I played Webkinz all weekend with my nephew. It’s a cute stuffed toy with a code to enter a virtual environment with tons of interactive games. Many schools use Webkinz as an educational tool or as a reward for good behavior. Gantz, the makers of Webkinz list the reasons why virtual world is educational but they left out one component – you have to use a map tool to add rooms to your virtual house. If. like my nephew, you have almost every room configuration possible, you definitely need the map to find your way from your beach room to your space room without getting lost. You can see all the different types of Webkinz animals at Amazon.
According to this CNN, a former lawyer is making a living out of creating Lego structure art. If a lawyer can do it, can you imagine what a person with a GIS background could do. What if there was an ARC or other spatial Lego software? Anyone already doing something using GIS and Legos? You can become one of the few Lego certified professionals in the world! Imagine Greenwich Village, NY Lego to scale. Incidentally, there is a Lego Land near San Diego, if you want to stop by during the ESRI Users Conference. Someone posted in the reply section about L Cad which allows users to create CAD models using Legos. Too cool
When looking for more information on the world’s biggest cruise ship, I found a great blog on GIS CAD Interoperability aptly called “GIS CAD Interoperability” GIS and CAD are some of the tools used to design cruise ships which are essentially floating cities. When you watch a video of the world’s biggest cruise ship, Oasis of the Seas, being built for Royal Caribbean you can practically see GIS at work. Some sections of the ship even have their own microclimate. You can book your trip at the Royal Carribbean site. Another cool, albeit less luxurious, cruise ship site is POGO-Ocean Cruises which is the International Research Cruise Information tool and website to locate the next ship for your big or small research expidition. It is a little disconcerting to go from the image of the Oasis of the Seas to POGO’s charateristics of research vessels but both of them look like fun.
This story has been covered in many places. On the Chronicle’s Wired Campus it says that a quick thinking journalism graduate student at Berkeley taking pictures of a protest in Egypt sent out a Twitter that simply said “arrested” . His twitter network were able to get in touch with the U.S. embassy and his university.
The Daily Mail UK always seems to have articles on really funny uses of geospatial mapping. Like this article about a woman who hasn’t taken care of her front lawn and it can be seen from satellite on Google Earth. It redefines being a modern day Gladys Kravitz or Taylor Doose Kidding aside, I wonder how many people are going to look up their own neighborhood after reading this?
I found the CNN news story about a Lonely Planet writer who wrote about Brazil, Colombia, the Caribbean, Venezuela, Chile and South America possibly without ever leaving San Francisco fascinating. Although it harkens back to the 1700 -1900’s when some travel writers wrote completely inaccurate travel guides about countries they had never seen, technology has made it possible to be more “spot on” without ever leaving home. I wonder if someone could write a travel guide using nothing but something like Google Earth as a reference. I wonder how accurate it would be? In case you want to be a travel writer there are actually programs out there such as the Nottingham Trent Centre for Travel Writing Studies
Recently massive plastic patches such as the one in the North Pacific Gyre, which is estimated to weigh over 3 million tons and covers an area twice the size of Texas, have gained international attention. According to researchers, this happens due to a clockwise trade wind that encircles the Pacific Rim. Today has a good video which describes it. VSB has a science lesson plan which explains ocean currents by using the floating rubber duckies we blogged about last year.
I just came back from the The 23nd International Conference on Solid Waste Technology and Management at Widener University in Philadelphia. I presented with the Monongalia County Solid Waste Authority from WV and people from all over the world sang “Country Roads” to us. What is Solid Waste you ask? and What does it have to with anything spatial? For the purposes of the conference solid waste was very broadly defined from municiple solid waste (trash,recycling…), industrial (waste from manufacturing processes,Mining and mineral wastes…), specialized (agriculture…), facility siting and regulations, geotechnical topics, EU directives and much more. Spatial analysis is a very important component of solid waste management. I talked with the MASA group based in France which developed a waste management optimization tool for route analysis. They said that most places still design their collection routes by hand which works suprisingly well considering, some have begun to use GIS which has helped tremendousy. However, they (obviously since its what they sell) believe that an optimization tool that takes into account turns/single/doubleside collection…) with a GIS component (ESRI) can reduce the environmental impact and increase efficiency. they had also attended the ESRI conference in Switzerland. Other presentations focused on GIS and natural resources, spatial based selection of anaerobic digestion feedstock in California, Application of remote sensing and GIS techniques for disposal of wastes in India and other equally fascinating topics. You might be working in solid waste technology and management and not even realize it. I hope to see you at this conference next year.
Researchers have verified what you probably do naturally on a steep slope – walk zig-zag. According to MSNBC, researchers at University of Southampton UK, found that zigzagging is the fastest way up or down a steep slope. Appropriately the university has its own hillwalking club. Deputy Dog has a list of the steepest streets in the world. Canton Avenue in Pittsburgh topped the list. Does this remind anyone else of the fun marble run game where you race marbles?
Are you participating in the The Great Backyard Bird Count this weekend? Led by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, with sponsorship from Wild Birds Unlimited citizen scientists of all ages from around North America count the birds in their community to better understand bird dynamics, population change, weather,… Besides the cute pictures, the coolest part is the map room which lets you create a map of your state, region, favorite bird. It’s amazing that 15 minutes observation per person over four days provided so much information. If you need help the USGS and Birding.com provide bird identification websites with birdsongs. Bird Watching — What a great way to get people interested and involved in geography!