The Garmin blog announces the (long-delayed) availability of Training Center (the fitness software used by the Edge and Forerunner lines). Only not quite yet: “now available” (as per the press release headline) means that you can pick up a CD at Macworld next week, but you can download it from their web site beginning only in late January. Mac compatibility for Training Center was previously announced for last spring, but was later delayed to the end of this year. I presume that Friday’s post on the Garmin blog was a way of meeting that deadline. See also GPS Tracklog.
I briefly mentioned the Miami International Map Fair — which touts itself as “the number one map fair in the world,” a place for map collectors and dealers to do all kinds of business — last year, but after the fact. The next one takes place on January 27 and 28 at the Historical Museum of Southern Florida. (Note the new URL.) Via Maps-L.
If you thought Gavin Menzies’s claim that the Chinese discovered America in 1421 was risible, if you thought Liu Gang’s purported 1418 map was a fraud, you’d better brace yourself: a Virginia author argues that the Chinese visited America around 2200 BC — and claims that there were charts existing from that time. It’s worth mentioning that this is about two thousand years before the first maps appeared in Western civilization, though I don’t know enough about Chinese cartography, so this claim strikes me as more than a bit dubious. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. Via MapHist.
Previously on the Menzies hypothesis: A Look Back at the Chinese Map Controversy; Chinese Map Media Briefing; Chinese Map Controversy: Liu Gang’s Press Conference; Experts Still Doubt Chinese Map’s Authenticity; 1421 Exposed: Scholars Respond to Liu and Menzies; Gavin Menzies in Australia.
A couple of recent items about maps and directions for the visually impaired.
Rachel Magario, a blind graduate student at Kansas University, is working to create tactile campus maps — “maps for the blind that are created by the blind” — the Lawrence Journal-World reports. The maps will take note of things that a blind traveller would observe, like carpeted or gravel surfaces. Via All Points Blog.
Meanwhile, the Google Blog reports on how the visually impaired can use Google Maps’s textual maps user interface with a screenreader or Braille display.
Previously: Online Maps for the Visually Impaired.
The only remaining known copy of Martin Waldseemüller’s 1507 world map — the first to name the New World “America” — is owned by the Library of Congress. (Four gores also survive, according to the Waldseemüller Wikipedia page; one of these, I guess, went for auction last year.) To protect, preserve and display it, the Library of Congress is commissioning a hermetically sealed encasement, made from aluminum and similar to encasements for the Constitution, Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence, but considerably larger (295 cm × 185 cm × 10 cm). The map will be on display in its new case in the fall of 2007. Via Map the Universe and Map History/History of Cartography.
I didn’t know much about the implications of Google’s Endoxon purchase when I blogged it last week, but your comments helped a great deal. Stefan at Ogle Earth has even more information, with more on Endoxon itself; he also links to an article in Swiss paper Le Temps and, since it’s in French, provides an English summary of said article.
Previously: Google Buys Endoxon.
The winter 2006 issue of Documents to the People, the official publication of the Government Documents Round Table of the American Library Association, is a special issue on map librarianship. It’s available for download as a PDF file (3 MB). Via Maps-L.
Last Wednesday’s edition of the Christian Science Monitor had a long, thoughtful article about the State of Georgia’s decision to remove 488 communities from its official map: “[T]he action has triggered a deeper debate about how Americans view one another and their communities, and the importance tiny towns put on being recognized, if not in public discourse, at least by cartographers. Those designations are, for some, proof of their existence.”
My impression of Yahoo’s mapping stuff is that it lags behind the competition in terms of satellite imagery and mashups, but they’re ahead of the game in terms of integrating it with their other services (Exhibit A: Flickr maps). The announcement that maps are integrated into the non-beta version of Yahoo’s webmail also reinforces that impression.
“Atlases, believe it or not, are hot this year,” says the CBC’s Shaun Smith in a review of four thematic atlases published in Canada this year: The Canadian Hockey Atlas; The Wine Atlas of Canada; The Geist Atlas of Canada (reviewed here last month); and Noah Richler’s literary atlas of Canada, This Is My Country, What’s Yours? Thanks, Mike.
Brian refuses to use Google Earth 4; he’s using version 3.x instead. “Why? Not for any technical reason. No; it’s purely a matter of user interface. It used to be, if not good, at least passable. Now, it’s a pain in the ass. And there’s no indication that they’re open to the idea of going back to the way it was.”
The Russian government has lifted a (widely ignored) ban on the use of high-resolution images and high-accuracy GPS. Reuters:
Until now, global positioning systems that helped locate ground objects more precisely than in a radius of 30 metres (98 ft), have been formally outlawed in Russia for security reasons. Images made from space that locate an object within less than 2 metres (6.6 ft) were also banned.
Prohibited imagery and receivers were already in wide use in many industries; at least this is one less technical illegality for the state to use against you at its discretion. See also Kommersant. Via GPS Tracklog.
A major update to Virtual Earth this week: new three-dimensional city textures for Minneapolis-St. Paul, Tacoma, Sacramento, the L.A. suburbs and Irving, Texas on the one hand; a massive imagery and terrain update for Italy on the other. James explores terrain, interface and 3D texture upgrades; Stefan surmises that the Italy imagery is a result of Microsoft’s recent agreement with a Norwegian pictometry company.
Bohdan Krawciw, a Ukrainian-born writer, translator and critic, amassed a map collection of some 900 items before his death in 1975. In November 2005, his daughter donated the collection to Harvard University; the University announced the acquisition this month: Harvard College Library; Harvard University Gazette.
Krawciw’s thoroughness in acquiring maps showing the Ukraine led to a unique and geographically broad collection that spans four centuries, from the 1550s to the 1940s. It includes numerous early maps of Europe, Poland, Hungary, Lithuania, Russia, the Crimea, and the Black Sea, and represents the major European mapmakers: Mercator, Hondius, Blaeu, Jansson, Pitt, DeWit, Sanson, L’Isle, and Seutter.
An exhibition of Matthew Cusick’s art, which uses collages of old maps, just wrapped up at the Lisa Dent Gallery, but the images are still available online. From the Artkrush review: “Clipped from yellowed atlases and geography textbooks, the pieces gather together aging blues, whites, pinks, and golds of antique cartography to construct bleak landscapes with oblique references to American foreign policy and Western imperialism.” More examples of Cusick’s work at the Kent Gallery. See also BLDGBLOG.
Google has acquired Swiss mapping company Endoxon — or at least its Internet, mapping and data processing units; the cartography, analysis and geodata units have been spun off as Mappuls AG. The acquisition is apparently meant to bolster the technology behind Google Maps and Earth, and to help the European side of their business, but as to what that means in concrete terms, I have no idea — I hadn’t heard of Endoxon prior to this. Anyone know what Google’s up to here? (Thanks, Paul.)
There has been an explosion in mining claims lately; the Environmental Working Group’s U.S. Mining Database uses the Google Maps API to show active mines and claims on federal lands in the western United States. (There’s also a Google Earth option.) My, there are a lot of them. Using satellite imagery to show the effects of mining makes sense to me, given the awesome size of modern-day mining (look for the Athabasca tar sands or the Powder River coal basin in Google Earth some time). Thanks to Matthew Fried for the link; see also James Fee.
The U.S. ZIPScribble Map by Robert Kosara plots U.S. ZIP codes in ascending order, one connected to the next. Pretty! A similar map applies the same method to the travelling salesman problem: it maps the shortest distance between ZIP codes.
Inspired by Kosara’s maps, Stefan Zeiger does the same things for Germany.
Fire insurance maps, with their incredible detail, are always a great find; we’ve got a couple in local collections here, and I just think they’re magnificent. Unfortunately, they originally had onerous copyright restrictions that prohibited making copies, so these treasures can be kind of hard to find. But the New York Public Library’s Map Division has just put more than 1700 of them, dating from the 1850s to the 1920s, online. Via Maps-L.
Torontoist calls this transit map of Toronto “the best map ever in the history of anything.” What it looks like to me is the TTC transit map superimposed on a Google Maps interface. Not that that isn’t impressive in and of itself, but the streets, etc. are part of the TTC layer, rather than Google Maps itself. In other words, other than the stations, this appears to be a single image, rather than a bunch of polylines. Problematic from a usability standpoint (particularly at the edges), though it explains how the transit lines and symbols could be orthorectified so cleanly. Via All Points Blog.
Gizmodo shows us how to download route data from a Suunto X9i GPS watch and a Garmin Forerunner and export it into Google Earth, using a couple of applications. Not so much a how-to guide, but it does show you that it can be done.
Boing Boing’s update on the State of Georgia’s decision to remove 488 communities from its official map includes a link to a complete list of the affected communities in a WTVC news story. Oh yeah, and this image.
Previously: Georgia Removes Nearly 500 Communities from the Map.
Recent map- and GPS-related questions on Ask MetaFilter (they even come with answers):
- Why haven’t GPS prices dropped as much as other electronics? The consensus seems to be that the GPS electronics cost next to nothing; the price point is being maintained by adding features like colour screens and maps.
- A question near and dear to my heart: the best GPS navigation system for Canada. Garmins were recommended; the original questioner ended up buying the C330, saying, “Of all the manufacturers I looked at, Garmin was the only one that even pretended to include complete Canadian maps with their systems.”
- Meanwhile, a question about showing GIS data in a Google Maps interface — the questioner wondered “if there was anything out there that let you take any old shapefile and throw it onto a Google Map.” Not without more than a few intermediate steps, I think.
Sean Gillies has compiled a list of the best of the geospatial community and blogosphere for 2006. I can’t really add to it (though I’m listed) because I’m not really a member of that community, just an imperfect observer. If you have some thoughts on the subject, though, share them.
A few new Google Earth layers to tell you about. Data from several web communities — Wikipedia, Panoramio and the Google Earth Community — are also available in a new “Geographic Web” layer. The “London: A Life in Maps” exhibition, about which much has been posted (most recently here) also has a Google Earth layer. And the Rumsey maps layer (previously) is now available in non-English versions of Google Earth. And once I get my Intel iMac back from the shop (taps feet impatiently), I’ll be able to check these layers out properly; Google Earth doesn’t run nearly as well on my backup computer here (a G4 iMac).
Maps are taking a curious central position in the controversy over former U.S. president Jimmy Carter’s new book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. A former executive director of the Carter Center resigned over the book, charging that it contained inaccuracies and improperly cited materials — notably, that two maps were unusually similar to maps published in Dennis Ross’s book, The Missing Peace. Right-wing bloggers are taking up the case: see here and here (includes scans of the maps in question); their opponents charge that Carter, who’s been accused of everything from Marxism to anti-Semitism to outright treason, is the target of a right-wing campaign that is blowing the issue out of proportion for political ends. (I remember the virulent response from some quarters when Carter won the Nobel prize.) Via About.com Geography.
But the question, from a cartographic perspective, is this: what constitutes plagiarism? Facts cannot be copyrighted, and court cases have ruled copyright traps unenforcable in the U.S. So what part of Dennis Ross’s maps even can be plagiarized? The design? The choice of font? The shading?
The University of Chicago Press has a blog that talks up their books; of interest to us is the Cartography and Geography category, where you can find links to reviews and discussions of such books as Mark Monmonier’s From Squaw Tit to Whorehouse Meadow (reviewed here last July), among others. Thanks to Joel Riggs for the link.
A profile in the International Herald Tribune of Microsoft’s new online services chief Steve Berkowitz sheds some light on how the software giant develops its web services (including its maps, of course). Berkowitz isn’t shy about criticizing Microsoft’s past practices:
Microsoft lost its way, Berkowitz said, because it became too enamored with software wizardry, like its new 3D map service, and failed to make a search engine people liked to use. […]
“A lot of decisions were driven by technology — they were not driven by the consumer,” he said. “It isn’t always the best technology that wins. It is the best experience.”
Via All Points Blog.
A weird GPS story from my neighbourhood: someone stole an Ottawa city bus a couple of nights ago, but thanks to the bus’s onboard GPS system, it was recovered within a couple of hours. The city’s buses are being equipped with GPS for service and scheduling reasons; the transit security superintendent didn’t expect it to be used for this purpose. (Clearly he has not heard of Darius McCollum.) A 43-year-old man from a town not ten minutes away from me is in custody.
In an attempt to make the official map “clearer and less cluttered,” the Georgia Department of Transportation has removed 488 communities from that map. The communities were mostly — but not always — “placeholders” with populations under 2,500. That number seems a bit high to me: I’m used to placeholders with, like, two or three houses at most. Where I come from, 2,500 is a reasonably sized small town; it’s also a thousand more than the town I presently live in. Via MapHist.
Previously: Ghost Towns.
Andrea Borruso writes to tell us about his blog about cartography, GIS and other subjects; since it’s in Italian, I can’t say much about it, but I can at the very least point it out to you.
As I noted in an update to my earlier post, the body of James Kim was found yesterday. But online maps or GPS navigation systems cannot be blamed for the Kim tragedy, as some have surmised (based on little more than James Kim’s techy occupation): the San Francisco Chronicle reports that they used a paper map. Indeed Bear Camp Road’s winter status is not always mentioned on paper maps: Mathew Ingram; Medford Mail Tribune. No mapping method has a monopoly on accuracy or error. Via Google Maps Mania.
Directions tries to makes sense of the rather large geospatial and mapping blogosphere with A Reader’s Guide to Geoblogs. It says something about your perspective, though, if maps, “paper and otherwise,” are considered a special interest while ESRI and Autodesk get their own categories — their Euler diagram is not the same as mine.
Via Maps-L, a letter in the Dec. 4 issue of The Hill Times, a weekly newspaper covering the Canadian government, from Heather McAdam of the Association of Canadian Map Libraries and Archives argues that while paper topographic maps have been saved, much still remains to be done: “It is ironic that at a time when we can almost instantaneously update satellite imagery of our country, over half of the Canadian topographic maps are now more than 20 years old. … While Minister Lunn’s decision has protected our printed maps, his decision must be only the first step toward reinstating Canada’s reputation as a leader in mapping.”
Also, a gratuitously self-congratulatory statement in the House of Commons by government backbencher Pierre Lemieux on November 28.
Previously: Gary Lunn Responds; Breaking: Canadian Topo Map Decision Reversed!; A Letter to Gary Lunn; Maps for Canadians: Lobbying for Paper Topo Maps; Canadian Topo Map Update: CCA Conference Items; Paper Maps: Doomed in Canada, But Not Elsewhere?; Canadian Topo Map Update: CBC Coverage; Canadian Topo Map Update: Globe and Mail Coverage; Canadian Government Abandoning Paper Topo Maps?
On the other hand, sometimes stories about being led astray by navigation systems aren’t so amusing. The tech community has been concerned about the disappearance of CNet senior editor James Kim and his family while on vacation: his family was found alive and safe yesterday, but the search for James continues (he left them a week ago Saturday to seek help — cross your fingers). A disturbing sidebar to this story is the suggestion — the hypothesis — that an online mapping service may have led them astray: the route on which his family was found, Bear Camp Road, is normally impassable in wintertime — that’s locally known. Google Maps, Live Local and Ask.com nevertheless recommend that route; Yahoo! Maps, Rand McNally and MapQuest show alternatives. Story mirrored here; cf. Brad Dudley; via GPS Tracklog (who notes that his Garmin GPS also shows the route) and Scripting News.
Related: Please Help Us Find the Kim Family.
Update, 12/6: James Kim’s body has been found.
Update, 12/7: No they weren’t; they used a paper map.
Another screwup thanks to blindly following a GPS navigation system instead of, well, thinking, this time by a British ambulance that went 200 miles off-course on what was supposed to be a routine, 20-minute transfer. The drivers, according to the UPI article, “have been told to study their geography and learn to think for themselves.” Ahem. Via Engadget again — I think they like these stories as much as I do.
Matt Rosenberg has a brief but enthusiastic review of the 13th edition of the Oxford Atlas of the World. “This is a fantastic and beautiful atlas with an amazing collection of maps, satellite images, country information, data and thematic maps. It is an all-in-one atlas and suitable for every home.”
- Buy the Oxford Atlas of the World, 13th edition, at Amazon.com
This is an interesting development: Yahoo! is letting OpenStreetMap use its aerial imagery. If that isn’t a boost to the project, I don’t know what is. I wonder what’s behind this move. See also The Earth Is Square and Geobloggers.
Previously: National Geographic on OpenStreetMap; OpenStreetMap at Where 2.0; OpenStreetMap Animations; Ed Parsons on OpenStreetMap; OpenStreetMap: Manchester’s Next; OpenStreetMap to Map Isle of Wight; OpenStreetMap London Poster as Fundraiser; OpenStreetMap; London Free Map.
Gizmodo compares Windows Live Search for Mobile and Google Maps Mobile on a phone running Windows Mobile, and finds the Google option wanting, but then the Microsoft app was native and the Google app was coded in Java: “Google Maps on Java ran like Java always does. Painfully.”
Previously: Google Maps on a Palm TX.
The Journal Times of Racine, Wisconsin has a profile of University of South Carolina geography professor Kristin Dow, one of the co-authors of The Atlas of Climate Change: Mapping the World’s Greatest Challenge. She grew up in Racine, so the article is a local-girl-makes-good kind of profile, but it does say a bit about the book.
- Buy The Atlas of Climate Change at Amazon.com
At one point I was a heavy PDA user and was watching the release of Garmin’s Palm OS-based PDAs with built-in GPS (naturally) — the iQue series — with great interest. Times have changed: I’ve gone back to pen and paper, leaving my Palm Tungsten T2 in its cradle, unused for months; and Garmin is slowly but surely getting out of the PDA business: they’ve discontinued all of them except the iQue 3000, which was released earlier this year. (Brighthand, PalmInfocenter). These were always expensive devices; I guess other form factors were better for Garmin’s bottom line.