Monday, August 31, 2009

a giant island of plastic in the Pacific ocean, "Twice the size of Texas."

Pacific Ocean garbage patch worries researchers

By MICHELLE RINDELS (AP) – 3 days ago

LOS ANGELES — A tawny stuffed puppy bobs in cold sea water, his four stiff legs tangled in the green net of some nameless fisherman.

It's one of the bigger pieces of trash in a sprawling mass of garbage-littered water, known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, where most of the plastic looks like snowy confetti against the deep blue of the north Pacific Ocean.

Most of the trash has broken into bite-sized plastic bits, and scientists want to know whether it's sickening or killing the small fish, plankton and birds that ingest it.

During their August fact-finding expedition, a group of University of California scientists found much more debris than they expected. The team announced their observations at a San Diego press conference Thursday.

"It's pretty shocking — it's unusual to find exactly what you're looking for," said Miriam Goldstein, who led fellow researchers from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego on the three-week voyage.

While scientists have documented trash's harmful effects for coastal marine life, there's little research on garbage patches, which were first explored extensively by self-trained ocean researcher Charles Moore just a decade ago. There's also scant research on the marine life at the bottom of the food chain that inhabit the patch.

But even the weather-beaten, sunbleached plastic flakes that are smaller than a thumbnail can be alarming.

"They're the right size to be interacting with the food chain out there," Goldstein said.

The team also netted occasional water bottles with barnacles clinging to the side. Some of the trash had labels written in Chinese and English, hints of the long journeys garbage takes to arrive mid-ocean.

Plastic sea trash doesn't biodegrade and often floats at the surface. Bottlecaps, bags and wrappers that end up in the ocean from the wind or through overflowing sewage systems can then drift thousands of miles.

The sheer quantity of plastic that accumulates in the North Pacific Gyre, a vortex formed by ocean and wind currents and located 1,000 miles off the California coast, has the scientists worried about how it might harm the sea creatures there.

A study released earlier this month estimated that thousands of tons of plastic debris wind up in the oceans every year, and some of that has ended up in the swirling currents of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Katsuhiko Saido, a chemist at Nihon University, Chiba, Japan, told the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society last week that plastic actually does decompose, releasing potentially toxic chemicals that can disrupt the functioning of hormones in animals and marine life.

The Scripps team hopes the samples they gathered during the trip nail down answers to questions of the trash's environmental impact. Does eating plastic poison plankton? Is the ecosystem in trouble when new sea creatures hitchhike on the side of a water bottle?

Plastics have entangled birds and turned up in the bellies of fish, and one paper cited by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimates 100,000 marine mammals die trash-related deaths each year.

The scientists hope their data gives clues as to the density and extent of marine debris, especially since the Great Pacific Garbage Patch may have company in the Southern Hemisphere, where scientists say the gyre is four times bigger.

"We're afraid at what we're going to find in the South Gyre, but we've got to go there," said Tony
Haymet, director of the Scripps Institution.

Only humans are to blame for ocean debris, Goldstein said. In a blog entry posted a day before the science ship arrived in Newport, Ore., she wrote the research showed her the consequences of humanity's footprint on nature.

"Seeing that influence just floating out here in the middle of nowhere makes our power painfully obvious, and the consequences of the industrial age plain," she wrote. "It's not a pretty sight."

Located halfway between California and Hawaii lies the Pacific Ocean's Great Garbage Patch. Double the size of Texas, it consists of -- you guessed it -- trash.

A natural phenomenon, The Garbage Patch is part of a system of currents called the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre. Its contents are caught in a swirling vortex, created by slack winds and sluggish currents.

This pollution is killing sea life, choking birds and fish, entangling seals and whales, as well as assaulting the Hawaiian Islands.

The island chain acts like a giant comb, straining floating trash onto its coral reefs, beaches and shorelines, including the Big Island's southern Waiohinu-Ka Lae coast. More than 50 tons of marine debris from domestic and foreign sources wash ashore annually in Hawaii, said Carey Morishige, Pacific Islands outreach coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Marine Debris Program. Morishige spoke Saturday evening about this deadly problem and what is now being done to address it. Seven residents attended the "Got Trash: Protecting Hawaii's Oceans From Marine Debris" lecture at the Outrigger Keauhou Beach Resort. Some suggested the poor attendance was reflective of the public's "out-of-sight, out-of-mind" view of marine debris.

"Marine debris is any man-made object discarded, disposed of, or abandoned that enters the coastal or marine environment," states NOAA's National Ocean Service. "It may enter directly when it is lost or dumped from a ship or indirectly when debris washes out to sea via rivers, streams and storm drains."

Since the onset of synthetic materials, such as plastics, marine debris has become a threat to wildlife, Morishige said. Oftentimes, floating bits of debris are often mistaken for food and ingested, leading to internal injury, dehydration and starvation, death.

Morishige has seen the remains of a foraging Laysan albatross from the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Its exposed belly filled with shiny bits and chunks of plastic among the bones and feathers. "It's heartbreaking," she said.

Rubbish also can wrap around fins, flippers and limbs of animals, causing drowning and amputation. In 2002, Morishige said a humpback whale was entangled in 22 different types of net, making it more susceptible to other threats like ship strikes.

"Some debris can kill for decades, especially since trash far outlives us," she said.

For instance, it takes 450 years for plastic bottles to decompose, 600 years for monofilament fishing line to degrade, 10 to 20 years for plastic bags to decay, one to five years for cigarette filters to break down, two months for an apple core to disintegrate and two to four weeks for a paper towel to deteriorate, according to the U.S. National Park Service Mote Marine Lab in Sarasota, Fla.

Marine debris has become a navigational hazard to fishing and recreational boats by entangling propellers and clogging cooling water intake valves. Repairing damaged boats is consuming and expensive. When a cargo ship -- traveling from California to Japan -- got its propeller stuck on an enormous ball of floating net, it took divers and specialist three days to remove it, Morishige said.
naughty plastic toys are found there too.
NOAA's Abandoned Vessel Program currently is working on how to better address incidents like this one and increase rapid response, Morishige said.

After all, giant balls of derelict net are often discovered in the ocean. During a helicopter survey of a whale entanglement, NOAA officials spotted 12 balls, about 30 feet in width, floating off the Kona coast, Morishige said.

On Dec. 22, the President Bush signed into law the Marine Debris Research, Prevention and Reduction Act, which provides $12 million annually in federal funding for the effort through 2010. Of that, NOAA will receive $10 million and $2 million goes to the Coast Guard.

Since 2005, NOAA has funded numerous projects to help prevent, reduce and mitigate marine debris.

The NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center Coral Ecosystem Division is surveying and removing marine debris from the main Hawaiian Islands.

Flying up to five hours daily from February through May 2006, the science center obtained global positioning system data, photos and other information to map the distribution and abundance of the debris. It noted 771 marine debris sites, which are comprised of about 250,000 pounds of trash, Morishige said.

Most of the sites were in the windward coastlines, except the Big Island. Researchers believe currents and micro eddies sweep pollution down the West Hawaii coast and wrap it around South Point, Morishige said.

Last year, NOAA and the Hawaii Wildlife Funds held five cleanups in an effort to make the Waiohinu-Ka Lae coastline cleaner and safer. Each cleanup tackled a different section over four months.

The ending result was "phenomenal," Morishige said. Hundreds of volunteers filled about 900 garbage bags, collected 84,922 items and removed about 41 tons of marine debris from this coastline. Of that, almost 36 tons were derelict fishing net, enough to fill three 40-foot Matson Navigation Company containers.

The collected net was placed in a container and shipped by Matson to Covanta Energy's H-Power facility in Honolulu, where they are burned to create electricity. About 100 tons of derelict net creates enough electricity to power 43 homes a year, Morishige said.

Despite the progress made last year, the marine debris has returned to the Waiohinu-Ka Lae coastline and another series of cleanups will be organized, Morishige said.

"NOAA is working toward source identification, but until then, removal is just a Band-Aid, something we can do now to help mitigate the problem," she said.

To increase awareness about marine debris, NOAA is creating a public display at the Mokupapapa Discovery Center in Hilo, which is tentatively set to debut Jan. 27. It will feature actual marine debris items collected from various locations on the Big Island as well as results from the NOAA's aerial survey project.

For more information about marine debris, contact Carey Morishige of the NOAA Marine Debris Program at 397-2651, ext. 256, or e-mail her at Also, visit
Tue, January 9, 2007 - 9:31 AM

Plastics, including polyethylene and polypropylene, are synthetic polymers that have remarkable strength, flexibility, and durability. They're used extensively in every aspect of modern civilization, from cars to medical devices to naughty toys. It is their durability, however, that causes the problem.

Instead of being biodegradable, plastics are photodegradable. This means that instead of being broken down by biotic processes such as bacteria, they are broken down by exposure to light, particularly from the sun. The other critical difference is that, where biodegradable substances are returned to the life cycle in the form of natural chemicals, photodegradable plastics are just broken down into smaller and smaller pieces, creating a large volume of molecular-sized synthetic polymers.

One of the chemical properties of these polymers is that they absorb and give off different chemicals, some of which are nonylphenols, PCBs, and the infamous DDT. When plastic in the ocean is eaten by living organisms, the toxic chemicals within are released into that organism. In phytoplankton, toxic chemicals are consumed and then passed long the food chain up to higher trophic levels, and the concentration of these chemicals increases exponentially at each level, in a process called biomagnification.


Following the diagram above, replace the porpoise with a person, and consider how people are truly integrated in the global ecosystem.

The amplification of these toxins can have profound effects on higher organisms. In the case of DDT, the accumulation in birds makes their shells weaker, and so, when attempting to incubate their prospective young, the parent birds inadvertently crush the eggs, destroying any hope of a subsequent generation.

In the case of birds, such as this late albatross, small plastic objects look like food, but lack the same nutrients:


Due to the nature of its currents, the NPSG has been collecting and consolidating in its center vast quantities of these non-biodegradable plastics, which in turn have been able to amass and release large amounts of toxic substances into the oceans and the food web. Scientists have named this pseudo-continent "The Great Pacific Garbage Patch," and have been researching it with greater interest. With time, we'll be able to figure out exactly how big it is, and hopefully figure out a way to clean it up.
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posted by u2r2h at Monday, August 31, 2009 0 comments

Sunday, August 16, 2009

18 million electric bicycles in one year

Cheap and green, electric bikes are the rage in China
Posted 31 May 2007

Rising gasoline prices, crowded public buses and congested roadways have contributed to the surge in electric bicycles. Last year, Chinese bought 16 million to 18 million electric bicycles, up from 10 million the year before. At least 1,000 companies have sprung up to meet the demand.
» 4983 reads
Published 23 May 2007 by McClatchy Newspapers,

By Tim Johnson

SHANGHAI, China - A lot of riders in the bicycle lanes of China's cities and towns have given up pedaling and are zipping along on silent electric bicycles.

Sales have skyrocketed, and China is now the global leader in this inexpensive form of motorized transportation. At least 1,000 companies have sprung up to meet the demand.

Sales have almost doubled every year, said Ma Qingyi, the vice general manager of Shanghai Cranes Electric Vehicle Co., a major manufacturer.

Last year, Chinese bought 16 million to 18 million electric bicycles, up from 10 million the year before. Some see sales hitting 25 million to 30 million this year. But so far, the diandong zixingche, as the bike is called here, is a unique Chinese phenomenon, with limited export appeal.

"`Booming' is maybe too mild a word," said Ed Benjamin, the president of Cycle Electric, an international consulting group based in Fort Myers, Fla. "It's a product that really suits the needs of the Chinese consumer."

In many major cities, electric bicycles now make up 10 to 20 percent of all two-wheeled vehicles on the roads, a trend that could have an impact on the nation's rising greenhouse-gas emissions and poor air quality.

Many Chinese cities, including Shanghai, with its population of 20 million, have banned motorcycles and motor scooters as dangerous and polluting, giving a huge sales boost to what the bike trade has dubbed e-bikes.

Rising gasoline prices, crowded public buses and congested roadways have contributed to the surge in electric bicycles, as has the emergence of a consumer class with climbing income that's still unable to afford cars. The e-bikes enable people to commute longer distances, allowing them more freedom in where they choose to live.

A simple electric bicycle has a battery that can power a rider along for 25 to 30 miles before needing a recharge. Recharging the battery requires eight hours.

Riders find they can recover the outlay for electric bicycles over a year.

"They spend less than 2,000 yuan (about $260) to buy an electric bike, and they don't have to pay for public transportation," Ma said. "Some people pay 10 yuan (about $1.30) a day in public transportation. An e-bike costs just a few cents a day."

Experts say e-bikes can run 30 miles on 5 cents' worth of electricity, a rate of energy consumption that makes them even more efficient than fully occupied buses.

Lax enforcement of regulations allows manufacturers to sell a huge variety of electric vehicles under the rubric of electric bikes, including those that look like motor scooters. National regulations limit the weight of the bikes to 88 pounds and the speed to 12 mph. But manufacturers routinely flout the weight limit, and vendors often alter the motors' governors, letting the vehicles zip along at 20 to 25 mph.

As a result, cities such as Fuzhou, Guangzhou and Zhuhai have banned electric bikes, saying they go too fast. But that may not last long. Beijing lifted a ban on the electric bicycle early last year after it was in effect for only a few days.

"They can't stop it now. Look at Beijing. They shut it down but they had to open it (the market) up again. You can't stop what consumers want," said Percy J. Chien, the Taiwanese chief executive of Wettsen, a high-end electric bicycle manufacturer.

Those studying the phenomenon in China give it a positive review.

"It's giving poor and middle-class people more mobility. But it's not exacerbating the air-quality problems in the city," said Jonathan Weinert, who lives in Shanghai while he's preparing a doctoral dissertation on e-bikes for the University of California at Davis.

They're also being modified for other uses, such as delivery vehicles.

"They are getting faster and faster, and heavier and heavier," Weinert said.

The main reservations that environmentalists have about e-bikes are the pollution that their lead-acid batteries can cause if they aren't recycled, and the indirect pollution: China's electric power plants mostly use coal as fuel.

Outside China, sales of electric bicycles remain low. Some 100,000 units a year are sold in the United States, and about as many in Europe. Other Asian countries with high population densities, such as India, Vietnam and Thailand, may turn to e-bikes eventually to cut back on polluting scooters, Weinert said.

For now, China's electric bike manufacturers focus largely on the domestic market, offering a huge array of models, including cargo-bearing tricycles for farmers.

At a recent bicycle and e-bike trade show in Shanghai, e-bike models for export looked nothing like those for domestic sale. Ma pointed to one model for export to Europe, with a slim battery pack, and said Chinese would never touch it.

"They look at this model and say, `It looks like a bicycle. It's not worth much,'" Ma said, adding that Chinese prefer e-bikes decked out to look like scooters.

Foreigners, on the other hand, especially Europeans, prefer not to flaunt that they're getting help from a motor, so they want models that appear to be bicycles.

"The European consumer thinks, `I don't want people to think I'm so old and feeble that I need a motor to push me around,'" said Benjamin, the e-bike consultant.

See also this posting on the E-bike from Tim Johnson's blog, China Rises.

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posted by u2r2h at Sunday, August 16, 2009 2 comments

Thursday, August 13, 2009

CUBA - Linux -- we all should

Cuba crafts extra-communist Linux distro

Down with the Microsoft bourgeoisie

By Timothy Prickett Morgan

Cuba has launched its own Linux variant, dubbed Nova.

The Nova project has been cooking away for the past year, and it was formally unveiled this week at the annual International Conference on Communication and Technologies in Havana. At last year's conference - a Microsoft-bash-fest - open source luminary Richard Stallman convinced attendees to take open source software not only to their heart, but to their computers.

The Cuban government, under the auspices of the Universidad de las Ciencias Informáticas (UCI), created Nova by spinning its own rev on the Gentoo variant of Linux. English speakers will no doubt have fun with that catchy Nova name, which has turned up in urban mythology involves other products in Spanish speaking countries, including a Chevy sedan and some Mexican gasoline.

The country missed the perfect opportunity to call it Fidelix, and if they wanted to be technically correct and give a bow to Stallman - the founder of the Free Software Foundation - they could have called it GNU/Fidelix. A forward thinking Cuban IT industry might have opted for Raulix as well. But open source projects don't seem to be any better at naming products than the marketeering departments at corporations.

Linux and the free and open source applications that run on it would seem to be a natural fit for a communist country, and considering that commercial-grade open source operating systems and applications have been available for decades, it is more than a little surprising that Cuba hasn't long since abandoned Windows on its PCs and servers. But despite trade embargoes, Windows still runs on most of the computers on the island nation, according to a report from Reuters.

That report says that Cuban citizens have only been able to buy PCs for the past year (before then, they had access to them in PC clubs, akin to Internet cafes but apparently without the coffee). And in that time, according to Hector Rodriguez, dean of the School of Free Software, about 20 per cent of the computers shipped in the country are running Linux. The hope is that the advent of Nova will boost the share Linux holds. "I would like to think that in five years our country will have more than 50 percent migrated," Rodriguez told Reuters.

Cuba is also jumpy about the potential security issues that Microsoft's Windows and other operating systems pose - and not the kind of security issues that most of us think as we use our PCs and systems in our day-to-day work and home lives.

"Private software can have black holes and malicious codes that one doesn't know about," Rodriguez said. "That doesn't happen with free software."

The Cuban Nova Linux is not to be confused with the Linux variant of the same name that Palm is developing for PDAs and other mobile devices.

It is not clear where to get Nova or what packages it has. It is also not clear how the Cuban government plans to offer tech support for the product. Presumably, it will be done through free community support. And they appear to need some tech support fast. The UCI Web site, which appears to be running on Nova and which is where you can get Nova (if my reading of Google cached pages is correct), is down as we go to press because it is being barraged by too much traffic.

Maybe Cuba should start an indigenous server business


Cuba Steers Clear of Microsoft and all its Evils
Tek News

Communications Minister Ramiro Valdes, an old comrade-in-arms of President Fidel Castro, raised suspicions about Microsoft's cooperation with U.S. military and intelligence agencies as he opened a technology conference this week. He called the world's information systems a "battlefield" where Cuba is fighting against imperialism. He also noted that Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates once described copyright reformers _ including people who want to do away with proprietary software _ as "some new modern-day sort of communists" _ which is a badge of honor from the Cuban perspective.

Cuba Embraces Open-Source Software

By John Rice (Friday, February 16, 2007)

HAVANA -- Cuba's communist government is trying to shake off the yoke of at least one capitalist empire Microsoft Corp. by joining with socialist Venezuela in converting its computers to open-source software.

Both governments say they are trying to wean state agencies from Microsoft's proprietary Windows to the open-source Linux operating system, which is developed by a global community of programmers who freely share their code.

"It's basically a problem of technological sovereignty, a problem of ideology," said Hector Rodriguez, who oversees a Cuban university department of 1,000 students dedicated to developing open-source programs.

Other countries have tried similar moves. China, Brazil and Norway have encouraged the development of Linux for a variety of reasons: Microsoft's near-monopoly over operating systems, the high cost of proprietary software and security problems.

Cuban officials, ever focused on U.S. threats, also see it as a matter of national security.

Communications Minister Ramiro Valdes, an old comrade-in-arms of President Fidel Castro, raised suspicions about Microsoft's cooperation with U.S. military and intelligence agencies as he opened a technology conference this week.

He called the world's information systems a "battlefield" where Cuba is fighting against imperialism.

He also noted that Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates once described copyright reformers _ including people who want to do away with proprietary software _ as "some new modern-day sort of communists" _ which is a badge of honor from the Cuban perspective.

Microsoft did not return calls seeking comment. Cuba imports many computer preloaded with Windows and also purchases software in third countries such as China, Mexico or Panama.

Valdes is a hard-liner who favors uniforms and military haircuts, but the biggest splash at the conference was made by a paunchy, wild-haired man in a T-shirt: Richard Stallman, whose Free Software Foundation created the license used by many open-source programs, including Linux.

Middle-aged communist bureaucrats and ponytailed young Cuban programmers applauded as the computer scientist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology insisted that copyright laws violate basic morality; he compared them to laws that would threaten people with jail for sharing or modifying kitchen recipes.

Stallman also warned that proprietary software is a security threat because without being able to examine the code, users can't know what it's doing or what "backdoor" holes developers might have left open for future entry. "A private program is never trustworthy," he said.

Cuba also has trouble keeping proprietary software current. Its sluggish satellite link to the outside world makes downloads of updates agonizingly slow. And U.S. companies, apparently worried about American laws restricting trade with Cuba, are increasingly blocking downloads to the island.

Cubans try to get around the problem by putting software updates on a server located on the island. But many computers wind up unpatched and vulnerable.

Cuba's Cabinet also has urged a shift from proprietary software. The customs service has gone to Linux and the ministries of culture, higher education and communications are planning to do so, Rodriguez said.

And students in his own department are cooking up a version of Linux called Nova, based on Gentoo distribution of the operating system. The ministry of higher education is developing its own.

Rodriguez's department accounts for 1,000 of the 10,000 students within the University of Information Sciences, a five-year-old school that tries to combine software development with education.

Cuba is also training tens of thousands of other software and hardware engineers across the country, though few have computers at home. Most Cubans have to depend on the slow links at government internet cafes or schools.

Rodriguez shied away from saying how long it would take for Cuba to get most of its systems on Linux: "It would be tough for me to say that we would migrate half the public administration in three years."

But he said Linux use was growing rapidly.

"Two years ago, the Cuban free-software community did not number more than 600 people ... In the last two years, that number has gone well beyond 3,000 users of free software and its a figure that is growing exponentially."

Even so, most of the computers at this week's technology conference showed the red, green, blue and yellow Windows start button in the bottom left-hand corner of their screens.

And the start of the open-source sessions was delayed as organizers fiddled with the computer running their projector. The conference room screen had been displaying the words "Windows XP."

Originally appeared in Associated Press and Washington Post.

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posted by u2r2h at Thursday, August 13, 2009 0 comments

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

google Map codes URL variables explained

Google Map Parameters
From Google Mapki
Jump to: navigation, search

Here's a list of some of the parameters that can be passed to (and etc) You might want to pass such parameters if you want to get Google Maps to display driving directions, which are not available under the API.


* q= Query - anything passed in this parameter is treated as if it had been typed into the query box on the page. In particular:

A precise address is looked up and a marker and info box is displayed at the specified point.
A town name, or the first half of a postcode causes the region to be displayed with to marker or info box.
An exact location can be specified as latitude,longitude, in decimal form (52.123N,2.456W or 52.123,-2.456) or as degrees, minutes and seconds (52 7 22.8N,2 27 21.6W or 52 7 22.8,-2 27 21.6) or as degrees and minutes (52 7.38N,2 27.36W or 52 7.38,-2 27.36).
Any text added in parentheses () is displayed in the info window and sidebar in bold. You can use %A0 as a "no break space" to prevent line breaks happening where you don't want them. You can also use %A0 to force a line break by appending enough of them (this will vary based on the lengths of the lines before and after these breaks) to the end of a line, followed immediately by a space ('+' in the URL). An example would be the following URL:,+NY+(Mapki%A0is%A0a%A0very%A0good%A0Wiki%A0for%A0Google%A0Maps!%A0%A0%A0%A0%A0%A0%A0%A0+The%A0previous%A0line%A0is%A0now%A0sufficiently%A0long!)
The words "to" and "from" cause the driving directions function to be activated.
The word "near" or "loc:" causes the local search function to be activated.
space-ampersand-space (use +%26+ or %20%26%20 in URLs, not +&+ or +&+ otherwise the ampersand gets treated as a separator) can be used between the names of two streets to specify an intersection.

A location can also be specified after an @, in decimal form (@52.123,-2.456). This gives a lower zoom level than using the same values without the at sign. Using this format interferes with other options of the query parameter. The @ sign instead of "near" or "loc:" tends to cause only a single business result to be displayed, compare (Church near Hallows Road Blackpool, Lancashire) which returns over 1000 results to (Church @ Hallows Road Blackpool, Lancashire) which returns one result.

To place a custom labeled marker at an arbitrary location, q=10+Downing+Str+is+not+here@51.50335,-0.227721

The label can't be a country name, or no marker will be shown; but it can be empty, when the co-ordinates will be used.

prefix the query with "sky:" to search KML content created for Sky, q=sky:Leo, designed for use with Google Sky and KML output.

The full URL of a Google Earth .KML/.KMZ file or a RSS feed that includes GeoRSS data, can be used, and the contained information will be displayed on the map.

* near= Can be used as the location part of a query instead of putting the whole thing into q=.

* g= a address/location, provides extra context for the q param. Google Maps itself stores the last run search here. NOTE: if its the first search it can contain your starting location. This is a potential information leak, check you do in fact mean to share the content of this parameter.

Search Mode

* mrt= Specifies a type of search (blank for everything (default).
o mrt=all Specifically request everything.
o mrt=loc Locations search. Needs the q= param.
o mrt=yp Businesses search (aka yellowpages). Will need the q= param, and optionally a location.
o mrt=kmlkmz User-Contributed 'Community' Content collected from the GeoWeb. Only works if the query contains a location and something to search for. E.g. q=hotel&near=london&mrt=kmlkmz or q=hotel+in+london&mrt=kmlkmz.
o mrt=websearch Mapped Web Pages. Webpages that GoogleBot has been able to assign a geographical position.
o mrt=realestate Real Estate search.
o mrt=ds Related Maps - Googles index of GeoRSS feeds (and possibly KML?)

* start= Skips the first (start-1) matches.

* num= Display, at most, this number of matches. The valid range is 0 to 20 (but 0 is a bit pointless).


* ll= Latitude,longitude of map centre - Note the order. Only decimal format is accepted.

If this is used without a query, then the map is centred at the point but no marker or info window is displayed.

* sll= Latitude,longitude of the point from which the business search should be performed. You could use this to perform an off-centre busness search. Google use it so "link to this page" can record a map that has had the centre moved after performing a business search. When requesting a route map.getBounds().getSouthWest().toUrlValue() returns the same value uses.

* spn= Approximate lat/long span. The zoom level will be adjusted to fit if there's no z= parameter. Use this Mapki tool to find a lat and long.

* sspn= Stands for "Screen span". Map bounds dimensions in Degrees, to calculate this use:

newGLatLng(map.getBounds().getNorthEast().lat() - map.getBounds().getSouthWest().lat(),map.getBounds().getNorthEast().lng() - map.getBounds().getSouthWest().lng()).toUrlValue()

* latlng= This is a weird one. It takes three numbers separated by commas. The first two numbers (presumably representing latitude and longitude multiplied by 1000000) are ignored. The third number seems to be a Google internal "Company ID" number for a particular business. E.g. latlng=0,0,14944637421527611642 represents Blackpool Community Church. Specifying this parameter performs a Google Search for pages that reference that business, and displays a tiny map. Other parameters, in particular q=, must have valid contents (but need not relate to the target business) for this to work.

* cid= Similar to latlng, but generating a different map size. It takes three numbers separated by commas. The first two numbers (presumably representing latitude and longitude multiplied by 1000000) are ignored. The third number seems to be a Google internal "Company ID" number for a particular business. E.g. cid=0,0,14944637421527611642 represents Blackpool Community Church. Specifying this parameter displays a large map of the identified company location. Other parameters, in particular q=, must have valid contents (but need not relate to the target business) for this to work.

* geocode= Concatination of "geocode" encoded values for waypoints used in Directions. Appears when waypoints in "from: blah to: blah" are potentially ambigious. E.g, &saddr=Were+St&daddr=Kings+Hwy+to:Princes+Hwy+to:Princes+Hwy+to:Monaro+Hwy+to:-35.43483,149.112175&hl=en&geocode=FbBP4_0dSEXjCA%3BFWIj4_0dpMDtCA%3BFe4g3_0dunvzCA%3BFfBf0P0dEGzuCA%3BFSoL1_0dtorjCA%3B is the end result from joining the "geocode" values for each waypoint with %3B.

* radius= Localizes results to a certain radius. Requires sll or similar center point to work. Units are in miles, but it may be in km for metric countries. Useful in preventing Google from branching out across a city for results, and keeps it confined into the area.

Map Display

* t= Map Type. The available options are "m" map, "k" satellite, "h" hybrid, "p" terrain.

* z= Sets the zoom level.

* layer= Activates overlay. Current option is "t" traffic.

* lci= Activates layers of tiles, comma-separated.
o com.panoramio.all Photos (from Panoromio)
o Videos (from YouTube)
o org.wikipedia.en Wikipedia (English)
o Webcams (from
o transit Transit

e.g. lci=com.panoramio.all,org.wikipedia.en for Photos and Wikipedia English.

* view= Can be used to select text view (view=text) or the normal map view (view=map).


* saddr= Source address. Use this when asking for driving directions.

Any text added in brackets is displayed in the sidebar in bold.

* daddr= Destination address(es). Use this when asking for driving directions

Any text added in brackets is displayed in the sidebar in bold.
"+to:" clauses can be appended to the destination to request multiple destination routing, like this daddr=Blackpool+to:Manchester+to:Leeds
Text in brackets can also be added to the "+to:" clauses.

* mra ?? what does mean this route parameter? known possible values=dm, dpe, cc, ls, ...
* mrcr ?? what does mean this route parameter? known possible values=0
* mrsp ?? what does mean this route parameter? known possible values=0,1

* mrad= Additional destination address.

If you've got three points in your trip you can use saddr=, daddr= and mrad= instead of "+to:" clauses.

* dirflg Route type.
o dirflg=h Switches on "Avoid Highways" route finding mode.
o dirflg=t Switches on "Avoid Tolls" route finding mode.
o dirflg=r Switches on "Public Transit" - only works in some areas.
o dirflg=w Switches to walking directions - still in beta.

* via= Comma separated list of intermediate addresses for directions, that should be 'via points'. In the example via=1,3 addresses 1 and 3 will be via points without their own entry in the sidebar. The start (0), the 2nd intermediate (2) and the end (4) will be full addresses.

* doflg= Distance Units. (Defaults to prevalent units in country of origin.)
o doflg=ks ??
o doflg=ptk Outputs directions in metric (km).
o doflg=ptm Outputs directions in imperial (miles).

Street View

* cbll= Latitude,longitude for Street View.

* cbp= Street View window that accepts 5 parameters:
1. Street View/map arrangement, 11=upper half Street View and lower half map, 12=mostly Street View with corner map
2. Rotation angle/bearing (in degrees)
3. Tilt angle, -90 (straight up) to 90 (straight down)
4. Zoom level, 0-2
5. Pitch (in degrees) -90 (straight up) to 90 (straight down), default 5

* panoid= Panorama ID. The ID of the current nearby panorama object. Panorama objects ids are used in the little arrows you can click on in Street View to move you to the next object/property. Eg panoid=eTnPNGoy4bxR9LpjjfFuOw

Output Control

* hl= Host language. Only a few languages are supported, e.g. hl=fr for French.

* om= The presence of this parameter with a value other than 1 causes the overview map to be closed. If the parameter is omitted, or present with the value 1, then the overview map is open.

* ie= Can be used to specify the input character encoding set. e.g. ie=UTF8.

* oe= Can be used to specify the output character encoding set. e.g. oe=UTF8.

* output= Output format (blank (default) is a standard webpage for user)
o output=html Uses the old style Google Local page format from before it merged with Google Maps, with the small map and large sidebar.
o output=js Outputs JavaScript object literals and function calls used by Google Maps, including encoded polyline data for driving directions, and stage information in HTML format.
o output=kml Outputs a KML file containing information representing the current map. (works with Normal Searches, Directions and MyMaps)
o output=nl Outputs a small KML file containing a NetworkLink wrapper linking to a URL from which Google Earth and Google Maps can obtain the information (only known to work with MyMaps).
o output=embed Outputs HTML suitable for embedding in third party sites, only works with the presence of the encrypted s= param, presumably to stop arbitrary content being included.
o output=dragdir returns a JSON object that contains the reverse geocode and a an encoded polyline for a given saddr (start point of the route) and daddr (endpoint of the route)
o output=georss (Geo)RSS output for the current map - probably only MyMaps

* f= Controls the style of query form to be displayed.
o f=d Displays the "directions" form (two input boxes: from, to).
o f=l Displays the "local" form (two input boxes: what, where).
o f=q (or no parameter) The default search form is displayed (single input).

* pw= Activates print mode and initiates printing. There seems to be a problem at the moment with pw=1, but using settings like pw=2 is OK.

Info Windows

* iwloc= Specifies where the infowindow will be displayed. In a business search iwloc=A to iwloc=J will open the info window over the corresponding business marker, and iwloc=near will place it over the big green arrow if that's currently displayed. iwloc=addr can be used on map search to explicitly request the info window to be open on the address, but that's the default anyway. Directions search supports iwloc=start, iwloc=end and iwloc=pause1 etc. In My Maps can open the info window on specific feature, eg iwloc=0004567f01f0152385b6b.

* iwd=1 Specifies that the infowindow displayed (iwloc=) will be a detailed (expanded) view.

* iwstate1=ssaddfeatureinstructioncard Specifies that the infowindow is in add place mode. Use with ssp=addf and iwloc=SS.

* iwstate1=sscorrectthiscard Specifies the infowindow is in edit mode.

* iwstate1=sscorrectthiscard:ssmovemarkercard The infowindow is in Move marker mode, with the marker bouncing and draggable.

* iwstate1=sscorrectthiscard:ssedithistorycard The infowindow is in View history mode, displaying a graphical list of marker moves.

My Maps

* msa= Involved in My Maps processing. It does nothing without the "/ms" and "/ms" does nothing without the msa=.
o msa=0 Used with msid= to show a particular My Map.
o msa=b Activates the "My Maps" sidebar when used in conjunction with "". (Possibly doesn't work anymore.)
o msa=1 Seems to just show the My Maps tab directly (like msa=b did).
o msa=2 Jumps directly to create new My Map form.

* msid= Specifies a My Maps identifier. When used in conjunction with "" and msa=0, the corresponding My Map is displayed.


* vp= The presence of this parameter causes to switch into Copyright Service mode. Instead of returning the html that draws a map, it returns information about the copyright ownership in Javascript format. The vp= parameter specifies the viewpoint (i.e. the centre of the map). Copyright Service only works when the spn= and z= parameters are also supplied, indicating the span and the zoom. Optional parameters are t=, which specifies the map type, and key= which specifies the API key of the site performing the request. E.g.,0.068665&z=6&t=h&vp=53.859462,-3.038235

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posted by u2r2h at Tuesday, August 04, 2009 0 comments