Publish Your Own Book with Blurb

If you’ve ever wanted to publish your own book, then Blurb is for you. I tried this service and jsut received my very own hard-cover book of our family history. It is gorgeous and professionally done!

It’s so simple, it’s scary. You just go to the Blurb website, download the free software and assemble your book. You can choose from a number of templates and themes, from photo books, to portfolio books to text and photo books. When you have your book ready to publish, you just upload to the Blurb website, pay for it, and they print and ship it!.The charges are pretty resaonable, too. My hardcover book with dust jacket was 45 pages and cost $29.95 (There was a free shipping special on mine, so I don’t know what the shipping is). Longer books cost more, and there is a handy chart to help you figure up the cost. They also offer softback bindings, which cost less.

I really love how my book turned out and, to bring it back to geography and geospatial technologies, I can imagine how easy it would be to make a lovely book of maps and photo guides. (They do tell you not to use copyrighted material of course!)

9/11 Sites, Then and Now

National Geographic News has a short but interesting photo gallery detailing different sites from 9/11, both on that day and now. The shots are the same shot from the same angles (more or less). I think the shots are a good testament to the human ability to overcome any situation, ultimately.

Beyond those images, the site also carries a number of other photo galleries featuring events and issues around the world. The site is worth spending a bit of time delving into. I know from some of the work Sue has been doing in historical GIS, these photo essays and galleries might someday become immeasurably valuable to historians.

VirtualCity Toronto – a cool combo of Google Maps and street level photos

I really liked A9’s Block Level street photos that let you see what the central areas of various cities were like, and we actually used them a few times to see what our hotels were going to be like at conferences, and I was sad when the services was discontinued. Not much has been going on with Microsoft’s Windows Live Local Street-Side photo service recently either.

That being said, I ran across a really cool Canadian site called Virtual City, which combines Google Maps with a photo interface like A9’s Block Level photos above the map window. The beta showcases maps and street-level photos for Toronto, Canada. There are 2 rows of photos, for each side of the street it appears, and clickbars at either end of the photo rows to allow you move along the street. As you do, the pointer on the Google Maps interface moves with you. According to the VirtualCity website, 4 million photos were taken in Toronto to assemble the street-level photo tours. Another 3 million were taken of Montreal (although there don’t seem to be as many streets in Montreal that are mapped) The company plans to expand sometime soon to photograph select cities in the US.

All I can say is, the site navigated pretty smoothly for me, and I burned about a half hour just moving around the map and looking at the photos. I really like being able to get a glimpse of a place before I travel there, and I would actually use VirtualCity if it included cities that I was traveling to.