Where hasn’t Google been?


Recent events have probably drawn more interest and, hopefully, inquiry about our world. 

I know that I was hit this morning.  I was reading about the arrival of some refugees in Windsor. 

‘I just want to live a normal life, a safe life’: Syrian refugees arrive in Windsor

It was another important feel-good story of how Canada is embracing some of those who have left their homes.  In the middle of the story, the report indicates that the London Diocese had supported people from “Syria, Iraq, Eritrea”.  Eritrea?  That was a new county to me.  So, I did what seemed natural.  I asked Google Maps to find it for me on its world map.

Got it.

My next step was to take a look around using Streetview. Out I dragged the Pegman and nothing turned blue which is the usual indication that there was imagery.  Was Google Maps broken?

So, I went somewhere I knew that there had been images – Windsor – yep, it’s working.

So, back to Eritrea.  Still nothing.  I ended up dragging Pegman around a number of countries close by and noticed that some had been well mapped and others not at all. 

Now, inquiry is getting the best of me.  Obviously, there are some places that had been mapped and others not.  What about world-wide?

This wasn’t going to be as easy as I thought.  I zoomed out as far as I could with Google Maps and just couldn’t fit the entire world on one screen.  Maybe I need a bigger monitor?  Doing things, I also realized how North American centric my mind was.  Every world map that I’ve ever seen has North American on the left and Europe/Asia on the right.  Ditto for South American and Africa.  And, Australia is always way over there on the right.  Probably by logistics, we see bits and pieces of Antarctica but that’s about it.  If I was a student in Australia, what would a world map look like there?

For this experiment, since I couldn’t get the entire world on the screen at once, I decided to carve it up into pieces.  Even that was difficult since I couldn’t get the entire continent on the screen at once.  Time to play with the zoom on my screen in addition to the zoom in Google Maps.  Pegman got really small!  But, I knew where it should be and the cursor still changed to a grabby hand so I was able to pull it out for this purpose.

At this resolution, except for a thumbnail concept exploration, the maps aren’t particularly helpful.  If you’re looking for actual streetview imagery, zooming in rather than zooming out is a much better strategy.  Try hitting Ouellette Avenue in Windsor, for example, from this distance.

But the visual is so interesting.  Probably not for what is mapped but for what isn’t.

Some of the reasons are easy.  In northern Canada, there just aren’t any roads to map!  But, is that the only reason for the rest of the world? 

 

Obnoxious


I sure didn’t go looking for this expression but when I found it, it fit and was used perfectly.

I use an advertising blocker in my Browser.  My current choice is uBlock Origin. There are lots of them available and I’ve tried a few of them.  I’m fascinated with how they work.  When you have a slow internet connection like I do, it’s a real time saver.  Without it in place, you can actually see the browser start/stop as advertisements pop into place. 

I was actually doing some research when I found the term.  I had reached a web page where there was a banner that said something to the effect “It looks like you’re using an Ad Blocker – please consider whitelisting this site”.  I will admit to whitelisting some of my favourite sites because I know that it may be the only form of income that they have, I value the service that they provide and the writers that provide the content.  This research did lead to some interesting reading.  One of the articles, in particular, talked about the increasing aggressiveness of some advertising and it used the term “obnoxious” to describe it.  I thought it was an interesting choice of words at the time but, after this morning, I totally agree.

I was checking my Twitter feed and there was a news story that was of particular interest.  I was reading on my iPad.  Of course, Twitter is only good for 140 characters and a link.  I clicked the link in my Twittelator app and the in-app browser partially loaded the newspaper app and then it crashed.  So, I did what any rational person would do – I loaded it again, expecting different results.  Nope.  Crash.  So, I loaded the website directly in the newly released Firefox browser.  It took forever to load.  Forever is probably not accurate but in the digital world, I think we all know what I mean.  In among the few stories that appeared, there was advertising after advertising.  They just kept coming.  Eventually, they stopped and I started to scroll to find the story.  The browser struggled trying just to scroll down the page.  The advertisements seemed like my browser was full of slideshows.  Then, a pop over advertisement appeared in the middle of the page and it kept scrolling down the page with me.  There was a teeny little red X in the corner which is the universal sign for closing the window.  Either it didn’t work or I have fat fingers because I tried it a few times but kept clicking on the advertisement under it.  I finally scrolled to a spot where there wasn’t an advertisement and the X just didn’t work.  I finally gave up.  Absolutely obnoxious.

In my browser folder (I collect browsers), there was a copy of the Adblock Browser.  I loaded it and went to the website and it displayed like a charm.  I was curious and so really did spend the time to view the site in both browsers.  By my estimates with my ruler and my wife’s quizzical looks, 45% of the screen was devoted to advertising.  It would have been more except I didn’t know how best to factor in the pop over advertisement so I left it out.  Wow!  Then, I decided to give Firefox another chance and went to the site using the privacy mode.  It seemed to do a bit better job although I now noticed that the same advertising appeared three times on the opening page when I scrolled down.  Then, Firefox crashed.

By now, I was on a mission so I visited the website in my desktop browser and uBlock Origin indicated that it had blocked 26 requests.  Is that obnoxious or what?

In part of my original research, there was a great deal of concern expressed by content providers about ad blocking software and the financial effect that they will have on the industry.  As we know, some ad blocking software will accept payment from some advertisers to allow the content to go through.  The articles indicated that this is only the beginning as advertisers start to consider their options. 

I understand and probably wouldn’t be using blocking software except the sheer volume of advertisements on some sites, the tracking cookies that they provide, and how some of the advertising can take longer to load than the story that you’re trying to read.  So, at least for the time being, this software will be kept in place here.  But, like all things technical, you know what the industry will get caught up and we’ll be looking at something new in the future.

Just wondering


In this day when we celebrate inquiry and curiosity, good questions are so important.

Over the weekend, I discovered the Wonderopolis website.  I just know that it will be of so much interest to classrooms where discovery rules the day.

I was hooked when I stumbled into this…

Now, I’ll formally admit this.

I had never wondered or even thought about this.  As a dog owner, maybe I should.

The answer, as researched and provided by the site, can be found here.

As I tend to do, when I’m very interested in a web resource, I’ll spend a great deal of time poking around and exploring.  I most certainly did that here.  There are so many good questions/wonders that you can’t just stop at one.  And, if you can’t find what you’re looking for, there’s an opportunity to ask your own questions.  It’s like having your own personal research assistant.

Here’s how it works.

I was impressed with how Wonderopolis uses the best read/write web tools to stay in contact.  Subscribe to the Wonder of the Day via email, social media, or put a widget (iframe format) on your website/wiki.  You can even connect to other classrooms using the service.

Get started by exploring the wonders already answered and imagine just how you’re going to use this in your classroom.