Geon5

Geon

Geon is an information aggergator and requesting system that is centered around any location you choose in the world. Currently it aggregates feeds of information from services like Twitter, Youtube and Flickr and presents them in an organised format based around their location. Below is a quick start guide on how to get started with Geon and some of its available features.

First point your browser at http://www.therefinedgeek.com.au/geon-beta or click the link at the start of this page. Geon requires the latest version of Microsoft’s Silverlight to use which is available from here or you will be redirected from the Geon home page to install it. Once you have Silverlight installed you will then see the picture below when you browse to Geon (click any of the pictures below for a larger view):

Now think of a location that you’d like to see some information about, say Canberra. To get to that location you can left click anywhere on the map to move it around. To get a closer look at a location you can zoom in (highly reccomend you do!) with your mouse’s scroll wheel or the zoom bar on the left hand side of the map. Once you’ve found the location you want to look at click the location button on the left hand tool bar and then click on the location you want to watch. Once you’ve done that you’ll see a circle appear which will display the name of the location you clicked on:

The area the circle covers on is where Geon will draw the information you’re interested from. To add in information feeds click a service in the left hand side, say Twitter or Images, and near the circle you put down earlier. This will add the information feed to the location and Geon will begin aggregating the requested information for you immediately. After you do this the map should look something like this:

To see the information that Geon has gathered you now need to switch to the Information view, which you can do by clicking the button at the top left hand side of the page. Once you do this you will be presented with all the information currently available from those feeds in the area you selected:

You can add multiple locations to the map and multiple feeds to each location. This lets you build a rich information landscape of locations you are interested in and Geon will constantly search the areas for updated information. You can switch back to the map view by clicking the switch button again in the top left hand corner. Each area you select will be displayed on a separate location row on the information view, as below:

In high population areas you might find that you get quite a lot of information that might not be completely relevant to what you want. In that case you can filter a specific feed down to a particular topic, say cheese. You can do this by clicking anywhere on the information feed itself, either on the map or information view. This will bring up a dialog box that will allow you to enter in a text filter for that feed which will then trigger Geon to search the area again for your topic of choice. You can use this feature to have two of the same information feeds displaying different information from the same location. The title of the feed will also be updated to reflect that it is filtered:

If you have any questions please feel free to leave a comment below or email me at therefinedgeek@gmail.com.

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  1. I’ve just installed moonlight so I can try and run this. Unfortunately it doesn’t work. The plugin gets loaded and I can see the moonlight context menu and ‘about’ and ‘properties’ dialogs; but your application is not displayed.

    UA-string: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv:1.9.1.7) Gecko/20100106 Ubuntu/9.10 (karmic) Firefox/3.5.7
    Plugin-version: Novell Moonlight 2.2

    I have no idea how to debug this.

    I can see Geon being really useful at conferences and the use cases you were talking about where user A can request information from user B about the location user B is currently in. This would be great for disaster relief. If you haven’t yet, you should check out the Open Street Map response to the Haiti earthquake disaster for an example of what can be done with location based network services.

  2. I’ll have to fire up a Linux VM tonight and give it a go myself from there as well. It uses Silverlight 4 so it might just be failing gracefully instead of trying to display it (I see that it will fully support 3 soon, I haven’t seen much mention of 4 yet). Technically I could compile the whole thing in 3 and not have any issues but I’d lose a couple things that would require a bit of effort to recode. I’ve always said that once I get it off the ground I’ll have to hire someone to recode the whole thing in something a little bit more portable since I feel Silverlight will be a limitation in the future.

    Actually as a test try http://www.therefinedgeek.com.au/geon/ instead of the beta link. It’s an old version that’s done in 3 without any gimmicks like RIA and all that. If that doesn’t work then I’ll have to see about ramping up my non-Silverlight client (will be possible thanks to all the APIs I’m creating come with OData and JSON endpoints built in).

    Just had a quick look over that OpenStreetMap stuff for Haiti, that’s very impressive stuff. The original idea came from something along those lines although the original idea came from breaking news stories (an early example I was using was the elections in Iran). Still the more I think about it the more cases like the one you referred to come up, and that just gets me all kinds of excited :D

    Cheers for the heads up!

  3. You see it works! :D Geon only gets images from Flickr that have been geotagged so whoever was snapping those pics of your car was kind enough to put the co-ords in. They must’ve only been uploaded recently since the only picture that used to come up in Canberra was one of cheese ;)

  4. @David Klemke
    Yup, looks like Moonlite 2.2 doesn’t support SL4. The Geon2 link works better… in that the app comes up and I can navigate around the map and it’s pulling in data from the content feeds… but it doesn’t feel right. I get the feeling it’s just an unfinished build though.

    I look forward to a more cross platform toy to play with.

    What will really get you excited is when users start developing their own use cases. Ones that you wouldn’t or couldn’t have thought about.

  5. Yes that’s quite an old build, the first real one on the Silverlight platform. After doing quite a bit of work on it the UI started to constrain the things I wanted to do and I went for a revamp. That included the transition to Silverlight 4 which has the unfortunate effect of locking Moonlight users out. When I start coding up the handset I’ll be creating open APIs so that I can access my data more easily since there’s really no good libraries for Microsoft’s RIA services on anything that isn’t Microsoft. That will have the flow on effect of making a non-Silverlight client possible, and quite likely to be implemented (by me or someone else remains to be seen though ;)).

    That idea does get me excited. The best requirements are the ones that come from people interested in your product. Fun fact: the filter option for feeds was in fact Andrew’s idea way back in the ASP.NET version, and has been carried through every version since.

  6. An unfortunate consequence of moving from IIS to Apache and my sheer laziness ;) When the new version of Geon is ready for release I’ll be redoing all the pages that reference it, including this one.

    Glad to see you’re still interested in the project however ;)

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