Archive for the ‘UofM Students’ Category

Fun With 3D

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

Recently (through no doubt) I bought a SpaceNavigator which is an inexpensive 3d mouse. A regular mouse only allows you to move around in two dimensions. Left and right, up and down. This 3d mouse allows you to go left, right, up, down, rotate clockwise and counterclockwise, zoom and zoom out, and tilt up, down, left, and right. The SpaceNavigator works with both Google Earth and SketchUp, so I had to play around with both of them.

In Google Earth, you don’t even need to use your regular mouse to explore every nook and cranny of planet earth. It’s even cooler with the 3d buildings turned on because you can zoom down in between buildings and pretend you are spiderman flying over a street by jumping from building to building high above the ground. With SketchUp, the 3d mouse comes in really handy for moving the camera around the 3d object that you are editing.

In order to get my hands wet with 3d modeling in SketchUp, I started out trying to model the Duderstadt Center at the University of Michigan. This is a huge building on North Campus. There was already a 3d model of the Duderstadt Center done as part of the 3d Atlas of Ann Arbor, but it was just the outline of the building in 2d raised the height of the building and images placed around the outside. I wanted to add a lot more detail. It was rather difficult at first to get all of the shapes of the building the way I wanted them. I gave up to try something simpler. So, I moved on to The Cube. I used SketchUp to model the cube in 3d, and geo-referenced it so that you can view it in Google Earth.

Things I Wish Existed: Wiki Drawing Tool

Monday, June 4th, 2007

The name pretty much says it all I think: wiki drawing tool. Basically, I want a website where I can go and draw something, then other people can come in later and edit it. Just like Wikipedia, all changes will be saved, and each drawing would be able to be instantly reverted to a previous version.

Cartiki, a user edited database of locations

Tuesday, May 29th, 2007

Introducing Cartiki, a user edited database of locations. A cartography or map making wiki.

Anyone can add a location name to the database with a corresponding bounds on the map, a parent location, alternate names, and external URLs.
Other features will be released soon based on user feedback, so, send me an email and let me know what else you want to see on Cartiki!

My Web Mapping Background

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007

I originally wrote the following as my biography for WhereCamp, an unconference for geo-hackers. I realized that readers of my blog might be interested in this too. Also, if you are going to be in SF next week for Where 2.0, Google Developer Day, or WhereCamp, please contact me if you’d like to meet up.

Hi! I’m Kyle Mulka. I just graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Computer Science. When the Google Maps API first came out, I was really excited about the possibilities and started hacking with it right away. I built a bunch of stuff, some of which you can see on my Google Maps page.

The semester after that summer, I started a class project which was basically Plazes but with more detail inside of buildings at our University. We called it liveUgli. UGLi is short for undergraduate library. Basically, we wanted the site to be a representation of what was currently happening in the library: what people were studying, which groups were meeting, if someone was planning a study break for lunch or frisbee or whatever. It would allow people to find study groups and meet up with friends and classmates. They would be able to more easily discover the people near them, but not close enough to see.

I believe there were many reasons which made liveUgli unsuccessful, the main one being that no one was using it, so the site was useless. This is a problem with all social networking sites. You need a critical mass of users for something like this to be successful. But, beyond that, there was no automatic detection of location (yet), and even the manual method was kind of difficult for users. Many people told me that they didn’t study in the UGLi, so the site was useless to them as well.
I set out to create a system by which we could easily add new location names and maps and floor plans to the system. I ended up calling this system Cartiki which stood for cartography wiki, or map making wiki. Not only would we, the administrators of the site be able to add locations, anyone could add locations in wiki fashion. I’m almost to the point where I’m ready to release Cartiki as a stand alone web application to be used to help people find locations, both on a regular Google Map, and on uploaded floor plans of buildings. This would be ideal as a university/corporate campus room finder.

The ability to upload custom maps and floor plans comes from another system I built for this purpose called the Gmap Uploader. This can also be used separately from Cartiki and liveUgli, especially for viewing high resolution photos.


Wednesday, May 9th, 2007

I usually don’t blog about personal stuff, but this whole graduation from college is kind of a big deal. That’s right, I can now call myself an alumnus of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor with a degree in Computer Science in Engineering.

Now that I have graduated, the question comes up: “What are you going to do with the rest of your life?”

I at least have a little bit of it planned out. I’m planning a trip to the east coast in the next couple weeks with a couple of my housemates. Then, probably on Memorial Day, I’ll be flying out to Silicon Valley to attend a few conferences involving pretty much exactly what I’m interested in, web-based mapping: Where 2.0, the Google Developer Day, and WhereCamp. After visiting with a few friends there, I’ll come back to Ann Arbor, where I’ll probably just be relaxing. I may decide to visit some other friends in June… possibly in Chicago. Then, I’ll be around for my Grandma’s birthday on the 4th of July.

Shortly after, in mid-July, I’ll be flying to Seattle to start a full-time job at I’ll be working with the Enterprise Multi-Channel group, which basically means we use Amazon’s technology infrastructure to build ordering systems which allow large merchants to receive orders through multiple ordering channels such as on the web, over the phone, and in the store. Last summer, as an Inten with Amazon I worked on Marks and Spencer‘s ordering pipeline… the part where you enter your delivery information. Their new website, powered by Amazon just launched a couple months ago.
What happens after that is anyone’s guess! Maybe you can be a part of it!? Come visit me in Seattle!

Zattoo IPTV Download

Friday, May 4th, 2007

University of Michigan students, staff, and faculty can now download and try Zattoo, a P2P IPTV service within the University of Michigan network. You’ll need a UofM uniqname and password. Check it out:

Zattoo Download

Things I Wish Existed: Time Delayed Email

Thursday, April 26th, 2007

Wouldn’t it be nice to send an email now, and know that it will arrive in someone’s inbox a few days later?

How about sending yourself reminders? You could just send the email and forget about it for a few days. I know that todo lists are meant for this, but really, I don’t want to see certain things on my todo list until days after I put them there.

How about event reminders. When I was Activities Chair for HKN, I would always send an email about a week, and another a couple days before an event. If only I could type the two emails sometime beforehand and then tell my email program to delay actually sending the emails until those dates.

Another thing that I find myself needing is a way to follow up on emails. So, I send one email, and if I don’t get a reply to it, I should send another email to make sure they got it, and remind them to send me a reply. I usually don’t remember to send these follow up emails, so it would be nice to get a reminder about sending the email, or have my email program ask me if I want to send the follow up email I had previously written.

Mobile Grades

Monday, April 23rd, 2007

For those of you who check your grades through Wolverine Access constantly, here’s something you will appreciate. It’s called Mobile Grades, and basically, its a desktop application that checks your grades for you automatically every so often. You can even get them sent to your phone, but that costs money, where as the basic service is free. Scott Goldman is the creator of this service. He is also maintaining Mschedule for me now too.

Facebook’s April Fools’ Joke

Monday, April 2nd, 2007

The following unique entries were in everyone’s facebook news feed on April Fools’ Day 2007:

News Feed entries

Also, at the bottom of each page, Mark Zuckerberg’s name was replaced with the name of the person logged in or another random name. I’m not sure if these people are employees of facebook, people in the user’s network, or just random people on facebook. They certainly weren’t my friends.

As much credit as Mark deserves for creating the facebook in the first place, I don’t think he deserves to continue to plaster his name on every facebook page served considering they have a few hundred employees, and many more people who make facebook possible including all the users. Maybe its just me, but I’d consider this pretty arrogant of him.

Mschedule, Fall 2007

Friday, March 23rd, 2007

Basically, I don’t plan on updating Mschedule for Fall 2007 myself. So, I’m looking for a volunteer to maintain Mschedule. I’d be happy to continue to host it, I’m just not planning on putting more time into it right now.

The official post: