Monday, June 29, 2009

Feedmil - The New Feed Search Engine

Site promotion is always an important issue. The net never stands still and it can be hard to keep up with new tools. One such tool Panoramic Earth is now using is Feedmil, a feed search engine. Feedmil provides topic-focused feeds for all types of medial like blogs, microblogs, public and social media feeds as well as podcasts. It is set up to help people search feeds of interest efficiently and quickly through simple interfaces backed by innovative technologies.

Submitting a feed is done through a simple form. Feedmil also pro-actively hunts out feeds for itself and then contacts feed producers to submit a description of it.

For Users, the Feedmil interface allows you to specify both the search query and also the popularity range of feeds. Making full potential of the 'Long Tail', users can quickly discover high quality, less popular feeds for subjects of interest. Slider controls adjust the search for topic relevance giving more accurate results while allowing you to explore the feeds you like serendipitously.

Feedmil was founded in 2008 by a web scientist and 3 enthusiastic search engineers. It is currently a privately funded startup, aiming to become 'the best feed search engine in the world'.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Panoramas from High Places

Often the best viewpoints over cities and the like is at the top of monuments. This poses particular challenges as taking a 360° image from a single point on the monument will probably result in a lot of blank wall, and only a partial view of the potential view. Panoramic Earth has a new contributor, Richard Herring, who specializes in taking a series of images that, when put together, give the impression of hanging in mid air, as if the monument or tower from which the images were taken did not exist. He says the following:

'I'm a part-time traveller and occasional photographer, with a particular interest in SE Asia. As I hope my contributed panoramas show, I enjoy the challenge of taking panoramas from high places like towers and monuments, where even if there were space and time to set up a tripod, 180 degrees of the image would be of blank walls and tourists. Under those circumstances, there's no alternative to a steady hand and a good deal of luck (and often a good deal of manual post-processing.) But it's worth the effort, even if the results are sometimes technically flawed, to get a spectacular view that couldn't be achieved any other way.'

These results can be clearly seen in 360 panoramas constructed from series of photos taken from the top of the from the Petřin Tower in Prague, the Monument in London and the Wat Si Saket image from Bankgok (compare with this Golden Mount image taken without moving around the platform and shows the chedi on the top).

For those trying this kind of image it is useful to consider the following:
  • Imagine that the point of rotation is the center of the tower.
  • Remember to keep the camera as steady as possible
  • Shoot in portrait mode and keep the center of the image on the horizon.
  • From each photographic point take an image directly ahead of the center of the tower.
  • Then take a couple more facing slightly to the right and the left.
  • Try to do this at as many points as possible round the tower, but at least at the middle of each side and corner if possible (giving at least 8 points the images are taken from). This provides quite a bit of overlap between the groups which helps when it comes to stitching.
  • Use image stitching software, like Hugin (free) or PTGui (paid) to compose the shot.
As Richard shows, the results can be very good. Other examples of this kind of picture on Panoramic Earth include:

New Panoramas on Panoramic Earth