Friday, July 9, 2010

Google Geek - Using Google in China

My name is Ron Hall.
I live at the Funny Farm.

Been a while - almost 3 months. So what adventures have I been on .......

Family trip to China with friends. We adopted a baby girl from China about 13 years ago, the group we went to China with has become like a second family. We pledged to the authorities we adopted through in China (and to ourselves) to keep China in the girls upbringing. This year, after much planning (over a year) we went back (with another couple from our group and their daughter) to tour China for almost 4 weeks, and to revisit the orphanage.

So having morphed into the Google Geek since our first trip (our daughters are older than Google), I set up a website (Google Site) - Trip journal template to track our trip.

The site uses many Google offerings - integrating them smoothly, many of them set up when I chose the template. We "collaborated" on the site content - 3 owners from various locations.

Set up was sweet, worked fine during organization/lead up to trip, once we landed in China -

No access.

However, where there is a will there is a way. Stay tuned for more...

Friday, April 30, 2010

Google Geek - KML Developer Market Place

My name is Ron Hall.
I live at the Funny Farm.

Well it is obvious I have been doing something else besides blogging. Been knee deep in a number of Google based projects - 3D models, working on some Google Earth Gallery content pieces, set up another wiki , been doing a bunch of face to face contact work/demos.

One of the big news items is that Google Earth Outreach placed me into their  Developer Market Place site.(if you check link scroll down) Latest Google earth newsletter talks more about it. No worries about giving up my day job yet.

Also been very busy working on a proof of concept pilot program - Citizen Mapping - involving using a host of Google products to empower local citizens to monitor various ecological related issues. Will provide a link when I get it going.

Well just wanted to report something for the month of April.

Make it a good day.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Picasa Web Albums-" Scrapbooking" on Steroids

My name is Ron Hall.
I live at the Funny Farm.

When people ask me what I do I generally preference my reply by saying "I have an unusual skill set". For over 20 years my wife and I were successful general contractors. We built and renovated golf courses. One of the holdovers from that time are some great "boy toys" - several pieces of heavy equipment. Have used them to work on the Funny Farm over the years. I have one daughter, but these pieces are my "sons".

Given my new interests and the fact that there is less for them to do around  here - I have been selling them off. Doing this all on my own, thanks to the internet. The biggest piece I still have is an unusual excavator/dozer - a Kobelco ED 180 Bladerunner - my daughter nicknamed it "Dino" when she was younger.

A few weeks back, I got an inquiry on Dino - from New Zealand. The party wanted additional pictures. Rather than just sending a group of photos to him via the internet, I set up a Picasa Web Album. To begin with, Picasa is free photo editing software from Google. It is easy to use, and a great way to make organizing and sharing photos a one step process. Albums can be public or private. Settings allow people can download photos for their own use. It is possible for people to collaborate remotely on albums (I am currently doing this with a sister in law from Seattle for a recent family funeral). You can create captions, slideshows, album covers, and sort in various ways, including drag and drop. You can use a map to show where the photos were taken. Everything is editable/changeable and integrates with various other Google offerings.

The great thing about Picasa regarding my sales efforts with Dino, is that if the New Zealand party drops interest the whole package is a neat link for the next interested party.

Got to run - make it a good day.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Google Sites - Project Wikis

My name is Ron Hall.
I live at the Funny Farm.

Got back from a great week in Seattle, and been playing catchup all week. Did not even make time to Twitter on my new account (per Jeff Jarvis, trying to learn more about the feedback side of the web).

When I was in Seattle met with a gentleman from the Oregon/California Trail Association (OCTA). The non-profit that orchestrates quite a bit of activity/awareness on behalf of the National Trail System's (our tax dollars actually at work) Oregon National Historic Trail.  Believe it or not, the actual location of the trail is not entirely documented/marked. Part of the OCTA's mission is to help the National Park people mark the trail. This gentleman was in charge of the volunteer effort.

We had a good chat. I had just joined the local chapter and volunteered to show him the possibilities of using Google Earth to locate and document the trail -  as opposed to buying GIS type software. I made an impression and we agreed to try pilot on our own. He supplied me with some sample data (existing trail markers), I agreed to place them in Google Earth for his review. There is the possibility of showcasing the work at the annual conference in Elko, Nevada this year.

This is not the first pilot I have done of this type (Nez Perce Historic Trail). There is a saying/concept in the computer world that you actually have to do a project to figure out how you should have done it. I like to work with established, vetted content. Organize it in a Google Document (easy to maintain dow the road). Serve it to Google Earth/Google Maps via a Google Site (people can find it via the site or Google Earth Gallery), and track it via Google Analytics. Took a bit to figure out, but it works smoothly, and Google is handling all the server headache and costs. Can even hook Google's AdSense to the Google Site to try and defer some of my time/costs.

I wanted to try something different this time. At Google Sites, when you create a site, you can chose from a couple template formats. I wanted to try the Project Wiki one. It is presdesigned for doing collaborative projects - whether or not they aye are for the web. It integrates several Google collaboration tools (Google Groups, Blogspot) with quite a number of useful Google Gadgets (Lists, Tables, Posts). On a basic level you can just plug in your data and go (where I am at now). Once you get comfortable it can be customized like any Google Site.

Here is where it stands so far (truly a work in progress). Nuts of it is, I like it

Thank you Google.

Make it a good day.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Google Geek - On Broadcast

My name is Ron Hall.
I live at the Funny Farm.

Just finished up my part in the Northwest Council for Computers in Education conference in Seattle. First time here. Good time. Met some new people, made some new connections, learned a bunch from exhibitors on the trade show floor. 

Conducted a workshop (3 hours) on SketchUp software, also gave a presentation. Ended up putting in a good word for Google Earth and a bunch of other Google offerings. Also enjoyed the interaction with/feedback from participants. There was  fair amount of presentations on various uses of Google tools to enhance education. Not only is the stuff free, but it is good.

Spent a fair amount of time looking at and talking with presentation hardware folks on the trade floor - projectors, smart boards, wacom type units. As much as I am into the web, still nothing like the atmosphere of a live demonstration or interactive session. Could see a lot of the tools being used in other arenas (planning, community organizing, ecological work). For both better communication, and collecting feedback.

For what it is worth, my first time at the Washington State Convention Center - liked it alot.

Make it a good day.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Google Geek - Internet Distractions

My name is Ron Hall.
I live at the Funny Farm.

Main reason for this post is to let everyone (anyone) know I am still around. Have been trying to evaluate/research jumping into a more active roll in digital social networking (Twitter, Facebook, and now Google's Buzz). Thin it is worthwhile, just trying to find a rhythm to doing it that does not elevate my heart beat/blood pressure.

Since I still enjoy direct social contact and networking the old fashion way trying to find the time has been a challenge. Especially since I believe that pace is a key factor in enjoying life.

Have still been doing 3D models - Dayton (WA) Train Depot, and have been doing a lot of Google Earth related networking for Ice Age Flood Geologic Trail,  Mullan Trail, and Oregon/California Trail. Doing a presentation and workshop at the Northwest Council for Computers in Education in Seattle next week.

Got to go. Make it a good day.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Google Geek - New Schools

My name is Ron Hall.
I live at the Funny Farm.

Our school district passed a bond issue to raise money for building new schools last night. I was in the boardroom of the district offices at 8 PM last night when the vote tally flashed up - delivered via internet. Big whoop from all, lots of smiles/handshakes.

Was part of a volunteer group that aided in voter awareness - Citizen's for Good Schools. We did all the conventional things groups do to get out the vote, but we also used the internet. I helped out by creating a map based info site using Google Sites, Google Maps API, and Google Earth API. I also used SketchUp to post 3D models of the middle school  (and 2 of its portables) to Google Earth. Along the way I helped get a grant for the middle school to create a pilot class using SketchUp to help come up with a conceptual design for the new middle school.

So I was smiling last night too. Make it a good day.