Meta-Data, Locality, and WV-Gate

This past week, Democrat Natalie Tennant announced her run for Senate and it was covered by the Washington Post, “Natalie Tennant Officially Launches Senate Campaign in West Virginia“. However, the big news wasn’t her political platform, but rather the fact that her campaign video uses stock footage of a college campus – not West Virginia University, where she attended college, or another WV institute of higher learner but that of college rival, University of Pittsburgh. Twitter feeds in West Virginia lit up as people, who know their own local and feel very proud of it, pointed out the potential goof. Republican campaigners were quick to take to Twitter to denounce the mistake, but many did so by referencing The University of West Virginia or other variations that were not the correct place name of West Virginia University. A repeat of the cycle happened, Twitter feeds lit up again, as people who know their own local and feel very proud of it, pointed out the potential goof. After a day or two the whole thing died down and has mostly been forgotten.

As geo-spatial professionals, who sometimes work on projects outside the scope of our specific local knowledge, we can probably all sympathize with both mistakes – not choosing stock photos wisely and not double checking specific place names. However, as this incident and other incidents like it illustrate, it is often important to weigh the cost of double checking meta-data, when available, versus the cost of having to deal with the fallout if anyone notices a discrepancy that is important to them because they know the area very well.

To quote, former Speaker of the U.S. House Tip O’Neill, “All politics is local”, which makes meta-data a politically charged issue that needs to be carefully considered when trying to reach the public.

Voyager 1 Has Left The Solar System….. Probably. Maybe. We Think

Honestly it’s like the space scientist equivalent of watching Lindsey Lohan.  Has it left?  When did it leave?  Is it still here?  Is it long gone?  I can’t stop obsessing about this news.  It appears Voyager 1 left the solar system quit some time ago (around April), IF plasma density is to be believed.  The heart of the problem is plasma density isn’t constant.  Quite understandably plasma is hotter nearer the sun, which means it is less dense.  Therefore the calculations were all wrong and Voyager 1 is outta here already.  Or maybe.  Who knows?  I don’t completely understand it, to be honest.

All I know is that I simply can NOT get enough of this story.  This is great, nail biting science going on here.  It’s like assessing the effects of the no strikes touch down rule in the NHL (or some such controversial sports rule analogy that I neither know anything about nor understand).

Weather App That Will Navigate Around Weather

Here’s a great use of LBS and I’m kinda surprised more navigation apps don’t have this built in – TurnCast will route you around weather events while you’re driving.  This can be super helpful if you’re in a new area and don’t know the weather patterns or roads.  Driving through hellish storms can be a chore.  Sometimes going a bit ‘out of the way’ can actually save you time and energy.  It certainly can be safer.  TurnCast isn’t quite out yet, but the company has a number of other weather apps that provide more ‘real time’ information than most weather apps.  The downside is it looks to be iOS only, so Windows and Android users are kinda out of luck.


Via TechCrunch

San Fran Bay Bridge: The most spatial bridge in the world

According to NPR, when the newly completed San Francisco Bay Bridge reopened, “There was little fanfare, but the gleaming white and newly built $6.4-billion eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge reopened to the public as vehicles began crossing it after more than a decade of construction delays”. This lack of fanfare is surprising because for the past several years the Bay Bridge has been an ubiquitously geo-spatially explored bridge construction project owing to its proximity to innovative government, company, and residents and its importance in their lives. It is also the World’s Largest Self-Anchored Suspension Bridge.

To list a few spatial projects from over the years:

EarthCam released a time-lapse video of six years of construction on the bridge.

Nokia:Navteq after the…

Here logo 2012Once upon a time there was a services division at a company…they liked and saw potential in location. They decided to save some licensing $$ and acquired a data company. After a few years, as hardware moved forward and operating systems changed, there seemed to be a disconnect between the hardware and services divisions of the company. Part of the disconnect was that the services division was keeping the hardware division afloat, or so it seemed to me. Don’t get me wrong, the hardware is top notch (don’t tell Sue, but I have even thought about switching phones a couple of times). However, while the hardware was good, the services are great.

Now the big M has said it will purchase the hardware division (so much to hope for and fear in that one) leaving behind the services division. On the data side of things I think this is a good thing, on the app and services side of things I think this is phenomenal for iOS and Android users. It seems a bit like the Erdas/Leica/Erdas/Intergraph roller coaster in terms of Navteq/Nokia/Here set of transitions, but at the core is the potential, both proven and future, of location technologies. And at the heart of that potential is data, data, data.

When we talked to the folks from Here at the Esri UC (coming in episode 425) you could tell that they are as excited as ever about the data and products they bring to market. Their partnerships with software and hardware companies make it clear that all is well and good for the portion of Nokia that will be left to the name after the hardware division (and a bundle of patents) is claimed by its Redmond overlords. I do question what kind of tomfoolery can go on at the larger corporate level in the next few months as the transition occurs, but the results should be a strong services and data company come the end of the transition period.

(and a true Microsoft phone to boot, given the Surface Pro, this is a good thing…I think)

Via engadget