Monday, August 27, 2012

Navigating Physics - Strange Maps

Strange maps has a nice little piece up on a 1939 map of physics. I don't think I've ever wanted a map of non-spatial information more.  I want to travel down Electromagnetic River...I'll avoid Lake Radioactivity, though.

"This spatial representation of the subject, dating from 1939, defines itself as Being a map of physics, containing a brief historical outline of the subject as will be of interest to physicists, students, laymen at large; Also giving a description of the land of physics as seen by the daring sould who venture there; And more particularly the location of villages (named after pioneer physicists) as found by the many rivers; Also the date of founding of each village; As well as the date of its extinction; and finally a collection of various and sundry symbols frequently met with on the trip."

Strange Maps - 1939 Map of Physics 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Great Advice from @PetersonGIS

A wall of text does not get your point across.

My favorites:

#4 Make a dramatic graphic statement that looks different from the maps around you. This is a sure-fire way to get your map noticed.
#5 That drama needs to highlight your SINGLE teaching point

How to Design a Winning Map Poster

Monday, July 23, 2012

Historical Landsat Images

Wired is running a nice little article on some of Landsat's most significant images. 

From the shrinking Aral sea to the Kuwait oil fires see some startling imagery at:
Wired: Landsat’s Most Historically Significant Images of Earth From Space

Friday, June 1, 2012

Torch Spotting

Keep track of the Olympic torch as it travels through the UK with ESRI's latest story map.  It also references Flickr photo's tagged for the event to give you up to date pictures.

"Follow the Olympic torch’s journey around the United Kingdom

8,000 torch-bearers are carrying the Olympic flame through 1,000 cities and villages in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland. Explore today’s and previous days’ photos of the relay; click on future locations (gray symbols) for dates."

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

"Cartographer's Toolkit" Getting Finishing Touches @PetersonGis

Very interested for this to be released.  It looks like Gretchen's new book will include her previous e-books "Colors For Maps" and "Type For Maps" with an additional chapter on patterns.  It will be nice to have them all in print (yes, I cling to outmoded tree-killing technology). 

Read about recent updates at Gretchen Peterson's blog.

Friday, May 11, 2012

A Map to Comfort

I promise this isn't advertising, just awesome stuff on the interwebs. 

From (the appropriately named) The Awesomer you can get a custom printed map fleece blanket.  Pricey, yes. Awesome, yes.

Check out the Soft Cities fleece blanket (they make cloth napkins too) at The Awesomer.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Fate of the "Lost Colony"

Examination of a map held by British Museum, created in 1585 by Roanoke governor John White, has revealed what some believe is a new clue to what happened to the Roanoke "Lost Colony". Researchers have examined the area beneath two patches attached to the map. One of these patches appears to be a simple correction to the map, but underneath the other patch is a symbol denoting a fort. The patches appear to be contemporaneous with the rest of the map, and American and British scholars believe the fort symbol could indicate where the settlers went.

Full article at The Telegraph (

Monday, April 30, 2012

Tell a Story Through Maps

Recently launched allows users to created animated maps.  Can't wait to see all the MapStories that are created, it should be engaging and informative. 

Play With Maps - Google's Map Labyrinth Game (Cube)

Google Cube is live. Looks like you need Chrome to play with it, though.

Cube: A Game About Google Maps --

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Mexican "Geolocalization Law"

The gov't claims it's to aid in the war on drugs, but is it a severe privacy infraction?

"Last week, revisions to Mexican federal law took effect that give public authorities and law enforcement unprecedented ability to compel mobile phone companies to disclose real-time geographic data from mobile phone companies in a wide variety of cases."

Full article at Ars Technica: Mexican "Geolocalization Law" draws ire of privacy activists

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Demographics of Health Care

AdAge examines major health issues across the US.  It's interesting to see the clustered issues and its implication on care in those areas.

"You might think that, averaged across all populations, disease would be pretty evenly distributed. 

You would be wrong."

The Demographics of Health Care 

Reverse Geocoding Can Get You Sued

Story from

This is the grist of the matter:
Since 2004 we have crowdsourced* the generation of the "Canadian Postal Code Geocoded Database." When you make a query to geocoder containing for example this information "1435 Prince of Wales, Ottawa, ON K2C 1N5", we then extract the postal code "K2C 1N5" and insert it into the database that you may download for free on this website.

This allows you to look up a postal code (eg K2C 1N5) on, or or a number of other sites that use data and technology.

Since we do not have a postal code dataset from the authority on postal code assignments, namely "Canada Post", we derive and guess this information sometimes with pretty good accuracy results.

Now "Canada Post" has sued "" in Federal Court, asking "" to take this database down from this website, and also to "pay Canada Post" damages on lost business the later has suffered by not selling enough copies of their own postal code file (last time I checked at $5,000CAD a piece).

This brings us here. Having to face a crown corporation with deep pockets in Federal Court, over something we have created but which they believe otherwise.

Fighting for principle is expensive, and we will do it. Even against the odds, namely the foremost law firm in the country for IP litigation, hired by Canada Post to bring us down. 

It will be easier with your help. If you are an entity or person who has benefited from free or commercial products and services write your thoughts on Canada Post's desire to shut down this website.

ESRI Story Map of the Titanic

ESRI has a nice interactive map up of the Titanic voyage. You can click on passenger class to see their hometown.  No information about a large chunk of the fatalities, though...the crew.

ESRI Titanic Story Map

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

New Independent State of Azawad

Friday, the New York Times reported that the Tuareg rebels who overran the northern regions of Mali have declared independence.  The National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (NMLA) is currently administering control until a national authority is formed.  The MNLA declared Azawad an independent state on 6 April 2012 and pledged to draft a constitution establishing it as a democracy. Their statement also acknowledged the United Nations charter and said the new state would uphold its principles.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Trimble Acquires Gatewing

First the FAA talks to open up civilian UAV traffic and now Trimble announced Friday that it's buying Gatewing.

I posted about Gatewing a few weeks ago: Are (non-orbiting) UAVs the Future of Aerial Imagery?

Here's a little more about them.

About Gatewing
Founded in 2008, Gatewing designs and provides one of the world's fastest and easiest to use remote sensing solutions for the surveying and mapping industry. Based on its revolutionary X100 lightweight unmanned aircraft, Gatewing has built a solution for rapid terrain mapping that consists of image acquisition field operation and fully digital and automated image processing. By making this technology highly accessible in terms of price and ease of use, Gatewing's goal is to revolutionize the surveying and mapping industry.

Trimble press release.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

International Encyclopedia of Geography

The Association of American Geographers is undertaking a rather massive project and is planning on producing a 15 volume work titled:  The International Encyclopedia of Geography: People, the Earth, Environment, and Technology

"The goal of the project is to create the most comprehensive and authoritative in-print and online resource covering a field broadly defined to include
  • Human geography
  • Physical geography
  • Geographic information science and systems
  • Study of the earth
  • Study of the environment"
Full article over at ESRI News

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Break Out Your Famicon for Google 8-Bit

If it doesn't work the first time, be sure to blow on the cartridge.

Google Maps, however, seems to only use desert textures in "Quest" mode in Africa and the Middle East.  Australia looks lush and green.

Also, don't forget to go to Street View where available for more 8-bit fun.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Mesmerizing Near Real-Time Wind Map

"An invisible, ancient source of energy surrounds us—energy that powered the first explorations of the world, and that may be a key to the future.

This map shows you the delicate tracery of wind flowing over the US right now." Wind Map

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Make a (Fake) Spinning Globe in HTML5 #HTML5Globe

Great little tutorial for making a rotating globe in HTML5...slide some static images through a circle.  Ok, a little more involved than that.

Full article at IDV User Experience.

World's Largest Atlas

Only $100,000 the cost of adding a room to your house just to display it.

"Earth Platinum, published at the end of February in an edition limited to 31 copies, is the world’s largest atlas. The book is 1.8 m (6 ft) high and 1.4 m (4.5 ft) wide. When opened, it spans 2.8 m (9 ft). It contains 128 pages of maps, flags and panoramic photographs, and weighs 150 kg (over 300 lb). It’s the kind of book you can’t read alone: it takes two persons to turn over the gigantic pages."

Read about it as Strange Maps.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Friday, March 23, 2012

Could GPS be used to predict earthquakes?

While measuring electrons in the ionosphere using GPS signals, Professor Kosuke Heki of Hokkaido University discovered that during the Tohoku earthquake of 2011 the amount of electrons actually increased about an hour prior to the strike. He then found that similar data existed for several other past quakes.

Map it Once, Use it Many Times

Press release from :

Congressman Doug Lamborn (CO-05) has introduced a bill that would streamline federal bureaucracy dealing with map making. H.R 4233, Map it Once, Use it Many Times Act, would reform, consolidate, and reorganize federal geospatial activities.

Currently, more than 40 different federal agencies have geospatial activities. This duplication and overlapping has led to a culture within the federal government of “map it many times and horde the data” whereas it should be to “map it once and use it many times.”
Based on input from hearings held by the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources that Lamborn chairs, a review of past studies, and input from stakeholders, Lamborn has introduced a bill that provides a new approach to geospatial data collection and management.

“While my bill does not seek to address all these agencies, it is a proposal to better manage these resources in agencies that fall under the jurisdiction of the Committee on Natural Resources.“There is a capable and qualified private sector in the geospatial field, yet many government agencies duplicate, and in some cases compete with, private firms. Given the extraordinary cluster of such firms in Colorado, these phenomena particularly concern me. At a time of record debt and deficits we need to not only eliminate duplication across agencies and programs.We must also weed out government competition with the private sector so federal assets and resources are focused on those things only government can do.”– Doug Lamborn 

H.R. 4233 would:
  • consolidate responsibilities for leadership in a National Geospatial Technology Administration within the U.S. Geological Survey;
  • merge duplicate federal geospatial programs into the new Administration;
  • encourage the uses of commercial data and private sector service providers;
  • establish a National Geospatial Policy Commission to provide a priority-setting mechanism that not only includes federal agencies, but Congress and non-federal stakeholders as well;
  • provide for acquisition of professional geospatial services on the basis of quality , qualifications and experience of competing firms;
  • establish an advocacy function for the dynamic U.S. private sector geospatial community; 
  • and coordinate the tens of millions of dollars the U.S.government spends each year on geospatial-related research and development along strategic goals that meet the needs of government and the private sector.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Google Street View Now Covers the Amazon

Last year Google started work on 360-degree imagery of the Amazon basin using their Street View trike and their new boat-mounted Street View camera.  Yesterday it went live in Google Earth. 

Street Art, Watercolor Roads

"Reminiscent of hand drawn maps, our watercolor maps apply raster effect area washes and organic edges over a paper texture to add warm pop to any map. Watercolor was inspired by the Bicycle Portraits project."  - Stamen Design

The beautiful watercolor overlay (or high contrast black and white, "Toner", overlay) are available for use through creative commons with OpenStreetMap.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Let's Visit the Island of San Francisco

Breaking news from 2072... the sea level has risen 200 feet and is still rising.  Is the future of the San Franciscan Archipelago doomed?

Read some speculative fiction over at Burrito Justice.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Putting the Sim in SimCity

It's amazing to see the depth they are putting into the simulation.  I love the 1:1 representation of structures/resources and the use and need of agents on the map.

SimCity Insider's Look GlassBox Game Engine - Part 1

Urban Forests of Tennessee

Here's a really interesting study be the USDA on the valuation of urban forests in TN.  In this case it's $80 billion dollars when taking carbon storage, energy savings, air pollution removal, and
structural value into consideration. 

The USDA set out to study the environmental and economic benefits and uses of trees in towns, cities, and communities in TN.  Using the forest services i-Tree Eco software ( researchers took information from 2418 trees and saplings across 255 field plots. Variables noted include species, diameter at breast height, height, crown dimensions, foliage transparency, damage, and proximity to buildings.  The information was used to value the forests, but also will be used to help keep them healthy and flourishing.

Read the full study at:  USDA - Urban Forests of Tennessee

Monday, March 19, 2012

1940 U.S. Census Data To Be Released 4/2/12

Why has it taken 72 years for this data to be released?  The 1940 Census asked for information that was a little more detailed than today's census and since Title 13 of the United States Code restricts the availability of personally identifiable information from census records, it will only now become available due to expiring privacy protection.

Some interesting information can be gleaned from this data, including:

"Researchers might be able to follow the movement of refugees from war-torn Europe in the latter half of the 1930s; sketch out in more detail where 100,000 Japanese Americans interned during World War II were living before they were removed; and more fully trace the decades-long migration of blacks from the rural South to cities."

Full article over at GIS Lounge: 1940 U.S. Census Records Release Date Nears

GeoEye: Keeping a Just Eye on the World

GeoEye Foundation Satellite Imagery Reveals Environmental Protection Issues

GeoEye Foundation Satellite Imagery Confirms Human Rights Violations in Porta Farm, Zimbabwe 

Anatomy of a Coffee Purchase

Personally, I'm not terribly picky about my coffee.  There's a particular blend I like, grind it in the store and brew at home.  I guess there are some people who may put a little more thought into it.

"How far will you go for a cup of good coffee and some “thinking space”? Jim Stone, principal of Chain Store Advisors, makes his choice based on a variety of complex factors, which can be troublesome for retailers trying to discern their trade area. What factors, such as convenience, quality of product and a quiet spot, are important to you?"

Complete article over at Directions Magazine: Anatomy of a Coffee Purchase

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Spatial Education: Episode 1

Spatial Education: Episode 1 - 6m47s

In this first episode we learn how to display map data and how to use some basic tools in ArcMap. Be sure to bump up the resolution to 720p or 1080p if the picture looks too blurry.

data for this tutorial can be found at:

I hope you enjoy this episode and tune back in for more on using ArcGIS.

edit: I just noticed that when I hover over "East Perth" no map tip came up on the screen.  For some reason my screen capture software didn't get it, but it should come up for you.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

ESRI Invades Video Games

I think ESRI wants to bring you the next city to shoot up explore in a video game.  It looks like they are wanting to integrate their 3D Urban visualization with the gaming market.

Entertainment and Gaming Industry Solutions Manager

Friday, March 16, 2012

A Song of Ice and Fire - Speculative World Map

I haven't read the book, and I didn't pay much attention when my wife watched the first season, but I always find it interesting when people put a lot of time and effort into speculative maps. 

A Song of Ice and Fire - Speculative world map

As a huge Pratchett fan I've always wanted to make my own map of the Disc. I know there are already some official ones, but it would just be fun to see how I can imagine it.

Virtual Australia and New Zealand

I've always wanted to go, I guess this will be much cheaper than flying.

"A group of public and private bodies have banded together to create a new entity charged with building a 3D virtual recreation of Australia and New Zealand."

Read about it at The Register:  Virtual Australia & New Zealand Initiative Launches

Distance Decay and GIS

Interesting article over at GISLounge on distance decay and ethnic interaction.

Distance Decay and Its Use in GIS

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Mapping Highways with Slime Mold

"Slime mould is surprisingly good at finding the most efficient route to food, despite being a single-celled organism with no brain or central nervous system. Adamatzky and colleagues used oat flakes to map out the major cities of Africa, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Iberia, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, the UK and the US, then placed the slime mould at the capital city of each and allowed it to grow."

Read about it over at New Scientist - Slime mould spreads through world's motorways

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

North Carolina to Offer Esri GIS to All K-12 Schools in State

Wow...geospatial training to over 1.5 million students.

"Taught in the right way, GIS is a self-priming pump. A little exposure to GIS gets people wanting to know even more." - Dr. Reed Perkins, chair, Division of Math and Natural Sciences, Queens University of Charlotte

Read all about it over at ESRI.

ArcGIS 10.0 Service Pack 4 Released

The latest service pack for ArcGIS 10.0 has been released and includes many fixes for targeted issues.

See all the updates and fixed issues here:

Monday, March 12, 2012

Google Takes Streetview Underwater

The University of Queensland and Google have teamed up to document the health of the coral of Great Barrier Reef:

"The Catlin Seaview Survey camera, developed specifically for the expedition, will capture thousands of 360-degree underwater panoramas. When stitched together, these will allow people to choose a location, dip underwater and go for a virtual dive at all of the locations visited by the expedition."

University of Queensland 

Also, check out other projects to audit reefs that are endangered.

Reefs at Risk


NASA | What Doesn't Stay in Vegas? Sprawl.

Sonar Map of Titanic Debris Field

This composite image, released by RMS Titanic Inc, and made from sonar and more than 100,000 photos taken in 2010 by unmanned, underwater robots, shows a portion of a comprehensive map of the 3-by-5-mile debris field surrounding the bow and stern of the Titanic on the bottom of the North Atlantic Ocean.

via The Telegraph

"Telegraph Pictures of the Day"

Friday, March 9, 2012

Are (non-orbiting) UAVs the Future of Aerial Imagery?

Wow...5cm resolution from an UAV that you can pack in your car.  The operational altitude of these aircraft is 400ft and below so HD cameras can really suck in the data.  The hands off flight programming is really impressive.

Gatewing X100 product video 2011 from Gatewing on Vimeo.

"Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: The FAA is Taking Them Seriously, Should You?"

DNRGarmin is now DNRGPS

I think I'll have to give it a go.  I have an iPhone app for tracking my hikes that can export to .gpx and .kml.  I'll have to see if I can use this to easily convert them to a .shp file.

GIS Lounge - DNRGPS Replaces DNRGarmin

How Open is Too Open?

OpenStreetMap has recently seen some big announcements, namely that Apple, without telling OSM, is using their data for iPhoto (OSM Welcomes Apple), and Foursquare's use of OSM as a basemap (

But let's not forget the inherent problems with using data generated by users. Similar to the fact that Wikipedia isn't generally accepted in academic research, should OSM always be trusted as a basemap?

"Google Contractor Allegedly Caught Vandalizing Open Street Map"

What Projection Do You Use For Your Map Tattoo?

Really well thought out article from Strange Maps on the evolution of tattooing and recent interest in geographic tattoos.

"The world on your shoulders"

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Who Doesn't Love Old Maps?

A great new resource is Old Maps Online which sources maps from libraries around the world.  Zoom in to specific locations (or even keep it small scale) and adjust the date range sliders to see what comes up. 

"OldMapsOnline has been created by a collaboration between The Great Britain Historical GIS Project based at The University of Portsmouth, UK and Klokan Technologies GmbH, Switzerland."