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Anything on Google Maps can be reviewed

Some Angry birds soft toys crammed into a drawer. Photo credit: Kazuya (Kaz) Yokoyama on Visualhunt

Sometimes I don't need to think of an interesting idea for a blog post and spend time grappling with language and spelling and clearly conveying my point. Sometimes I can just find stuff and put it up.

Like today. I'm not sure I knew this before now, but everything on Google Maps can be reviewed. Here are some I've come across recently. I present them unedited for your consideration.

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Getting lost with Google Maps

Somewhere in the world, yesterday

Continuing my intermittent series of 'possibly interesting things I saw on Google Maps', here's a question - what's the limit of the 'directions' feature?

For example, can you get driving directions from any place in the world to any other place in the world, as long as both places are on the same land mass? Spoiler: no.

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Does Google maps hate Birmingham?

Britain with a big magnifying glass over it.

I read something recently that suggested good content had provocative titles, which on closer inspection boiled down to phrasing them in the form of a question. That way you can also get away with titles that are complete lies, but draw people in, such as "does Facebook poison orphans?". I think I may have a promising future ahead of me in tabloid journalism.

Anyway, back to the point. Have you ever noticed how Google maps at certain zoom levels displays some places but not others? Have you ever wondered how they decide which places to show? Well, okay, probably not, but I have, so let's have a look at that.

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A simpler interactive HTML map

The world, beautifully rendered by my hasty hand

Making a map interactive on a webpage has always been a bit of a pain. The basic problem is that elements on a webpage are rectangular, whereas countries and regions of the world are, well, lots of different random intersecting shapes. Clicking on a part of the map and turning that into a meaningful location isn't so hard, but highlighting regions when you hover over them is more difficult.

There's various ways around this problem, from the simple (using an imagemap) to the complex (licensing some complex SVG plugin). But how about good ol' fashioned straightforward HTML, CSS and JavaScript?

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Google maps movie and tv quiz

Screenshot from streetview of a fire station, copyright Google

Who likes the new Google maps? I'm not sure. It seems a bit slower than the old one. It's probably doing more stuff, but from a user perspective I can't see anything particularly worth the trade-off. And what happened to 'search nearby'? Way to take out the most useful feature, Google.

But enough of that. Who wants to play spot the thing from a movie on street view?

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