Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Bangalore To Change Name Tomorrow

Tomorrow the city of Bangalore (ಬೆಂಗಳೂರು), India, will be changing its name to Bengaluru, the city's name in Kannada, the local language. Now I have go buy a new map. Shoot!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Thoughts on WMS-C

Chris notes his thoughts today about the WMS-C tiling spec that's currently being worked on through OSGeo. He proposes a fairly cheap solution by using Amazon S3 to host the tiles with all it's capabilities. So, Chris—with Schyuler's notes—broke down the cost of caching the Landsat 7 dataset with S3.

"Sure its not free, but it sure as hell is cheap … Based on Schuylers calculation from the wiki article,

Taking 15m pan-sharpened Landsat-7 composites as an example, at a tile size of 512 x 512 pixels, each tile would be about 7,680 meters on a side, or about .0625 degrees across. Plugging in the other values, we get a maximum of 22,118,400 tiles in the layer.

"Assuming the optimum size of 64kb is reached per tile, we’re looking at 1415.577gb of physical storage. Lets take a wild guess of 50gb of transfer per month, with the actual tiles only be updated annually and we have the following,

$0.20 * 1415 = $283 to initially upload the cache

$0.15 * 1415 * 12 = $2547 for a years worth of storage

$0.20 * 50 * 12 = $120 of user transfers (eg. downloads)

Total: $2950"

Chris goes on to make a hint that Refractions perhaps get in on sponsoring this. I commented on Chris' blog that "why doesn't USGS or NASA just pay for it?" It's a drop in the bucket for them.

Thursday, October 26, 2006


A friend of mine at NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program sent me the link last night to Outside.in. Another pretty cool collaborative atlas that is intended to link and build communities through the web. So, what is Outside.in? Author and site founder, Steven Johnson, explains in his blog:

"So what is outside.in? In a phrase, it's an attempt to collectively build the geographic Web, neighborhood by neighborhood. I wrote up a mini-essay describing the original inspiration for the site, and explaining some of our core principles, which I've included below. But you can also just go visit the site and explore..."
Some of those principles are (which sound like they came from me):
  1. The natives know best.
  2. The post's location is more important than the blogger's location.
  3. Neighborhoods are more important that maps.
  4. Geo-tags are only the beginning.
  5. Local news often has a long-shelf life.
I think the Outside.in Team has their principles spot on. Plus, they acknowledge the fact they can improve on how they live up to their site's principles and that there are even more principles. So, if you want to build your local community through the web, Outside.in is a tool to do so.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Firefox 2.0 and Maps

I just uploaded Firefox 2.o like everyone said I should. So, I go to Google Maps. Looks good. Yahoo Local. Looks good. Local.Live.com. . . WTF? Actually, Local.Live works fine. The toolbars and drop downs seem a little off though. Note to Redmond, check it out. Getting at what I wanted to note about the new features of 2.0 that I though would be of use to 'slippy maps' and neogeographers. Shoot me dead, now. I used buzzwords! They were:

  • Client-side session and persistent storage: New support for storing structured data on the client side, to enable better handling of online transactions and improved performance when dealing with large amounts of data, such as documents and mailboxes. This is based on the WHATWG specification for client-side session and persistent storage.

  • JavaScript 1.7: JavaScript 1.7 is a language update introducing several new features such as generators, iterators, array comprehensions, let expressions, and destructuring assignments. It also includes all the features of JavaScript 1.6.
  • SVG text: Support for the svg:textpath specification enables SVG text to follow a curve or shape.

These three things really stood out to me. Storing data on the client to enhance the performance of some web mapping applications. . . ArcIMS, I'm talking to yoo. Improved JavaScript to do more in the browser. Finally, SVG text. Sure, I know I sound off my rocker, but it's something to get the geo community started with drawing and annotation tools for web maps. So, hopefully some smart people do some great things to advance mapping inside Firefox .

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

PageMapper by Metacarta Labs

It's nice to know people who do cool stuff. I was talking to Chris Schmidt via Meebo today when he sent me the URL to a Metacarta Labs project he has been working on. It's called PageMapper, and it's something that's not up on the Lab's page yet. It's pretty cool. It's a bookmarklet that when you click on it—once you've dragged it to your Bookmark toolbar—it will locate the places in the webpage onto an OpenLayers map. Being privvy to the experiment, I decided to try it out on three unsuspecting websites that I thought would be great tests for PageMapper. 1) USCHO.com's team page for the University of North Dakota hockey team. There just has to be stuff in here that can be mapped?

2) The football team page for the University of California, Berkeley. Another team schedule that should be great for place names.
3) Finally, WikiTravel.org's main page. WikiTravel and geographic names, duh.
As you can see. . . it's still a lab project. Chris tells me there's something about websites with cookies that causes PageMapper not to read everything. Still, an f'in cool lab project. Check it out. It does have some seriously potential for those interested in geolocating news or geographically searching for events and how they relate to one another.

ESRI Rep Asked, "What Do You Want In 9.3?"

I replied, "We need to complain about 9.2 before we give you input for 9.3."

Easy Way from IMS to MapServer (or Ka-Map?)

Just another ignorant question fueled by the existence of Datum Shift:

"How do I migrate from ArcIMS to MapServer or to Ka-Map? Is there a utility to "easily" convert AXL to MapScript?"
Seriously, though, I had a bad day with ArcGIS. It may have been my three year haitus from GIS? It may have been gremlins? But whatever it was yesterday, it sucked. I tried to export a project to PDF, GeoPDF, and even AI for printing and all I got was a self-closing version of ArcGIS. (Steve had a similar issue yesterday too.) This all happened late yesterday and my ESRI rep was able to recommend something that required a ScanDisk and a defragment. So, I put the wheels in motion last night before I left the office. Hopefully, this morning what I did worked. Oh! The other thing that confused the hell out of me and some colleagues was: measuring the area of GRID rasters in ArcMap. I know that I need to use the Zonal Statistics tool, but I needed to convert the Grids to something else. Anyway, long story short, a friend hacked it out for me and got my area measurement. Note to ESRI for 9.3 & 10.0 devleopment: The above—Not as easy as it should be.

Friday, October 20, 2006

MAP2PDF for ArcGIS: Flash Tutorial

I was lucky enough that someone in the company this week sent me a copy of TerraGo's MAP2PDF for ArcGIS. Wow! Slap some software on my desk and tell me to make something happen? Sure why not. One problem: How the hell do I use this thing. . . properly? Well one solution is to open a link—this one—to TerraGo's multimedia tutorials of their software. I haven't gone completely through all 4 minutes and 4 seconds of it yet, but I plan to. Should be as easy as File -> Export Map...-> Choose "GeoPDF," right? God, I hope so.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

South Korea Introducing New Geodetic System

Found this in the Korean Times:

"The government yesterday designated Ullung Island as the starting point of a new geodetic system prior to changing to the World Geodetic System (WGS-84). To date the Tokyo Datum has been used for measuring distances after Japan occupied the peninsula in 1910."
This is great news for the location-bases app developers in South Korea. Finally they can can that dang Tokyo Datum for something that everyone actually uses—including the Japaneese.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Mars WMS

http://openlayers.org/~crschmidt/mars.html Get a load of what Chris Schmidt has done with the Mars Observer data and OpenLayers. Pretty schweet. Of course, this is coming from a former NASA intern.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Age Old Debate: ESRI or Open Source?

James' recent post seemed to have lit a spark of the obvious for me. Is ArcGIS Server really worth it? I guess it depends on what you want to do. Still, I felt the urge to crack open Tyler's book again.

Monday, October 09, 2006

More Metacarta Rectifier

Well, let's see. I've been tooling around with the Metacarta Rectifier today and it's working pretty well. I've uploaded a parking lot map of the University of North Dakota already and exported the resultant geoTIFF to Google Earth. I must say, it does look nice. The only feedback that I have for this lab experiment are a few things: • PDF's. Can they add PDF upload functionality too? • It's a little slow processing, but that's to be expected for an experiment • People who I've shared this with have been having WMS errors • Metadata. The description needs to be available to edit as well as the GCPs. That's about it. I like it. I'm addicted.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Metacarta Lab's Map Rectifier

Chris Schmidt announced the Metacarta Lab's new Map Rectifier tool that is online this week. I actually uploaded a map and warped it. I must say this thing is wicked awesome—another capability of online geoprocessing that I've talked about. The implications are pretty enormous when it comes to uploading images of maps (scanned or photographed) then have the ability to match up some control points to rectify your map. It's just plain cool. I know there will be skeptics out there, like there was with Microsoft's MapCruncher, when it comes to accuracy. I think it's going to be obvious that rectifying maps with this shouldn't be used for boundary disputes, rather incorporating information that was available and not in a good format into a WMS that can be read by most GIS and geo-browsers. Anyway, this thing is cool. I'll see what I can contribute in the future. Last time when MapCruncher came out, I spent two weeks of my free time rectifying maps. I swear, I was addicted.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Other GIS Software: Panorama

Expanding our knowledge of non-english GIS platforms today, I'll be discussing PANORAMA GIS. Panorama is a Russian GIS application that looks to be pretty robust in its capabilities to work with geodata bases, 3D models, rasters, etc. I haven't installed it or downloaded it, but from the english page it looks cool. I'd like to make some comparisons between MapInfo, GeoMedia, ArcGIS, GRASS, Manifold and others. I'd also be interested to see how it works with other mainstream (english) GIS formats—if it does?

"Coalition Against Google Earth?"

In the latest Government of India vs. Google Earth telenovella. . . The Hindustan Times reported this week that the Indian government has asked its Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and other scientific organizations to discuss the security risks of applications like Google Earth. The Indians feel that by discussing the potential use of commercial imagery and free applications—like Google Earth—by terrorist organizations they can gain support towards creating an international law related to commercial imagery. Brief notes about this potential law hope to restrict resolution and location of images. The law would also seek prior consent of a nation who was to be imaged. I'm not a diplomat, I'm all for getting useful information into the hands of the public. I believe the Indians do have a legitimate security concern, but I am also in the belief that more good than bad can come from the availiblity of imagery, maps, and applications to map our world. If you have more good people looking out for the community, wouldn't you think that could help thwart any threats? On a side note, I've noticed that GE has implemented an "Alternative Names" layer in v4. Is this to appease the sorts of international pressures that apply to toponyms?

Google Earth & Voter Registration

I just fired up Google Earth this morning to work on something, then realized something different. . . A layer with placemarks for each state's voter registration information. This is pretty cool—I think—to get information out to people who don't know how to register to vote or where to register. Linking each state's electoral office websites is just good stuff. I'm glad the GE team is doing their civic duty—at least in the U.S. Good job guys.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Still Here; Just Busy

This is a "I'm still alive post." Actually, I've been pretty busy. I have a few projects in the works and I've been trying to get back into re-learning spatial statistics. I'm trying to get out of the data entry biz for the moment and start some analytical projects. I've also been getting a handle on Arc2Earth and Map2PDF. The one thing that I'm trying to do with those extensions is to prototype some publishing platforms for work. It's fun, just busy work. Plus, there's not much going on other than talking PAC-10 football with James and some ESRI developers. Now the only big excitement I'm waiting for is the 9.2 release.