Archive for the ‘Google’ category

Searching Images: A Follow-up to my Creative Commons Experience

March 20, 2007

I recently posted about the Lost in Light project and how they transferred my family’s 8mm movies to DVD. I agreed to the CC license but I also want to make the films useful so I have been going through them and describing the scenes. For those who get past this paragraph, I will bore you with more details about the home movies. Right now I would like to discuss how I am approaching this project and the resources I am using. This sort of analysis is a good demonstration of the power of the Internet. Consider also that I am working with 50+ year old films and trying identify locations, events, and people. So far, I have spent quite a few hours on the first 18 minutes of one DVD. I now have a much greater appreciation of the photo analysis work done by our intelligence agencies. I don’t see how the sort of work I’m doing could be accomplished without the Internet.

Web resources I’m using

  • Google Web Search. Doing a web search generally leads me first to Wikipedia but I also locate other sites; most of which are travel related.
  • Wikipedia. A lot of the film is from Africa and many of the place names have changed. Wikipedia has been a great source for cross referencing old to new place names.
  • Google Image Search. This has been really helpful when I am trying to nail a specific location. It is also helping me develop skill in analyzing images. The scene in a photograph and the same scene in the film are more often than not seen from a different orientation, angle, and perspective. It is challenging to find out a common element. What I find on the Internet is considerably more recent than the movies and imagination is needed to compensate for the changes in building, vegetation, etc.
  • WikiMapia. I may use Google Earth later. Wikimapia didn’t require installing anything on the computer. My father shot some of the film from an aircraft and I’ve had a difficult time locating aerial shots on the Internet. One recent segment I was working with was taken from the air, over a city, in what looked like an approach to an airport. There were two features that stand out and I want to know what they are. More about this below.
  • YouTube. I haven’t actually used this resource yet but plan to. I am also thinking of posting some film segments on YouTube to see if anyone can assist with identification.

In addition to the web resources, I have my father’s flight records so I know where the plane was and when.
Here is an example of how I used some of the resources I described above. There is a segment of film where the aircraft is flying above a city and passing over what appears to be a park of some sort and a large geometric feature covering a lot of ground that I couldn’t immediately figure out. Following this segment, the scene shifted to the ground in Madrid, Spain. I used Google web search to look for parks in Madrid and was pretty sure I had found the Estanque del Retiro (an artificial boating lake) in the Parque del Retiro but all the views were ground level. I assumed that the scenes from the air were taken when the plane was on approach to the airport so I went to WikiMedia and searched Madrid Spain. The Parque del Retiro is in about the center of town and as I zoomed in, there it was. I had the DVD in the player and WikiMedia on the laptop and I was able to trace the flight path as they flew over the park. Obviously geographic features changed but many of the buildings had the same shape and it wasn’t difficult to orient. Assuming that the aircraft wasn’t going to make any sudden turns, I advanced the DVD and WikiMedia and quickly found the second feature which is the largest cemetery in Europe, Cementerio de la Almudena. Here are comparison shots from the DVD and WikiMapia

Cementerio de la Almudena from DVD

La Almudena from the air, 1953

Cementerio de la Almudena from Wikimapia

La Amundena from Wikimapia

Estanque del Retiro from DVD
Estanque del Retiro, 1953

Estanque del Retiro fromWikimapia

Estanque del Retiro, 1953


SirsiDynix SuperConference – Day 1

February 19, 2007

I worked the registration desk in the morning and missed the product overview session and UUGI Business Meeting so nothing to report about those events.

There was an interesting commonality about the two sessions I did attend.

First up was The Google Experience in which a systems person at Novo Nordisk, an healthcare company and leader in diabetes care based in Denmark, described how they responded to the user suggestion that they be more like Google. Basically they take their bibliographic information (25,000 records) and authority records out of Unicorn and put them into a Google appliance. From that they can build subject portals and provide a Google search experience for their users. There is a lot more to it than this brief description allows. For one thing, they do a lot of work on the authority records to allow them to provide subject groupings. They have more information in the Google appliance that the catalog information so the user has a much better opportunity to find everything on their subject within the Google intraweb.

The next session, Extracting XML from Unicorn with OAI and SRU, was presented by the head of automation at Universite Libre de Bruxelles Librarie. He described how OAI and SRU protocols were used to build a searchable union catalog from data in Unicorn. I can’t say that I followed the technical details but the end result was nifty.

So what is the commonality? In both cases information was taken from Unicorn, massaged, and presented to the user NOT using a vendor’s interface. We have products like Endeca and Primo (Ex Libris) that can sit on top of Unicorn data and homebrewed applications that use the data but not the interface and you have to wonder if this isn’t the future.

Google – Is there an end?

June 29, 2006

So Google has activated another service today, Google Checkout. It is analogous to Pay Pal. TechCrunch wrote about it here. How long do you think it will take before you receive your first phishing email asking you to verify your Checkout account?

Google also had a booth at ALA. If anyone attended ALA and stopped by, I’d love to hear how they pitched themselves to librarians (and did they have good loot).

Update:  Google says that they don’t want to be your ISP.  Read what Google says on Wired News.  It is an interesting follow-up on the reports they are buying dark fiber.
Have you looked at everything Google offers these days? With announcements spread-out you might lose track of all the other services they provide. Off the top of my head, here is what I use or have read about. You can Google Google to find more:

  • Google Desktop on my PC
  • We run a google Appliance to index the library’s website.
  • I have Google search box in my FireFox browser
  • I have two Gmail accounts
  • I have a Custom Google home page
  • I have a Google Calendar account (plus I have access to a shared calendar for an organization)
  • I have Google Talk (IM)
  • I check Google News
  • I’m a member of a Google Group
  • I’ve signed up to try Google Picasa Web Albums
  • Upteen different kinds of searches including Google Scholar for more academic search results and Google Catalogs so I can find another source for black t-shirts
  • I can view Lance Armstrong on the Charlie Rose show using Google Video
  • I can look for black helicopters using Google Earth
  • I can search the full text of books for references to Gerald Durrell using Google Books
  • From my Blackberry I can send an SMS message containing a search string to Google
  • Google is rolling out a WiFi network (in San Francisco right now) and buying dark fiber (ie unused) presumably to build a nation-wide, hight capacity data network
  • Google owns 79 billion billion billion IPv6 addresses. ZDNet has an article on this.
  • Google is exploring AI (artificial intelligence) search engines. Blogged here and here

You get the idea. Google apparently has no limits in its ability to regularly roll out new products. If I was a conspiracy theorist I might start thinking about Skynet from the Terminator movies. Remember the benign way it started. Hmm, can a Google Satellite be in our near future? Or maybe I would wonder if Google is the technology arm of the Illuminati. But I choose to be optimistic and hope that, like Jean Luc Picard (but not Locutus of Borg), one day I’ll just have to say, “Google, I need …”

There is an interesting article in Business Week Online that goes Inside Google’s New-Product Process that looks into Google’s apparent product development ADD.

Google Librarian Center

May 26, 2006

In an effort to work more closely with librarians, Google created the Google Librarian Center. They have a cool poster to show users how to more effectively use the search engine to produce better results. It would be nice if we had one for our catalog…