Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Buzz vs. Places - the first round

I wish Google had done better launching Buzz.  It's an awful shame that they did such a poor job of pushing this out the door - literally shoving it down the throats of anyone that had a Google account.  Despite the big brother-style default privacy settings that Google initially chose, Buzz has a lot of functionality, a lot of flexibility, and is wonderfully integrated with Google apps that I use on a daily basis.  My top-3 reasons to like Buzz:

  1. it's in your Gmail window - so easy to find or ignore
  2. it's in Google maps mobile - so easy to add geo-aware posts and ID related places
  3. public/private control - in twitter you have to do this with separate accounts.  probably not as flexible as with Facebook places, but pretty straightforward

Monday, November 29, 2010

Ode To Latitude (of the Google kind)

I have a feeling Google Latitude isn't the most prolific location app on the web.  It doesn't get nearly as much press as Foursquare, Places or the like -- and I have a terrible time getting any of my aging Gen-X friends to use it.  I have a feeling that the idea of having Google track your location is just too Big Brother for most folks my age.  Admidtedly, I have similar qualms -- especially if the combination of some terrorist event and a neo-neocon government would persuade Google to relinquish their records elesewhere.

But I really find Lattitude interesting and useful.  For several reasons:

1) It's on my phone, and can be on most any phone
I have a Nokia device, so definitively outside of the North American smart-phone market.  FB Places (and most every other location-sharing service) does not have a Symbian app.  Google maps though works on everything .  So I'm covered with Lattitude.

2) It works in the background - I don't have to interact with it or 'check-in' anywhere
This perhaps is the most important point:  I don't have to do anything - no check-ins or notifications, etc.  Latitude tracks and shows my position without my interaction.  I don't need one more thing to do on my phone.

3) Privacy controls are comprehensive
I can share detailed or city-level positioning.  I can shut it down anytime or hide it from anyone in particular.  I know Buzz had a very bad, heavy-handed start with respect to privacy, but I'm relatively happy with Google now.

4) It's baked into other Google apps
Not another app to download or fool with - it's integrated with maps (along with Buzz) and I already use that on a pretty regular basis.

5) It creates data about my life that could indeed be helpful.
Disconcerting perhaps to some, I  am just amazed at the data that Latitude is able to discern based on my daily positionings. Where is home, work and 'other' - and how frequently I spend time at the others.  Plane flights with to/from airports - its all there.  And as long as I believe that I am the only person with access to this info, I'm OK with that.  Its a fairly accurate portait of my geo-life right now -- which admitedly is not terribly exciting due to the twins that arrived this summer :)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Virtualization and the Geo Cloud

Two events, happening within a month of each other - but on opposite sides of the continent, prompt me to write a little on the affect of hypervisors and cloud infrastructure on geospatial applications and platforms.  For one, VMware has recently wrapped-up their annual "vFest" in San Francisco at VMworld.  Highlights this year include the branding and consolidation of their PaaS offering called vFabric.  vFabric, which is essentially their SpringSource acquisition, nicely packaged and ready-to-sell with the likes of IBM and Oracle.  And VMware (and MS, and Citrix, etc.) all want us to have our own Platforms and Infrastructure - because we all like having our own washing machine inside the house.      vFabric is intended to give us that option - to sit alongside offerings like  vCloud that will hopefully sell well as MSPs.  Offering both allows VMware to hedge their bets -  laundromat or washing machine - you choose!  (please please please buy the Maytag!)

VMworld segues nicely into this month's Geo Cloud event, where the good folks at Directions Media gather us together to contemplate how this brave, new cloudy world will shape our servers, desktops, globes and Earths.  While we all know that our ArcGIS server will run on a VM, the question is how long will it run before bringing down the house.  ESRI lets us know in no uncertain terms that you should fear the hypervisor -- give that piggy as much slop as you can afford to!  To be sure, VMware is a little more optimistic, pointing out different options to get you near-physical performance by tweaking among other things your storage setup.  (Go NAS or go home...)

Nevertheless, we'll most likely need a new, cloud- and hypervisor-aware set of technology to really take advantage of the new cloud offerings.  The geospatial software community is prone to thinking we're special (remember that "unique," spatial database?)  No doubt the performance requirements will remain substantial, but as with all trends, we'll see better compatibility emerge.  I'm looking forward to the Geo Cloud event this month - the speakers come from a broad swath of geo and cloud backgrounds.  I'm sure they'll help us figure it out!


(photo courtesy of Creative Commons/ Flickr: )


Sunday, August 1, 2010

FW: Public beta for Geographic Information Systems Q&A site - Area 51 - Stack Exchange

FYI - this was an interesting site I noticed earlier. Hoping that they get some traction...


From: Area 51 []
Sent: Thursday, July 29, 2010 4:52 PM
Subject: Public beta for Geographic Information Systems Q&A site - Area 51 - Stack Exchange


The new Geographic Information Systems Stack Exchange site is now open to the public!

After just 7 days in private beta, we've already got 234 users who have asked 113 questions and written 327 answers. We're off to a good start, and it's time to unleash this baby on the public and see if it flies. (Sorry; mixed metaphor.)

Tell all your friends, blog about it, tweet about it, and write the URL ( in chalk on the sidewalk in front of your neighbor's house. Or paint. No, never mind, better use chalk.

Most importantly, go to the site now and start earning reputation and badges! We'll see you there! Right now! <-- that is the URL again <-- it has not changed in the last 10 microseconds

All the best,

The Stack Exchange Team

Questions? Comments? Let us know on our feedback site. If you no longer want to receive mail from Stack Exchange Area 51, unsubscribe from all Area 51 emails with a single click.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Monday, June 28, 2010

Setting up Mail For Exchange on the Nokia N97 | Brightpoint GB Blog

Just got a used N97 that I’ve been trying to setup for Exchange mail.  Is fairly easy, except for one thing – if it’s used and already has an Exchange E-mail profile, you must delete the old one first.  You cannot just change the credentials – you have to create a new profile from scratch J

Oh – and don’t let AT&T give you some BS about needing a 2GB DataPro plan, with Exchange option – the 200 MB plan works just fine.  Really, they ARE just a big, dumb pipe :)

Love the free GPS navigation, with on-board maps from Ovi/Nokia/Gate7.  More to come on that hopefully soon…

Friday, April 2, 2010

Free voice nav with MapQuest 4 Mobile

Free voice nav with MapQuest 4 Mobile: "

MapQuest 4 Mobile, the free navigation app from MapQuest, is now available with turn-by-turn voice prompts for iPhone and iPod Touch users.

read more


#Where 2.0 - Day 2: Good Ideas but Lots of Questions

"What's different today? It's the smartphone. It is the hardware platform that offers the advantage of connectivity and interaction. It's the game-changer that is catapulting lots of ideas and lots of questions."

#Where 2.0 - Day 2: Good Ideas but Lots of Questions: "Where 2.0 Day 2 (or Day 1 given that the plenaries were held on Wednesday March 31) offered up great ideas and lots of questions:Should "government be a platform" to support the development of applications that allows citizens better acce...Read more"

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Google's New Bike Directions: a quick Sunday-morning review

The bicycling community was in a tizzy this week, when Google announced their new directions for bikes - of course, in beta form, per Google's standard modus operandi.  This is a big step forward for the bicycling-geo movement:  it is a much more visible and mainstream site for routing with a bike.  I suppose it was only a matter of time before Google got around to this particular transport mode.  (can multi-modal be far behind??!)  Prior bike-routing efforts included the OSM-based Ride the City, and of course a very famous proof-of-concept application developed on ESRI's ArcGIS Server a few years back.

Now, of course the directions are beta - what elese whould you expect from Google?!  There is already some belly-aching already around the route quality I understand. So I decided to take a quick look at the routing quality myself, based my own personal experience...

In Chicago, I commuted about twice a week into the Loop:  a quick look at Google's suggestions found them accurate for the most part.  For the lakeshore route, I saw a couple of issues though:
1) their data was missing a connector at Buena and Lakeshore - without it, Google directs you 2 blocks north and out of your way to get on the trail

2) On the other hand, they do show a connection in the loop that I was unaware of:  in the directions below, they show running the riverside walkway, which I never tried - (my concern there is how to get up from the river walk, to the surface streets) 

For the quicker route down halstead-lincoln-wells, their directions were accurate, but I question the route time:  36 minutes.  I think that's a bit on the fast side:  I would give yourself 45 minutes, more if there's a headwind (wind, in Chicago?!)

Finally, I was pleasantly surprised by a routing suggestion at our new location in Reston.  Now I am well aware of the OD bike trail that I've used to get to the office, but the connection getting onto the trail has been tricky.  Google maps suggested a connection, highlighted below, that I never knew existed.  (instead, I'd been off-roading it at Town Center Parkway, which has almost ended in mud-splattered disaster once or twice...)

So - a good start, Google.  Compared to Ride The City, it is easier to use and faster on the map rendering.  Directions however are a wash:  some positive, some negative.  It's all about the data, right?!

What is the holy grail??  Turn-by-turn GPS navigation for bikes.  If you think about it, with online bike directions, we're basically at the MapQuest stage from a decade ago.  We're really not going to get where we want until you get that sweet little nav voice telling you "in 100 feet, steer your bike right onto the lakeshore trail"


Sunday, January 31, 2010

Adobe Lightroom

I was hoping not to get enamoured by this app - it is $300 by the way. Hopes dashed - it is very cool. Very fast (64-bit version even). And I'm very smitten.

Photoshop Elements 8 was on the other hand a huge disappointment - slow, and unstable on my 64 bit Windows 7 OS.

Workflow-wise, I'm not quite there yet, but learning and it's looking good so far.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Waze review

I've been using - a freeware turn-by-turn navigation app for smartphones. The company is based out of Israel I believe, where they appear to have a significant market share there.

The unique concept I think waze brings to the table is the nature of the street data: crowd-sourced.

Here's the skinny: I like the app. For the most part, because it's fast and easy to use. In about 15 seconds, while I'm walking out the door, I can program in my destination and hit 'go.' I challenge most PND users to do the same. The biggest reason it's fast: google search. I know i need to go to a UPS store? Hit 'search-google local search-"ups" and you're done.

It's not mission-critical worthy, yet: the street data is suspect at times, and there's an annoying habit to give guidance directions (turn) when the map on the screen obviously wants you to keep going straight. That, and it is a bit unstable on my Nokia N82 means it's not ready for all of your nav needs. However, its a good quick and dirty solution for the most part.

Did I mention the price? No - because there's not one :)

Here's a review - not many of them out there, it seems. I should do one!