Google Earth

Wow! Wow!! WOW!!!

Take Google Maps, add a slick user interface and a lot of functionality, and you’ll get Google Earth.

Warning: You will spend a lot of time with this program. I’ve already located all the places I’ve ever lived, my friends’ and family’s houses, places I’ve worked, and our most recent vacation spots. Oh, and “flown” between them all.

Did I say “wow”??

How to Make a Memory Map

So you want to make a memory map, but don’t know how? Here’s a simple guide.

  1. Go to Google maps.
  2. Zoom in to the area you want. There are two easy way to do this:
    • The first method is to enter an address in the search field on the Google page. Google will display a map with a red flag marking the address. Unfortunately, the flag may not be in the exact right place (or you might not want the flag; I don’t know how to get rid of it short of starting over). Click the “x” to close the address bubble.
    • The second method is to double-click on the map where you want to display. This centers the map on that location. Then use the zoom tool on the left to zoom in. You can double-click or click and drag anywhere on the map to move the map around.
  3. Change to the “Satellite” view by clicking the link on the upper right.
  4. Fine tune the position and zoom to display the area you want. The scales of the map and satellite pictures are slightly off.
  5. Capture the screen. Pressing Alt-PrtScn copies an image of the active window into the scrapbook.
  6. Paste the captured screen in an image editor. I prefer to use IrfanView.
  7. Crop the picture.
  8. Save the picture to your computer.
  9. Upload the picture to Flickr. I recommend adding the tags “memorymap memory map” and something to do with the location.
  10. Edit the picture’s title and description. Press “save.” Flickr will now display all of your pictures.
  11. Select your new picture by clicking on it. Flicker displays it with some tools at the picture’s top edge.
  12. Click on the “add note” tool and enter some descriptive text about a location on the picture.
  13. Before pressing “save,” click and drag the square that appeared in the upper left of the picture to the correct location on the picture. You can move the square’s corners around to change the square’s size.
  14. Press “save.” If you need to change the note’s text or the location of the box after you press “save,” just move your mouse cursor over the box and click. You can now edit the note and move the box.
  15. Add more notes. You’re having fun now… :-D

While writing this guide, I made my third memory map.

Memory Maps

What do you get when you combine satellite photography with annotations? Memory maps.

We can thank Matt Haughey for creating the first (?) memory map using Google Maps new satellite view and Flickr’s photo sharing and annotation. It’s so easy that I made my own memory map.

The idea is contagious; a Flickr group (or two) has formed around the idea.

Hat tip: lifehacker.

Iraq’s Election Map

We’ve all seen the red state/blue state maps of the 2004 US presidential election. Last month, I linked to a version that attempts to compensate for population density.

Patrick Ruffini has created the Iraqi election result map. Visit his site to see a larger version and some political analysis.

Hat tip:


You’ve seen the maps. They were popular immediately after the election to show how the electoral votes were to be cast. They’re still popular on certain conservative web sites to advocate how “red” the country is, especially the maps that show the votes by county, instead of by state.

Unfortunately, these maps tend to obscure the election results. For example, Nevada, with its 27 red voters appears to outweigh the 27 gazillion blue voters in the geographically much smaller area of Los Angeles.

The true picture is much more complex. Michael Gastner, Cosma Shalizi, and Mark Newman of the University of Michigan attempt to show the 2004 presidential election results without distortion by intentionally distorting the map. Areas on the map represent similar numbers of voters with the color shading representing the ratio Republican and Democrat votes.

So, what’s the point, you may ask. It’s up for grabs — literally. The people that vote are sufficiently close in number that elections can go either way.

Update: I changed the title from “We’re not that divided”to “Unbalanced?” The original title contradicted the article. Re the question mark: with only 50% of qualified voters actually voting, it’s hard to treat elections as zero-sum games. Expanding the vote still seems to be a valid way for either major party to win.