Month: April 2010


First US Offshore Windfarm

Anyone who talks to me about energy will quickly learn I’m a HUGE fan of offshore wind energy.  So this news item in the New York Times caught my eye pretty quick – regulators have approved the US’s first offshore windfarm.  As the opponents point out in the article, this is just one of several hurdles that have to be overcome before it becomes reality, but it’s a pretty big one.  Several other countries have experimented with this stuff with pretty good successes, so I have a lot of high hopes for US versions.

On a side note, has anyone ever wondered why windmills have three arms?  Turns out there’s a good engineering reason behind it all.  Slate has a good article talking about the engineering benefits of various designs.  The basic punchline is that three blades have the optimal energy output, environmental impact, and manufacturing costs we seek in a good windmill.  If manufacturing costs decrease with better processes, two blade systems might make more sense.

House-to-house Census about to begin

May 1, 2010 is the day that US Census takers will be fanning out across the country to go door-to-door and try to count households that did not respond via the Census form.

PlaceCamp and call for organizers

I would like to announce a plan, or at least the idea of a plan, for the upcoming ESRI International User Conference and beyond…PlaceCamp. PlaceCamp is intended to be a way to get people talking about how we can use geospatial data and technologies and Geography concepts in the humanities in an unconference-y environment. There have been a few articles, books, and conferences that touch on the topic, but they often stop short of the putting heads together stage of bringing people and ideas together and moving them forward. Since Sue and I are coauthors with our advisor on a chapter in the upcoming Spatial Humanities text, I thought it was time to get into the trenches with some of the ideas that kicked off the workshop which led to the book (and the series that will build from it).

PlaceCampMini (aka the Spatial Humanities SIG at the ESRIUC) will be Tuesday 13 July from 5:30 to 7:00 at the San Diego Convention Center and will vary in format depending on the interest and attendance. Since most barCamp events happen over a day or two, I since this initial foray as a planning session where people can meet, share ideas, and kick off collaborations. If we get a small group in attendance then we will go panel style, if we have 20 or more then we will do the ‘break into topical groups’ approach. Before we make too many plans however, I would like to extend an invitation to anyone who is interested in being part of an organizing committee for PlaceCampMini. If you are interested please contact me at jesse at veryspatial dot com.

Beyond San Diego, there are also the initial plans for a PlaceCamp on the east coast in the coming months that will be a full day (or two) affair, so let me know if you are interested in sharing the organizing load, have an ideal location (currently thinking Raleigh, Charlotte, Wilmington or Myrtle Beach for my own convenience), or would like to be a PlaceCamp sponsor.

Just a heads-up, if the idea of PlaceCamp is grabbing your attention you may want to check out THATcamp as well.

The first nano-cartographers? – IBM creates world’s smallest 3D map

“To see a world in a grain of sand” – William Blake’s lyrical words take on a new meaning when you watch this video of IBM researchers demonstrating their new nanomill technology, which uses a tiny silicon tip to carve out objects and features as small as 15 nanometers. While it’s probably not going to revolutionize map-making, the nanomill can be used for numerous high-precision applications in electronics, optics, and medical research.

From the IBM press release, the demonstration includes a “Complete 3D map of the world measuring only 22 by 11 micrometers was “written” on a polymer. At this size, 1,000 world maps could fit on a grain of salt. In the relief, one thousand meters of altitude correspond to roughly eight nanometers (nm). It is composed of 500,000 pixels, each measuring 20 nm2, and was created in only 2 minutes and 23 seconds.”

Via GizModo

A VerySpatial Podcast – Episode 249

A VerySpatial Podcast

Shownotes – Episode 249
April 25, 2010

Main Topic: Our conversation with Andrew Shears about his research on post-Katrina New Orleans

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    Global cost of data

    I have three different web server accounts now-a-days, whittled down significantly over time once I found a provider I was happy with that supported multiple domains (I am afraid to even count the number of domains I have sitting doing nothing but representing an idea). The multidomain provider is in the UK. Then I have two accounts with another provider where my original account with them is in China and the newer account is in their US data center. Earlier this week I received an email from the China/US provider suggesting that I switch the site I have on their server in China to their US center. I was a bit shocked since I have tried to make that very move before and their were more hoops to jump through than I was willing to go through, now happily it is a single click on my administrator account page.

    The change in heart? It was actually (as to be expected) a change in their wallet. Apparently through a number of factors their costs for bandwidth in Asia have skyrocketed to the point where they claim that it costs them 10 times as much now per megabit of traffic. Looking at this from a global market perspective it isn’t too surprising with the dollar not exactly strong. Locally (without any research, just a broad trends statement) it looks like the increasing internet market in China is putting pressure on resources and infrastructure…aka supply is probably being outstripped by demand.

    While it is only a small indicator of what is probably a number of processes at work, it is an interesting blip to pop up on my radar. Does anyone have hard statistics or numbers for the cost of bandwidth in China? After exams are over, I may even look into myself 🙂

    Celebrate Earth Day – Enjoy Great Images of Our Earth!

    As I sit here STILL trying to fight off whatever cold/flu combo I brought back from AAG, I thought I would point out some great galleries of imagery of our Earth, from both government EO programs like NASA to private firms like GeoEye. Browsing through these galleries of amazing images of the Earth is a good reminder of why we observe Earth Day in the first place…

    GeoEye High Resolution Image Gallery

    NASA Earth Observatory

    JAXA, EORC – ALOS Gallery

    ESA Multimedia Gallery

    DigitalGlobe’s Earth Day 2010 Flickr gallery

    SIC Corp (Imagery reseller) Gallery

    There are lots of other great sources of awesome Earth Observation imagery out there, so see what else you can find!


    In case you haven’t listened to this week’s episode, you are missing out on our conversation with a couple of the guys (David and Mark) of IndieMapper. Part of that conversation included them rolling out a coupon code for our listeners and readers. If you use the code “veryspatial” you will get 50% off the price of the first month (I assume after the 30 day free trial). Watch the video to learn a little more.

    We are in transition

    Apparently the service provider for the podcasts is moving us to a new server. If you have any problems accessing any podcast files in the next few hours, sorry. The transition should be finished soon(ish?) and hopefully it will not have an impact on the feeds (updating 300 rss entries would not be fun).

    As far was we know though everything should be working.

    A VerySpatial Podcast – Episode 248

    A VerySpatial Podcast

    Shownotes – Episode 248
    April 18, 2010

    Main Topic: Our conversations about indiemapper and ZoomAtlas from Where 2.0

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