standard formats from the USA federal government

Have you ever wondered where the world’s copper smelters are?  Or pondered reservoir storage data for the Colorado river?  Had questions about the residential energy use of US households?

Now you can find the answers to these questions, using data.gov, the stated purpose of which is “to increase public access to high value, machine readable datasets generated by the Executive Branch of the Federal Government.”  I’ve been writing for a while about the publishing power of the internet, but data.gov takes this to a whole new level.

It’s definitely a starting point, not an end, as there are only 47 raw datasets that you can access.  They cover a wide range of data and agencies, and were apparently chosen to kick things off because they “already enjoy a high degree of consensus around definitions, are in formats that are readily usable, include the availability of metadata, and provide support for machine-to-machine data transfer.”  The four main formats for data provided by data.gov are XML, CSV, KML and ESRI.  (There are also a number of widgets, and tools you can use, including the census factfinder.)

More datasets can be requested, and I’m hoping that they will be rolled out soon.  What a playground! Go take a look!

Update, 4:55: Here’s a great article on the whole process and problem.

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Solution to black boxes in Google Earth balloons when the GE plugin is placed over Flex/Flash content

This is very much a post to spare people the hunting I did to solve this very particular problem :).

I am doing some work for a client that integrates Flex and the Google Earth plugin.  This post by Andrew Trice explains the basic integration well (it’s very slick!).

However, there was an issue–in Firefox, any balloons popped up by clicking on a placemark were black.  The text of the balloon was there–you could see it flicker–but not visible.  Andrew references a trick that allows “layering Google Maps HTML/JavaScript over Flex content,” so I suspected that was part of the issue.

Running the same GE code without the Flex component showed the balloons normally, so that was the issue.  A bit of hunting turned up a reference to the wmode parameter being important to such layering (I had a URL, but have lost it.)  Then, this post popped up, explaining what the proper settings for wmode were.

Basically, if you are seeing black balloons in Firefox when you are placing the GE plugin over Flash, you need to set the wmode to opaque.

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Announcement: FRUGOS GeoSummit 2007

One of my clients is helping out with this unconference. If you’re into GIS, it seems like it’d be worth going. I certainly had fun at the last unconference I went to.  I am planning to attend; hope I see you there.
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FRUGOS (Front Range Users of Geospatial Open Source) is holding its
first GeoSummit on Saturday, June 16th at Churchill Navigation–100
Arapahoe–in Boulder.

This will be a unique gathering of a variety of folks interested in
Place–geo-types, hackers, academics, artists, amateur enthusiasts,
etc. While there certainly will be representation from the GIS and open
source worlds, we encourage all who are fascinated about the
intersections of technology and engagement with the world around us to
participate.

Also, we’ll be structuring the day around the “un-conference” model (see
http://www.barcamp.org), so, for starters, you
can expect:
No Pitches
No PowerPoint
No Passivity (unless you’re a little sleepy after lunch)

Bring your laptop (we’ll have wireless), and a project or enthusiasm
you’d like to talk about with the group, get feedback, and collaborate
on fresh solutions: the agenda of the day will be structured during
the morning registration/sign-up/socializing period.

If interested–
1) RSVP by joining the Google Groups set up for this event–

http://groups.google.com/group/geosummit

2) Bring a laptop (and cellphone/GPS if your enthusiasms tilt that
way), your idea/project, and willingness to collaborate

3) Spread the word

Tentative Schedule

9:30-10:30AM Registration, refreshment, socializing
10:30-12ish Sessions
12ish-2 Lunch (there’s a grill, beverages, and hiking trails)
2-? Sessions

This promises to be a great combination of creativity, intellectual
engagement, eating and drinking, and socializing.

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