Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Google Maps Mania - The Japan View

Google Maps Mania - "The Japan View"

nagoyan is back from Japan with this guest-post to let us in on all the cool stuff happening with Google Maps there!

Hi, this is nagoyan the earthhopper from Japan. Space Shuttle Discovery crews enjoyed one extra day with mostly free time in the space, so do we - to tracking them for one more day. We are all happy they just successfully landed. Welcome back home!

Anyhow, here we go for today's topics from Japan.

GoogleMapsEditor - the must have tool for dummies

I know many, many people just want to make their own maps. But learning Google Maps API is so hard for non-geeks, even it's called revolutionary simple. So you may go to MapBuiler.net to make one, but here is another excellent tool from Japan.

GoogleMapsEditor is a Windows application to generate make your own Google Maps Mashup without any knowledge of Google Maps API.

- No CGI/PHP etc required at hosting server. Only a HTML file to be uploaded and works
- Generate Coordinates from Google Maps for each placemarks
- Manage placemarks by Filemaker-like database
- Data is restored in XML format.
- CSV files are importable

GoogleMapsEditor - Screenshot 2
A screenshot of placemark data entry - see detail notes on flickr page

It's good tool to make a quick map for any purpose. Here is my little sample by GoogleMapEdior for U.S. Military Bases in Okinawa, Japan.

U.S. Military Bases in Okinawa Japan

Note: Map and Satellite images are misaligned for about 450m in Okinawa due to the datum issue. Placemarkes are aligned on map side. US Military bases there, occupying 18% of this island where 1.2M people lives, are painted in light gray color on Google Maps sourced from Zenrin. BTW, don't surprise if you find McDonalds' or Seven-Eleven logo marks on Google Maps.

The bad news for most of you is it's currently Japanese only at Beta 5 (requires .net Framework1.1), even it's carefully developed for multi-langueges. Google Group forum is good place to reach donadona the developer.

GPS Mobile to track yourself on Google Maps - with path line
(Cut and paste this to view if the link does not display the map: http://web.sfc.keio.ac.jp/~usuyu/map/gmaps/gmaps.htm)

Now you know mobile Google Maps Mashup is red-hot here in Japan. naokki's hack of Google Local/Maps for WILLCOM mobile phone now supports au's GPS phone. Now, not only to check what's around you, but you can track yourself for your family..

"Where is Uz?" - (Cut and paste this link to view if the map does not display: http://web.sfc.keio.ac.jp/~usuyu/map/gmaps/gmaps.htm) is created by Uz to track himself. He made a little website with a cgi to keep getting coordinates info from his au GPS phone, and convert it into XML format to pass into his Google Maps Mashup automatically - with the realtime path of his every steps.

Uz ima doko Maps
One day, he walked around his Keio Univ. SFC campus

He can file each tracking record like above, and even link a icon on the map to his blog entry with coordinates embedded photo.

So he just access a web to let people know where he is, and terminate the access when he want to stop it. That's quite reasonable.

Growing Restaurant Guide Map by Ramen Noodle Enthusiasts around nation

Ramen Noodle is originally came from China almost 100 years ago, but it eventually grows up with originally reproduced recipes everywhere in Japan, and now re-exported to China as Japanese style noodle dish. I have never met a human being who hates ramen noodle in my lifetime. Ramen enthusiasts are everywhere, including Soichi Noguchi, a Space Shuttle Discovery crew, who brought anti-gravity ramen noodles to space flight this time, even asked Nissin Food for his favorite taste! I am sure he's eagerly got everybody up there try a bite.

With tens of thousands ramen restaurants around the nation, people always need better guide with better map, with non-biased opinions.

The Ramen Database is a quite unique guide among guides, as ramen fans register their own favorite restaurants, and add their impressions and evaluations to grow the database. So the number of the star-shaped placemarks on its Google Map Mashup are growing day by day while all postings are RSS feeded. If you select a shop, the competitions nearby are automatically listed with distance information. Small Google Maps window is shown for each restaurant page, with comments, ratings, and even trackback URL.

Ramen Noodle Database - Ramen Map 1

Ramen Noodle Database - Ramen Map 2

The business websites with good maps surely gather more customers, so folks should act now.

That's all for today,

nagoyan the earthhopper

Interested in contributing as a Google Maps Mania regional contributor? The criteria is simple - you must be able to provide commentary on Google Maps related activities in languages other than English. With an interest for all things Google Maps and maintain your own blog which contains Google Maps related postings. If you think you fit the bill, drop me a line by emailing the address listed under "Contact Info".
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