Month: June 2007
OK, now I know there are a lot of sites out there that map hotel and lodging information for trip planning, but I just had to do a quick post (while we’re packing up our lab for the move) about TvTrip, a European travel site that not only maps hotels in several major cities in Europe, but also offers you the opportunity to watch videos of the hotels. It also has a cool slider bar for you to set your price range. It’s actually a pretty cool idea and, if other sites haven’t picked up on the idea, I’m sure they will be soon. All I do know is, the movers are coming to get our computers and desks to move to our new building on Monday, and I have spent half the afternoon watching videos of hotels in Berlin and Madrid. Oh well. TvTrip only seems to have 5 cities right now: London, Paris, Madrid, Brussels, and Berlin, but if you’re traveling to any of those cities, you might want to check it out.
We have mentioned MapMemo before, but I thought it was missing that little something (geographic coordinates). Caffeinated Cocoa has rolled out a great little desktop app for the Mac called Magrathea that uses web services to pull in Yahoo! Map data and geocoding services to allow to geotag desktop data, web information, and the ability to geotag and upload photos to Flickr. So as with its name sake you can make your own world with this fancy little app.
While we were at the ESRI UC, we had a chance to talk with Drew Stephens, who is the founder of a great program called Service at Sea. The idea is to sail around the world with a group of GIS technology professionals, teachers and students, making various stops along the way to provide GIS support and training to local community organizations involved in conservation and other initiatives. The staff on board the Service at Sea sailboat will be volunteers and a small paid crew. I think there may still be opportunities for people to volunteer as well.
Service at Sea’s boat is called the Copper Sky, and the program had a symbolic launch last Friday morning in San Diego at the end of the ESRI UC. The actual program begins in July and focuses on helping organizations along the Pacific Coast up to Valdez in Alaska. After a short break for the holidays, the second segment is planned to focus on Mexico and Central America.
It’s really a great idea, a great way for members of the GIS community to help get their expertise out to local communities who really need it, and Drew has a lot of passion and energy for the project, so I think it will be an amazing experience. They have already lined up some sponsors as well, including ESRI, National Geographic Society, AAG, and Soul Fabric Films and others. The project has also been getting some good press, including a short article at SailWorld’s website.
If you haven’t ever heard of this really fantastic story of the “friendly floaties” you need to check it out. Oceanographers have been tracking the bathtub toys for over fifteen years, using it to predict then prove many theories about currents. Wikipedia sums it up succinctly, “Seattle oceanographers Curtis Ebbesmeyer and James Ingraham, who were working on an ocean surface current model, began to track their progress. The mass release of 29,000 objects into the ocean at one time offered significant advantages over the standard method of releasing 500Ã¢â‚¬â€œ1000 drift bottles. The recovery rate of objects from the Pacific Ocean is typically around 2%, so rather than the 10 to 20 recoveries typically seen with a drift bottle release, the two scientists expected numbers closer to 600. ” I found two kid’s books about the floating ducks (why not the turtles or the beaver?) One is written from a plastic ducks point of view called DUCKY by Eve Bunting. Another is written by an author I love called 10 LITTLE RUBBER DUCKS by Eric Carle, who also wrote The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
The online version of the latest issue (July/August 2007) of Technology Review has a fairly comprehensive article by Wade Roush about Second Life, virtual globes, social mapping, and the prospects for merging geospatial technologies and virtual world to create a Second Earth. None of the topics is especially new, but Roush does a good job of providing an overview of the various technologies and players. The main focus of the article, though, is to discuss the possibility of a Second Earth or metaverse and how that might come about. Roush starts off with the most obvious possibility, combining Second Life and Google Earth, but notes that both Google Earth and Linden Labs deny they are working on it. All in all, the article offers a nice synthesis of what’s going on in relation to the development of the metaverse and the convergence with geospatial technologies, and some intriguing possibilities for the next step.
The folks over at MacBreak Weekly had a fun discussion on LBS, GPS, etc at around 35 minutes in episode 45. The discussion starts with a rumor of an Apple standalone GPS and wanders around from that point.
If you didn’t already feel as if you’re every move is now being tracked and turned into someone else’s data, then check out Hitachi, Ltd.’s new employee ID and sensor network. The system is based on a name-tag style personal sensor network terminal, that each employee wears around his or her neck. The device tracks the wearer’s location, monitoring activities as well as the amount of time each worker interacts with other workers. On the safety side, the devices are also equipped with radio communication, and additional sensors.
The real-time data collected by Hitachi’s network is processed by servers and then displayed as a “topographical map of the organization.” The goal is to show how workers interact with each other to determine the relationships within and between groups of workers. So, not only does Big Brother know where you are at every moment, but they also know who you’re talking with and, of course, who you’re avoiding.
The Hitachi system is in the experimental stage right now, but they may be planning to put it on the market in 2008.
Don’t forget that you have until 11:59PM Pacific Daylight Time on July 2 to answer any of the 5 contest questions we have posted over the last 5 weeks. For each question you answer correctly you receive an extra entry…answer all 5 questions correctly your name will be in the hat 5 times. You can get the full details and links to the questions in this post. The Grand Prize winner will be announced on episode 104, our second anniversary.
The Grand Prize will be a Mio 320C, but there will also be other great prizes as well.
I’ve been playing around with a new distribution of Linux called Ubuntu Studio. It’s a pretty cool OS distribution because it includes lots of applications for video, audio, and graphics editing. In the midst of playing around with it, I thought, “Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if they included some of the open source geography/GIS stuff out there?” That’s when I went trolling around the OSGEO website looking for a Linux distribution geared toward GIS work. I can’t seem to find one anywhere. I don’t know the first thing about making a distribution, but Ubuntu was easy peasy lemon squeezy to install, so it seems like it’d be a good base for something like this. The distribution could include lots of good open source GIS solutions, like GRASS, Quantum GIS and MapServer not to mention more fundamental apps like POSTGRES.
Just a sort of random late night thought…
EDIT: For anyone interested in this, please check out the comments to this post. Our wonderful readers have posted a fairly impressive number of links to Linux distributions (mostly based upon Knoppix, it looks) that create GIS workstations. Reason #3821 why our readers are awesome!
I ran across this site today via Digg – Find your local Recycling station! I checked our area and the data is rather mediocre at best. It has the commercial sites but none of the county wide sites that are maintained. Barb works with our county recycling authority, so I’ve had a pretty good chance to get acquainted with the business. Hopefully their data is a little more robust in more urban areas. It’s a great idea that I hope grows and grows!