Sorting records on oldmapsonline.org by date and scale – a quick greasemonkey script

oldmapsonline.org
oldmapsonline.org, with listings sorted by map scale

I was prompted by a tweet from Mia Ridge to have another look at the oldmapsonline.org site. Anything that has maps and history and a slick interface is going to be something I like! But I was struck by the fact that I couldn’t sort the map results that appear in the right hand panel by date or by the scale of the map. Sometimes if you’re researching a location you just want detailed maps, or to look at the oldest ones first (they do have a very nice date range filter, but no sort options).

So I’ve thrown together a very quick Greasemonkey script to help me, and I thought I’d share it. All it does is add two ‘sort’ links above the results panel. Click on either one and you’ll sort the records displayed in ascending order.

How to install

Greasemonkey runs in either Firefox (with the Greasemonkey extension installed) or Chrome. In Chrome it’s easiest to install the Tampermonkey extension to avoid problems with loading external scripts (which you can read about here).

Once that’s done, just click on this link - http://www.catchingtherain.com/scripts/oldmapsonline.user.js – to install it and then each time you load http://www.oldmapsonline.org it should automatically add the sort buttons. Just one caveat – the site has continuous loading of map items, meaning  that as you scroll to the bottom it will download and display more items. The tool will only work with records that have been listed, so scroll down first if there are lots of maps for the area and date range you’re looking at. That said, if you sort and then retrieve more items, just click the sort button again.

Time to get this blog active again

The whole point about this site, and especially this blog, was to be a playground, a digital laboratory full of mysterious experiments. Well, I’ve still been playing, I just haven’t been very good at writing down what I’ve been up to. But starting today I’m going to try to redress that, and also go back over the last couple of years and document some of the more notable things I’ve been fiddling with.

Here goes …

New Powerhouse Museum WordPress plugin launched

Seb Chan and the team at Powerhouse Museum in Sydney certainly likes to make sure they stay one step ahead of everyone else in the museums sector, and they’ve proved it once again with the launch of a custom WordPress plugin that interfaces with their collections information through the API (which, of course, they have had up and running for ages).

Here’s a little test.

[phm-grid cols=4 rows=5 v_space=3 h_space=3 thumb_width=125 thumb_height=125 random=true parameters=”title:rain”]

More automatic tagging tools discovered and tested

I’ve just discovered two more services – Alchemy and Zemanta – and also a couple of extra WordPress plugins to use these and automatically suggest and add tags.  One simply uses the Alchemy API, but by far the most advanced I’ve uncovered yet is Simple Tags which pulls in tags from Local Tags (I think that’s a list of tags already used), Yahoo, OpenCalais, Alchemy, Zemanta, and Tag the Net.  So here’s a bit more text to test them out, focussed on geographic terms …

Hatfield has been in the papers again this week.  It’s where I went to secondary school.  I used to cycle 6 miles each way, each day, including the climb up Bell Bar (near Potters Bar) which was about half way from Cuffley.

More OpenCalais – testing, testing!

Advanced warning: this is just a test post for myself, so only read on if you’re interested in the Calais service, and geotagging in particular …

I’ve also now found and installed the ‘official’ Tagaroo plugin from Calais.  Here’s a quick test to see how it works.

Unlike the others it automatically suggests tags and even photos that match, constantly updating as you type.  So already I’m seeing loads related to Calais, northern France.

But what if I type an obscure location, such as the tiny hamlet of Windmill, which is just near one of my favourite holiday locations at Trevone, near Padstow.  Well, it certainly seems to have recognised something as a location, as it has automatically suggested Cornwall, but frustratingly they are all converted into plain text tags, so I can’t see if it just thinks it is about a windmill, rather than if it has detected that Windmill is a location.

There’s even a drop-down that lets me restrict the types of tag, but the options are just ‘All’,  ‘Social’ and ‘Country’.  And Country only returns France.

So let’s give it something simpler – I grew up in the village of Cuffley and near there there is a tiny place called Brickendon, which I’m not aware of as meaning anything else!  But neither Auto Tagger nor Tagaroo have spotted that one.  Shame, I wonder what the data source is that they are using for geography, and how detailed it is?

Oddly the Calais Auto Tagger mentioned in a previous post seems to pull out things slightly differently, especially locations.  For example it has actually given me “Cuffley, United Kingdom”.

Oh, and one last thing.  If you have Tagaroo and Auto Tagger both installed, it looks like Auto Tagger overrides anything you add from Tagaroo

Mainly just a place to test things out