Leveraging Google Maps To Comparison Shop Between Travel Sites

Need to book a hotel room, but you’re looking for a good deal? Google Maps has you covered. This post is if you already have a particular hotel picked out.

As an example, I’m going to pick the Contemporary Resort in Orlando, Florida. First, go to Google Maps and type in contemporary resort. Select the Contemporary located in Orlando, FL.

Using Google Maps to locate the Contemporary Resort, in Orlando Florida.

After searching, you’ll see a screen similar to the below:

Contemporary Resort hotel availability from Google Maps.

On the left hand side, there are advertisements (note the small Ad disclaimer in the middle of the screen) where Expedia and other trip planning sites offer deals for the hotel. You can comparison shop between providers – KAYAK is offering rooms for $492, but Expedia is offering for $488 (see purple arrow). The dates of the hotel stay can be changed as well, see the red arrow for the date pickers.

Keep your eye out for similar ads and deals in Google Maps – I frequently see travel deals being offered.

Why I Love NewsBlur – Folder RSS

After the closure of Google Reader – which I was a big fan of – I moved all of my RSS feeds to NewsBlur. One of the reasons I moved to NewsBlur is that it has a full API and is very easy to interface with!

For instance, folder feeds are available and don’t require authentication, making it easy for an app to merge multiple RSS feeds and treat them as one. For example: in NewsBlur, I’ve created a folder called economy and set up multiple feeds (New York Times, Forbes, Washington Post Business) underneath that folder, like so:

A Newsblur folder containing multiple feeds.
A Newsblur folder containing multiple feeds.

Right clicking the folder name and clicking folder settings pops up the folder settings tab. The URLs listed in the Feed Address section return a RSS list with all of the items from the feeds combined into a single feed. Even better: the URL supplied doesn’t require authentication, so an application can read it instead of having to poll 5 separate RSS feeds.

Newsblur folder settings screenshot.

Disney Waiting Page

I like to collect examples of error pages, but this is slightly different. When I was browsing Disney.com, I was shown the below page asking me to wait until the request could be completed.

Notice the stylized Space Mountain image in the middle, which helps to customize and personalize the page to the Disney branding. This is a good page to use as a template if you need to build a similar long-waiting page.

Screenshot of a Disney page asking the user to wait while a long-running request executes.
Screenshot of a Disney page asking the user to wait while a long-running request executes.
A close-up of the stylized Space Mountain image, which helps to brand the page with the Disney theme.
A close-up of the stylized Space Mountain image, which helps to brand the page with the Disney theme.

Missing Logs – Google Logs Viewer

I opened a new GCP project to host a Python application when I hit a problem – my logging.info() and logging.warn() statements weren’t showing up in my logs. Then I realized the standard error and standard out streams weren’t selected in logging!

If you’re missing log information, make sure to select the correct streams in the second dropdown box, as in below:

Screenshot of logging, selecting stderr and stdout streams.
Screenshot of logging, selecting stderr and stdout streams.

FastCompany: A Chrome Addon To Fix Gmail

FastCompany profiles a new Chrome plugin in this article published today: https://www.fastcompany.com/90338929/the-former-lead-designer-of-gmail-just-fixed-gmail-on-his-own . The plugin greatly simplifies Gmail’s interface – and it’s made by the same person who wrote Inbox.

I loved using Inbox, and I see the same design sensibilities from Inbox in this plugin: a focus on the email instead of wasting screen real estate on navigation bars and miscellany.

SEO: Images Are Important Too

Search Engine Land posted an insightful article today: Apparently Google is featuring images more often in its search results than in the past: https://searchengineland.com/google-starts-showing-more-images-in-the-web-search-results-315804 .

For example: search Google for a keyword, and if Google decides you might be interested in an image search, it’ll show an image bar within the search page. Now this images bar has always existed, but the Search Engine Land article indicates that this bar is becoming more frequent/being added to more searches. Here’s a demonstration:

Google search for cupcake.
Google search for cupcake. Note the “Images for cupcake” bar on top. Note that this is a regular search results page – Google thought I might be interested in pictures, so it’s showing an images bar.

With this new emphasis on images, it’s important to properly SEO images on your website. Make sure to fill out the ALT attribute on the IMG HTML tag, and have a caption explaining the image. Use a high quality image if available.

Google Shoppable Ads – Competition For Pinterest

In light of Pinterest’s recent IPO, I wanted to point out an article from Mobile Marketer: https://www.mobilemarketer.com/news/google-pushes-deeper-into-visual-search-with-shoppable-ads-in-images/549957/ .

Monetizing Pinterest will largely come down to showing relevant ads within user searches – for example, showing an ad for wedding supplies within an user search for wedding ideas. However, we see Google moving into this business as well, as highlighted in the above article. Google will be showing more ads within Google Images searches – but more importantly – those ads will be image based, which should help clickthrough and purchase rates.

I fully expect Pinterest to thrive and grow, but we’ll be seeing a fair bit of competition from Google and others as well.