Monday, May 18, 2009

Google Maps Malaysia Launch

I had the opportunity to attend the Google Maps Launched of its localised service in Malaysia last week. The venue was in this nondescript place called No Black Tie, famous as a destination for Jazz fans. It has been a while since Ive been there, and when I was, it was in their previous venue around the corner. Thats how long ago. So when Google Malaysia (Thanks Hanson) invited, I was happy to go.

I dont normally attend functions like this, considering that I have better things to do. However Im a real big fan of Google Maps, as it has saved me many a times before on my Blackberry with GPS while looking for difficult to find addressess, avoiding traffic jams and lately keeping tabs of where other people are with Latitude. I certainly would like to see this service to improve.

The bunch of invitees were basically the same Barcamp.my and MyOSS dudes. Met up with @ditesh, @aizatto, @angch, @bytebot, @seanx2, @yclian and @cerventus, @limyh, @arzumy and other folk. Considering there were so many twits, Im surprised that there was relatively little hash tagging using #mymap / #mymaps during the event.

Thanks to @surianee for taking this picture. More pics and blog entry here.

The event started off with the Google folk giving the intro ("Reaching out to you guys" spiel) with a buildup to more exciting stuff. Unfortunately Mr Murphy just had to show up, and killed ALL internet connections. Perhaps it was because of the 41 laptops trying to connect at once, or because #streamyxreallysux, but it was very unfortunate, because being an internet launch the event really depended on a fast and stable connection.

Fortunately there was much Google love abound, and most of us have seen what Google Maps can do. So when Andrew McGlinchey and Vinny encouraged us to "imagine", it wasnt very hard to extrapolate what they really meant. Maybe it WAS planned after all. Oh, @pamelafox's Mario Cart (demo'ed in foss.my08) was way better than their car driving demo.

Here were some of my questions which I planned to ask, of which some were answered.
  1. Why does maps.google.com assume you are in the US? The Googlers at the event showed that if you use maps.google.com.my, it will default to Malaysia showing both East and West Malaysia, but surely they could do better? Why is this an issue? Geo IP has been around for ages. Deduce from the IP address, and take the map to the closest City with the appropriate zoom levels. Wikimapia does it already.
  2. The Googlers were expecting to get questions from the intertoobs, and posted this URL: http://tinyurl.com/noblacktie for people to post questions, and vote on which one to ask first. Unfortunately the moderator.appspot page isn't mobile device friendly. @alphaque had trouble with it (maybe that was a good thing) and my BB wouldnt render the page as well
  3. There is a small version discrepency between BB and S60 devices for the Google Maps mobile client. No big deal, all the features seem to be there.
  4. It seems the FOSS Image slicer which was mentioned is this Command Line program by Ian Stevens described in this blog post "Unix command-line tile cutter for Google Maps" - or download the shell script here. May use this in my future mind map presentations.
  5. I asked Andrew directly when the Browser Based "My Maps" feature will be integrated with the Google Maps Mobile Client. He must have misunderstood my question, because he went on about how creating maps in My Maps is a desktop experience, and not suited for the mobile. Plus you could email the created map. I corrected him that the emailed map is actually an image file, and its really not very useful. All we want, as a killer feature, is to have our "research" on how to get to somewhere done on the desktop with the appropriate markings to be synched with our mobile device. That is infinitely more useful. He finally/hopefully understood and gave the stock answer that the Google team would be looking into it.
Overall, it was a good event. It definitely could be alot better with regards to the internet connection. No Black Tie is a nice setting. Certainly a better change to the standard Hotel fare, where the location itself is forgettable. The staff upstairs at NBT was attentive and curteous and even offered refills. Food was minimal, no thanks to plate overloaders (you know who you are), but solved with a trip to the Mamak down the road.

Its good that Google is finally making itself heard in Malaysia. Their products certainly have a good fit to any Malaysian company as any, and hopefully they will expand out here too. That is of course if Malaysia makes sure broadband just works ...


yk

More info from Colin.

Official Pictures here. Spot the "Kawaii" Camwhorer.


3 lewsers:

nekomatta said...

i am not a camwhorer :(

Jagermeist3r said...

I arrived at 7PM, even the buffalo wings were finished! Good crowd and errr...few hot chicks :).

Chirag Patel said...

Nice Work....

Regards,
Chirag Patel
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