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Posts Tagged ‘Portland’

Google Outs 3D Maps For iOS Ahead of Apple

July 26th, 2012 07:53 admin View Comments

Google

hypnosec writes “Apple announced during WWDC 2012 that it is going to ditch Google maps and bring out its own under iOS 6. So, Google started working and in fact raced ahead of Apple in providing 3D maps for iOS. Through a blog post, Google announced that it has now made 3D imagery available on its Google Earth for iOS app. Users of iPhone 4S, iPad 2 or new iPad, while using Google Earth for iOS app, will feel that they are virtually flying over cities.The feature, as of now, works only for 12 regions. Cities for which the 3D imagery is provided are from US with an expectation of a city in Rome. The U.S. cities include: Boulder, Colo., Boston, Charlotte, N.C., Lawrence, Kan., Long Beach, Calif., Los Angeles, Portland, Ore., San Diego, Santa Cruz, Calif., Tampa, Fla., Tucson, Ariz., and San Francisco, plus its East Bay and Peninsula neighbors notes the blog post.”

Source: Google Outs 3D Maps For iOS Ahead of Apple

Man Who Protested TSA By Stripping Is Acquitted By Judge

July 19th, 2012 07:26 admin View Comments

Security

AbrasiveCat writes “In an update to an earlier Slashdot story, the Portland Oregon man who was arrested after stripping naked at a TSA checkpoint at Portland Airport was acquitted of indecent exposure charges. He successfully argued that he was protesting TSA actions, and his actions were protected speech under the Oregon Constitution.”

Source: Man Who Protested TSA By Stripping Is Acquitted By Judge

Black Death Discovered In Oregon

June 16th, 2012 06:02 admin View Comments

Medicine

redletterdave writes “The Black Death, a strain of bubonic plague that destroyed nearly a third of Europe’s entire population between 1347 and 1369, has been found in Oregon. Health officials in Portland have confirmed that a man contracted the plague after getting bitten by a cat. The unidentified man, who is currently in his 50s, had tried to pry a dead mouse from a stray cat’s mouth on June 2 when the cat attacked him. Days later, fever and sickness drove the man to check himself into Oregon’s St. Charles Medical Center, where he is currently in ‘critical condition.’”

Source: Black Death Discovered In Oregon

52 Changes to Google in April: Smarter, Local & More Relevant

May 23rd, 2012 05:34 admin View Comments

Every month, Google makes tons of tiny changes to the way search works. It shares them in company blog posts that present a list of carefully scripted bullet points with mysterious code names in an inscrutable order. Google never comments on the changes beyond these announcements, but it’s always informative to spread the puzzle pieces out on the table and see what Google is up to. Here’s what changed in April.

We thought there were a lot of changes in March, but April was even bigger. Google changed 52 things about its search algorithm last month. As usual, you don’t need to worry about a bunch of them. But the most interesting of the latest search changes fall into three important categories.

Smarter

The more Google can guess (correctly) what we’re looking for, the faster we can find it. Google is getting better at untangling our spelling mistakes, interpreting our meaning and answering our questions.

One update helps Google interpret your intention by looking at your last few searches. If your first query doesn’t find what you’re looking for, your next try will be improved by the signals Google got from that last one.

The feature that automatically searches for the corrected spelling of your query is now available internationally. A separate change will decrease the number of bad spelling suggestions for international users. Another suppresses the number of unhelpful “did you mean?” suggestions. Google also now makes more spelling corrections for queries longer than 10 terms.

Many of April’s updates extended smarts that were already available in English to other languages. Currency conversion has been improved in Turkish, news results in Serbian got a better presentation and SafeSearch signals were improved in Russian.

SafeSearch is the setting that lets the user decide how much explicit content shows up in search, so Russian users will be glad that’s improved. The overall SafeSearch models were improved, too, with special attention paid to videos and images.

Local

Google is always trying to improve the local flavor of its search results. That helps Google connect users with their real-world intentions to go out and do (and buy) things, and that’s what makes Google’s ads worth buying.

In April, Google improved localization of search results by language and country. A change with codename “ImpOrgMap2″ made it more likely that a query would find a site for an organization from one’s own country, such as mexico.cnn.com for Mexico, rather than cnn.com.

You can now find the time of sunrise and sunset internationally with a quick Google search.

Local searches in the U.S. now have better autocomplete predictions. Google expanded autocomplete to cover the whole long tail of U.S. local search queries, including addresses and small businesses.

If you search for places and include location terms (like “Pok Pok restaurant Portland”), a change called “onebar-I” increases the likelihood of getting a navigation result at the top. This will be handy for mobile searches. Google also improved HTML5 resource caching, which means that mobile pages will load faster.

More Relevant

If search results aren’t relevant, nothing else matters. Google is constantly tweaking its definition of relevance, and April’s updates include some major improvements and some much-needed fine-tuning.

Google has been trying to figure out the right way to adjust search results for “freshness,” especially for topics where new content is important, such as breaking news stories. The initial freshness efforts were too aggressive, and now it has more granular rankings, so the freshness of a page affects its search ranking more gradually.

The freshness signals were also improved, and pages that Google deems to be of low quality for other reasons no longer get a boost for freshness.

Google also increased the size of its whole base search index by 15%, which means that your search queries now look through 15% more objects on the Web. Google is constantly tweaking the size of its index, but this is a big adjustment, so it earned a mention in Google’s summary.

Universal Search results got lots of improvements in April. Google News results that appear in search got a new appearance. Chinese, Korean and Japanese users now get movie times right in their Google searches. There are new Major League Baseball, La Liga (Spain’s main soccer league) and Formula 1 racing search features that show swanky box scores in search. The NHL feature, which was already available, has been improved to show up more often when relevant.

Japanese and Korean users got better support for “soft 404″ error pages. A page that returns valid text but only says something like “page not found” is not the same as a page that’s really missing, so Google needs to know not to index those and show them.

But best of all, Google took a variety actions last month against sites that game the system. Under codename “Spam,” Google improved its ability to detect sites that indulge in keyword stuffing. This was part of a broader effort to stop search spam by various high-level algorithm changes.

Images via Shutterstock.

Source: 52 Changes to Google in April: Smarter, Local & More Relevant

Electric Airplane Ready For Production

May 2nd, 2012 05:28 admin View Comments

Transportation

MrSeb writes with news about a production ready electric-hybrid airplane. From the article: “… The four-passenger carbon fiber aircraft isn’t really an electric plane but more of a plug-in hybrid plane, much like the Chevrolet Volt. Whatever it is, the Volta Volare aeronautics company of Portland, Oregon says the plane can travel 300 miles on battery power, then a 1.5-liter gasoline engine engages and extends the plane’s range to 1,000 miles. The company sees the plane being attractive for its low cost of operation and its environmental friendliness. Aviation gasoline is typically leaded fuel, which has been gone from motor vehicle fuel since the 1980s. On a 200-mile trip in a comparable four-passenger gas-engine private plane, you’d burn $80 worth of avgas, while the electricity to carry the GT4 200 miles would cost only $20 — nice savings, but perhaps a little inconsequential when the plane itself is expected to cost around $500,000. Testing begins this spring on the Volta Volare GT4.”

Source: Electric Airplane Ready For Production

Matt Groening Reveals Springfield Is In His Home State of Oregon

April 11th, 2012 04:50 admin View Comments

Television

First time accepted submitter TheSeventh writes “Simpsons creator Matt Groening has revealed the location of the real Springfield: It’s in Oregon. In an interview with Smithsonian magazine, Groening credits the name to the hit TV show Father Knows Best. The show ‘took place in the town of Springfield, and I was thrilled because I imagined that it was the town next to Portland, my hometown,’ he says. ‘When I grew up, I realized it was just a fictitious name. I also figured out that Springfield was one of the most common names for a city in the U.S. In anticipation of the success of the show, I thought, ‘This will be cool; everyone will think it’s their Springfield.’ And they do.’”

Source: Matt Groening Reveals Springfield Is In His Home State of Oregon

Can OpenGeocoder Fill the Platform Gap Left by Google Maps?

February 26th, 2012 02:32 admin View Comments

OpenGeocoderlogo.jpgHow do machines understand what place you’re talking about when you say the name of a city, a street or a neighborhood? With geocoding technology, that’s how. Every location-based service available uses a geocoder to translate the name of a place into a location on a map. But there isn’t a really good, big, stable, public domain geocoder available on the market.

Steve Coast, the man who lead the creation of Open Street Map, has launched a new project to create what he believes is just what the world of location-based services needs in order to grow to meet its potential. It’s called OpenGeocoder and it’s not like other systems that translate and normalize data.

Google Maps says you can only use its geocoder to display data on maps but sometimes developers want to use geo data for other purposes, like content filtering. Yahoo has great geocoding technology but no one trusts it will be around for long. Open Street Map (OSM) is under a particular Creative Commons license and “exists for the ideological minority,” says Coast himself in a Tweet this week. And so Coast, who now works at Microsoft, has decided to solve the problem himself.

This has been tried before, see for example GeoCommons, but the OpenGeocoder approach is different. It is, as one geo hacker put it, “either madness or genius.”

The way OpenGeocoder works is that users can search for any place they like, by any name they like. If the site knows where that place is, it will be shown on a big Bing map. If it doesn’t, then the user is encouraged to draw that place on the map themselves and save it to the global database being built by OpenGeocoder.

OpenGeocoderpic.jpg
Above: The river of my childhood, which I just added to the map.

Every single different way a place can be described must be drawn on the map or added as a synonym, before OpenGeocoder will understand what that string of letters and numbers means with reference to place. Anyone can redraw a place on the map, too.

Then developers of location-based services can hit a JSON API or download a dump of all the place names and locations for use in understanding place searches in their own apps. It appears that just under 1,000 places have been added so far. It will take a serious barn-raising to build out a map of the world this way. It wouldn’t be the first time something a little like this has been done before though.

“If only it was that simple :(” said map-loving investor Steven Feldman on Twitter. “Maybe it is?”

The approach is focused largely on simplicity. Coast said in his blog post announcing the project:

“OpenGeocoder starts with a blank database. Any geocodes that fail are saved so that anybody can fix them. Dumps of the data are available.

“There is much to add. Behind the scenes any data changes are wikified but not all of that functionality is exposed. It lacks the ability to point out which strings are not geocodable (things like “a”) and much more. But it’s a decent start at what a modern, crowd-sourced, geocoder might look like.”

Testing the site, I grew frustrated quickly. I searched for the neighborhood I live in: Cully in Portland, Oregon. There was no entry for it, so I added one. But there are no street names on the map so I got lost. I had to open a Google Map in the next tab and switch back and forth between them in order to find my neighborhood on the OpenGeocoder map. Then, the neighborhood isn’t a perfect rectangle, so drawing the bounding box felt frustratingly inexact. I did it anyway, saved, then tried recalling my search. I found that Cully,Portland,Oregon (without spaces) was undefined, even though I’d just defined Cully, Portland, Oregon with spaces. I pulled up the defined area, then searched for the undefined string, then hit the save button, and the bounding box snapped back to the default size, requiring me to redraw it again, on a map with no street names. Later, I learned how to find the synonym adding tool to solve that problem.

In other words, the user experience is a challenge. That’s the case with Wikipedia too, and OpenGeocoder just launched, but I expect it will need some meaningful UX tweaks before it can get a lot of traction.

I hope it does.

That’s just my experience so far, though. Not everyone feels that way. GIS geek Paul Wither calls it “addictive.”

There are certainly high hopes for the project, too.

“I’m obsessed with the need for an open-source geocoder, and this is a fascinating take on the problem,” says data hacker Pete Warden about OpenGeocoder. “By doing a simple string match, rather than trying to decompose and normalize the words, a lot of the complexity is removed. This is either madness or genius, but I’m hoping the latter. The tradeoff will be completely worthwhile if it makes it more likely that people will contribute.”

Coast will certainly be able to gather the attention of the geo community for the project. As we wrote when he joined the Bing team 18 months ago:

Coast is a giant figure in the mapping world. In 2009, readers of leading geo publication Directions Magazine voted him the 2nd most influential person in the geospatial world, ahead of the Google Maps leadership and behind only Jack Dangermond, the dynamic founder of 41-year old $2 billion GIS company ESRI. Coast will turn 30 years old next month.

The more I play with OpenGeocoder, the more it grows on me. I hope Coast and others are able to put in the time it will take to make it as great as it could be.

Source: Can OpenGeocoder Fill the Platform Gap Left by Google Maps?

The Holy Grail of Rich Location Data Made Easy With new SDKs from Geoloqi

February 23rd, 2012 02:30 admin View Comments

geoloqi_150x150.jpgThe holy grail of mobile geo-location services is persistent, aware, real-time data delivered straight to your device. It is incredibly difficult to pull off. Especially if the idea is to, “give you vision beyond the Greek gods.” Accuracy, battery life and location-aware push messaging are hard to build and even harder to implement on a scalable basis.

Portland-based startup Geoloqi thinks it can pull it off. The startup is aiming to give rich location data to enterprise and government customers through a release of a new SDK for Android and iOS an API. The idea is to turn complicated real-time location-aware data into a platform that developers can drop into any app.

amber_case_geoloqi.jpgGeoloqi’s goal is to disrupt the first generation of location services, according to founder Amber Case. That means the Foursquares of the world are put on notice. The Geoloqi platform will provide cross-platform SDKs that are mobile carrier agnostic. It can track location in real-time and provide analytics on users and their location data and history. Enterprises, retailers and government agencies can create geo-fences, push messages and visitor metrics.

Right: Amber Case

The biggest innovation for Geoloqi may be its battery saving properties. Case said that in a couple instances the company wrote the code that connects a device its backend infrastructure was written in binary code to make it as lightweight as possible.

“Some of the systems that we have added to build or extend out the systems we have to actually make it work, in some of the cases we have actually written it down in binary so we can actually get a small enough packet size off the phone connecting to the server so we can reduce the battery life drain and have less connections. The server architecture, which is a custom-server architecture is scalable to our base,” Case said.

After Geoloqi launched it rapidly found that its clientele was not going to be end-users and fellow mobile developers. Enterprises and government were the most interested parties because that is no easy system for creating location-aware real-time data.

“We are not selling an app, we are selling a platform system. So, if an enterprise or a retailer already has an app location, it just allows them to just plug it in and have location taken care of,” Case said. “People really wanted to add these aspects to their apps and carriers understood that their existing enterprise and government customers were asking for something more real time and they were not able to provide it. So, they started calling us up and asking for a sort of hybrid solution so they could better serve their existing customers.”

The dream of location-aware data is “The Starbuck Dilemma.” In the Starbuck scenario, a user walks by one of the popular coffee houses and their device will recognize where it is and send a push-notification to the user. It is a mix of geo-fencing, push and real-time marketing that is delivered straight to the user’s pocket. There is power in proximity marketing.

geoloqi_tracking.jpg“The key story in this place is that I want to go by Starbucks and have a location-based message. That story has been there for 20 years but it is very difficult to implement,” Case said.

As a platform, the intention is for customers to build on top of Geoloqi to provide the type of data location that the first generation providers cannot deliver. The next step is to provide analytics on top of that and enable enterprises targeted marketing like never before.

“We are really focusing on enterprise. This might be a silly analogy but what Salesforce did for CRM, making it really easy and painless for the enterprise, we want to do that for the enterprise for location and really make a bridge between that old guard of location services and real time, much higher functionality, much higher resolution location services,” Case said.

Source: The Holy Grail of Rich Location Data Made Easy With new SDKs from Geoloqi

Coffee & Power’s Dream Of The 2020s Is Alive In Portland

February 17th, 2012 02:53 admin View Comments

coffeepowerpdx1.jpgCoffee & Power‘s third workclub is set to open in Portland, Ore. at Urban Grind, a favored ReadWriteWeb remote workplace. The San Francisco-based “meta-company” runs its first workclub there, and a second one opened under its own power (and coffee) in Santa Monica, Calif. in December.

Portland will now be the third front in Coffee & Power’s campaign to provide an economic backbone for the new normal: remote, independent, project-based work. Whether you’re a Web developer, a costume designer or a little bit of both, Coffee & Power provides a network for job listings, discovery, trust and payment. The workclubs provide coffee, power and space for everyone’s work and collaboration.

coffeeandpower150.pngCoffee & Power’s mission speaks to me. How can any remote worker not be excited by the prospect? It was co-founded by Philip Rosedale, creator of Second Life, no stranger to experimental, online economic models. After a brief run with its own virtual currency, Coffee & Power has now switched to dollars and focused on ways to be the new office for independent workers working for each other.

“We’re working on how to give Coffee & Power workers health insurance,” Rosedale tells me, “and we think it’s solvable, too.”

Coffee & Power is an online job board for people to post work they can do and work they want done. It processes the payments and maintains the reputations. It also operates in physical co-working spaces, called “workclubs,” as hubs for this activity.

coffeepowerpdx2.jpg

While Coffee & Power itself works on raising funds, hiring developers and building out its network, co-working spaces are lining up to volunteer to put its signs in their windows. It’s a great way to attract creative, coffee-hungry workers to your establishment, and it’s an almost-no-cost expansion of Coffee & Power’s mission.

Portland is a place full of freelancers, contractors, artists and artisans, and we need a support system like this. After covering Coffee & Power for a few months, I introduced its leaders to Dian Crawford at Urban Grind in the hopes of opening a workclub here. I’m thrilled that this worked out, and I’ll be working from Urban Grind even more often now.

Today I visited Urban Grind and talked to Dian about the partnership:

(I’m sorry that this video is so small. I shot it in portrait mode like a fool.)

The new Portland workclub at Urban Grind launches on March 14 at 6:30 p.m. The event will feature Scott Kveton, CEO and co-founder of the Portland-based mobile platform service provider, Urban Airship. I am so bummed that I can’t make it, because I’ll be on a plane back from SXSWi. But in case you need more evidence that Portland’s tech future is bright, you should stop by.

coffeepowerpdx3.jpg

Photos by Tovah King

Source: Coffee & Power’s Dream Of The 2020s Is Alive In Portland

Coffee & Power’s Dream Of The 2020s Is Alive In Portland

February 17th, 2012 02:53 admin View Comments

coffeepowerpdx1.jpgCoffee & Power‘s third workclub is set to open in Portland, Ore. at Urban Grind, a favored ReadWriteWeb remote workplace. The San Francisco-based “meta-company” runs its first workclub there, and a second one opened under its own power (and coffee) in Santa Monica, Calif. in December.

Portland will now be the third front in Coffee & Power’s campaign to provide an economic backbone for the new normal: remote, independent, project-based work. Whether you’re a Web developer, a costume designer or a little bit of both, Coffee & Power provides a network for job listings, discovery, trust and payment. The workclubs provide coffee, power and space for everyone’s work and collaboration.

coffeeandpower150.pngCoffee & Power’s mission speaks to me. How can any remote worker not be excited by the prospect? It was co-founded by Philip Rosedale, creator of Second Life, no stranger to experimental, online economic models. After a brief run with its own virtual currency, Coffee & Power has now switched to dollars and focused on ways to be the new office for independent workers working for each other.

“We’re working on how to give Coffee & Power workers health insurance,” Rosedale tells me, “and we think it’s solvable, too.”

Coffee & Power is an online job board for people to post work they can do and work they want done. It processes the payments and maintains the reputations. It also operates in physical co-working spaces, called “workclubs,” as hubs for this activity.

coffeepowerpdx2.jpg

While Coffee & Power itself works on raising funds, hiring developers and building out its network, co-working spaces are lining up to volunteer to put its signs in their windows. It’s a great way to attract creative, coffee-hungry workers to your establishment, and it’s an almost-no-cost expansion of Coffee & Power’s mission.

Portland is a place full of freelancers, contractors, artists and artisans, and we need a support system like this. After covering Coffee & Power for a few months, I introduced its leaders to Dian Crawford at Urban Grind in the hopes of opening a workclub here. I’m thrilled that this worked out, and I’ll be working from Urban Grind even more often now.

Today I visited Urban Grind and talked to Dian about the partnership:

(I’m sorry that this video is so small. I shot it in portrait mode like a fool.)

The new Portland workclub at Urban Grind launches on March 14 at 6:30 p.m. The event will feature Scott Kveton, CEO and co-founder of the Portland-based mobile platform service provider, Urban Airship. I am so bummed that I can’t make it, because I’ll be on a plane back from SXSWi. But in case you need more evidence that Portland’s tech future is bright, you should stop by.

coffeepowerpdx3.jpg

Photos by Tovah King

Source: Coffee & Power’s Dream Of The 2020s Is Alive In Portland

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