Mapping the Global Ebb and Flow of Oil

The U.S. has imported millions of barrels of oil every day for more than three decades — but the flow of dollars and fuel has fluctuated over time. How to illustrate such a massive amount of trade over time? With a new map from the Rocky Mountain Institute and Google.org, which visually lays out all the data related to the oil imported into this country from 1973 onward. Admittedly, we always love a good map (101 Cleantech Startups, Biofuels Deathwatch or Coal Deathwatch, anyone?), but this one ranks among the infographic elite. Note, it’s only a screenshot that follows below (thicker lines mean more oil produced or imported).

rmi-oil-mapFrom the Google.org blog:

The map highlights 5 eras of oil consumption, from the oil shocks of the 1970s to the price collapse in the 1980s to recent events including Hurricane Katrina and gas approaching $5 per gallon before retreating rapidly recently. (You can see these selections by clicking on the buttons below the map on the RMI website.) One interesting time period is from 1982 to 1985, when low prices caused oil imports from the Middle East to decline to very low levels. The map also looks at potential oil from offshore drilling and exploration of the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

Google Maps Outage. Did You Lose Your Way?

Google Maps LogoMy friend Esme Vos, who runs Mapplr, emailed to let me know that she was having problems with Google (s GOOG) Maps, which she has been using as an engine to power her mapped social guides. Others have complained about similar problems on the Google Maps Discussion Board. The situation was supposedly resolved later in the day, but the question is why did Google, which had time to talk about the fact that it had doubled the coverage of its street view, not mention the outage — which outraged so many of its users — on its blog(s). It is amusing to see how Google, a company that owns Blogger and runs and operates dozens of PR blogs, doesn’t like to talk about issues and problems unless it can spin them.

Marry Address Book With Google Maps

Apple’s Address Book is a clean and concise way to manage all of your contacts. It does what it needs without a bunch of frills, and for the most part, that’s a good thing. My use of Address Book is fairly infrequent — and by infrequent I mean that it’s pretty much only utilized around this time of year when I have to send out the annual newsletter or photo card of the kids.

Recently when my younger sister moved into the Big City and sent her ritzy new Manhattan address around to all of us, I entered it into Address Book like a good boy, and promptly forgot about it. It wasn’t long after that my lovely wife wanted to know about the new City digs, but I didn’t know a whole lot. So being a good nerd, I copied the address from Address Book and then copied it into a Google Maps session in Firefox to see what the area looked like. That’s when it hit me — why should I have to go through such a process?!
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BlackBerry Bold: Upgrading Your Mobile Experience


As a Canadian I have been in the fortunate position of having experienced a BlackBerry Bold since its launch on Rogers in late August.
It’s not simply a new smartphone or “replacement” for an older BlackBerry. The Bold, finally available at AT&T, is a game changer when it comes to not only exchanging information but also its role in both your personal and business life.
So what drives this new mobile life?
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3TIER Mapping World’s Solar, Wind and Hydro Resources

It seems like we can find almost everything we need through Google Maps — even the best place to put a new wind farm or a solar power plant. Renewable energy prospectors can now assess potential sites with the click of a mouse using 3TIER’s high-resolution maps of the earth’s solar radiation, wind speeds and hydro power capacities. The company showed off its new seamless, high-resolution solar map of the western hemisphere this week at the International Solar Power conference.

3TIER is working on mapping the entire world with its “REmapping the World” initiative which it hopes will help developing countries assess their renewable energy resources and “leap frog” past fossil fuels. Many of the places that need renewable energy the most don’t have the resources to synthesize millions of satellite photos. 3TIER offers a free look on their web site for consumers and sells comprehensive, custom full site analysis reports, complete with GIS data layers to energy developers.
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Google Maps for Mobile Announces New Features, Unless you Have an iPhone

Google Maps continues to improve their mobile version, and this week they announced some nice new features. Alas, just like last time, these aren’t immediately available for the iPhone. You may remember the iPhone 1.1.3 update in January 2008. Google Maps got a few new features, including the cell tower triangulation location approximation, a feature that had already been available for other Google Maps users since November of 2007.

In this new version of Google Maps, Google brings street view to the phone as well as business reviews and walking directions. All of these are very nice updates to an already great application, but I believe Street View is going to get the most attention, and it’s the feature iPhone users will be pining for. Personally, walking directions would be super-helpful. It’s happened a number of times where I’m traveling to an unfamiliar city, want to walk somewhere, but get weird directions from Google Maps because of a bunch of one-way streets.
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AOL Seeks Directions for a MapQuest Facelift

MapQuest isn’t the shiniest online mapping service. It isn’t the most accurate or the coolest. It is so old school…well, you get the drift. Apparently, that hasn’t deterred over 47 million people who check out the service every month and make it one of the top 20 web sites on the planet.

Well, it is time for MapQuest to get a much-needed facelift. But the AOL subsidiary isn’t getting a makeover in the traditional redesign way: The service is entering a three-month long beta that will experiment with boosting usability of the site. In a conversation, Mark Law, Mapquest’s VP of product development, said the team is working working hard to layer the MapQuest data with content that is helpful to direction seekers.

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Amazon Makes a Giant VOD Move

Amazon introduced a Video on Demand store today, and in one fell swoop may have turned the world of home video on its head. The new store will stream 40,000 movie and television programs for rent or purchase directly to Internet-connected TVs or set-top boxes or PCs. This move will be felt throughout the industry.

Delivery: Similar to the Roku, Amazon will stream video directly into your home. The New York Times, which broke the story, does not mention anything about HD capabilities for the service. Given the cruddy state of bandwidth in this country, streaming could pose a problem in homes with multiple people online, but after tasting the sweet simplicity of streaming through the Roku, I’m convinced this is the way to go.

Storage: In an innovative twist (and one that would make GigaOM and Mark Cuban swoon), Amazon stores this video cloud on its end. Pull the content down only when you want, and if you purchase a movie, Amazon holds it for you — and you can access it on any connected device you own. While it’s supposed to help prevent piracy, I think a bigger advantage is that now your purchase should never get outdated by being in an old format.

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Google Maps Gets YouTube Video

Google Maps now offers embeddable videos from YouTube, giving local businesses a new way to show off their goods. Companies listed in Google’s Local Business Center can upload a video to YouTube and have it associated with their expanded listing in Google Maps.

Now, local businesses can offer virtual tours of their facilities, post product demos, or as TechCrunch’s Erick Schonfeld put it, any small company can essentially put up its own TV commercial.

Google Earth added YouTube video last year, so this expansion to maps is no surprise.

But the big winner from this announcement is TurnHere, a company that creates custom videos for its clients. Not only is this another reason for local businesses to make enticing, professional-looking video, but the example used by the Google Maps blog is a listing for I Dream of Cake, featuring a video created by TurnHere.

WMWifiRouter: still lets your 3G phone be a hotspot, but it will cost you

Wmwifirouter_2Back in December we shared news of a free application that lets you use share the wireless broadband connection of your Windows Mobile handset with other WiFi devices. Essentially, your phone becomes a mobile WiFi hotspot with WMWifiRouter.The application was featured as a Freeware of the Moment and now you’ll see why that category is defined by the “moment”. WMWifiRouter is no longer free: a license will set you back $29.98, although if you have a need to share that connection, I think the price is reasonable for the functionality. Early adopters can hit use a promo code upon checkout, which will knock the price down to $22.48 so if you need this function now is a good time to buy. To run the app, you’ll need Windows Mobile 5 (AKU 3.3) or 6 and the Internet Connection Sharing application that comes with Windows Mobile. Check carefully if you have that application because some folks that watched our videos on how to use your phone as a modem over Bluetooth with a Mac or a PC mentioned that they didn’t have it. Although it’s part of Windows Mobile, it’s optional and some carriers have removed it.(via IntoMobile)