what3words – addressing the world

what3words is an interesting solution to the problem of the global addresses.  What’s the problem, you ask?  Well, according to their website:

  • Poor addressing costs businesses billions of dollars and hampers the growth and development of entire nations.
  • Around 75% of the world (135+ countries) suffers from inadequate addressing.
  • 4 billion people are invisible, unable to get deliveries or receive aid, and unable to exercise their rights as citizens.

That doesn’t sound too far from the truth.  So, how do they solve it?


what3words is a global grid of 57 trillion 3mx3m squares.

Each square has a 3 word address that can be communicated quickly, easily and with no ambiguity.

Our geocoder turns geographic coordinates into these 3 word addresses and vice-versa.

Using words means non-technical people can accurately find any location and communicate it more quickly, more easily and with less ambiguity than any other system like street addresses, postcodes, latitude & longitude or mobile short-links.

It’s a very elegant solution.  Obviously, it doesn’t solve all of the problems (for example, it does not take height into account, so if you have a 50-floor high apartment block, all 50 floors will share the same squares).  But this solution is still valuable and super easy to use.

And it’s fun too!  I live around crowbar.land.premises, and I work close to simply.approve.pretty.  See, I told you.

By the way, what3words has been recently in the news:

Mongol Post, the country’s largest mail provider, has licensed the system from What3Words, and starting in September it will offer customers the option of using the three-word codes. (The company added Mongolian to its first 10 languages; 14 more are coming.)

If that’s not cool, I don’t know what is.

Why Waze is so incredibly popular in Costa Rica

Why Waze is so incredibly popular in Costa Rica – excellent story, which, I think, is pretty applicable in Cyprus too.  There aren’t many people here.  And there are even fewer sensible street addresses.  We are landmark driven navigation country too.


Google Map Maker – wisdom of a crowd

Official Google Blog shares yet another milestone in the life of Google Map Maker. Google Map Maker is the tool that allows anyone in the world add and correct information on Google Maps. Google might know more about famous places, but there are millions and millions of neighborhoods in the world with local businesses and other tiny little features that only the locals know. Google Map Maker makes sharing and accessing this knowledge possible and easy.

Yes, it is yet another one of those “wisdom of a crowd” things. But no matter how skeptical you are about the approach, it is hard to argue with the success Google had in utilizing the masses. Have a look at this before and after comparison of Tbilisi, Georgia map and you’ll be amazed as to how much “after” has improved.

As with anything that humans do, there might be mistakes and inaccuracies there. But given the will and the right tools, these are getting fixed and corrected. Have you tried it? If no, please do. You’ll be amazed as to how easy and intuitive it is. And as they say in the video, try adding your local coffee shop. Share the knowledge.


Richat Structure

Last week I posted a couple of photographs of Cyprus from space.  While looking through the rest of the images in collection, I noticed something that I’ve never heard about before – a picture of so called Richat Structure.

If you, like me, haven’t heard about it or heard and totally forgot, here is a brief Wikipedia summary that should get you started.

The Richat Structure, also known as the Eye of the Sahara, is a prominent circular feature in the Sahara desert of Mauritania near Ouadane. It has attracted attention since the earliest space missions because it forms a conspicuous bull’s-eye in the otherwise rather featureless expanse of desert. The structure, which has a diameter of approximately 50 kilometres (31 mi) and is located 400–450 metres (1,310–1,480 ft) above sea level, has become a landmark for space shuttle crews.

Initially interpreted as a meteorite impact structure because of its high degree of circularity, it is now thought to be a symmetrical uplift (circular anticline or dome) that has been laid bare by erosion. Paleozoic quartzites form the resistant beds outlining the structure. The lack of shock metamorphism at the site further backs the latter claim.

Theme fixes, improvements, and polish

If you have a lot of attention for details, you probably noticed a few things moving around and changing on this blog in the last few days. You weren’t dreaming – I indeed moved changed a few things. Here is a round-up for those of you who enjoy these sort of things:

  • List of categories moved up. Since I am interested in and blog about many different things, I don’t blame you if you would like to skip some of them and read only things that you care about. I moved the list of categories higher up in the sidebar, so that you could jump directly to the topic of your choice.
  • Full posts in categories, tags, and archives. This should also make reading posts about specific things easier. You won’t need to jump to the full post page all that often now. Less clicks and all.
  • Category header images. Some categories (see Photography, Movies, and Technology for examples) will greet you with different header images (once again, thanks to Igor Gorbulinsky for his talent and time). This feature should help you out a bit while navigating the site – instant indicator of where you are.
  • Highlight of category name, tag, and search query. When you navigate to posts of a specific tag or category, you should see the term at the top of the page. Sometimes the term is highlighted, like, for example, in case of search query. Also, sometimes, you have a link to RSS feed which provides easier access to similar posts.
  • Improved RSS feed auto-discovery. Depending on where you are on the site, your browser will suggest a different set of RSS feeds to subscribe to. I’m trying to make these things as intuitive as possible.
  • Improved browser compatibility and standard compliance. A few small glitches here and there were fixed. All RSS feeds are valid now, except for those rare cases when content of specific posts causes problems. CSS is now valid and many warnings are fixed. HTML is now almost valid. There are a few issues which which are caused by WordPress bugs, but fixes for these seem to be available in the upcoming version of WordPress. In any case, it seems all theme and plugin specific issues were fixed.
  • Upgraded WordPress to version 2.3.3 .  This is the latest version with all the security fixes and such.

As you can see from the list above, all of these changes are rather cosmetic and can be classified as web site polish. None of them should cause any issues to you or your browser, and much of the misbehaving functionality should be fixed now.

If you have any ideas on suggestions on further improvements, or if you notice any misbehavior at all, please let me know.

Marking Google Maps

I have to admit that I am not a power user of Google Maps.  Sure, I visit the site often to search for a parking space or a better route around Limassol downtown.  But I never actually explored the power of the application and all of its useful features.

Today I accidentally realized that I could actually place marks on the maps and share them with other people. This is more than valuable while providing someone with driving instructions or just to make sure several people talk about the same place.

In case you don’t know how to do this, here is a quick guide for you.

  1. Visit Google Maps while being logged in with your Google account. If you already have an account with Gmail or any other Google service, you can use that one with Google Maps.
  2. Click on the “My Maps” tab under the search bar on the left of the map image.
  3. Click on the “Create new map” link.
  4. Navigate the map image and zoom to find the location of your choice. Drag and drop the marker (icon with blue something right next to the icon with the hand at the top of the map image) on the location, or draw a shape around it (another icon up there).
  5. Fill in the title and description of the map on the left.
  6. Mark the map “Public” in the privacy settings on the left, under the description.
  7. Click on the “Done” button to save the map.
  8. Click on the “Link to this page” on the right side, above the map image. You’ll get the URL that you can copy and paste into email, instant messenger, or blog.

If you did everything right, you’ll have something like this – my map with a few Limassol locations.