Google Earth Enterprise 3.2 Released

The crew over on the Google Earth Enterprise have a new version to announce – 3.2.  The fellows over at Google have had a pretty busy week, what with the big OS announcement, not to mention the offical launch of much of their product line, so it’d be easy to miss this in the diluge of information.  However, this new version adds a lot of functionality to their product and it’s well worth checking out the blog for more information.  Look for a good interview with Dylan, the project lead on GEE, in a near future episode!

Google City Tours

Google labs has launched a neat new feature called City Tours.  The idea is similar to other sites (like Microsoft’s BING!) in that you can enter in a destination and the site will give you a bunch of things to do there.  What’s nice is you get it all laid out on Google Maps, with travel times by foot and the estimated visit time.  The site tries to give you a couple of days worth of stuff, but it only has so much material in its databases.  That’s why the feature includes some crowd sourcing so the public can add more attractions.  I punched in San Diego for our upcoming UC trip and found a couple of places that might be worth checking out!

Broadband Penetration by Country

As many long-time listeners will know, I exceptionally intersted in broadband adoption world-wide.  The US has long been behind the ball on broadband adoption and this latest report does nothing to reverse that trend.  The US is ranked 20th, behind even places like Singapore, Denmark, and even Estonia, all places I’m sure most Americans wouldn’t peg as being so technologically advanced relative to the US.  What is exceptionally intersting about this study is that they claim past reports have been using the wrong metric; that in fact the household is the better study unit rather than per capita.

The Solar Human Hybrid Project – by an 8th Grader!

Anyway you do the math, the SOHH Project is one pretty cool ride.  The vehicle holds four people (plus a dog!) and cargo, and runs off solar and person power.  It can go upwards of 14 mph and is street legal, which isn’t too terrible for around the neighborhood travel.  The whole project was invisioned as a way to re-think transportation modes and methods… plus it was created by an kid in 8th grade (with adult help from his father)!  The site some pictures from the build process and a pretty good detail of the build process.  Most importantly, the vehicle features a GPS unit and the all important iPod dock.

Autodesk’s Project Dragonfly

Autodesk has a pretty cool new toy – Dragonfly!  The program is an online CAD like tool that allows you to map interior spaces.  You can use it to get an idea of how a room decoraction is going to go, or possiblly what can be done with a remodel.  Perhaps best of all, you can project between a 2D top down view and a 3D rendering of the room with just one button click.  The tool is fast and fairly easy to use.  I used it to figure out how to finish my currently unfinished basement (image below).  I wanted a big open space, but a bedroom, bath, and storage room down there.  Playing around with Dragonfly helped me figure out the porportions, ’cause I didn’t really know how big a bathroom needed to be.  If you get a chance to play with it, give it a whirl!


GPS Starts Failing in 2010?

Switched online is reporting an article in the UK’s The Guardian that GPS satellites could begin to fail as early as 2010.  They note that the Air Force maintains the satellite network and was supposed to launch the first replacement in 2007… which it promtly didn’t do.  The satellites have been up there for up to 20 years, so they’re about due for a replacement.  The Guardian is certainly targeted at a more general audience so it’s not suprising they’re missing some details.  For instance, there are a LOT of GPS satellites up there, so the loss of a few isn’t the end of the technology.  Also, the LANDSAT program proves that satellites are often built “like they use to” as the euphamism goes.  Still, it’s a good reminder that a lot of the basic technology infrastructure on which we all rely needs to be maintained every bit as much as roads and bridges.

Broadband Providers Teaming to Outlaw Community Broadband in NC

I should start by saying I’m not even going to pretend to not be biased on this issue.  The community of Wilson, NC decided that they were tired of paying so much for so little with regard to broadband and cable.  So what’s an industrious community who’s tired of their contractor to do?  Well do it there darn self, that’s what.  Turns out they offered a better product for less than either major cable company could.  So what’s a cable company to do?  Lobby the state legislature to make that type of stuff illegal!  Personally, I’m a big supporter of community broadband, especially in markets where the cable companies don’t want to complete.  I find this trend rather flustrating and disappointing.  I understand the point about private/public competition, but if the private isn’t willing to compete, why should the public be prohibited by law from doing so?

Is the iPod touch and the iPhone a dream for the US Military?

The idea of a networked, connected, location aware solider capable of providing a multitude of rolls depending on the situation has long been the dream of the US military.  Newsweek is reporting that Apple’s iPod touch and iPhone might be making that dream a reality.  The multifunctional nature of the device and the fact that it can network with other devices apparently make it a great platform for military use.  Personally, I’m supremely impressed it’s rugged enough (with a case) for military use.  A quick search on Craigslist or ebay will show you a number of people who clearly HAVEN’T found this to be the case.  All in all, it’s a pretty interesting read and a good case study on the importance of multifunction devices that are locationaly aware.