August 2005

Hurricane Katrina: Before and After

(Updated) Susan Kitchens has compiled and sent along an animated image (680-KB animated GIF) that shows the New Orleans area before and after Hurricane Katrina passed through; per her suggestion, I’m hosting it on my server.

See previous entries: Hurricane Katrina; Hurricane Katrina: The Aftermath.

Update, 10:30 PM: Boing Boing reports that Google Maps/Earth should have updated imagery within a few days, and links to images of locales both before and after the hurricane hit.

Update, 11:10 PM: I’ve updated the image above to a newer version submitted by Susan; see her comments below.

Hurricane Katrina: The Aftermath

(Many updates) Watch Hurricane Katrina’s path via satellite imagery or radar; both are NOAA pages and both require Java. Via Paulo.

Kathryn Cramer has been collecting aerial images of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, along with some screenshots from Google Earth. Speaking of which, over on Boing Boing, a call for a collaborative effort to use Google Earth overlays to illustrate the damage. (Update: Google Earth overlays here and here.)

Meanwhile, on GeoCarta, Roger takes a timely look at the issue of FEMA’s flood hazard maps, which are apparently in the process of being modernized.

See previous entry: Hurricane Katrina.

Update, 8/31 at 9:20 AM: Satellite imagery of the flooding — what Morgan was looking for — is now available from NASA: Floods along the Gulf Coast, in several resolution sizes, and Flooding in New Orleans (via Cartography). More will probably come from other sources.

Update, 11:30 AM: See All Points Blog’s GIS, Maps and Katrina in the News.

Update, 1:25 PM: Landsat image of the aftermath around New Orleans (via Boing Boing).

Update, 6:05 PM: ESRI’s Hurricane Maps and Help page tries to mobilize the GIS community and provide data in crises (via All Points Blog and Spatially Adjusted). And, per Gale’s comment below, Hurricane Katrina Images from NOAA.

Coordinates

Coordinates is the journal of the Map and Geography Round Table of the American Library Association. It’s an online journal; articles are published irregularly rather than on an issue-by-issue basis, and, even better, it’s freely available, in HTML and PDF versions. It seems to be a relatively new venture: four articles were published at the end of January; four more were published today, including two on Martin Waldseemüller (see previous entries: 1, 2). All of them look like they’ll make interesting reading — now if you’ll excuse me for a moment …

LA Times: Forbes Smiley and the Culture of Stealing

An op-ed in today’s LA Times by Rachel Shteir uses the Forbes Smiley case to argue that we are now living in a culture of stealing: “Before Smiley’s arrest, he was, to all appearances, a respectable map dealer with a reputation for helping libraries build their collections. But whatever becomes of Smiley the man, the Smiley affair throws into the light a larger, troubling story: We are in the middle of an epidemic of stealing.”

On a technical note, entries about map theft incidents now have their own category.

Hurricane Katrina

(Many updates) I’ve been looking for maps and satellite imagery of Hurricane Katrina. So far, I’ve found this page from the National Hurricane Center and this page (a popup) from the NOAA Storm Tracker site, which has many of the same maps but adds satellite images. More links welcome.

Update, 8/29 at 6:48 AM: This page collects radar and satellite imagery from several sources; it may take a while to load on dialup (via Boing Boing).

Update, 8:40 AM: Via Google Maps Mania, the Central Florida Hurricane Center’s Google Maps mashup showing Hurricane Katrina’s path and a satellite overlay for Google Earth.

Update, 8:50 AM: Directions has a page of links to U.S. government map resources for Hurricane Katrina.

Update, 11:15 AM: From the LSU’s Center for the Study of Public Health Impacts of Hurricanes, the New Orleans Hurricane Impact Study Area page, which maps the flood risk to the city (via Making Light). This will probably address James’s question in the comments.

Update, 11:29 AM: The OSEI Image of the Day (via Kathryn Cramer).

Atlas of Antarctic Research

With online map services invariably using some variant of the Mercator projection, Antarctica inevitably receives short shrift. (Stefan notes that the same is true with Google Earth.) The remedy for this is the USGS’s Atlas of Antarctic Research, the interface for which allows you to apply all sorts of interesting data and image layers (it’s buggy in Safari). Via Ogle Earth and Térképes egoblog.

Reader Survey Results: Part Two

Here’s the long-promised, long-delayed second part of the results of The Map Room’s reader survey. You may recall that the survey took place in early April, and it took me approximately forever to get around to tabulating the results. The first part, dealing with who you were and what you were interested in, was posted earlier this month. This time, I’m looking at how you read The Map Room. The executive summary: RSS and Yahoo!

Continue reading this entry.

Hargrett Library’s Rare Map Collection

Peacay reports that he has discovered the Hargrett Library’s map collection at the University of Georgia, which, according to the site, “maintains a collection of more than 800 historic maps spanning nearly 500 years, from the sixteenth century through the early twentieth century. … Although not limited to a single geographic subject, the collection heavily emphasizes the State of Georgia and the surrounding region.”

Google Earth and Disputed Borders and Names

I’ve briefly mentioned maps’ normative function before: they not only describe reality, but, by assigning names and boundaries, they define it. National mapping agencies make use of maps’ normative function all the time: to pick a relatively non-controversial example, Canadian maps assert our country’s claim on the Arctic Ocean east of 141° W longitude. Maybe it shouldn’t be surprising, then, that controversy can erupt when names and boundaries are in dispute, and woe betide the cartographer that has to mediate between conflicting claims. I’ve always thought, for example, that National Geographic did a reasonable enough job at it: usually they map the status quo, with a note in red showing the competing claim. Though I imagine they get plenty enough grief about it anyway.

Google Earth, it turns out, is running into the same kinds of problems, for exactly the reason that the baseline data is the same for users around the world: no variations to placate regional sensitivities. Over on Ogle Earth, Stefan has tracked a couple of instances of this, such as complaints over boundaries — Google Earth apparently shows Kashmir divided between Pakistan and India, and Tibet as part of China (the de facto situation, incidentally, and arguably the correct call) — and over names: a big stink is erupting between Koreans and Japanese over whether the body of water between their countries is the Sea of Japan or the East Sea. (More details here, plus a link to a previous spat regarding Iran and the Arabian/Persian Gulf.)

Book Review Roundup

Directions has a review of Cynthia Brewer’s Designing Better Maps: A Guide for GIS Users, which sounds really interesting: it’s a book about design choices for cartography — i.e., what looks good, what doesn’t. From the review: “[It] covers all the basics of cartography in a very focused way aimed at practitioners. Don’t expect a complete discussion on projections, but rather ‘rules of thumb’ on which to use for which type of map.”

Over on Webmapper, read Edward’s detailed review of Mapping Hacks: as a European, he notes that many of the hacks rely on U.S. datasets; he also finds that the book is mainly aimed at software developers and web designers, rather than cartographers and GIS pros.

Not a review as such, because Adena was in on the writing, she says, but All Points Blog mentioned Fun with GPS by Donald Cooke a few weeks back. It sounds hilarious — attaching GPSes to various things. Must investigate.

GeoCarta

Back when I started The Map Room, map blogs were few and far between; nowadays I’m learning about new blogs all the time. The most recent one I’ve stumbled across is Roger Hart’s GeoCarta, which he describes as “a blog with an emphasis on mapping and land use issues. GeoCarta focuses on mapping as it is used primarily for zoning, property ownership, land use regulations, and other applications of GIS.”

Gaza Strip Withdrawal Maps

The removal of Israeli settlers from the Gaza Strip has occasioned some fine cartography from newspapers. The New York Times had an excellent graphic in its Sunday, Aug. 14 edition, which I can’t find online. The Globe and Mail’s map (391-KB JPEG), via Cartography, is equally fine: like the Times’s, it shows, in detail, each settlement in the Gaza, with population figures and potential flashpoints. Links to other maps of the Gaza withdrawal are welcome; post them in the comments.

Google Maps Hacking Roundup

The number of hacks and mashups of Google Maps prevents me from reporting on every single one of them properly, but I am paying attention, and will report on the more noteworthy ones, and on trends, when I can. The trouble is that there’s very little that can be said about them individually, except to say that Google Maps has now been combined with this data source, and isn’t that handy. Not a lot can be said about the cartography or the user interface, because it’s all the same.

Which isn’t to say that I don’t have some links for you about Google Maps hacks as a class. No ma’am.

Hacks made USA Today last week; their tech columnist, Kevin Maney, had a general introduction — which is what you’d expect in USA Today — last Tuesday (via Google Maps Mania).

Peacay sent in a link to lifehack.org’s Essential Resources for Google Maps, which lists the top hacks (in their opinion), plus tools and resources.

Speaking of resources, if you’re finding Google’s API documentation a little too opaque, take a look at Integrating Google Maps into Your Web Applications, a tutorial by Jason Gilmore over at developer.com (via Google Maps Mania). I’m noting this for future reference because sooner or later I’m going to try to do one of these myself, when I have a spare moment.

Hacking Virtual Earth

Rev Dan Catt says, “Even though Google get a lot of press for their API, I believe that Virtual Earth is far easier to code and gives you more hooks and feedback to use. … From a coding point of view in my humble opinion Virtual Earth is better. Google is good, but I still find myself having to use hacks to get the results I want.” Even so, he says Geobloggers will still use Google Maps for its superior user experience.

On that note, there are a couple more links about using the Virtual Earth API. Via Virtual Earth has had a facelift since I last had a look at it, and includes a gallery of hacks (via Chandu Thota). The site now has RSS feeds, too.

There’s also this site, which seems to be an introduction; I have no comment on the video.

LA Times: Maps Outpaced by Suburban Growth

From today’s edition of the LA Times, a story about how maps can’t keep up with the pace of suburban growth in fast-growing areas like California, Nevada and Arizona. Some of those areas add thousands of new streets a year. That’s right, thousands. You can imagine that traditional paper-based maps have a hard enough time keeping up, but at that pace even the services that provide mapping data to MapQuest, Google Maps et al. (TeleAtlas, NAVTEQ), which update four times a year, can’t keep up either.

Updates on the Forbes Smiley Case

What is to be done? Much discussion over on MapHist about what the Forbes Smiley arrest can teach us about map security, with suggestions about how to tighten security in map collections, such as CCTV, limiting what can be taken into a rare books room, and physically checking the books upon their return — even weighing them to discover if pages have been removed. Much discussion, too, about the practical and logistical challenges of these suggestions.

In that vein, Tony Campbell has a page about the Forbes Smiley case that puts forward some proposals. He also highlights a serious, and to my mind, overlooked, problem about map theft: rare maps aren’t always in atlases, and they aren’t always under the care of map specialists.

The problem is that there is a mismatch of knowledge between a specialist thief and the generalist rare book librarian responsible for curating the volumes he targets. Most maps were published in collections (atlases), which are normally kept in a map library. There, their financial value and hence vulnerability is fully understood. However, the rare maps of North America mentioned in this case (with cited individual values up to $500,000) illustrate printed books. A specialist thief, who has done his homework among the bibliographies, dealers’ catalogues and union lists of library holdings, knows the location and value of such highly saleable maps. It is hardly surprising that few generalist rare books curators will be aware of the easily removed maps dotted among many thousands of volumes in their care.

Arrest warrant: From Exlibris, a copy of Forbes Smiley’s arrest warrant, which provides details on the evidence and investigation. Via MapHist.

News coverage: The Harvard Crimson reports that Harvard librarians have not yet finished their inventory to determine whether any maps are missing. (While Smiley’s next hearing is scheduled for October 3, it’s likely we’ll hear more in the meantime if other maps turn up missing.) Lillian Thomas’s article for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (also reprinted here) details the ease with which maps can be stolen and the difficulty in tracing and preventing thefts; it’s a good introduction to the problem of map theft. Antiques publications are covering this story as well: see the Maine Antique Digest and Antiques and the Arts Online. Via, as always, Tony’s list of news stories.

See previous entries: Forbes Smiley Case: 10 Maps Missing at Boston Library; Forbes Smiley News Roundup; Map Dealer in Court Yesterday; Map Dealer Faces Theft Charges.

Antique Maps at HKUST

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology’s Antique Maps Database: “The Antique Maps of China collection includes more than 230 maps, charts, pictures, books and atlases. It represents almost all samples of China maps produced by European cartographers from the 16th to 19th centuries. This cartographic archive vividly records the long history of cross-cultural exchanges between China and the West.” The full-sized images are PDF files. Thanks to peacay for the link.

A9 Adds Maps

A9, Amazon’s search engine, has for a while had street-level photos as a feature of its local search service (“Yellow Pages”), at least for a few U.S. cities. They’ve now added maps — from MapQuest, no less: you can view their street-level imagery by choosing a location from a map. While this is another example of a search engine adding maps to enhance its local searches, it’s certainly not in the same league as the other contenders: the interface, for example, is far clunkier, as you might expect from a MapQuest-derived product, and its scope — putting street photos on a map, essentially an exercise in geotagging — is much narrower. See CNet’s coverage. Via All Points Blog and Cartography.

Flash Earth

Flash Earth presents Google Maps and Virtual Earth satellite imagery through a Flash application. Why a Flash application, you may ask? The creator, Paul Neave, explains why:

[T]he interface is much smoother to use. You get a sense of location because you can zoom in and out without the display being recreated. And you can rotate the map, something almost impossible to do using HTML and JavaScript (or AJAX if you know your web jargon), but a piece of pee with Flash.

Some don’t see the point of this (peacay thinks it’s cumbersome); I think it’s a neat enough trick. The Flash source is available here (30 KB zip file).

Alabama Maps

Alabama Maps is a big collection of maps from the University of Alabama’s Cartographic Research Laboratory, in three main sections: contemporary maps, which features maps generated by the laboratory; historical maps, a collection of digitized images of old maps (not necessarily limited to Alabama, but from Alabama based collections); and aerial photography, some quite early. Thanks to peacay for the link.

Forbes Smiley Case: 10 Maps Missing at Boston Library

The Boston Globe reports that 10 rare maps are missing from the Boston Public Library. The library began to check its collection after Forbes Smiley, a frequent visitor to the library, was arrested last month. See also this Boston Globe editorial (registration barriers may interfere in both links). [via]

See previous entries: Forbes Smiley News Roundup; Map Dealer in Court Yesterday; Map Dealer Faces Theft Charges.

iPod Subway Maps

If you’ve got an iPod with a colour screen, you can put subway maps on it. It’s a simple matter to put digital images on an iPod; where maps are concerned, though, it’s a challenge to make sure they’re legible on an iPod’s 220×176 screen. Available so far: Boston, Chicago, Hong Kong, London, New York, San Francisco and Washington, with more promised. Via Jason.

Forbes Smiley News Roundup

Tony Campbell is keeping tabs on news coverage of the Forbes Smiley court case here, and has asked to be informed of other reporting on this story.

For the sake of completeness, here are some earlier news stories on the Forbes Smiley arrest and court case, as compiled by Tony:

See previous entries: Map Dealer in Court Yesterday; Map Dealer Faces Theft Charges.

International Antiquarian Map Sellers Association

The International Antiquarian Map Sellers Association, founded in 2002 to “promote the professional trade in antiquarian, collectible maps and related books,” has a code of ethics; given recent events, see especially section 3. Not that professional sanctions have ever been all that effective where membership was not required (legally or practically) to conduct business.

Map Dealer in Court Yesterday

E. Forbes Smiley III, who was charged with stealing maps from a university library (see previous entry), was in court yesterday: he pleaded not guilty; his next court appearance is scheduled for October 3. More on the arrest from the Boston Globe: this article appeared the day of, and prior to, his appearance, and summarized the case for Globe readers. Via MapHist and All Points Blog. (Updated.)

GPS Tracklog and Buyer’s Guide

Rich Owings, author of GPS Mapping: Make Your Own Maps (Amazon, web site), reports that he’s started a new blog about GPS and mapping software called GPS Tracklog. Like The Map Room, it’s aimed at mere mortals rather than professionals.

He also says that my reader survey results (in particular, this question) inspired him to write a GPS buyer’s guide as one of the blog’s first entries.

A review of Rich’s GPS Mapping is forthcoming, and will appear once I’ve cleared most of the moss from between my ears.

Map Dealer Faces Theft Charges

When you read The Island of Lost Maps, a book about map theft by Miles Harvey, you get the clear impression that neither map librarians nor map dealers were comfortable admitting that map thieves existed in their midst — that they were cutting maps out of rare books in their libraries; that they were dealing in stolen property — to the point where some libraries wouldn’t even accept that maps had in fact been stolen from them.

The book’s focus, Gilbert Bland, was a marginal figure who seemed to come from nowhere. It’s a little different this time. According to the Hartford Courant, an established map dealer, E. Forbes Smiley III, has been charged with stealing maps from Yale University; three other libraries confirm that maps have gone missing after a visit by Smiley, and still others are checking their collections.

It’s especially troubling because Smiley was apparently well-integrated in map collecting circles — he helped amass what would later become the Slaughter Collection at the NYPL (see previous entry). The comfortable idea that map thieves were outsiders may well have been burst. From the article:

Although thefts of rare maps are not uncommon, librarians said Smiley’s case was unique — and especially unsettling — because of the position of trust he had achieved within the close-knit world of map collectors.
“In the past, the people who’ve stolen maps have been mainly outsiders - not properly professional,” [Peter Barber, head of map collections for the British Library,] said. “Forbes Smiley is disturbing because he is a member of the inner circle.”

In other words — to quote Sir Humphrey in Yes, Prime Minister — he was one of us. It’s important to maintain the presumption of innocence until proved guilty; having said that, if this is in fact true, this case does suggest that the dark underbelly of map collecting isn’t nearly so self-contained.

Essential surfing: Map History/History of Cartography’s Thefts of Early Maps and Books section, with lots of resources and links about the problem. The MapHist list was on top of this story early (serves me right for forgetting to subscribe).

Earlier coverage: Bangor Daily News, July 22; Martha’s Vinyard Times, July 14.

See previous entry: Map Thief Jailed.

Atlas of Language Structures

The World Atlas of Language Structures, in preparation, “will show structural features of languages in much the same way as linguistic data are displayed in dialect atlases.” I’ve seen German dialect atlases that show how words change from place to place; what they’re talking about is linguistic structures — for example, whether adjectives precede or follow nouns — which is more fundamental. The maps (1, 2) on the site are fairly rudimentary; I hope the final product is much more cartographically interesting. The Guardian has more; via Languagehat.

Interactive Nolli Map

Giambattista Nolli’s 1748 map of Rome was a masterpiece: it was detailed, accurate and eschewed the prevailing “bird’s-eye” perspective for an overhead view. Researchers at the University of Oregon has put together a major web site on Nolli’s map, complete with background and research papers. Most notable, though, is its map engine, a Flash-based application that allows you to superimpose layers on Nolli’s map, with adjustable transparency. But the best part is the satellite layer: make it semitransparent and see just how well Nolli’s map holds up, 257 years later. Thanks again to peacay.

Frederik den Femte’s Atlas

Frederik den Femte, King of Denmark between 1746 and 1766, had a map collection that grew to more than 3500 plates in 55 volumes. Denmark’s Royal Library has scanned these plates and made them available online; a plugin is required to see them at maximum resolution. From the site: “The plates show maps, city maps with descriptions, prospects of cities and castles, palace gardens, drawings of fortifications, of army dispositions and cannons, satiric engravings and much more.” Thanks again to peacay.

Reader Survey Results: Part One

Way back in April, I asked my readers to fill out a short survey; 120 of you did, which I thought was pretty good. It’s taken me some time to compile the results — which is putting it mildly, since it’s been four months. Chalk it up to procrastination, feeble Excel skills, and a busier than expected schedule.

For this survey, I eschewed the usual demographic questions like sex and income that advertisers like, and tried to limit my questions to those I thought I could make some use of, not just for advertising, but also to find out whether what I was posting was on-target, and whether I should be offering certain features. Mostly, though, I was curious about who was coming here: raw amateurs like me, collectors, cartographers?

I’ll present the results in two parts. What follows is the first part: a look at what my readers are like and what they’re interested in. In the second part, coming later, I’ll look at how you read The Map Room and what you think about it.

Continue reading this entry.

Google Maps Plugin for OS X Address Book

As I’ve mentioned before, there are several hacks out there to change the Mac OS X Address Book’s address-mapping feature from MapQuest to other mapping services. (See previous entries: Map Sites: Hints, Tips and Observations; More Address Book Hacks.)

The latest is the Google Maps Plugin, which adds contextual menu items for Google Maps rather than replace the “Map Of” menu item. Other than a one-time donation nag the first time, it works very slickly, and integrates well with Google Maps — the dialog box includes the contact’s name, for example. The interface for directions is nice, too. Macworld has a review.

Directions on MSN Virtual Earth

A week after the launch, Directions’s Adena Schutzberg takes a sober second look at MSN Virtual Earth, its features — including “Locate Me” and the Scratch Pad — and its (lack of) hacks. “While I tend to agree that for now MSN Virtual Earth is not ‘killer’ either as an end-user or developer platform, the potential is there. And, we are all aware that Microsoft has launched some very poor first efforts in its day and followed up with stronger and stronger entries.”

Ogle Earth

I don’t know how I missed Ogle Earth, but now that I’ve found it I’m keeping an eye on it. Written by Stefan Geens, with a mandate is to focus on Google Earth and its competitors, Ogle Earth has been very active during its month-long existence. If you’re dead interested in Google Earth, especially the technical side of it, you should be checking this site regularly.

Places and Spaces

Places and Spaces is an exhibit that’s been making the rounds, both online and in real life (it’s at Wikimania this weekend, for example). It compares and contrasts geographical maps with maps of less physical, more abstract things — cartograms, flowcharts, and other things I’m having trouble grasping. Maps can portray more than just geographic information, but I’m a little unclear about where a map ends and where a chart or graph begins.

Children Map the World: The Book

The Barbara Petchenik Children’s Map Competition has been running every two years since 1993; it’s an international award for maps made by children under the age of 15. More information is available at the International Cartographic Association’s Commission on Cartography and Children web site. Selections from past competitions are not only available on this site, they’re also available in a new book from ESRI Press, which Jeff calls the coolest book on maps and GIS in 2005. (Credit his post for setting this entry in motion.)

The fact that there is an international organization for children’s mapmaking boggles the mind. On the other hand, I’m sure I’m not the only one who spent hundreds of hours drawing maps as a child.

Question: Smaller World Aeronautical Charts for a Wall?

Readers have written in asking about wall-sized maps before, but Joe Thompson is looking for something a lot more specific. Actually, in his case, the charts he wants are too big; he’s looking for a way to make them smaller:

NOAA and the FAA publish so-called World Aeronautical Charts (WAC) which make for a beautiful wall chart (especially for pilots, since they include airport and airspace information, as well as topography and geo-political). But when combined, they are too big for my wall. I would love to find a source to buy high quality scans, that I could digitally stitch together, and then print, or have printed at half size.
I’ve searched, but can’t find an obvious source, either for a mapping service or just for the scans. Any ideas?

Presumably he’d be just as happy if he could find WACs at a smaller size without having to go through the digital rigmarole he envisions. Any tips?

See previous entries: Best Wall-sized World Map; Wall Maps and Atlases.

In-Car GPS Review

Slate has a review of five aftermarket GPS-based in-car, dashboard-mounted navigation systems, focusing on setup, screen size and, if you can believe it, how nice the robotic voices sound. None apparently stand out from the others in terms of accuracy of directions; which doesn’t surprise me, but I’m kind of curious to know whether they as a class are any good, or whether voice-actuated directions, as a concept, really work.

Preservation and Accessibility

According to this article, the USGS’s shift from paper to digital maps is generating all sorts of potential problems. Some of them are typically bureaucratic: figuring out which agency is responsible for archiving and preserving which data (and paying for it). But accessibility is a big one: not just whether the data is available (because it’s been preserved), but whether a local library can afford to buy the data and whether ordinary people will be able to understand it. From the article:

Librarians are particularly concerned about the National Map project. Government officials aren’t guaranteeing that libraries will have free access to the map, that previous versions of the map will be saved, and that librarians will be able to download and print at full size, Koepp said.

Via All Points Blog.

CSM Review of Why Geography Matters

David J. Smith — he of mapping.com — has a review in tomorrow’s Christian Science Monitor of former National Geographic Society editor Harm de Blij’s new book, Why Geography Matters, which apparently is an apologia for geography, geographic and cartographic literacy, and teaching geography, both in general and in the context of new global threats. From the review: “Climate change, terrorism, and massive population shifts cannot be fully grasped without a grounding in geography that US students are not currently getting, he contends.” Funny, I would have said the same thing about history.

New URL for All Points Blog

Directions magazine’s All Points Blog launched last February, and it’s become one of the best mapping blogs out there. I guess they could be considered the competition, in terms of us both being advertising-supported blogs, but we’re serving different niches: while I’m coming at the subject as an interested amateur, they’re much more on the professional side of things. Anyway, Directions announced today that they’re spinning off All Points Blog as a stand-alone web site, with a new URLallpointsblog.com — and a new design. There’s more than enough water in this pool, and I hope they succeed famously.

Blast Radius Map

This Google Maps hack is both informative and chilling: “HYDESim maps overpressure radii generated by a ground-level detonation; these radii are an indicator of structural damage to buildings.” In other words, it overlays the blast radius of a nuclear-grade explosion on a location displayed by Google Maps (it defaults to a 100-kiloton blast over Manhattan). Very well done, with many configurations and explanations. Via Boing Boing.

A Google-Powered Map Game

I’ve posted those interactive geography games and quizzes before, and I’ve posted Google Maps-based sites before, but I think that Find the Landmark is the first map game that is powered by Google Maps (rather than Flash). Here’s how Geoff Menegay, who developed it, described it to me:

A game that tests your knowledge of famous landmarks, and a few obscure ones. Also tests your ability to zoom and pan a Google Map to find the landmark in record time. Once you get tired of playing, you can spread the joy by submitting your own landmark for other people to try.

In practice, this is fiendishly difficult — almost too difficult. The user-submitted landmarks are sometimes so precise that you can’t find them unless you know the area by heart. It’s like Scavengeroogle or GoogleEarthing, but on a timer.