I ran across this amusing video from a US game show. The real bright spot here is of course that the 3rd grader got the geography answer in like 10 seconds. Of course the other contestant had a…. well… a tad more trouble.
In other Google news, they have decided to invest some of their billions into renewable energy sources, like solar and wind. The plan is to make renewable sources cheaper than coal sources. It’s an ambitious goal, but it’s good to see even companies not in the energy sector realize the importance of growing our renewable energy pool.
Google has added a few new features to its Google Maps application (funny how Google Local never really caught on, isn’t it?). One, they’ve added the ability to edit markers, which we mentioned in the past. Two, they’ve added a new “street view” function for some urban areas that’s worth a look see. I checked out Pittsburgh, which I know best, and it was pretty neat to see 360 degrees around from a point. Finally and possibly nearest to my day job, they’ve added a “terrain view” button on their maps. Click it and you’ll see hillshade terrain for an area. We zoomed in to West Virginia and took a look around. The data there is remarkably similar to the 3m DEM product that was done in West Virginia last year and is available for free download. If it is, I can’t help but notice there’s no credit for WV… 🙂 Still, even with that nitpick, the addition of terrain and street view is pretty cool, even leading at least one commentator to wonder if Google Earth is on it’s way out!
So, now that our conference presentation is over, I thought I would tell a little bit about what I have been working on for the last few months that has eaten into my blogging time, among other things. After we finished our prototype virtual world last spring, recreating historical Morgantown, WV in ArcScene using SketchUp models and GIS data layers, we realized that we were about at the max of the functionality we could leverage. I started looking at other ways to combine 3D reconstructions with embedded data delivery, and read about Microsoft’s free game development environment, XNA Game Studio Express. Now, when I say free, there are some caveats, because you have to have a computer that’s capable of running some pretty powerful graphics and there are some restrictions on use. You also do need some coding experience to get up and running quickly, but you don’t need to be a full-time developer to pick up the necessary skills. Finished games can be run on Windows or on the Xbox 360 console, and using the game framework opens up all kinds of possibilities for amazing graphics and interactive functionality. Continue reading “XNA and geospatial data”
For those of you not subscribed to the V1 Magazine Newsletter, Jeff and Matt give their take on a topic we have often talked about, gaming technologies in the realm of geospatial. Check it out and let us know what you think about the subject.
Forbes has a run down of the most obese cities in the US. Suffice to say I have a few issues with their methodology, but it is interesting to see fully half of them (and arguably a couple more, depending on how you define the region) are in what I would call the South. As Jesse and I can attest, southern cooking isn’t what one would call the healthiest in the world – although I’d rank it up there for yummiest! I thought it was interesting how they showed a link between poverty and obesity. I can tell you from first hand experience, it’s expensive to eat healthy.
While browsing the Web for those last few Christmas gifts, I came across these cool cards from Uncommon Goods. They’re birthday cards that are made from recycled topo maps, and you can get a set that includes 3 different card designs (8 cards total), 8 “Mapelope” envelopes made from recycled maps, and 16 mailing labels. Since they made from recycled material, you can be green and stylish while wishing a friend or loved one a Mappy Birthday!
For the baseball fan on your shopping list, you can also get a neat NYC map baseball from the same website.
Microsoft Research Cambridge has come up with a new device that is reminiscent of the Weasley’s family’s clock in the Harry Potter books – dubbed the Whereabouts Clock – which lets you see whether family members are at home, work, or school. What makes it science and not magic, though, is that the device uses cell phone data to get each family members location. Basically, when you arrive at a location that you want the software to recognize, you input that location and the software searches for the nearest cell towers and uses them to get a general fix. That data is then associate with work or home or whatever. Right now the Whereabouts Clock is only a research prototype, but there are plans to test a home version in selected households in the Cambridge area.