There aren’t many records at the moment, and it’s just based in New York, so please help us by adding as many records as you want. At the moment all new submissions will be added - but these will be vetted over the course of the next few weeks, until a point that there is sufficient good quality content to remove the crap. At that point, new submissions will be subject to validation.
It is very much work in progress, so if you have any questions or suggestions, please send me an email - firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks.]]>
Thanks for being patient with us, and we hope you like the new entries, and the new functionality!]]>
Sorry that we’ve done this - we’ve kind of been forced into it due to high demand. A backlog of about 5,000 records has built up and it’s just too much to cope with. More than 100 new records are added every day. This would be OK if they were good, but at least 99% of these are just rubbish… It shouldn’t take too long to clear the backlog, and when it is cleared, we’ll let you know and reinstate submissions.
Due to the number of poor records that get added, all submissions are subject to verification. This is a lengthy process as we want to ensure the quality of records in the site is high, and that we don’t duplicate entries, so please bear with us, and again I’d like to plea to everyone who is adding things not to add anything that isn’t going to be of interest to others.
The backlog has been created by the increasing number of visitors are looking at mapofstrange.com, which in turn has resulted in an increasingly large number of new records being added. This is great. However, it does mean that we’re getting lots more people telling us where they live, and where Brazil or India or Spain is. Thanks very much for your help, it’s reassuring to know that elementary geography is still being taught in schools, and that the money and time invested by the Google corporation to produce Google maps and Google earth isn’t going to waste.
However, we really aren’t interested.
We couldn’t give a damn that you know the whereabouts of New York. And, again, you might be surprised that nobody wants to know where you live, but hey, we don’t! But if you’ve seen something interesting (a WWII bomber in Northern Italy), unusual (a car flying through the air), or stupid (a giant penis painted on the roof of a school), we really want to hear from you. Thanks to all those who have added something recently.
Sorry for the inconvenience, and thanks for your patience.]]>
But we’ve moved to a new server. This one is a VPS, so it should (we’ll keep our fingers crossed) stay up (although it’s already been taken down once for hitting the database too frequently). The VPS does mean, however, that we can add a load more functionality - so watch this space. We’ve already reintroduced comments and ratings, and we’ll be bringing back the search fairly soon. We’re also going to add the ability to search in a particular area. All that is coming soon, and if you have any other suggestions, we’d love to hear them - email@example.com with your suggestions.]]>
At present it only shows map-level images and not satellite imagery, which means that it isn’t right for mapofstrange.com (at least not yet). It’s definitely something I’m going to keep my eye on though…
It is incredibly easy to setup - there is even a wizard - http://gmaps-samples.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/simplewizard/makestaticmap.html. Just do a search for the location, choose the zoom level and the size of the map, and it generates the map for you. At the moment there is a maximum of 1000 page views per person (not per image or per key) per day, which is ample, but I expect that this will increase over time.
Here’s an example of it in action (click on it to open the map) -
Altogether, I think it’s an excellent addition to the Google Maps API - I only wish it would show satellite images as well!]]>
We recently migrated to a VPS (Virtual Private Server), which essentially means that we’ve got full control over the hosting of the site - if the server goes down it’s up to us to fix it. Unfortunately, the server has been going down. A lot. Every couple of days the site just dissappears. What had happened was that Apache had somehow managed to fall over. The fix for this was relatively straightforward. A simple cron job running every minute of every day checks to see if the site is running and if it isn’t, it restarts Apache.
The script that does this is a python script -
import httplib, os
conn = httplib.HTTPConnection(”www.mapofstrange.com”)
r1 = conn.getresponse() #can it get a response from mapofstrange.com
os.system(’sh /etc/init.d/httpd restart’)
print “Apache restarted successfully”
print “Failed to restart Apache”
This does a quick check (using httplib) to see if it can connect to the server. If it can’t it simply trys to restart Apache. You can also set it up to restart other services like MySQL (
os.system('sh /etc/init.d/mysql restart') ). We’re lucky that we’ve got cpanel running, as it provides us with these scripts to restart essential services under etc/init.d. We saved this onto the server, then setup the cron job to run this script every minute. To get the cron job to work, we simply added the following line to the root cron file under /var/spool/cron in my file system.
* * * * * python /tmp/restart.py
We also got it to email us the results, so we know when it’s gone down and how quickly it managed to restart.
The site/server still goes down (probably about once a day), but it’s only ever down for a minute (or two if there is a serious problem). This really simple solution means that we don’t have to concern ourselves with server admin on a regular basis - the biggest issue is automatically taken care of by the system itself.]]>
In my opionion, some of the comments on Digg were a little unfair towards my hosts. Of course, it’s incredibly frustrating when a site is taken down by a host, but it really isn’t the end of the world. This is not a commercial website, and I’m not going to fork out hundreds of dollars a month to put it on a dedicated server - that really would be overkill. Some might challenge the fact that it isn’t commercial because of the adverts - I’ve added these in an attempt to cover the cost of hosting (and maybe get myself a couple of CDs when the cheque comes through), but really the income generated by the site is peanuts. I’ve gone with my host’s economy package which is less than $3 a month, but provides much more bandwidth and storage than this site requires (now and for the foreseeable future). However, for $3 you don’t expect them to be too pleased when someone is using a lot more than their fair share of the server load. At the moment I am reasonably happy with the hosting, but if I get some more Diggs I might be forced to reconsider. In the meantime I have made some changes to lighten the mapofstrange.com load on the webhostingbuzz servers, which were highlighted in my previous post.]]>
To combat this issue we’ve had to make some changes to the site to make things a little bit more efficient. The following changes have been made:
So lets keep our fingers crossed that this fixes the site and we don’t suddenly get taken down again. If anyone can provide a (very) cheap dedicated server, we’d be delighted to hear from you.]]>
On the top of this building, there is a Bi-plane, complete with landing strip!
Surely a plane couldn’t possibly land on such a small runway? Wouldn’t it be dangerous?
Well, that’s the point. It isn’t a real plane - it’s a full size replica of a Sopwith Camel, a British plane used in the First World War (WWI). The model was designed in the late 60’s and was added to the building to ‘amuse’ residents of other, taller skyscrapers nearby like the WTC.
Have a look on Google for ‘77 Water Street’, or ‘plane on roof New York’ - there is loads about it on the web.]]>
I’ve had two main problems with this, and surprisingly, it isn’t finding rubbish to talk about - it’s been choosing between the hundreds of poor entries that have been added. And the second problem was thinking of a name. I didn’t want it to be insulting, but I wanted it to make it obvious that I didn’t really think these things were very good. So I’ve ignored the first criteria, and chosen to call this ‘Idiots of the Week’.
The first idiot is this one - What??? Where? How can you see people’s faces and clothes? I don’t understand…
The second idiot is this one - so daft he named it twice…
It’s blurred and uninteresting. That is all there is to say - why he felt the need to add it again I don’t know.
The final idiot is a classic. I think he added this because he had read the blurb on the site about people doing this sort of thing and added this for a laugh. At least I hope so.
Yes. Mexico. In the Atlantic Ocean, just of the African Coast. Actually it’s almost at grid reference 0,0 which is cool, but it isn’t Mexico…]]>