Month: May 2007


Spatial learning at Apple’s iTunes U

Just in time for the summer conference season and long flights, the iTunes 7.2 update has opened iTunes U, their educational portal for audio and video lectures, to the world at large. This portal includes quite a few topics that I think would be of interest to our listeners and readers including:

  • Geography of World Cultures from Stanford (currently #2 in the downloads right behind “What is Existentialism”)
  • Introduction to Computers from UC Berkeley, which includes programming concepts
  • Coffee Hour to Go from PSU’s Geography Dept the one I will probably be listening to the most on my upcoming flights
  • …to name just a few. If you have a long commute or are just up for a little continuing education, check it out. Please keep in mind that while you need iTunes to search and download, most of the audio and video are in standard formats so you can play them using most any media player (I’m still a fan of San Disk’s Sansa series of players). Also, if you aren’t up for iTunes U you can find most of these materials on their institutions websites, but I like me a good portal 🙂

    Summer School: Apple’s iTunes U Means You Can Ditch Class and Still Learn – Gizmodo

    The future of GIS technology

    Inspired by an old Numb3rs episode on schools and rfid, I started to see what GIS related technologies are being used in schools. According to the BBC, a U.K. based company, Edexcel, has created technology to rfid tag exam papers. U.S. company, aptly named Graffiti Tracker inc. has created technology to track, analyze, and reduce graffiti. You can watch their case study. It has become almost routine for new school buses to come with GPS tracking. Student tracking is gaining momentum in schools. The increased use of technology in schools has caused controversy, some people argue that they aren’t cost effective or infringe on privacy rights. Others, like some bus drivers, believe technology will be used to justify lower salaries or hiring less employees. I wonder if kids who use GIS technologies so seamlesslly in everyday life, will be so tech savvy they will push technology to a higher level then anyone can imagine in highschool (even grade school) and later in life as working professionals.

    Animations of Housing Growth

    Trulia Hindsight is an interesting mashup that shows the grow of populations in the US over time. Their intent is to document the creation of every house in the US. Using this data and Virual Earth, they have created animations that place dots on the map when houses were built in any particular area. The map features a few pre-built animations, like “Urban Decline of Detroit” and “Formation of a New City”. You can also use the search engine to find a particular area of interest and watch the houses being created over time. The data seems to be the most robust in their target areas – which is to be expected – but there are other areas which have good data. Our area does not, but the town in North Carolina where my father grew up has plenty of data back to 1880!

    Microsoft Surface – table top surface computing

    Amidst all the Where 2.0 news, there is another conference going on in Carlsbad, California called “D:All Things Digital” where Microsoft had an announcement about the debut of Microsoft Surface, which is an outcome of their Project Milan to develop the idea of surface computing, basically user interfaces that are completely touch-driven. The project was apparently kept relatively secret until its debut last night. What does this have to do with geospatial technologies, you ask? Well, there are a number of videos and photos out there on the internet that demonstrate these types of devices in action, including the very cool TouchTable (which we’ve seen a couple of times ourselves at the ESRI UC). For displaying and navigating mapping and GIS applications, especially in a collaborative environment, these touch-sensitive devices could be really useful.

    Microsoft will be offering Microsoft Surface branded devices to 4 partners in November, including Starwood (Sheraton) Hotels, which is planning on installing them in common areas as virtual concierges. Apparently, there will be consumer units in the next 3-5 years, with the initial price to partners at around $10,000 and likely dropping as the devices enter the consumer market. It seems pretty steep, but I believe the price for a TouchTable is more than 6 times that, so maybe not so bad. All I know is, I want one……

    Via PC World and Gizmodo

    A VerySpatial Podcast – Special Episode 20

    A discussion with Mladen Stojic, Director of Visualization and Enterprise Products of Leica Geosystems about the recently announced Titan and Titan Network.

    Click to download mp3 version

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    A VerySpatial Podcast – Special Episode 19

    Sean Gorman of FortiusOne talks about the recently announced GeoCommons Beta available at

    Click here to download Special Episode 19 in MP3

    Click here to download Special Episode 19 in AAC

    Second anniversary contest – Week 2

    Click through to answer the second week’s question for your chance to win. Remember that you can answer once a week for up to 5 entries for the Grand Prize and an entry in each of the weekly drawings.

    Good luck, and remember, all entries for the Grand Prize must be submitted by July 2, 2007. Entries for the weekly drawing must be in by June 4, 2007.

    Food Mapping – knowing where your eats come from

    I am sitting here catching up on my geography news, and practicing typing on my new OQO Model 02 (more on that later), when I came across an article about “food mapping,” tracing the origins of foods such as meat, cheese, wine, produce, etc. The idea is to let you know that if you’re paying extra for food from a certain place, such as Kobe beef, you want to be sure that you’re getting what you pay for. A worldwide network of scientists involved in the TRACE Project have been recording geological and climatic information about different regions around the world, and “Using this information, they have constructed mathematical models that can predict the expected levels of natural constituents, such as isotopes and trace elements, in food products from a specific location.”

    Right now, the research is being partially funded by the UK’s Food Standards Agency, but certainly would have applications throughout the world in monitoring food supply and its movements.

    Via TimesOnline

    A VerySpatial Podcast – Episode 97

    A VerySpatial Podcast
    Shownotes – Episode 97
    May 27, 2007

    Main Topic:Getting into programming and developing – Part 1

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    BBC NEWS | Keeping an eye on the road

    Yet another in the recent spate of articles about TeleAtlas and their vehicles. This time around the article focuses on a couple that is driving one of the trucks in Europe and includes a short video. Like they say, ‘you can’t buy this kind of publicity’ 🙂

    BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Keeping an eye on the road

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