Customized Google Maps for Android

Custom Maps is an essential app for Android phones for any serious off-trail hikers, sailors or anyone else who needs detailed off-line maps.

The app lets you quickly create a custom map for your Android phone from any map image or photo file. The image can be a photo or scan of a paper map. It could even just be the photo of a map posted at the beginning of a trailhead or at the entrance to an amusement park, which you can capture with your smartphone camera.

To create a custom map all you have to do is choose two (or more) points in your map image and plot them on a Google Map. That’s all it takes. Your finished map can then show your GPS location and will work even when a data signal is not available like in a state park or when abroad.

I have a boat that is moored on a river with lots of tributaries and creeks, some of which are navigable and some of which aren’t. When you start exploring these backwaters it is very easy to quickly lose a sense of where you are.

Using Custom Maps I made an off-line map for my phone in less than five minutes using a scan of a river chart. Now I should never get lost on my boat again.

The source code for Custom Maps is also available on Google Code. Several new features are also planned for the app including distance measurement, marking map locations with icons and making it possible to geolocate map images without Google Maps or a data connection.

Via: Open Source at Google

The New Blogger

Blogger rolled out some nice new stuff this week. It’s different inside and out. As a heavy user of Blogger (you’re soaking in it!), I’m happy with anything that helps us make a better blog for you to read. If you have a Blogger blog of your own, here are a couple of the changes you’ll notice:

  • Each settings page has a button that starts a new post. Creating posts is what bloggers do most, and now you always can get to the post editor with one click.
  • You can see traffic and other stats in one place. The new Overview page shows you page views, comment activity, follower counts, and more.

For more information on what’s new in Blogger, and to find out how to turn on the new features, see this Blogger Buzz post.

Adding features to software is hard enough. Bumping celestial bodies around is another matter entirely. Hexi Baoyin of Tsinghua University has suggested giving a gentle shove to an asteroid so that it ends up in Earth orbit.

Android App Inventor


App Inventor for Android provides an easy, gentle way for programming students and other curious folks to create apps for Android devices. Incubated and launched by Google, App Inventor will now be shepherded by the new MIT Center for Mobile Learning. App Inventor godfather Hal Abelson will oversee the new center along with two distinguished MIT colleagues.

While App Inventor is just starting out, the recently discovered Protoanguilla palau eel is an amazing 200 million years old. This eel has never been seen in the fossil record; in fact, it’s being called a “living fossil”. It is so unique that it occupies its own species, genus, and family.

Finally, as you ponder the implications of developing mobile apps and living prehistoric eels, you can enjoy a nice paper banana.