Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Decisions, Decisions: Master's Programs

Yesterday I was talking with James, via Google Talk, about what type of master's program I should look into applying for next year. Currently, I hold a B.S. in geography with certificates in "Geographic Information & Science", "Remote Sensing of Coastal Environments", and "Surveying" (half of my B.S. was civil engineering.) Then somewhere in my 180 credits of undergrad bliss I have a "cluster" in "Technology & Society." Well, this makes for an interesting dilemma for me. I have singled out three programs I am interested in, they being a master's in information systems (with CIO certification), a M.A. in geography, or a M.S. in security policy studies. Intially, the master's in geography is low on the totum pole since I feel that my undergrad degree could easily have been a master's if I was allowed to do all of my course work with the understanding that with three or four more pages I could have earned a master's. I wrote more than the master's students anyway. Then I came to the conclusion that I wanted to do something different, like security studies. Have you seen C-SPAN? To be successful you need at least twenty years in the field with a few books pimped on Imus in the Morning... Or, VerySpatial. Finally, with all of the project management stuff that I have been learning at work lately and my insane creativity to change the geospatial infrastructure of the world, I thought that I may want to look into an MIS (with CIO certification.) Now, the local program near by is pretty good and I could probably do more with the MIS than I could with the geography or security studies degrees anyway. Yet, I think that I am looking to do a master's in geography at some point in the future, but not before I get the MIS. I think that what I want to do is become the first official GIO in my office, but I think it is going to take earning the MIS. Shuushhh. Don't tell work. Of course, Paul would say that I would need to take ESL and learn how to spell before I would even apply for a master's program. So, if you folks out there in the GeoBloggosphere have any recommendations or comments I would like to hear them. I may take them seriously too.

Via USPS: NACIS Preliminary Program

Wow, talk about Christmas in August! Today I received my NACIS Preliminary Program, and boy oh boy is it chalked full of cool stuff. All throughout the week they have sessions like: "Man vs. Machine: 3D by hand vs. Sketch-up"; "The Future of the New York Public Library Map Division"; "Lunch"; "The History of Maps on Cloth"; "Old Methods for New Maps"; "Lunch"; "Preservation of Historic USGS Topographic Maps" (my favorite); and finally... The "Map-Off!" Is that like a dance-off in cartographer terms? Anyway, I can't wait to see who is the first to get shanked with an X-acto knife and wrapped in an acetate layer of highway shields. Which is "Old Skool."

Monday, August 29, 2005

One Hot Spinning Ball of 'Mag-Ma'

Link: http://www.wired.com/news/print/0,1294,68662,00.html Scientists believe that the Earth's core spins faster than its crust (that's where we live.) I would say that the theory is pretty neat with the laws of physics and all. I wonder what would happen if it suddenly stopped being a hot-hot ball of "mag-ma?"

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Washington Post: Google Maps in Sunday Source

Link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/08/25/AR2005082501597.html The article in this Sunday's section of the Washington Post's Sunday Source begins with, "As part of its ongoing bid to rule the earth, Google wants to show it to you first -- one map at a time." Rule the earth? Sorry, that job has been filled... By me.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Board of Geographic Names Invites are Like Gmail Invites

The U.S. Board of Geographic Names (BGN) is the United State's executive body who officially coordinates federal recognition of geographic place names. They meet on a regular basis and consist of representatives from USGS, NGA, State Department, CIA, and other government agencies. Of note, which is important here, is that National Geographic has an advisory non-voting seat on the BGN. Why? Maybe they make nice maps? Or, they just like get-togethers? I hear they have a pretty nice spread of fine meats & cheeses at BGN meetings. National Geographic has been on the BGN for a number of years providing input and listening about what issues the BGN deals with. I would assume they would be the voice of reason too since their writers and photographers seem to be everywhere these days. Yet, why has no one else been invited to participate on the BGN? I couldn't tell you. I assume that invites are limited because of the Board's inherently governmental function. So why in this new era of international spats over boundaries and place names in Google Earth has anyone from GE or the BGN thought to coordinate? If the two do not, would Google Earth become the de facto source for international boundaries and place names and usurp any official governmental geonames policy? This is possibly the reason why National Geographic was invited years ago when they had a large influence on the public with their distrobution of maps & atlases. It may happen, but I think at some point the BGN is going to need to address this with those who provide web mapping services like Google, Microsoft, and their data providers. Eventually floating BGN invites to those who have a significant international influence. Like those with Gmail accounts. UPDATE: After reading James' note on the "UN protest" to Google Earth, I have come to the conclusion that James is correct. Google does need to figure out metadata. Could one embed a URI for metadata in their KML file? Or, do I have absolutly no clue of what I am talking about? [Scoffing laugh] Google running borders by anyone. Ha! That's a good one.

Office Inquires About Mt. Everest and K2

Recently someone in my office noted that they thought that they had read something about where scientists had determined the height of K2 to be higher than that of Mount Everest and asked me if this was true. I supposed they asked me because I was the only geographer they had ever met, but I offered to find out for them. So, I did what any other geographer would do... Look it up on the Internet. I'm not climbing Everest or K2. Nor am I buying commercial imagery to create an elevation model either. I have posts to write. I came up with this. Now, it looks like Everest is still higher. Although, with advances in geopositioning technology, these people state that Mt. Everest's height may need to be adjusted. Since I'm not climbing Everest or K2 soon. So, good luck to those who do the survey. If they find someone crazy enough to do the survey. Godspeed.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Geography on C-SPAN; World Population Data Briefed

I was relaxing in front of the television Tuesday evening watching C-SPAN coverage of a World Population Data briefing at the National Press Club from the Population Reference Bureau. They posted some interesting facts about the differences in the global population, especially disparages in the populations between "developed" countries and "undeveloped" countries. A specific examples noted the difference between Poland and Tanzania, where the Polish birth rate is 1.2 births per female, where in Tanzania it's some thing like 3... 4... Or, something larger than Poland's. They did note that the United States is the only "developed" nation with a growing, albeit slow, population. Being the geographer that I am, I feel like I don't pay much attention to world population and the factors that affect it. I guess I have been too wrapped up in the "visualization" of maps and the technical aspects that catch this geogeek's eye. Well, most people don't pay attention to the causes and effects that events have on the geographic aspects of the human species either. So, I think I'm ok. Yet that is where I think I have to grow as a young geographer. I need to look deeper into issues and identify the patterns that are causes and effects of issues related to the relationship of humans and the earth. I probably haven't taken my career development as serious as I probably should. I guess I will just have to change that. So, thank you C-SPAN for the motivation.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Google Earth: Place Name Scuff

I was doing some research this morning for something that I am working on and I came across an article (below) about a "tiff" between South Koreans and the Japanese. It was over a place name on Google Earth of all things that sparked a number of denial of service attacks on a few opposing view bulletin boards in the two countries. I know wars have been fought over land and place names before, but I think this may be one of the first times in history that denial of service attacks have been exchanged because of a disagreement over the name of the East Sea, or the Sea of Japan, in a mapping program. Of note, last year Iran tried to exercise an argument that National Geographic should change the name of the sea between Saudi Arabia and Iran from the Arabian Gulf to the Persian Gulf in a recently published atlas. I believed the Iranians even pulled out historical maps to prove their point and had their president on television presenting a case to the UN. I'm not sure if it worked or not. All I know is that I have a map on my wall that has that body of water as the Persian Gulf. Perhaps they did win? [An article on the subject is here.] Getting back on topic, now that digital mapping is making a big splash globally how will programs like Google Earth and others mitigate the risks of mis-naming a place? Will it fall to the data developers, such as NavTeq or TeleAtlas? Or, do we see a social movement for citizens to map their neighborhoods correctly and submit that information to Google Earth? And where do organizations like the U.S. Board of Geographic Names fit into this discussion? Compromise: Let's just call that sea the East Sea of Japan. Or, better yet... The FANTOM Sea. Japanese Internet Users Said to Attack ROK Website Over 'East Sea' Decision SEOUL, Aug. 21 (Yonhap) -- Internet users carried out a concerted cyber attack against a South Korean online civic group in response to earth.google.com's decision to use the term East Sea to refer to the body of water between the Korean Peninsula and Japan. VANK, or the Voluntary Agency Network of Korea, said that unidentified internet users launched a denial-of-service attack on its Internet bulletin board (www.prkorea.com) on Thursday making it hard for ordinary users to post messages. The civic group is an organization dedicated to raising international awareness about South Korea and correcting misinformation about the country. The disruptive messages that swamped the Website's bulletin board a short comments arguing that the East Sea should be called the Sea of Japan. The cyber attacks started about the time that Google started to use the East Sea reference on its cyber map service. The denial-of-service attack also spilled over onto VANK's internal electronic bulletin boards on Saturday, forcing the organization to restrict both overseas and domestic connections early Sunday. It said that its English homepage had been hacked about the same time as it implemented connection restrictions. "At the moment we believe it was angry Japanese Internet users that were behind the attack," said Park Ki-tae, the head of the civic group. He said that the group had received prior warning of the attack and that after its system security is upgraded on Monday it should be open for regular operations. Update: This is what my Google Earth search came up with

Saturday, August 13, 2005

From Adjusted: Virtual Netptune

James went on holiday and left us with this. It's AWESOME!

Friday, August 12, 2005

Motorcycle Geography

If you're into geography, like to travel, and dig motorcycles, then Glen Heggstad's lifestyle is for you. His website called Striking Viking chronicles Glen's meandering motorcycle trips around the world. As a former Hell's Angel, it reads as if Glen has seen it all. According to the website and a CBS article, he was once captured by the rebel ELN group in Colombia. Talk about an experience that I would want no part of. I haven't read through all of the website and the corresponding book, Two Wheels Through Terror, but I think the majority of you would find it interesting. If you're into global motorcycle trekking, some of NASA's WorldWind users have developed and add-on that maps Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman's Long Way Round. It's a great book that beautifully paints the human and phyiscal terrain of Eurasia in the eyes of a group of motorcylists. As I was reading this book, I wanted to get up and get a bike myself. Then I realized that the cool part of the book is the challenge and struggle to be on the road in the middle of nowhere for so long. Which I have done, lived, and would rather not do again frankly. It's a good read that you should enjoy.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


Ever since I read the August issue of WIRED magazine, I have been reading the milblogs from Iraq and have been asking "why the hell am I ranting about metadata?" Geographers are those who study the relationship between humans and the earth. And if there is such a thing as an "uber geographer", it has to be the soldier. Read a few milblogs if you can. At least to bring you back to the earth that we study.

My Summer Vacation to the FANTOM PLANET: Metadata - Revisited

So, here I am. Still stuck in crap-hole Metadata on FANTOM PLANET. But wait! Who could that be yonder? James & Stefan! Ok. So we're here talking this week about metadata. Metadata for a GIS. Metadata for Google Earth. Metadata for MSN Virtual Earth. Metadata for ArcWebServices. Metadata for the indexing of the world's largest pencil collection in Bismarck, North Dakota. Man, this is Meta-Da-Ta. Someone cares, but not enough to pay attention. They're too poor to pay attention. Ok. I won't quit my day job. Or, they don't realize that they've been to Metadata until it was the last stop for gas fifty miles back. Those of us who are savvy to understand Metadata, and those who create it, know that it's a thankless job. Hell, who would want to write three million library card catalog index cards anyhow? Let alone, create electronic ones. No one sees it. No one cares. And when they do, and you're laughing at them, it's too late for them. They're hosed. All because they didn't pay attention to what was in the metadata. Example: At the ESRI UC, I spoke with the Chicago Police Department in the homeland security area of the exhibit hall and asked what they thought of chicagocrime.org. They gave me the reluctant slow "meh." Alluding to a comment that the developer had to manually do something with the data from the CPD's RSS feed, which threw it off and made it inaccurate to a degree. Not temporally, but spatially. Now, how would you ever know that unless you knew the masher? He certainly didn't have metadata that we think of when building a GIS database. Of course, I haven't looked for any other disclaimers his site either. Then there's the NavTeq and imagery metadata that Google uses. How do you know about that? And same for information behind MSN Virtual Earth? The key is you don't. Because, one) you didn't care in the first place. Two) You're ignorant of what metadata is. And three), you accepted the risk involved with tossing all of your marbles on the spatial and temporal accuracy of data you know nothing about. I'm not saying that those who use "slippy maps" are selfish, ignorant, crazy people. Just that the General Population didn't take Geography 271: Map Reading & interpretation, or, GIS 474: Introduction to GIS. And that we shouldn't care as geographic information professionals whether they did or not. Slippy maps are to help the uneducated and to link information to tell a story. Read my last post. This tirade is about ourselves as professionals. We understand what metadata is. The mashers may not, but I bet that they are willing to learn as they ask for more data and look to create better tools. For the time being, let us mash away-away-away-a-away-a-way--a--way! Preparing for the day that Metadata is the exclusive high-end tourist spot of the FANTOM PLANET. With James and Stefan now here... it kind of is? (Holy crap, is this ever a doozy!?!)

Mike got this one pegged

Mike Pegg, the blogger of Google Maps Mania, posted an open letter to the journalistic community about using Google Maps & Earth to help visualize and tell the stories of the day. I cannot emphasize how so dead on he actually is. Mike points out that mashing up a Google Map with an RSS feed is the wave of the future to combine multimedia sources through the map. He also touches on quick response items for crisis events such as the London Bombings, (which I was pushing to my office as that day went along). This whole concept makes so much friggin' sense too. Which is one of the reasons why there is the art of cartography, so that we can tell our stories through maps and geographic information. Think about when you were a kid and you would tell a story about how you would sneak up on an unwitting opponent of tag and freaked the person out. You drew lines in the sand to depict where you were and how you did what you did to make the sissy mary wet their pants. Which is the essence of which I am trying to convey here and to others. Show the story; don't just tell it! That's what is being taught (or was taught) in journalism school! Like I told the Google guys a few weeks ago, the map is the search engine for other information, which Mike and I couldn't be so right about. I just wish that some organizations would leverage this cheap & easy technology, implementing it as soon as they possibly can. Especially if you have the resources - I'm not talking money either - to do so to link so much awesome information together through the map that the user sees the entire situation as plain as day. Or, has the abilitiy to learn more about the topic so that it is clear as day. Information pedlers like news organizations need to get on the bandwagon with this stuff. Whether with Google Maps, MSN Virtual Earth, or even ESRI's ArcWeb Services. It is all about using the "slippy map" to pull the GeoWeb together with the geospatially loaded hypertext web to advance worldly knowledge. If you're really interested in getting a better understanding of this stuff, read "Mapping Hacks" by Erle et al. Even if you're in a bookstore and see it, read the Preface if it's all that you do.

Monday, August 08, 2005

[Scoff] If Microsoft bought ESRI; Mimes would rule the Earth

Mimes. Ha-ha. I just wanted to use mimes in my post today. Dave Bouwman and Stefan Geens have been discussing the pros, cons, and questions that would follow speculation of a Microsoft buyout of ESRI lately. I would just like to comment that I think Mircosoft has big plans. Big-big plans. First off, Dave and Stefan are correct that Mircosoft would benefit from the buyout and that ArcGIS would become standard MS Office material, but you need to look past what is already established. Think in terms of XBox, Web 2.0, GeoWeb, 3D Sim, and Virtual Earth. I think Microsoft is hard at work on some advanced computing hardware that in due time will whoop up on whatever someone else cranks out in terms of GIS or geospatial visiualization tools if Arc is combined with Office. With advanced computing and graphics hardware with a Virtual Earth modeled in 3D, the market would shell out some cash to play HALO in downtown Manhattan or Butte, Montana. You could even walk into a shop and order pizza while you're playing online. Of course, I don't know how hard it would be to slaughter aliens or the rival virtual gang down the street while doing so? Which brings up other virtual social network connotations. Which I think I will leave for later. A Microsoft buyout of ESRI is possible. Probable? I don't know. And as for "painting Google into a corner"... That's stretching somewhat. Google will do what Google does best and the market will decide. Just as it will if Mircosoft ever buys, or doesn't buy, ESRI. Keep in mind too that all parties need data to build their worlds. Virtual or real. I still think the mimes have them beat.

Father-in-law: "Have you seen Yahoo! Earth?"

My father in-law called my wife this weekend and here is how the conversation went. Father-in-law: "Have you seen Yahoo! Earth?" Wife: [Shouts upstairs] "HAVE YOU SEEN SOMETHING CALLED YAHOO! EARTH?" Me: ??? Me: [Shouting downstairs] "DO YOU MEAN GOOGLE EARTH?" Wife: [Shouting upstairs and into the phone] "GOOGLE EARTH?" Father-in-law: "Uh? Yeah." Now, for a former rocket scientist and engineer. That ain't bad.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Regurgitated: Map Dealer Faces Theft Charges

Regurgitated from The Map Room: Map Dealer Faces Theft Charges When you read The Island of Lost Maps, a book about map theft by Miles Harvey, you get the clear impression that neither map librarians nor map dealers were comfortable admitting that map thieves existed in their midst — that they were cutting maps out of rare books in their libraries; that they were dealing in stolen property — to the point where some libraries wouldn’t even accept that maps had in fact been stolen from them. The book’s focus, Gilbert Bland, was a marginal figure who seemed to come from nowhere. It’s a little different this time. According to the Hartford Courant, an established map dealer, E. Forbes Smiley III, has been charged with stealing maps from Yale University; three other libraries confirm that maps have gone missing after a visit by Smiley, and still others are checking their collections. It’s especially troubling because Smiley was apparently well-integrated in map collecting circles — he helped amass what would later become the Slaughter Collection at the NYPL (see previous entry). The comfortable idea that map thieves were outsiders may well have been burst. From the article:

Although thefts of rare maps are not uncommon, librarians said Smiley’s case was unique — and especially unsettling — because of the position of trust he had achieved within the close-knit world of map collectors.

“In the past, the people who’ve stolen maps have been mainly outsiders - not properly professional,” [Peter Barber, head of map collections for the British Library,] said. “Forbes Smiley is disturbing because he is a member of the inner circle.”

In other words — to quote Sir Humphrey in Yes, Prime Minister — he was one of us. It’s important to maintain the presumption of innocence until proved guilty; having said that, if this is in fact true, this case does suggest that the dark underbelly of map collecting isn’t nearly so self-contained. Essential surfing: Map History/History of Cartography’s Thefts of Early Maps and Books section, with lots of resources and links about the problem. The MapHist list was on top of this story early (serves me right for forgetting to subscribe). Earlier coverage: Bangor Daily News, July 22; Martha’s Vinyard Times, July 14. See previous entry: Map Thief Jailed.

Google Maps on iPods

Via Google Maps Mania, someone has a procedure for placing Google Maps onto your Photo iPod. Granted it is not automated, it is still neat. I wonder how the lawyers will look at this?

Saturday, August 06, 2005

More Geobloggers and Google Earth stuff

Granted this is old; it's still cool. Dan at Geobloggers.com posted a month ago about how to add the geotagged Flickr images to Google Earth. The directions are below:

  1. In Google Earth, right-click on the “My Places” icon in Places.
  2. Select “New” and “Network Link”
  3. Enter a title (i.e. Flickr) and for the Location enter http://www.geobloggers.com/makeXML.cfm
  4. IMPORTANT: Change the View-Based Refresh to “After Camera Stops”
This should give you the nearest 50 geotagged photos from Flickr. Thanks, Dan!

Friday, August 05, 2005

Blog Spam?

Does anyone else out there get Blog Spam? Someone had posted some kind comments to the Bizarro post, but following the Blogger links back... It linked to smut. Uff da. I don't need that stuff. Neither do you. If I want smut, I'll become a smut geographer and find it. Or, just call Tim. Otherwise, no thanks. Now, does anyone know how to remove comments from Blogger?

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Data is like ink

A few posts back I told you about the status of my stash of pens. Well, think of them like this:

  • Each is a tool;
  • Each has a neat feature;
  • MapPoint pen twists;
  • ESRI is see through;
  • Google... is pink with an ergo grip;
  • All use black ink;
  • Yet sometimes the ink can be old;
  • Sometimes the ink can be out;
  • But they all still use ink;
  • And the tools are as only as good as your ink.

Where is the inkwell? And who will have the Wagner Power Sprayer attached?

Only if it were 1989 again... I would love Nintendo

My childhood has just flashed before my eyes in the blogosphere. Engadget has posted what looks like what I tried to put together with some friends using a Tandy computer, my NES, and a CB radio. Of course, back then, I didn't have a rockin' handle like GeoMullah either. A B Y X R A A L L B X [Start]

Went to ESRI and all I got was this MapPoint pen

Oh, a funny thing happened when I returned to work from the UC on Monday. A person from Microsoft who I know dropped off a pretty nice pen with the Microsoft MapPoint logo on it. I actually used it this week, unfortunately... it ran out of ink. As a matter of fact, so did the ESRI pen that came with my ESRI Man Purse. Then there's the hot pink Google pen that I use for my kickball score book... I've had that thing for at least two years now. I've only lost to the reigning Kickball World Champions with it. Kinda says something, eh?


WOW! Didn't-a-thunk The Planet would make it into the mainstream geoblogs this fast. Of course, I didn't think that people would actually read this junk either? Thanks to Rob, and Adena for helping spread what I trowl out aboot the ongoings of FANTOM PLANET.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

In the Bizarro Universe, The Planet is Spinning Backwards

I just cruised through my standard geography news sources, not the geoblogosphere, and came to the realization that post-UC, I am in the Bizarro World of geography this week. As I had thoughts dancing through my head that all the business deals that I had closed before I left for the UC were a done deal, but today I have come to find out that they are not. For example, people whom I provide info to just bagged ass to some company who is going to shake them down for crap. And I mean serious crap data. The stuff with peanuts. Which makes no sense at all either. I worked with these guys for a while. Keeping prices low and quality really high. Not to mention arranging cost sharing with other organizations... What's map jockey like me gonna do, eh? Then I found out that the gods of geography really don't choose sides. I just assumed that they were riding shotgun and using Spatial Analyst to help with their aim. Boy, I was so right, yet so wrong. Oh, and for herding cats. Someone just had another litter. Anyway... 'Nough complaining. Yes, it has been a slow week where I haven't been able to harvest my news and write up my real thougths on the UC due to meetings and classes, but it is more relaxing than last. One of the good things to come out of the UC is that I encouraged my new friend Mel and my old buddies at SANZ to start a geoblog. There's nothing there yet, but once they get started there should be some good stuff. [Insert free plug here.] I would recommend that you take a look at EarthWhere if you have a lot of data or metadata to organize for your company. It has some serious application potential for places like USGS, the City of Austin, or huge data piles like The Fantom Planet. I'll let Mel et al tell you about it later. As for me, read Ed Parson's note on how OS is mapping my summer dominion. As for you? You need to find a librarian to organize your life and your data.

Monday, August 01, 2005

My Summer Vacation To The Fantom Planet

There's a big billboard outside that says, "If you can read this... You're the only one here." Welcome to the Fantom Planet! I don't know how this came to be, but I rather this be an experiment without spellcheck and a something that creates a hankerin' for pancakes. Alas, it is not. It is a way for me to get my notes out, to show the home office the power of the blog, and to just vent about ideas I come up with to influence the masses. This is my Lake Woebegon of the bloggosphere, granted I really did grow up in a Keillor-esque village. Here on The Planet, which I found with a Garmin V in a urban canyon, it's a moot place. Somewhere between cool and lame, mostly mediocre. I wonder if Google Earth could create Google Fantom Planet to show those where I am and for me to find out where I want to go. I guess I have a clean slate until the Empire comes a knockin' with AT-AT's and Stormtroopers after they find out about this place. Anyway, this is all diarrhea of the keyboard. Have you noticed my last post that I have yet to run through spell check? Anyway, today's post comes from the small hamlet of Metadata on The Fantom Planet. This Metadata place, whoo! Lemme tell ya... Crap. Hole. The locals are all confused, messy, janky, and beref with the look like they have to take a dook, but cannot. If I was smart, and ruled this stinkhole, I would throw some cash at this place to clean it up, get the locals some uniform clothes, fix them up, and establish a town roll with their addresses and phone numbers so everyone could know where they reside so they can stop by for some tasty data (the delicacy named after the next town over.) The townsfolk of Metadata will still be ignored, disorganized, and messy. This place is how the western world on Earth treats it's middle of nowhere dumps. I think though, that if you clean up Metadata and fix it up, you will see a golden revival in this part of the Fantom Planet.