Google Earth unleashed

Google has released its long-anticipated geographic search tool, a new application that combines local search with satellite images and maps from around the globe, shortly after integrated worldwide sattelite view in its Google Maps.

Google Earth is a standalone application that’s essentially an enhanced and upgraded version of its Keyhole 3D satellite imagery product. As Google has done with several of its past acquisitions, the company has also made the application free to all users, dropping its annual subscription fee for the basic version.

Google Earth is designed to make it easy to “fly” to aerial views to an address, zooming, tilting and rotating, business search and driving directions. When exploring a location, you can turn on various layers of mapping information such as roads, dining, parks, and lodging.

Want to know how far is the train station from your home? Click on The “Measure” tool located under the Tools menu. You can even change the units of measurement.

With Google Earth, in 38 US cities, you can see buildings in 3D from “ground up.” You can activate the “buildings” layer on the bottom navigation panel. Tilt the screen in order to see the buildings in 3D. Similarly, the terrain is also mapped in 3D, meaning you can see mountains and valleys and canyons in Google Earth.

More info on Google Earth website and also here.

Only one conclusion: impressive!

MSN Virtual Earth (beta)

In the new mapping/satellite imagery frenzy, Microsoft launched this weekend its beta version of MSN Virtual Earth. First things first, Microsoft’s Earth is basically USA, with the rest of the world as we now it, not really covered, but, well, let’s give them credit and wait a little more on this, while it’s still a beta version.

Compared with Google Maps, I personally find it a little slower and most of satellite images a little blurried and darker, but I might have looked at the wrong places.

Considering the rumors around the web on this service, there’s more to come so all we have to do for now is wait for good things to happen:

The service is promised to provide:

  • Satellite images with 45-degree-angle views of buildings and neighborhoods
  • Satellite images with street map overlays
  • Ability to add local data layers, such as showing local businesses or restaurants

PS Microsoft is still playing its own hide-and-seek game, with Apple this time as pointed in a BusinessWeek Weblog and leaves Apple headquarters out of Cupertino. Here’s Google’s version.

UPDATE: Microsoft said its new mapping service, made available free during the weekend, was still in its testing phase and includes some older, black-and-white photographs from October 1991. Uhh, Mr.Gates, we’re in 2005, remember??

Technorati&IceRocket Tags: Maps, MSN Virtual+Earth, Google maps

Search Engines War…ming-up

Latest Nielsen report on first 15 search engines user reach in December reveals the warm-up of the top search engines war.

Even more than that, it seems that the beginning of the year opened up new war fields, in what would be Search Engine War V.

search engines user reach december 2004

As such, Google launched its Google Maps, Google Video Search, and also worth be mentioned the latest huge wave of Gmail invitations available. (Don’t forget also, the speculations that Google wants tto host Wikipedia to compete with MSN Search’s Encarta content and Yahoo, which accesses the Columbia Encyclopedia.)

Meanwhile, Yahoo included its Yahoo!Video Search in its frontpage and launched some beta tools: Yahoo!Contextual Search, Firefox Toolbar and Yahoo!Desktop Search.

We shouldn’t forget as well, the coming out of beta of MSN Search Engine which is accompanied by Microsoft’s biggest online campaign ever, with TV, print and outdoor placements in 25 countries. If we add to all these AskJeeves’s launch of MyJeeves beta, recent aquire of Bloglines as well as its plans to spend more than 40 percent more on marketing in 2005 than it did last year it’s obvious that we’re having a full war going on here.

UPDATE: Things happen as we speak on this subject. After the all-around spreaded rumours of a potentially Mozilla-Google collaboration that, after all, ended up with key Mozilla volunteers working now for Google, and the browser showcases Google search in its interface there’s it seems that Ask Jeeves and the Mozilla Foundation have begun discussions on the twin possibilities of a Firefox-based Jeeves browser and of donating Jeeves’ desktop search technology to the open-source grou. (via CNet Ask Jeeves mulls Firefox-based browser)

2005 worldwide cost of living survey

Surprisingly, I would say, Bucharest is the least expensive European city in 103rd place in the 2005 worldwide cost of living survey released a couple of days ago by Mercer Human Resource Consulting.

Mercer’s survey covers 144 cities across six continents and measures the comparative cost of over 200 items in each location, including housing, transport, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment. It is the world’s most comprehensive cost of living survey and is used to help multinational companies and governments determine compensation allowances for their expatriate employees.

Tokyo remains the world’s most expensive city, followed by Osaka, according to the study. London moves down one position in the rankings to take third place, followed by Moscow which also drops a place this year. Asuncion in Paraguay is the least expensive city in the survey. New York remains the most expensive city in North America, at 13th position in the rankings .

Microsoft Geeks on Future of MSN Search

If you are interested in an insight into the future of search, search engines, online advertising, there’s an interesting interview of Robert Scoble with two of the geeks who work on making MSN Search better: Andy Edmonds, lead program manager, and Erik Selberg.

It’s a pretty big download to do, 213MB for a 57 minutes video, but it’s totally worth it, as Scoble puts it:

They talk about how the engine works, and what they’re doing to beat the competition. Watch me give them a bit of heck about being behind the other major engines. You’ll enjoy this frank talk from the team.

Scoble is part of the Channel9 MSDN Videos team producing educational and evangelist mini-films targeted towards students and professional developers.

PS For the fun of it, check out the browser that Microsoft geeks are using 🙂 The best one, of course: Firefox.
microsoft geeks using firefox browser

Tags: , , , ,

Romanian Banking System

Bank Austria Creditanstalt released an interesting monitoring report on banking markets in South Eastern Europe, analyzing banking sectors reform and progresses in 7 countries in the region: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, FYR Macedonia, Romania and Serbia Montenegro.

Here are excerpts from the Romania – Knockin’ on EU’s door, chapter:

Although Romania has made impressive progress in reforming its banking sector, the banking system’s efficiency still lags that of developed market economies, highlighting the necessity to press forward with reforms, especially in view of the country’s upcoming EU membership.

With foreign banks’ already dominant position expected to rise further and markets becoming increasingly saturated, fiercer competition among banks is expected to trigger a further wave of consolidation via mergers and acquisitions, which bodes well for further efficiency gains.

Download the full: Banking in South-Eastern Europe – On the Move (PDF, 1.5MB). Via:

Tags: , ,

Google Steps in Fighting Splogs

Following the latest buzz in the blogosphere, spam blogs in the system, Google steps in and address the issue.

Here is an excerpt of the article Google: Kill Blogspot Already, that started all this buzz:

Suggestion, Google? As bold as this might sound, you should institute an authentication system – a captcha of sorts – for every single post that gets sent through your Blogger service. This means that there’s no more easy rides for the idiots out there who are killing your baby and the blogosphere. The user logs in, enters their post, then has to jump through a captcha hoop – much like commenters have to do on these days. It’s a simple suggestion, and one that you really, really, really, REALLY oughta consider.

As such, Google followed the suggestion and introduced captchas word verification, for posting or editing posts in blogger system.

Blogger Captcha

Blog Tracker from Technorati

Checking the referrals on one of my blogs this morning I stumped upon a curious link to which lead me to a login page titled Technorati Blog Tracker.

Blog Tracker by TechnoratiSo, is Technorati preparing to launch a blog reader/tracker? I checked the net around only to find a couple of references on the subject. First, was a Business Week online’s interview with David Sifry, Technorati’s CEO, in which he mentioned something about a new service that was supposed to be launched in August:

we’re unveiling a new service in August that’s currently in beta testing that’s geared toward professionals — people who need a deeper view of a company or its products, such as PR people, people in marketing or advertising, financial analysts. [Basically,] people who need to track buzz, how it changes over time, who are the influencers who is talking about their company or their product. These will be subscription products

Also I found some other references on the subject in Joseph Scott’s Blog and Datamining. I am, honestly, looking forward on this, as recently launched Google Reader is quite disappointing and Bloglines seems to be stuck in terms of providing more customization or functionality to its service.

Tags:, ,

State of the Blogosphere, October 2005

David Sifry of Technorati posted the State of the Blogosphere as of October 2005. While it’s true, the data and graphs are referring to the blogs monitored by Technorati only, the information resulted are pretty interesting.

  • the blogosphere doubled again in the beginning of October, reaching 19.6 Million weblogs
  • the scary splog (spam blogs) phenomenon seems to be not that scary, at least not yet, with only 2 to 8 percent of new weblogs fake or spam blogs
  • London bombings and Katrina keep the top posting days in history so far, each with numbers of daily posts more than double than the US Election day last year, and Live 8 event is placed third.
  • The blogosphere is now over 30 times as big as it was 3 years ago, with no signs of letup in growth
  • About 70,000 new weblogs are created every day
  • About a new weblog is created each second
  • Between 700,000 and 1.3 Million posts are made each day
  • About 33,000 posts are created per hour, or 9.2 posts per second
  • An additional 5.8% of posts (or about 50,000 posts/day) seen each day are from spam or fake blogs, on average

You can find the link to the full PPT file presented by Sifry at the Web 2.0 on October 6, 2005, here.

Tags: , , , , ,

Edleman/Technorati Bloggers Survey

Edleman/Technorati joint survey, regarding blogger’s relation with public relations, are out.

The survey asked bloggers questions related to how PR companies can get the relationship right, how PR companies can help them rather than annoy them, how can improve the conversation, how can earn their trust. The survey questiones 821 bloggers from 53 countries, half of them (54,81% from US, 3 answers from Romania).

Some interesting results from the study include:

  • 34% of bloggers blog to increase their visibility as an authority, 32% do it to create a record of their thoughts – so a majority do it for their personal image
  • Executive bloggers are only half as believable as employee blogs – that makes for an interesting argument against CEO bloggers and in favor of employee blogs!
  • When looking for product information, bloggers tend to trust way more other bloggers (62.85%) than company website (26.19%), corporate blog (6.09%) or company press releases (4.86%).

See full results of the study here. (via)

Tags: , ,