5 Amazing Google Street View Mashups You Need To Try
If you’ve ever used Google Maps (which I assume you have), you will know all about Street View. But did you also know there are many cool, funny and useful Street View mashups that let you do more than just view the street? Personally, I’ve always heard these mashups existed, but never really took the time to check them out. After exploring some really cool Google Earth mashups recently, I decided it was high time to see what could be done with Street View.
I’ll tell you this – I wasn’t disappointed. Turns out you can do anything from playing games to reading tweets right on top of Google Street View. The only downside with most of these services is that they require Flash, and some also work better in Chrome. Aside from that, you’re in for an adventure!
Streetview Zombie Apocalypse
Streetview Zombie Apocalypse is a game played on top of Google Street View, which challenges you to run away from zombies in your own neighborhood, or any other location you choose. You start by entering a location, and then proceed to navigate your way around the streets, trying to escape the zombies. And they’re quick. You can’t see yourself on the map, which makes it a bit hard to get oriented, but all the red tags you see on the top right corner are zombies. Stay alive as long as you can!
Note: the game is highly experimental, and might crash at any time. It also works better on Chrome, but I’ve managed to get it working on Firefox as well.
Peugeot RCZ View
This is not much more than a Peugeot commercial, but it’s a really cool one. in RCZ view, you get to drive a Peugeot RCZ sports car on any route you choose. Well, you don’t actually get to drive it, but you get to sit there and feel as though you’re driving it. Just enter a starting point and a destination, or choose one of the provided routes, and watch the magic happen. I didn’t expect much from this one, but it’s actually cooler than expected, especially if you pick a route you know well. It is stop motion, but it’s fast enough to feel almost real!
Stweet is an artistic mashup between good old Twitter and Google Street View. Choose a city from the dropdown menu, or enter your own location at the bottom. Stweet will then show you a geo-tagged tweet, with a Street View image to match. Stweet refreshes automatically every few seconds, so you can sit there and watch tweets appear on top of places you know, or entirely new places you’ve never been to. A fun little project that gives you a glimpse into other people’s lives through more than just text.
Global Genie is a Street View mashup that takes you on a journey to different parts of the world. From the list on the right you can choose the continents that interest you most, and then click on “Teleport” to let Global Genie carry you off to some random spot. You can set Global Genie to automatically update every 10 or 30 seconds, or teleport yourself manually. On the bottom right, you can see your location on a map, to get a better idea of where you are. Great for discovering places you’ve never seen before, without the hassle of actually looking for them.
Geosay is an interesting project, which connects things people are saying on Twitter, Foursquare and other places to locations on a map, and yes, to Street View. When you first look at Geosay, the concept is not very clear, but you soon start discovering what people are saying very close to where you are, and that’s when it becomes interesting. Simply let the app use your current location, or enter a location manually. Geosay will present a map of the place, along with what people are saying near that location. You can click on “Streetview” to look at the actual places.
There’s another neat trick you can do with Geosay, and that’s looking at landmarks from Wikipedia. To try this, find a Wikipedia page of a landmark you’re interested in, and then paste the following in your address bar:
http://geosay.com/#!wikipediastreetview=[URL of Wikipedia page here]
This will usually show a street view of the landmark, along with what people are saying around it. Pretty neat!
Discover More Places
Didn’t get your fill? Do you want to discover more places using Google Street View? Check out these 6 Websites To Do Some Virtual Globetrotting With Google Street View.
Let us know in the comments if you know of some other cool Google Street View mashups we missed!
Take Control of Your Computers With Switch Shutdown Manager [Windows]
The act of shutting down or rebooting a PC seems like such a simple task doesn’t it? When you’re done work at the end of the day, you choose “shut down” and you’re done until Monday morning. If only the rest of the world of IT were so simple, right?
For those that manage computers and servers, shutting down and rebooting takes on a whole new life. When people have problems, IT techs are often quick to ask if they tried rebooting. It’s not because they’re lazy, it’s because they know that rebooting a PC fixes nearly 90% of the most common issues out there.
In fact, in the field of IT, the ability to reboot a PC or server from anywhere in the company or even from outside the company can mean the difference between fixing a problem from the comfort of you own home, or having to drive in to work to reboot that machine. Not a fun proposition.
Thankfully, there’s a really cool tool called Switch that does nothing more than lets you remote reboot or shut off a computer. Okay, I lied, it does a whole lot more than that, but on the surface that’s all it appears to do.
Using Switch To Maintain Your PCs & Servers
So here’s the bottom line about Switch in just one sentence – it gives you the flexibility to schedule regular maintenance reboots, remotely restart servers or PCs when there are problems, and it lets you actually detect problems and instantly respond to them without any user input required. Now it sounds a lot more interesting, doesn’t it?
You install a license of Switch onto the server or PC that you want to monitor and manage remotely. It allows you to do this by installing itself as a “server” on your PC, available on port 2388 of your host. Here, you can see that I have Switch running on my machine, and this machine can be accessed from anywhere on the network. I had zero issues with this software running alongside my antivirus software.
If you notice any problems, you may need to make an exception for it in your AV software. If you are using this software in a Corporate environment, you can access it from home by dialing in via VPN and then connecting to the host using port 2388 as shown above. Similarly at home, you could set up your own VPN to connect in from the Internet.
In its simplest form, Switch basically gives you the ability to connect to that machine using your web browser. On the Dashboard for that PC or server page, you’ll see the dropdown list with the shutdown, reboot, or sleep options as well as the option to delay before those choices.
But that is just scratching the surface of what this software can do. If you scroll down the dashboard page, you’ll see where you can “Add” new switches. This is where the juicy stuff resides. When you click on “New” you’ll go to a new page where you can configure when and how you want this PC or server to reboot, shut down or go into sleep mode. You can have as many “switches” set up as you like, which means you can configure an entire set of circumstances where the computer will essentially perform its own maintenance.
What do I mean by this? Well, for instance, maybe you’re running this in a Corporate environment where Corporate headquarters issues regular Windows patches and some PCs that don’t have regular users, like multi-use kiosk PCs, may never get rebooted. Switch lets you either go in and reboot remotely, or you can just set up the PC to regularly reboot once a month or so, and you never have to worry about a post-patch reboot on that PC again.
Another really cool feature that I like for my laptop is the “Low Battery” switch option. This is useful for those times when you accidentally leave your laptop sitting at home, turned on, and unplugged. Rather than let the battery run down to absolutely nothing and potentially have a hard shutdown that could affect the hard drive, you can set up a switch so that when it detect a certain low battery percentage (say 20%), it’ll automatically shut down or go to sleep mode – your choice.
Oh, and here’s another really cool feature – the “Ping” tool. This Switch allows you to have the computer automatically perform a regular ping to some URL or IP address. When the Ping fails, you can have the computer reboot.
So, why on earth would you ever want to do this? Well, if you think about it, this is a good way to constantly monitor the network connection, or even the Internet connectivity of a server or device. If you have a critical PC or server that has to have a good Internet or network connection, this will allow you to instantly detect problems and then perform a reboot that will hopefully resolve the connectivity problem.
It also allows a nice delay so that it’ll only reboot if connectivity is lost for up to a certain amount of time, like 30 minutes or an hour. Rebooting doesn’t always fix the problem, but anyone in the IT field knows that very often it does, and it can save you a lot of downtime if the computer automatically tries that option without your intervention.
Another feature of Switch is the ability to ensure a certain process is running. If it isn’t, you can reboot the PC so that it kicks off upon startup again.
This can be really useful for servers where you have a single critical process serving lots of clients. That service has to be up 24/7, and when it’s down, the server is essentially serving no purpose. It’s a paperweight. You know the service launches upon startup, so why not just have the server reboot itself, restart the service on its own, and the connectivity issues your users experience just went down dramatically.
The Dashboard page gives you an overview of overall uptime for that system (time since last reboot), and a list of all of your configured switches.
Switch also provides you with a logging feature that you can use to make sure that all of the switches you set up are working as desired.
The service also comes with a nice login security feature so that only you, the administrator, have the ability to configure and monitor the switches.
Another really cool feature is e-mail notifications, where you can receive an email every time one of the switches is triggered.
This is a nice way to have an overview of the activity for all of the computers where you’ve installed switch – so basically you get to sit back and be an IT superhero without exerting very much effort. Isn’t that what every IT administrator dreams of?
What do you think of Switch? Is it the sort of app that you see could be put to good use at home or in your Corporate environment? Give Switch a shot and let us know what you think in the comments section below!
Image Credit: Electric Switch On-Off Via Shutterstock
Apple Upgrades iBooks And iBooks Author [Updates]
As part of its much-anticipated iPad mini release event on Tuesday, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook also demonstrated the update of the iOS iBooks app and version 2 of the multimedia and publishing application, iBooks Author. Cook noted that more than 400 million iBooks have been downloaded since the release of the iOS iBooks reader.
iBooks Author is a Mac-based professional and consumer-based authoring software for creating textbooks, cookbooks, history books, picture books, etc. that can be downloaded and read on the iPad. iBooks Author now incorporates multi-touch widgets, interactive photo galleries, 3-D objects, as well as text, and the books are sold through the app in the iTunes Store.
The latest update of iBooks Author includes new themes for portrait-only books, custom fonts and control over text appearance, new Scrolling Sidebar and Pop-over Widgets, support for mathematical expressions with new native equation editing using both LaTex and MathML notation, automatic optimization of media for the iPad, additional Apple-designed templates, and much more.
Cook also showcased coming new features to the iBooks reader, which now supports more than 40 languages — including Korean, Chinese, and Japanese. All downloaded and purchased iBooks books will now be archived on users’ iCloud account, as well as a feature for syncing to the last page read between devices.
The iBooks 2 Reader is available for free download from the iTunes Store, and iBooks Author is also free on the App Store. Authors can publish and upload their approved iBooks to the iBooks Store and make them available for purchase.
All About Email: Who, When, Why, What, How? [We Ask You]
Where would we be without email? It’s a means of communication that is simple, fast, and free, and it’s one that most people use on a daily basis. From POP3 to Web mail, from home computers to smartphones, the way we use email has changed considerably over the decades, and yet it remains as popular as it ever was.
Email is one of those things that we generally take for granted. It exists, and it makes our lives easier (as long as the inbox is kept from getting full, and spam is kept at bay), and yet most of us don’t spend even a moment thinking about email. It’s time for you to do just that, and then let us know your thoughts on the subject.
This Week’s Question…
All About Email: Who, When, Why, What, How?
This week’s We Ask You is all about email. Literally. We want to know the who, when, why, what, and how of your email habit. Yaara recently conducted a poll to discover how often you check your email, and this is your forum for revealing everything else about your personal use of this particular form of communication.
Who do you email? Is it primarily family, friends, or acquaintances?
When do you email? Are there occasions when only email will do?
Why do you email? Is it your preferred method of communication?
What do you email? Important messages, friendly greetings, or spam?
How do you email? Is there one email client you always use?
In case none of those questions pique your interest enough to make you comment (and how could that possibly be the case), then feel free to offer up one of your own, along with an answer, of course. As long as it relates to email then it’s more than welcome.
All comments will be digested to form conclusions in a follow-up post next week where we will detail what You Told Us. One reader will be chosen for the coveted ‘Comment Of The Week’, getting their name up in lights, the respect of other readers, and 150 MakeUseOf points to use for Rewards or Giveaways (as long as they are registered when making said comment). What more motivation than that do you need to respond?
We Ask You is a weekly column dedicated to finding out the opinions of MakeUseOf readers. The questions asked are usually open-ended and likely to start a conversation. Some are opinion-based, while others see you sharing tips and advice, or advocating tools and apps to fellow MakeUseOf Readers. This column is nothing without you, as MakeUseOf is nothing without you.
Image Credit: Horia Varlan
Barnes And Noble Retail Store PIN Pads Hacked In The US [Updates]
Barnes and Noble has been hacked, and not in the way we are so used to seeing in this Internet-fueled world. Attackers have actually hacked the PIN pads at retail stores. When a customer used one of the hacked credit card terminals, attackers were able to get access to credit card numbers and PIN codes for debit cards. In all, 63 retail locations around the United States were attacked.
Barnes and Noble has since stopped using those PIN pads at all 700 of its retail locations. It would appear that B&N is taking precautions in case any other locations were hit by the attackers. Barnes and Noble has enlisted local law enforcement and federal government to investigate what exactly happened with this particular attack.
Barnes and Noble made an official statement on the situation that helps put these attacks in a little bit of perspective. “The tampering, which affected fewer than 1% of PIN pads in Barnes & Noble stores, was a sophisticated criminal effort to steal credit card information, debit card information, and debit card PIN numbers from customers who swiped their cards through PIN pads when they made purchases,” the company said in its statement.
Barnes and Noble says that any purchase made online or through its Nook devices are safe, and that only customers who swiped cards at one of the retail locations are at risk. Barnes and Noble says they are working with “banks, payment card brands and issuers to identify accounts that may have been compromised.”
The tampered PIN pads were found in California, Connecticut, Florida, New Jersey, New York, Illinois, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.
Image Credit: Credit card and card reader via Shutterstock