Did the Chinese discover America?

Posted on Posted in General

The BBCNews website posted an article today about a Chinese map that, if authentic, may suggest that Chinese mariners visited and mapped the coasts of America before Columbus. Chinese characters on the map apparently say that it was drawn in 1763 as a copy of a map made in 1418. The map’s ink and paper are being tested to try to confirm the 1763 date, but the article notes that there is a great deal of skepticism regarding the map’s authenticity. Even if it can be traced to the eighteenth century, the only evidence for the original 1418 comes from the notation on the map itself.
Via Digg.com

Perspective mapping using Google and Yahoo!

Posted on Posted in WebMapping

Google3DSliced bread may be nearing its end as the measuring stick for greatness, as new ideas are leaping onto the web for ways to use all of the AJAX and Flash goodness of Google and Yahoo!. Matt over at PlaceMap references a Japanese site that allows you to interact with Google Local in 3 dimensions. You start with a 45 degree perspective view, but as you pull out you move to the more traditional orthogonal view. You can spin the scene as opposed to panning, but I am sure they will add panning functionality as a Ctrl-click or something eventually (of course they may have already, but I can’t read kanji).

Matt offers up another perspective view using Yahoo’s flash maps, which, while it doesn’t offer the same navigation options, is very clear and just plain cool. The PlaceMap Project » 3D YMaps

Alaskan Volcano webcam

Posted on 1 CommentPosted in General, Physical Geography

The Alaska Volcano Observatory website has a webcam located on Augustine Island in Alaska, monitoring Augustine Volcano, which had a small ash eruption yesterday and continues to show signs of unrest. The images are updated every 30 minutes, and show a pretty good image of the ash plume and several small lahars (volcanic mudflows). The USGS posts daily status reports on the volcano on the website. So, if you’re interested in physical geography, geology, or just curious about volcanoes, check out the webcam and maybe you’ll get to see an actual volcanic eruption!

Via Digg.com

NPR on web-based directions

Posted on Posted in WebMapping

“Ask anyone for directions and you will see the strengths and weaknesses of the human species…” (NPR Morning Edition, Jan 10, 2006) Sometimes I am a little frightened that I will start a story off that way, big intro…small return.  While the story brought out good points for the general public to be mindful of, they didn’t spend much time on the data which all of the direction finding services mentioned rely on third party data and instead focused on the network analysis (never called that though).  Overall, good information for folks not familiar with the way it works…humorous (or sad) if you are a professional.

Via Glenn’s GISUser Blog

Google Maps mash-up to track your packages

Posted on Posted in General

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 Packagemapper.com, 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 Digg.com and other places, so it’s getting hit pretty hard.

Update on National Geospatial Technical Operations Center review

Posted on 1 CommentPosted in General

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

Posted on 1 CommentPosted in General, Hardware

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

Posted on 1 CommentPosted in General, WebMapping

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.