Engadget has a post on some research that suggests that there will be an almost 90 percent loss of GPS signals for a number of hours at the height of the next solar flare cycle in 2011-2012. While surveyors may be looking forward to a long lunch or afternoon off, you may want to avoid traveling by sea or plane that day just in case :-).
When Sue first mentioned Weblo to me last week it seemed kind of cool. Weblo is a site that lets you buy virtual property, but unlike most games, Weblo is selling properties that exist in the real-world (and real-world celebrities, which I find creepy). The problem for me is that there isn’t a user interface that I can find outside of the webpage itseld. I set up an account I went merrily around the site looking for a link to images of places or a map interface, but nothing. I looked into buying a property and saw that YOU have to provide an image of your properties. With the amount of money they had to have put into this thing there are so many things they could have done to go beyond the underwhelming project it appears to be.
Hopefully I will figure it out and it will make sense since the concept itself is great, the implementation seems to be lacking in its first few days at least.
While I await the royalties from the Chumby LBS based on Loki’s WiFi location capabilities I wanted to point out, belated as it may be, that there is a new version of Loki available that has some interesting new features, my favorite of which may be the automatic time zone changer for when you travel. I don’t expect to leave EST until next spring (probably about the same time the first Chumbies ship). Anyway, check out the new version of Loki and be sure to add Platial as a channel…well, just cause.
Here is the compelling description from the HGTV website:
The Blue Planet Globe is a dramatic rotating, illuminated globe that accurately depicts the seasons as they unfold around the world. Slowly spinning inside its sleek tinted case, it creates a mesmerizing view of Earth as seen from outer space. The mechanism design is based on an astronomically true formula and lets you see in 6-minute intervals the changing pattern of sunlight falling over each hemisphere during the year.
Now, as I watched the demo of the Blue Planet Globe in the lovely make-believe living room, I thought to myself that clearly I must have one of these, until I saw the $850 price tag! Now, for those of us with a more limited budget, The Science Source does have a much less expensive ($75) Season Modelling Globe which does the same thing but without the full smokey acrylic case.
At least that’s what researchers at the University of Texas at Austin are claiming. Their idea is to use some combination of GPS or RFID to track then cars enter into a congestion area. If vehicles enter during peak times, they would have to pay more in tolls than if they go through off-peak times. So drive into work at 8:00am? Pay $.25 per mile. Drive into work at 2:00am? It’s only $.10 per mile.
It’s an interesting idea, but I personally worry about a couple of things. Ultimately, what happens to all the data people collect about where I’m going when? What would keep outside parties from having access to that data? Finally, I’m not sure driving times are really responsive to market forces. I can’t easily choose an entry time more economical to my budget because, well, my employer says I have to be into work by 9:00am or get fired. If you triple the toll during that natural travel time, I’ll just have to pay triple. Unless my employer allows for complete hours flexibility, I’m not sure this is going to have much of a real impact (other than better roads from increased toll incomes).
Please don’t let this way cool gadget/alarm clock be ‘vapor-ware’. The Chumby is a small computer that appears to be infinitely customizable through Flash widgets and some good old fashion hacking. Toss in a GPS chip and some code you could have an always on cuddly LBS system. If Loki isn’t giving away a few hacked Chumby’s at next year’s Where 2.0 that link their service through Yahoo’s Flash maps, then I will be sad. Maybe a contest…I think a Loki-based virtual treasure hunt through San Jose…Just a thought
Even ads are ubiquitous these days as an article from BBC News points out. The article looks at how different technologies are being used to better market to buyers. The article suggests a few reasons why Minortiy Report-like LBS advertising isn’t currently one of the trends.
Saw this one on HGTV’s I Want That: Tech Toys. The XB-39 Eagleye is a R/C plane with a built in digital camera allowing you to capture those high resolution obliques all on your own. Actually, I am just guessing it captures obliques based on the picture I saw…you may be able to capture nadir images. If you have one of these, or have played with one, let us know what you think.
Ok, so this is probably pretty pedestrian for most real geospatial users out there. There’s a little write-up in Digital Trends about how mapping companies like Tele Atlas get their navigation information. However it’s nice to see some inside photos of the toys with a bit of discussion of how they all work. The article says “GPS”, but I think they’re speaking more specifically about navigation systems. Of note for Sue, they use her beloved IBM Thinkpad for their data collection!
Interestingly enough was the miles these guys travel to collect data – 50-300 miles per day, depending on the area they’re collecting. In a van that gets what I’m betting is in the neighborhood of 15-17mpg and gas around $3.00 per gallon…. now you know why the data is so expensive
Check out this article about how Simon Frasier University is taking advantage of virtual environments and augmented reality in the classroom (and beyond). These technologies are flourishing in some areas, but they are slow to find wide adoption. This probably has a lot to do with the cost of most of the hardware associated. Either way, if you aren’t too familiar with some of the uses of AR, I would point you to the proceedings of the VSMM over the last few years, where examples have been getting ever more exciting. BTW, VSMM is going to be in China in October if you have the time and cash