Friday, June 29, 2007

The Who's Who of the Frugos Unconference

The Who's Who of the Frugos Unconference : I really wish I had the time to be at this conference.... here is a list of all those who had attended it. I like to think of it as a Who's who of Denver area GIS.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

What are the different imagery layers in Virtual Earth?

From: Virtual Earth For Government: Top 10 Questions Asked About Virtual Earth (at Conferences): What are the different imagery layers in Virtual Earth? Okay, people don't really ask this outright but many do not understand the difference between satellite and aerial imagery and the different layers of Virtual Earth imagery so I thought I'd cover this here. Virtual Earth contains several types of imagery, beginning with low to medium resolution (1 km to 10 meter, depending on the zoom factor) satellite imagery providing a global "backdrop" for the digital globe. Microsoft then includes higher resolution (1 meter or better) Ikonos satellite imagery for areas of high interest that we haven't (or do not intend) to cover with aerial imagery (explained next). A big competitive advantage for Virtual Earth, is its aerial imagery: photography captured by aerial cameras mounted in small aircraft flying at low altitudes. For nationwide coverage, Virtual Earth features 30 cm to 1 meter orthorectified aerial photography. For denser, high interest urban areas, Microsoft provides 15 cm (or better) "orthos", increasingly provided by the leading digital aerial camera the UltraCam-X. (Compare this to the competition's "high resolution" satellite imagery of just .6 meter resolution.) The next layer is Virtual Earth's exclusive Bird's Eye imagery, which I have discussed before in this blog. This 15 cm resolution aerial photography is captured at 45 degrees and allows users to see the facades and entrances to structures from 4 different views. Bird's Eye imagery is currently available for highly populated counties in the US and Europe and is being increased every month. As of November 2006, Virtual Earth features geospecific, photorealistic and ACCURATE 3D city models. Current coverage is approaching 100 cities, mostly in the US but with a handful of those in the UK. What surprises most people is that the 3D models are created from the orthophotos and not from the Bird's Eye imagery as you might expect, given the oblique views in the latter. Finally, for road map hill-shading and 3D terrain, Virtual Earth includes digital elevation models. DEMs for global coverage is at 90 meter (or better) resolution, for national at 30 meter (or better) and for local high interest areas 10 meter or better.

Toucan Navigate : Desktop App utilizing Virtual Earth

"Toucan Navigate is an easy-to-use desktop mapping software that lets you display your information over readily available detailed road maps and satellite images from Virtual Earth." Toucan Navigate -Create a meaningful geographic representation of your Excel spreadsheets. -Display Virtual Earth road maps and satellite images and overlay map (GIS) files created by your state and local government agencies. -Connect to a GPS. -Locate addresses and routes. -Collaborate and share your map views with others via MS Office Groove, SharePoint and SQL Server. -Work on/off-line. The best features are: It lets you use VE in on/off-line mode. Allows you to view ESRI shapefile data on VE maps. Allows you to view any excel type data on VE maps. They have a free version on the website: It will be interesting to see what kind of licensing agreement they got from Microsoft. As far as I know - the only way to do this legally is by embedding a browser window in a desktop app. Trying to get to their tile-servers directly is not allowed (but maybe thats why they had to release a free version of their tool).

Virtual Earth and ESRI Apps working together online : the REST API

Virtual Earth For Government: ESRI Announces new REST API for Interoperability at 2007 User Conference: Ever been to a government GIS website that uses ESRI's server products to serve up data. Ever compared the interface to that of Google Earth/Maps or to MS's Virtual Earth - the ArcGIS online interfaces feel like they belong to a different generation - an older generation. The ArcGIS online technology definetly has not kept up with all the WEB2.0 stuff thats been happening. Now instead of creating this technology from scratch - ESRI has done a very smart thing: they have decided to leaverage the Virtual Earth platform. Thus all they have to concern themselves with is - how to serve up the data - and VE would display it in all its WEB2.0 splendour. This is potentially a huge news because for the first time you can create mashups that just dont mash-up data from other sites, but you could create mash-ups with ESRI's online server products. As many government departments publish data using ESRI tools, this would open up a huge resvoir of data to tap into. The most important thing will be - can ESRI's products serve up data fast enough - that Virtual Earth works and runs just as it does now. Important points: 1. REST works only with ArcGIS 9.3 (which means that it can be atleast a year away before we can see public availability of it). 2. The library is a JavaScript API and extends the VE api. I wonder if an API extending Google Earth/Maps is not to far behind...

Sharing edits to GPS maps : "Mapshare "

One of my pet peeves with most of the GPS systems out there is the number of errors that are there in the maps. And to add to that frustration - there is no way to upload or save your changes to POIs (points of interests), let alone share it with other users. Wouldnt it be nice if before you travel to a city you go online and download an updated POI, street database that would have been edited and corrected by users in that city. Well TomTom and SatNav seem to have gone the way of social networking/updating..... You can use their system to correct POIs (not roads yet - atleast I dont think so) and then upload it for use by other users..... nice! The technology is called MapShare! Mapping the World with Tele Atlas

Monday, June 18, 2007

Army Recognizes Greatest Inventions for 2006 The page details the top ten innovations that the US Army was involved as rated by soldiers on the groud. The Buckeye system is of interest to GIS users. It allows for rapid capture of imagery and 3d data allowing for high-res mapping. VLS's LIDAR Analyst has been used to extract information from the 3D data generated by this sensor. Read more about Buckeye at Factsheet: Article:

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Remotely Enable Remote Desktop

Remotely Enable Remote Desktop: "Windows Server Hacks: Remotely Enable Remote Desktop" Ever needed to remotely control a WindowsXP machine using remote desktop - only to find out that Remote Desktop connections are not enabled on the machine. This article shows you how to remotely enable remote desktop!

Friday, June 15, 2007

GeoSummit 2007, Boulder, CO

GeoSummit 2007 : I am going to try being there! The FRUGOS Unconference. Intense and fun discussion at the intersection of geography, location, and technology Date: 16 June 2007, 0930 MDT Venue: Churchill Navigation, Boulder, Colorado Directions:,+Boulder,+CO Model: see No spectators. Everyone participates. Free. AM snacks and PM food and drinks provided. Sessions will be proposed on the GeoSummit group and finalized at the event. Join the GeoSummit group now so we can start to get a head count.

How to stop being captured in Google StreetView

guiabuscadores » Robots.txt 2.0

ESRI and interoperability with Google Earth and Virtual Earth

Standards & Interoperability

Q: Does ESRI have an interoperability strategy to work with or integrate its tools with Google Earth and Virtual Earth?

Yes, currently ESRI supports KML as a standard part of the ArcGIS Desktop (export layers and maps to KML) and ArcGIS Server platform (KML services). Our next release will fully support KML 2.1.

ESRI is also actively working with both Microsoft and Google to improve interoperability procedures within ArcGIS 9.3 that will allow users to directly publish ArcGIS services into the Microsoft Virtual Earth and Google Earth environments and facilitate access to ArcGIS services from these applications. In addition, we are exploring how ArcGIS Desktop and Server can integrate Web services from these organizations for use within GIS applications.

What is ESRI working on beyond 9.3?

ESRI International User Conference 2007 - Questions & Answers: "ArcGIS Q: What is ESRI working on beyond 9.3? In the next release after 9.3, we plan to integrate a number of long-term development projects that users have been requesting for for many years. The general themes for this release are simplification, enhanced performance, Internet integration, and geodatabase integration. Simplification. This release will modernize and streamline the user interface, integrating all the existing functionality into a single easy-to-use application. This application will support a variety of user requested enhancements including multiple layouts and ready-to-use application templates. Enhanced display performance. We are rewriting our graphic display engine (replacing the Windows display pipeline). This will increase display performance by many times, provide several new capabilities for cartography, and provide platform independence. Internet integration. This release will further integrate Internet capabilities with both our client and server technology. Geodatabase integration. GIS data, maps and globes, geoprocessing models, metadata catalogs, and related workflows will all be integrated into the geodatabase."

ESRI ArcGIS Online: Enabling the sharing of GIS Data

ESRI ArcGIS Online: "ArcGIS Online Content Sharing" ESRI has made available the beta version of ArcGIS Online - a system for the sharing of GIS content. What makes it useful is the fact that the system will make available the data - royalty free to users of ESRI software. Virtual Earth has made available the specs to its tile server - which makes it possible for anybody who wants to share their data to host it on their own server. What differentiates this ESRI product is the fact that ESRI will host the data on their servers - which means that the barrier to sharing has been lowered. What remains to be seen is what the barrier to use will be like? Imagine what this does for local and state governments. They can provide access to valuable GIS info to their denizens at no cost to the tax-payer! What I would like to see with this service: 1. A better version of ArcGIS explorer to view this data. (Right now - ArcGIS explorer pales in comparison with Google Earth) 2. Make the data truly public. That is, open up the specs for the online service, so that I could write plugins for open source tools like WorldWind that could leverage this public data. And remove any usage restrictions on the softwares that can use this data. It is data that users wish to be available publicly... so why not?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

EveryScape: 3D GIS Worlds

Here is another immersive 3D GIS world WEB2.0 provider - EveryScape. The technology is pretty impressive and it looks sort of like MS's PhotoSynth. The big difference is that this technology was enabled via Flash - so it doesnt take too much computing power. Now, we have to wait and see if they will be providing free tools and if the technology is easy enough for ordinary users to create and upload worlds - thereby creating content for the entire globe quicker. I am not sure if EveryScape is actually Mok3 - but I did see a reference to the two on a blog somewhere. ( The video below shows some really cool technology. Mok3 allows one to also create 3D scenes from 2D scenes like paintings! Pretty cool though... Welcome to EveryScape!

This I believe... the developer edition : guiding principles for a software project

Patrick Cauldwell's Blog - This I believe... the developer edition: This blog has some points that can be seen as general purpose guidelines for any software project.

Dutch Umbrella : A Location Based Service

Dutch Umbrella From the company website "1. A system for the free public use of umbrellas comprised of pick-up and drop-off locations within a defined urban area. 2. A community supported effort to encourage citywide sharing, enabling the convenience of any-time umbrellas. " The company plans to have bins across a city from which people can pick-up and replace - for free - umbrellas to use around the city. The bins called RainDrops are sponsored typically by a local store, which hopes that the extra foot traffic to its location will be turned into some sales. (I am sure a lot of bins are sponsored out of the genorosity of the local people too). To me this is the ultimate opportunity in location based services. Imagine what you could do with a GPS and a cheap LCD screen mounted underneath the umberella. As a person who has picked up an umberella walks around, the GPS system could pick and display ads of local stores. Such a system would be wonderful in the heart of a city - where many stores are located and act as a magnet for tourists and the locals (the 16th street mall in Denver comes to mind). An even simpler solution could be that the umberellas have an embedded RFID chip. As the user passes close to sponsoring business, a special sign could light up in the store window..... the possibilities for such a service are ENDLESS. But what a neat idea...... Umberellas are for rainy days only..... one could do it with cycles (I would love to see that)..... or maybe Segways (wishful thinking).

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Cool Client Stuff : How does the Windows Forms designer in Visual Studio load a Form?

Ever wondered "How does the Windows Forms designer in Visual Studio load a Form?".... here is a MS blog post about this (link)

Saturday, June 09, 2007

WhoLockMe & Unlocker: Determine the app thats locking a file and unlock it!

Ever needed to delete a file and Windows reports that it cant because it is locked! Usually occurs to me when I need to clear out the %temp% folder.... and it bugs me to no end! I used to run the ProcExp.exe tool which would report which process had the file locked and I would then kill the process after which I could delete the file. No more long drawn steps - Unlocker comes to the rescue and its free. It even adds a context menu - USEFUL as hell! And you can use WhoLockMe now, to determine via a context menu - which app has your file locked! WhoLockMe Explorer Extension v1.04 beta (NT-Win2K-XP) download page UNLOCKER 1.8.5 BY CEDRICK 'NITCH' COLLOMB

Friday, June 08, 2007

Crash when using windows.external to call a C# class method

Recently I was using the WebBrowser control embedded into a Windows Form. I assigned the current form object to the webBrowser control using the property ObjectForScripting property. My hope was that I would be able to use the javaScript method windows.external.PublicMethodInMyClass to call methods in my form: essentially a callback from the webBrowser control. Remember you have to declare [ComVisible(true)] on your class for it to be available to be called via JS from HTML page and if you plan on assigning it to ObjectForScripting. Now for some reason I was having a crash everytime that windows.external was being accessed in my HTML code. After much debugging I found out that the problem was that I was declaring the ClassInterfaceType.None attribute on my class. ([ClassInterface(ClassInterfaceType.None)]) Once I removed that attribute - voila! everything started working correctly. Who knew!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Microsoft Surface

Earlier this year I had written about Jeff Han's Perceptive Pixel project. ( Perceptive pixel is a montior with which multiple users can interact just like Tom Cruise did in Minority Report. When I first saw the video, I was truly blown away at how close we were to this technology. (Perceptive pixel already has working models). Today I came across Microsoft's interactive monitor technology called "Surface". The reason that I think that this is way cooler is that MS has thought of how to bring this technology into every home. Where Perceptive Pixel made me think of how cool its use would be at work in areas such as GIS, Military intelligence, Surface makes me think of all those and more. I can see Surface being used in our conference rooms, during code reviews, showing our prototypes to stake holders..... but I can also see it as a coffee table in my house, a game console for multiplayer games, a way to show my pictures, the uses are endless. Check out all the videos at Microsoft Surface. The ideas that they have dreamt up are pretty cool. (The one I like the best is - splitting your tab at a restaurant! - its in the 3rd video) For more technical info check out this PopularMechanics video ->

C# : Enum and overriding ToString on it

I know the answer (it's 42) : C# : Enum and overriding ToString on it Usefull methods for working with Enum types in C#