Windows 7 Features Revealed!

Looks like Microsoft is really going “hands on” (hehe… I crack myself up!) Check out the list from Gizmodo:

  • There will be a OSX-like dock, though how OS X-like is yet to be seen.
  • Multi-touch gestures in photogalleries like two-finger zoom, flicking, and panning. Think of the photo app on the Microsoft Surface table.
  • Multi-touch paint program where you can draw with 10 fingers (again, think of what you’ve already seen in Surface)
  • Multi-touch piano app
  • In-depth mapping application that pulls from Microsoft’s Live Maps and Microsoft Virtual Earth

It’s that last one that should peek lots of interest ’round here. Combined with the touch technology, I can see a number of potential uses in the geospatial world. Supposedly we’re looking at sometime late next year for a release date, although MS is notorious for having exceptionally fuzzy release dates.

Virtual Worlds. Pubs, direction, and just plain cool

Virtual MorgantownGeography is just as important in virtual worlds as it is in the real world. While the users of these technologies (e.g. Second Life or World of Worldcraft) may inhabit distinctly different locations IRL (in real life) they interact with a distinct landscape and within very real communities when they are online in virtual worlds. In the US we are oddly behind in certain areas such as mobile technology (mostly thanks to carrier limitations) and virtual worlds (in some ways related to our mobile limitations). Why am I rambling on about this (again)? Well it is because GeoMullah himself twittered (indirectly) about a new journal that has been announced, the Journal of Virtual Worlds Research. As you might imagine from our discussions on the topics of Virtual Worlds, Serious Games, and Virtual/Augmented Reality (not the same thing, just didn’t want to type Reality twice…DOH did it anyway) we here at VerySpatial are all about how these technologies will flow back into the real world. There were a few examples at Where 2.0 this year (hopefully we will see more integration of VW and IRL geo next year a la Sue’s work with XNA) but it is just the tip of the cliched iceberg . Just this week we received the registration announcement for the next Virtual Worlds conference (this time in LA) and we even saw David Wortley of the Serious Games Institute at Where this week (just saw him walk by while we were interviewing someone so we couldn’t grab him and talk unfortunately, SGI is really creating a presence). All of this (to me) seems to come back to the need for a publication like the Journal of Virtual Worlds Research which shows the potential to become a great communication tool. I hope that they will have New Media content to support the journal. Screencasts of new projects as well as industry and research news would be great communication tools between issues of the journal.

But wait! There’s more. Great things have a way of being simultaneously developed in different locations so there are other journals that are on the way in this arena including the Journal of Gaming and Virtual Worlds (targeting a 2009 release), The Yale Law Journal’s Pocket Part has a call for papers on the legal and economic impacts of Virtual Worlds, while Wiley’s Computer Animation and Virtual Worlds is up to Volume 19 this year. This is a rich area, full of potential with a wealth of research moving out of some of the traditional arenas thanks to an invigorating shot from commercial interest. Just as the geoweb has kicked off great ideas and amazing innovation, geographic data and representation will get another boost from virtual worlds and serious gaming at some point (heck the globes already have opened the door). You know that we will talk about this again on the podcast, but if you are working in Geography and virtual worlds and will be either at the ESRI UC in August, SEDAAG in November, the AAG in March (09), or just want to connected with like minded folks contact us so we can talk about how we can move from being a few scattered voices in geospatial research to a group with a shared vision (and maybe reduce a little duplication of effort while we are at it).

PS apologies for all of the (parenthetical) statements…its just a side thought type of night

IBM’s Many Eyes collaborative visualization tools

IBM has a cool project now in beta called Many Eyes, which was developed by their Collaborative User Experience‘s Visual Communication Lab. Many Eyes is a set of visualization tools and web services that allow users to create and share visualization projects, with the goal of creating a collaborative social networking space for exploring and analyzing visualizations. In order to participate in Many Eyes, you upload your data sets (which are then hosted by IBM), create the visualizations and then let others view and comment on them. All you need is a table of data values, and if you don’t have your own set, you can use some of the freely available data already out their on the Internet. The visualization options include maps, graphs, charts and histograms, and even tag clouds. These are tools that those of us with statistical software packages can get access to any time, but the goal of Many Eyes is to host the visualizations so that others can share in and comment on your research.

You can even share your visualizations by embedding live interactive versions in your own site or blog, like the example I have below. One note, however: you can’t host the visualizations or data sets on your site.

Mobile Gaming meets environmental awareness

What better way to learn about conservation efforts to save Africa’s few remaining mountain gorillas than playing a mobile game! Silverbackers, a free game that can be downloaded and played on any Java-capable phone with a mobile web access / data plan, lets you help save mountain gorillas as you play through its 8 levels. Silverbackers is for ages 8 and up, and I think it’s great idea to combine gaming with learning about how we can be more responsible in helping conserve our planet’s wildlife and resources.

Via Popgadget

LGGI becomes ERDAS…again

ERDASI have to admit that I JUST started calling Imagine and other Leica Geosystems Geospatial Inc products “Leica Imagine”. Now I have to unlearn this behavior as they have rebranded as ERDAS, Inc. 1) In my opinion this is a great marketing move, at least for those of us who have used the software for the last decade and are used to the name. 2) Since geospatial has come a long way in the last 10 years, though I am sure this change will create the same ‘confusion’ (more a disorientation really) the initial purchase by Leica caused. 3) Since the companies products list has grown considerably over the last year, and with the release of 9.2, this is probably the best time for the change.

On top of it all, I must give praise to the site designers of http://www.erdas.com/ who have made it possible to easily find information on the software options. I am sure it will be even better when they do away with the redirects.

3DNature software sale

Just got an email that 3D Nature has a big software bundle sale going on at the 3DNature Online Store until the end of March. You may remember that we had the chance to talk to Chris Hanson back in January on Epis 129 & 130. The bundle includes SceneExpress and their SketchUp Component Library and either WCS or VNS. This really extends the idea that we continue to focus on in our own research of integrating GIS and virtual worlds. I didn’t see anything about the education versions of this, but you should check the 3D Nature website to see what the options are.

ArcGIS 9.2 Service Pack 5

The roadmap for 9.2 that we had seen previously showed SP 1-4 and an early ’08 release for 9.3. As we know 9.3 has been pushed back to Q3 (probably around the time of the UC) but keeping with their plan for quarterly service packs and updates ESRI announced that SP5 will be released later this month. There will be Vista specific fixes, geoprocessing fixes, and plenty of others.

Patches and Service Packs – ESRI Support

Core Location…Wow that was quick

Was it just back in October that I was pondering how long it would take Apple to introduce Core Location to provide developers a simple hook into location information for new apps, much like Core Image and Core Audio. While Core Location isn’t coming to the laptop yet, it is going to be available through the iPhone SDK. I am really hoping that companies build on this to make some great ideas into reality. Linked with the cell and Wi-Fi location (Skyhook Wireless interview on AVSP Ep 131) you have to imagine that there are going to be some great location apps available when you can start to get 3rd party apps in June. Now if we can get a hook from the bluetooth radio for a bluetooth GPS stream we can bug Elvin until they rewrite ArcPad for the iPhone. As you can imagine there has already been some discussion of developments, but I am waiting to see how others begin using it. Hmm…write or download SDK. 🙂

Update: I think I am going to have to look at OpenGL for the first time in 7 years. The games look great in fact there has already been a suggestion to use the accelerometer for map control over on the GeoWanking list.

Vista prices drop, is it ready for primetime…

Apparently Microsoft announce a price drop between $30-40 for Vista last week. With the release of Vista SP1 eminent I am wondering if this means Vista is finally ready for prime time. More importantly is it ready for the geospatial workflow. Apparently the restructured ESRI courses that will be rolling out in support of ArcGIS 9.3 later this year will be running on Vista, and 9.2 SP4 made Vista support official. Leica’s products apparently work under Vista, but not the license manager but that should be remedied soon. MapInfo has been Vista compatible since June 07. QGIS seems to work on Vista as well. All in all it seems that as long as Vista SP1 takes care of some the issues that have put folks off from moving to Vista, we may actually see a migration from XP in the not terribly distant future.

Vista prices officially go down, but will consumer interest go up? – Engadget

Sony’s PhyreEngine – cross platform game development tools

Microsoft’s XNA announcements were not the only news to come out of the Game Developers Conference related to user community development tools for games. Sony will be releasing their PhyreEngine tools, which will allow development of games that can be recompiled for the PS3. PhyreEngine has already been used to create several games that are available on the PlayStation Network Store, including Flow, but the availability of PhyreEngine as a free download will really open up the opportunities for developing games at a reasonable cost, and then sharing them with other users. PhyreEngine supports cross-platform development on the PC and PS3 (and apparently possibly the Xbox360). It will also support a number of leading 3D model formats, including Maya and COLLADA.

There’s no official word from Sony on when PhyreEngine will be available, but I really want to give it a try and compare it to the development experience with XNA, which I have had a lot of success with so far.

Via PS3Fanboy