Friday, November 14, 2008

Stretching Pages

With new monitors available, screen resolution for users is increasing, leaving lots of un-used space on web pages. Web pages that stick to older resolutions can be unsightly. All that wasted space!

Filling the page with content isn't always the way to go either. Reading clear across the screen can be difficult. Content should be kept in easy to read chunks. Use fixed width table cells or CSS width tags to keep a column of text narrow enough for the reader to easily scan and read the text.

So, what design techniques will give that page a finished look? Use design elements like banners and side bars that reach across and down the page. Make your viewer feel good about their fancy screen. A touch of color or design can fill that space, saying that you have thought about how to use it, and leave a "finished" feel with the users.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Los Angeles County GIS Day

For those who are near Los Angeles County, they are hosting a GIS Day event at the Hall of Administration down town. Address is 500 W. Temple St, Los Angeles, CA. While this event is primarily for employees to share their GIS expertise, the public is welcome to come check it out.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


With GIS Day coming up, how can you add GIS to your Blog?

I found ClustrMaps today. It functions as a hit counter, but with a GIS twist. It puts a map on your site (or Blog) showing the location of your recent visitors. You and your visitors will find it fascinating to see where everyone is visiting from.

Installation is easy. Sign up for an account on ClustrMaps. On your Blogger site, add an "HTML/Javascript" gadget. Copy the code from ClustrMaps into "content" window of the Blogger gadget and save. When you look at your Blog you will now see a map with dots showing the locations of your recent visitors.

You can also log in to your ClustrMaps account and get hit statistics, so it serves as a hitcounter too. The service is free with the option to upgrade for a small fee of $1.99. If you have a popular site with over 2,500 hits daily, you will need to upgrade in order to track all the visitors correctly.

Monday, November 10, 2008

GIS Day - November 19

GIS Day this year is November 19, 2008.

GIS stands for Geographic Information Systems. What most people think of is maps. GIS features include a lot more than just maps.
  • Step by step driving directions is a common GIS feature that is not often thought of as being a GIS function. Maps are helpful, but most mapping sites include the step by step directions to help people get where they want to go.

  • Spacial anlysis is looking at data based on physical location. When it comes to business, you might want to know what areas receive lots of sales, while others are under served. Survey data may need to consider the socio-economic status of those being polled.
  • Proximity is another common GIS task. This helps people locate resources (stores, government buildings, airports) that are near their location.
  • Geolocation is identifying where something is located. Afterwhich, it can be placed on a map or you can then determine proximity.
GIS features on your web site can add an interactive aspect that is not only informative, but can be quite fun too. There are several web based GIS service providers available on the Internet. Many of them provide simple copy and paste of HTML code to add a map to your site. They also provide API's so that you can develop custom applications on your web site as well. Services are often free for limited use. It is also possible to purchase and set up in-house GIS services, which may be especially important if you have proprietary or confidential data to protect.

Think about ways that you can add a GIS feature to your web site.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


This whole Blog thing has re-introduced me to OpenID. I remember reading about OpenID some time ago, and the big controversy that was going on about the big companies trying to take it over and having competing standards. That seems to be resolved now and several major players have been making it available for a while now.

The great thing about OpenID is that is allows for user authentication to your web site without the need for an SSL certificate. Obviously, this level of authentication is not suitable for financial transactions, and nowhere near what's needed for online banking. But, if you want to allow users to log into your web site, this is a great way to go.

Users need only supply their OpenID url. Nothing really secret there. Many users have the same url. The web site contacts the OpenID server through an encrypted connection - only MD5 but much better than having user ID's and passwords in clear text on the Internet. If the user does need to be authenticated, then the OpenID server can use an SSL connection for the user ID and password.

There seems be to quite a few major companies that currently support the OpenID standard, including Google, Yahoo, Sourceforge and OpenId. Look in the directory to see if your favorite sites already support it.

Now I need to figure out how to implement some of this code to make it work on my sites!