Wednesday, March 4, 2009


I will be presenting at the American Association of Geographers on Sunday 22 March 2009.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


I've started to post at the new blog location.

My apologies for any inconveniences. This site will remain up for the timebeing, and I don't have any plans to delete it.

Monday, February 23, 2009

What is Twitter?

I'm not quite sure what twitter is, but I signed up for it, because everyone is doing it.

I don't really say anything useful, but for those who have read the entries on this blog, you already knew this. Anyway, I'm always interested in what people have to say about the spatial world (is that redundant?) in 140 characters or less.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

For the Skiers

Being from Colorado originally, I always get asked if I ski. Well, yes and no. I used to downhill ski, but before I left I tried and really enjoyed cross country skiing. Either way, I still find these interactive maps pretty cool.

*Can't seem to get anything but the Park City map to load. Probably a conspiracy by Utah to steal Colorado's glory, but maybe you'll have more luck :).

Friday, February 13, 2009

Speaking of software...

That never changes its interface.

Just received an announcement from Clark Labs. They just released the latest incarnation of IDRISI software called Taiga. If you are looking for a low cost Image processing software, or raster based GIS, this should be one that you look at.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

More APIs

So, when will we see the first Google Maps/New York Times Article mashup?

GIS Jobs and Blog News

While I hope that you are not one of the thousands/tens of thousands of people that have lost their job in the last year, I thought I would post this on here. It's hard to tell what it is really like in the U.S. being in Australia, and Darwin for that matter (which, cross fingers, doesn't seem to be hit too hard at the moment). If you are one of the unfortunate few, or perhaps wanting to find another job, this might interest you.

There are a handful of GIS specific job websites out there, but I think the best one is actually a general job site called You can search for all the U.S. or by location. The feature I like best about it is that you can subscribe to a search and get updated automatically in your favorite reader (e.g. google reader).


On a different note. I've decided to revamp the blog and tutorials section by migrating over to my main web site. I've been neglecting that site quite a bit, and it really just became a testing ground for web projects and learning projects. And I'll face it, I'm a bit of a google fan'person' and they made it really easy to blog and create webpages without having to set up html and css and the like. On the other hand I don't want to be dependent on google (for example they are getting rid of google pages), and they don't make it easy to get my work back. I think it will be better to have everything on one site, though. Luckily I set up the feeds for this blog through feedburner and hopefully I can just switch the rss over and anyone subscribed won't notice a difference.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Venturing deeper in to the murky waters of the Geoweb...

or Neogeography...or Web 2.0...or whatever you want to call it...

Basically to keep up with the ever changing world of the GIS Analyst/Geographer, I've set upon myself the tiny minor little task of learning how to create Rich Internet Applications (RIA). I already know a little about AJAX, and have used it for small things. For those that don't know what AJAX is, it stands for Asynchronous Javascript and XML. Basically it is a way for a webpage to stay put, and the content to change. Whereas before to change the content you had to go to another webpage, this really slows things down, and isn't a good user experience. So AJAX talks to the server via Javascript and the server sends back information in XML format, and Javascript parses that info. The advantage of this process is that doesn't require any third-party extensions to get a Flashy (Adobe Flash that is) experience. I don't particularly like programming in Javascript. And in some instances you have to set up your code depending on browser the user is using, because not each browser is the necessarily the same.

So along comes Microsoft and their new product called Silverlight. The so-called "Flash-Killer." Well, it's not going to kill Flash, but some healthy competition doesn't hurt anyone. The appeal was that I could program in VB.NET to create the RIA, and it could all be developed using the Web Developer 2008 Express Edition. Develop Flash-like apps for free? Sounds better than 600$ for the cost of Adobe Flash software. The disadvantage is that Silverlight has 1% of the market to Flash's 98% (and an extra 1% for all the people still using Netscape Navigator 4), so no one really has the plugin to view the application. Forcing people to download a plug-in leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth (hence the appeal of AJAX). Granted by the time everyone upgrades to Windows 7, Silverlight will be pre-installed.

Now I'm not just doing this for fun, but it is related to an actual project. The project lead has a Mac, and Silverlight plugins aren't available for the mac (they are now). So I switched my attention to Adobe Flash, and learned about Adobe Flex. Flex is for developers (or dabblers like me) and Flash is for designers, to put it succinctly. There is a lot of overlap between them, such as the main language - ActionScript. Also, Flex 3.0 SDK is free, so you can, in theory, create Flex apps for free. They also sell Flex Builder (an IDE), or as a 60 day trial. Since I'm at an academic institution, they also provide it for free.

I was a little daunted at trying to learn another programming language (or half-learning like I usually do), but I've been pleasantly surprised by the whole experience. Flex Builder is just ok as an IDE, I much prefer working in Web Developer Express (it has much better intellisense), but I'm also used to working in it. I think that in general Flex is easier to work with than Silverlight because it has the documentation and community support/examples that Silverlight doesn't (yet?). I have a copy of Adobe Flex 3 Bible by Gassner and that is helping quite a bit. Flex also has a lot of built-in functions to make typical tasks much easier, like fading in or out. I found Silverlight's animation less intuitive. An extra bonus is that Google released a Google Maps control for flash/flex. There is a Virtual Earth wrapper for Silverlight that is really good to work with, but Google Maps has better imagery in the project area.

Anyway, if you've wanted to start working with RIA's, I think I would recommend Flex first, then AJAX, then Silverlight.

Here is a beta version of the project I've been working on. I attempted to set up the Flex front end to be generic so that all the content is received via RSS, so in theory I could just switch urls to a different RSS that read a different database. Of course, the code is a little sloppy as it was a learner project, but I should be able to clean it up for the final incarnation. There are little buggy problems with this, but I wanted to get a test up on the web. All the markers are stored as geometry in a SQL Server 2008 database and put into a GeoRSS so that it's readable by Flex. The "media" is stored in a separate table with each item using a foreign key reference to the spatial data, so that they are "geotagged." This way, as the database is updated so is the little Flex program. In the beta version of the blogspot engine, they have geotagging, so hopefully I'll be able to add blog entries as media content as well. I could try that, but then would need to add the entries to the media content table. So far images and videos are stored in a bucket on my host's server, with the link stored in the table. Any feedback or suggestions would be appreciated.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Google Analytics

Hasn't really been a year since this blog was started, but the year has ended. Shortly after starting it I tracked it with Google Analytics which is free and pretty easy to embed in the blog. I've had 1,700 unique visitors and 2,100 visits from 108 countries. The top country is the U.S.A followed by Australia (which is probably me logging into the site :)), then the UK. Which makes sense since this is an English-language blog. I wouldn't mind posting in another language, but I don't know any sufficiently to do that. Anyway, thanks to all that read this blog. I hope it is of some use to you, because I mainly post here to give back to the Internet community. I have learned much from that community, so if I can contribute even a little that makes me happy.


This is perhaps my favorite illustration. It is by Charles Joseph Minard and shows Napoleon's invasion of Moscow, Russia and the subsequent retreat to Poland. It is a space-time illustration, using multivariate data. Edward R. Tufte (author the Visual Display of Quantitative Data) suggests it is the greatest visualization ever made. It is very engaging, and simple to read (sorry but this one is in French, there are English variants).

Sunday, January 11, 2009


Been traveling in Southeast Asia for the holidays. Will hopefully post something here in a couple of days when I get settled in again.