Architect or Grad Student?

With many popular sites picking up on Barbie’s new architectural design (the house) I finslly took a look at this year’s “I Can Be…” Barbie. You may recall that last year was the computer geek Barbie which was, quite honestly, awesome and can of course be called the GIS Barbie if you so choose. This year’s Architect Barbie offers Geographer’s the same opportunity to abscond with the credit. The main accouterments’s on Barbie are a tube for her blueprints and a hard hat. I say we ditch the hard hat, keep the map tube, and we have Geography grad student Barbie getting ready for this year’s poster session at the AAG in New York (I mean, come on, who other than a grad student is going to be crazy enough to wear those heels to a conference. Right?). Since the dress has a building theme I assume she is an urban geographer.

We should know by next February (if Mattel keep’s to their timeline) how we can abscond with next year’s “I Can Be…” Barbie.

Group Me and Group Texting

The Wall Street Journal has an article on GroupMe, an Android application that allows multiple users to text together at the same time as a group. According to the article, “The secret behind GroupMe is that it assigns one phone number to a group, so the most basic cellphones will be able to send text messages to this number, like it’s one person’s phone when it really represents several users. People can also call this single number to initiate a conference call.” While the article naturally focuses on the business benefits of the application, I was more interested in the geospatial and family benefits. Many times my family members from ages 10 – 90+ like to use conference calling to keep in touch as if we were at the kitchen table together. I can imagine using group texting in situations such as coordinating efforts at huge places like the ESRI User’s Conference or Disney World.

ESRI EDuc Plenary Session – ArcGIS Online Improvements

At the ESRI Education User Conference Plenary this morning a few things struck me as significant for GIS use in the classroom.  Bern Szukalski reviewed some of the revisions that occurred last Wednesday and these are what I thought could enhance the use of GIS in the classroom:

Intelligent Mapping – Essentially pop ups that display data in graphical formats about the feature selected ( fun stuff like pie, bar and line charts).

Time enabled mapping – The ability to connect to time aware services and bring them into the mapping environment and have a time slider available.

And what I feel is the most significant advance, “Drag & Drop Mapping” where a text or Excel file can be dragged directly into the mapping environment to add features and their associated data.  Remember creating an Excel sheet with Latitude and Longitude fields, displaying events, and then exporting that event as a layer?  Not anymore, just drag that excel file over the map and drop it!

While the emphasis of the plenary was to enable GIS education, the undertone was that of increasing the capabilities of web mapping and the continued integration of cloud services.  The Pennsylvania State University also announced today for the first time publicly that it will be offering an open course tentatively titled “GEOG 8xx – Cloud/Server GIS“.  Enrollment for this course will be open on November 7th 2011.

Must – Have – Coffee!

Where you live might decide where you get your AM cup of joe (unless you get your fix from a local favorite).  Numbers Run has a neat series of maps that shows the number of store locations (Starbucks Vs. Dunkin Donuts) by zip code.  Living in New England I can already tell you that I don’t need a map to find a Dunkin Donuts.  They’re in every gas station, grocery store, shopping plaza… I think one is going in at the end of the hallway in my department!  To be honest, I’m looking forward to visiting the zip code with the largest number of Starbucks next month for the 2011 ESRI UC in San Diego, CA.

From: Numbers


How the states originally got their stories

We have tweeted about and talked about and shown the History Channel’s How the States Got Their Shapes often since the original 2 hour special aired and have sat entranced as Brian Unger has taken us through the first six episodes of the season. BUT…we probably need to take a step back and make sure to give the credit of the shows concept to Mark Stein who published the book of the same name back in 2008. In addition, Mr Stein has just released How the States Got Their Shapes Too: The People Behind the Borderlines which, as the name suggests, looks at the people who were most influential in creating the borders in the US. In the mean time, while we take some time to read the new book, you can check out a presentation Mark Stein gave to the Library of Congress about the first book.

Animated Maps on Memorial Day Weekend

On this memorial day weekend the History Channel is kicking off a week of Civil War themed shows.  While watching I thought I’d see if there were any interesting maps available on the intertubes.  What did I find? Some wonderful animated maps from the Civil War Trust ! The maps are flash based and progress through some key battles of the war.  The site also provides users historical maps and new digital maps that are static.

Additionally, the site has available BattleApps. The BattleApps are virtual Civil War tour guides for the war or specific battles for the iPhone or iPad.  The apps are location aware and throughout the tour one could view video clips from the national park service and see locations of troops of both the North and South.  Another great example of giving old paper maps a new lease on life with digital innovation!

Fredericksburg Gets Civil War App:


Sony SmartAR – markerless augmented reality

Augmented reality is one of those technologies that has seemed like it would be next big thing for the last couple of years, but it has proven pretty difficult to translate from WOW factor proof-of-concept prototypes to actual commercial implementations. When I saw this demo video of Sony’s Smart AR, though, I have to say I was pretty impressed with how good the AR model looks in the real-world environment it’s being projected into, and how responsive it is. The SmartAR seems to be able to handle movement in the 3D space really well, and the virtual object is not tied to the marker surface, which is really important in making the augmented reality compelling. Another aspect of SmartAR technology allows a user to capture an image of an object and then access additional information about that object through the device. For Sony, of course, implementing technology like Smart AR for gaming and other commercial uses is certainly a main focus, but I can see tons of other applications for markerless, high-speed augmented reality.

Via Engadget