Google Maps mash-up to track your packages

Ok, so I admit, I’m probably more excited about this than most people, but whenever I order something, I obsessively track its progress via the handy tracking feature on most carriers websites. Now, I can obsessively track my packages as they move across space and time with, which uses Google Maps to display the progress of US Postal Service, UPS and FedEx packages right to your door. The site has been featured on and other places, so it’s getting hit pretty hard.

Update on National Geospatial Technical Operations Center review

Adena over at the AllPoints blog posted a link yesterday to the USGS site, where the final report on the review of the decision process that led to the selection of Denver as the site for the NGTOC was posted. There doesn’t seem to be an associated press release and the results, which upheld the earlier decision, are not surprising. This also clears the way for the competitivie sourcing process to get underway.

Jesse’s 2 cents: I agree that this isn’t really surprising. Still, I am we are not a proponent for centralizing in such a manner. I work with (not for) the NRCS and I have seen what impact multiple offices, centers, structures, etc have on an organization, and while at times it causes redundancy it also creates important feedback. This feedback is a blend of positives and negatives that usually work out in the end to create a better product for their customers, the US citizens. While the decision to centralize isn’t surprising since funding is tight throughout the government, the customers (all of us) are clamoring for more products. Perhaps the onus should be on the government to stay abreast of their customers needs and remain technological savvy to supply ever improving products as opposed to closing doors on some opportunities and important jobs.

New Matrox card and opinions on stereo viewing

Matrox PlanarWe received a press release on Matrox’s new Parhelia Precision SDT which is intended for specific applications and hardware such as the Planar SD1710.  While I am a fan of stereo, I am not as convinced that a passive system this complex is necessary or even cost effective.  Active stereo using a CRT is my preferred option for the desktop.

For projection I still say that the new InFocus projectors are the way to go instead of passive systems.  While active glasses are more expensive I would argue that it is still the better option for anything under 15 people when circular passive systems become a good option.

As for Matrox, I prefer their Parhelia 3 monitor line.  We have two of these cards and I hope to get one of the new PCI Express versions if they ever release one or the QID LP PCIe.  Two monitors are ever enough 🙂

Google Earth for Mac OS

According to OgleEarth it should run on any G3 or higher with at least 600 Mhz.  I will be loading it on my Mini tonight to see how it does.  Also of note in the Mac world is the announcement of the first round of Intel-based machines.  I am still holding out for a Mac Mini DVR, or for ESRI to port their Unix build to run on Mac’s FreeBSD innards, in which case I might just switch back to Macs completely.  Of course if they are still planning to port it to Linux, I may just switch that way too…

Either way you can download Google Earth here and find out mpre about today’s Mac announcements here.

Do Geographers Need More Sleep?

Here’s an interesting article about the effects of sleep deprivation. The interesting note is that sleep deprivation appears to most aversely affect spatial learning and spatial tasks! So if you’re having trouble with any of your GIS projects, maybe you need more sleep….?

The full article.

Want to do your part for science?

on Sunday at approximately 1:56am Pacific Standard Time, the Stardust capsule will be re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere on its way back from space with its precious load of comet dust collected from the comet Wild 2. Researchers need volunteers to observe the Stardust capsule’s re-entry (although obviously you would be to be in the western US to actually see it) on its way to a landing in Utah.

In addition, researchers from UC-Berkeley are asking for 30,000 volunteers to use web-based ‘virtual microscopes’ on their own PCs to look for particles in images taken of the samples. You will have to pass a test before being allowed to participate.
So, if you want to be a part of science history, check out the Starsdust@Home website for information.


The changing US commercial remote sensing industry

According to an article in yesterday’s Rocky Mountain News, 2006 is going to be a year of change for the US commercial remote sensing imagery, as new high-resolution satellite are launched to meet the needs of both government and, increasingly, private customers. In addition, Orbimage’s $58.5 million purchase of Space Imaging, Inc. may have an impact on competitors such as DigitalGlobe, which is also restructuring. One interesting point in the article is that both companies are now relying on leaders who are trained in business, instead of people trained in aerospace-related fields as in the past.

AVSP in AAG Newsletter take 2

AAG NewsletterI know I mentioned this the other day, but I have been busy working on a file server in Sue’s lab so that they can get to their data and haven’t had a chance to find anything else to blog. I received my hard copy today so I thought I might share an image of the text. It is basically from a press release WVU put out when they learned of our goings on.

Keep an ear out for this weekend’s 26th episode. I will probably post it early since we are going to do a press release at the end of the week.

Landsat 8?

One of our listeners, Michelle, emailed us with a link to an article in the Sioux Falls, SD Argus Leader online newspaper, which states that an announcement was made quietly just before Christmas that there will be a new satellite, hopefully launching in 2010, to continue the Landsat mission. The article only provides a few general details, and I haven’t found anywhere else really reporting more on this, but I will try to post more information when I can.