Via Make, this coffee table in the shape of California, 56 inches (142 cm) from tip to tip and made from salvaged wood, is being sold on Etsy for the low, low price of $2,500.
MapQuest has announced a major new redesign of its website, which now includes a single search box (rather than multiple address fields), other interface and feature enhancements, and hooks to social networking sites and other AOL properties. There’s also this new logo. For details see the MapQuest blog, the press release, and news coverage from the Associated Press and CNet.
Adena’s take on All Points Blog: “On first look the interface is cleaner and the app has more of the until-now-missing tools many of us already use in Google Maps and Bing Maps including ‘My Maps,’ a tool to build your own custom maps. While the update is a step forward, it really just sets MapQuest closer to the leading players.”
Personally, I’m annoyed that the search box takes up a full third of the page; it’s wasted space unless you have a list of directions, which is what, I think, MapQuest expects. MapQuest has generally worked on the basis that its users are looking for a map because they’re taking a trip somewhere, and its features tend to reflect that; of course, there are many other reasons to use an online map, which Google, Microsoft and even Yahoo have exploited to their advantage. MapQuest’s focus is still much narrower.
Neat post from the Bartholomew Archive on the steps to print a colour map, circa 1906.
Interferograms released by NASA reveal how much the earth was deformed by the magnitude-7.2 earthquake that struck Baja California and the U.S. Southwest on April 4, 2010. The data, collected by the JPL-developed Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar (UAVSAR), “reveal that in the area studied, the quake moved the Calexico, Calif., region in a downward and southerly direction up to 80 centimeters (31 inches).” UAVSAR flies the San Andreas fault every six months; the interferogram is generated from differences in measurements between the flights.
Not everyone is comfortable sharing their precise location, even with their friends; if you’re not, you may well wonder why people actually use location-based social networks like Foursquare or Google Latitude, or enable location sharing on Twitter or (soon) Facebook. The reasons for using location-based services, ReadWriteWeb suggests, include managing social contacts (the textbook use is serendipity: suddenly discovering that a friend is nearby), gaming, and tracking your own movements for future reference. Via All Points Blog.
Mapping Portsmouth’s Tudor Past brings together, for the first time, several important maps from The British Library, UK Hydrographic Office and the Admiralty Library. All but one of these maps are hand-drawn and are works of art in their own right. Together they give us a unique and fascinating insight into Tudor Portsmouth and the view of their world 500 years ago.
Paul Goble: “The Russian government has ended its cartographic monopoly, thus opening the way for dozens of private firms to enter the three-billion-U.S.-dollar annual market in Russian maps, but the longstanding Soviet tradition of secrecy about geography continues to cast a shadow over even these private enterprises.”
BBC News reports on the launch of (and first images returned by) the German TanDEM-X satellite, which, along with the TerraSAR-X satellite launched in 2007, will generate a digital elevation model of the earth to a resolution of two metres.
A map of the Washington, D.C., water supply was deemed too sensitive to be shared online; having said that, the blogger who posted the map and the authorities who asked him to take it down were able to arrive at a compromise. Via All Points Blog.
An update on North Carolina Maps, which I first told you about in August 2008: according to this University of North Carolina Libraries item, the site’s collection now exceeds 3,200 maps: “Visitors to the North Carolina Maps site can see the results of a three-year collaborative project to identify and scan nearly every original map of the state published from 1584 to 1923. The collection also contains maps of every North Carolina county and maps published by the state through the year 2000.” (Above: Railroad Map of North Carolina, 1900.) Via All Points Blog.
A map based on temperature records assembled by NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies “shows global surface temperature anomalies for May 2010 compared to average temperatures for the same time of year from 1951 to 1980. Above-normal temperatures appear in shades of red, and below-normal temperatures appear in shades of blue. Gray areas indicate areas of insufficient data.”
I think I’ve been aware of the Ordnance Survey’s official blog for some time, but it doesn’t look like I’ve actually mentioned it here. Not sure how that happened.
ESRI Press is reprinting Arthur Robinson’s first book, The Look of Maps (1952), which was based on his doctoral research. (Robinson, you may recall, went on to co-author a widely used textbook, Elements of Cartography, create his own map projection, and get into a fight with Arno Peters. He died in 2004.) Via GIS Lounge.
Above, a MODIS image from NASA’s Terra satellite, taken last Saturday, showing the spread of the Deepwater Horizon slick in the Gulf of Mexico.
NOAA has released an interactive map that “integrates the latest data the federal responders have about the oil spill’s trajectory with fishery area closures, wildlife data and place-based Gulf Coast resources — such as pinpointed locations of oiled shoreline and current positions of deployed research ships — into one customizable interactive map.” More information here. Via Ogle Earth.
Ted Weinstein sends along a link to this animated map showing the spread of oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico since 1942:
Via Boing Boing, Mother Jones looks at a poster map from Offshore magazine (16.6-MB PDF) showing the Gulf of Mexico as a network of drilling leases, pipelines, and other oil and gas infrastructure. “Where most people look at the Gulf, they see a vast marine ecosystem, wetlands, and, until recently, gorgeous beaches. What energy executives see is a massive grid, tangled with scores of oil and gas pipelines and rival fields with macho names that sound like heavy metal bands, black-diamond ski runs, and weapons systems.”
Also via Boing Boing, the American Bird Conservancy has issued a map showing the location of Globally Important Bird Areas in relation to the oil spill.
My entries on this oil spill now have their own category archive.
Via many sources (for example, Ed Parsons and Google Maps Mania), this live train map of the London Underground, showing the real-time position of each train. It’s a mashup of Transport for London data with the Google Maps API, but its execution, and the speed at which it was put together (essentially, a few hours over the past weekend, and it’s already had some improvements since I first saw it yesterday), is what makes it noteworthy.
Another article about OpenStreetMap, this time in the Los Angeles Times, which counterpoints it with Google’s crowdsourcing efforts (via OpenGeoData).
Articles like these make the point — correctly, I think — that engaged local users can produce a map that can be more accurate than that produced by commercial data providers. What’s often left unsaid, however, is the state of the map when there are no engaged local users — even when there’s lots of high-resolution imagery to trace from.
For example, I’ve spent a surprising amount of time recently working on the OSM maps of Regina, Saskatchewan and Saint John, New Brunswick, both of which had (and continue to have) painfully incomplete or poorly done street data. These are not small towns — both metropolitan areas have between one and two hundred thousand people — but they haven’t yet had a critical mass of volunteers taking to the streets.
Any congratulatory rhetoric about how much OSM users (usually zee Germans) have accomplished should, I think, be tempered by how very much there still is left to be done. And however superior OSM may be in certain locations, there are still vast tracts of the world where the commercial online maps kick its free-as-in-speech ass hard.
The Collins Maps blog announces the forthcoming release of The Times Atlas of Britain, which, they say, “includes fully up-to-date reference maps, statistics, geographical information, images and historical mapping to give an exceptionally detailed view of every county in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.” Sample images at the link. Due in September.
- Buy The Times Atlas of Britain at Amazon.com
Google Earth 5.2 was announced yesterday; the update adds enhanced GPS track support (viewing the track’s elevation, speed, etc.), an integrated web browser, and improvements to the pro version (CNet, Ogle Earth).
The New York Times has published interactive maps of the upcoming U.S. House of Representatives, Senate and gubernatorial elections, marking seats as safe, leaning or tossup. They’re what you would expect from the Times’s interactive maps: they’re really well done, and they use Flash (which I will have to note more often as more of us use iPads and iPhones). Via Map Hawk.
Speaking of election maps, campaign firm Strategic Telemetry has produced a number of choropleth maps of recent U.S. election results (in particular, some high-profile 2010 senatorial and gubernatorial primaries). Via Mark Ambinder.
Andy Woodruff discusses the value-by-alpha map, an alternative to the cartogram that he, Robert Roth and Zachary Johnson have developed (and have written a paper about in The Cartographic Journal): “[V]alue-by-alpha is essentially a bivariate choropleth technique that ‘equalizes’ a base map so that the visual weight of a map unit corresponds to some data value. Whereas cartograms accomplish this by varying size, VBA modifies the alpha channel (transparency, basically) of map units overlain on a neutral color background. Thus shapes and sizes are not distorted (except necessarily by the map projection, of course), but the lower-impact units with lower alpha values fade into the background and make for a map that is visually equalized by the data.” An example of which (at right) shows the 2008 presidential election results, where brighter colours reflect counties with larger populations.
GeoMaps is a free mapping application for the iPad that differentiates itself from the included Google Maps application by providing maps from both OpenStreetMap and Microsoft Bing Maps (including several OSM layers and Bing’s satellite imagery). It also allows downloading maps for offline usage (though I was unable to test this). In addition, it also has the features you would expect from a basic mapping app for the iOS, including bookmarks, search, and a location button.
Having said that, this app is hampered by its user interface, which needs more refinement. Map tiles — both OSM and Bing — load far more slowly than the default Maps app’s default layer (which, by the way, is crazy-fast). Tile loads can’t keep up with me as I drag the map around with my finger. Pinch zooming is far too sensitive, bringing you all the way in or out in a single gesture, and there are plus and minus buttons for zooming on the right and left sides of the screen, which strikes me as a kludge. All of this results in an unresponsive, sluggish map that can’t be used quickly.
The toolbar needs work as well: the bookmark button is too close to the button for adding a bookmark, and an icon used in other apps for sending something outside the app (opening in a browser, sending to a service) is used both for switching maps and downloading maps for offline use:
As someone who edits OpenStreetMap a lot, I’d also like to see a way to refresh map tiles; at the moment I can’t see a straightforward way of doing so. I’m also looking forward to seeing the app’s support page forward to something other than the home page of the developer, Dirk Stichling, which makes no reference to GeoMaps.
I’m calling this one a work in progress, and look forward to an updated version.
A project mapping the geology of Mars has discovered what has been interpreted as sedimentary deposits on the eastern rim of Hellas Planitia, suggesting that large bodies of water once existed on the Martian surface: Planetary Science Institute press release, Astronomy, Universe Today. Maps of Hellas Planitia from the USGS.
Eric Fischer won’t stop. Following up on his Geotaggers’ World Atlas (previously), he’s separated out the geodata generated by locals from that generated by tourists — locals being defined as people taking pictures of the same city over a period of greater than a month. The idea being to see whether locals (blue) and tourists (red) take pictures (which is to say, visit) different areas, which intuitively sounds right, but it’s interesting to see the hard data (at right, San Francisco). Via Burrito Justice and Flowing Data.
I’m horrifically overdue (as usual) in mentioning the Bizarre Map Challenge, a map design competition for high school, college and university students in the United States, with prize money and everything. According to the competition’s rules, “bizarre” “refers to maps that are strikingly out of the ordinary. Though all maps must use real-world data, successful entries might employ unusual techniques, illustrate bizarre topics, or exhibit striking patterns.” The competition ran from February until April; at the end of April, the winners were announced. At right, Christopher Brown’s “Alligator Bayou” map, which came in first and won him $5,000. According to San Diego State University’s news service, this was the competition’s first year of operation; presumably it will continue, in which case I will try to be quicker off the mark in reporting it next year. Thanks to Jill Saligoe-Simmel for the tip; also via geoparadigm.
An image of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico taken on Monday by the MODIS instrument on NASA’s Terra satellite:
Via multiple sources, this animation is a computer model of how the oil spill might spread based on ocean currents:
It’s now hurricane season in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean; Talking Points Memo reproduces this map showing the paths of hurricanes passing near the Deepwater Horizon platform (shown as a star in the centre of the map) over the past hundred years. (It’s a NOAA map, apparently, but I can’t find the original source.)
A collection of late 19th- and early 20th-century urban rail transit maps from the University of Chicago Library’s map collection. Zoomify format; Flash required. Via MAPS-L.
After the U.S., the U.K., and Ireland, Google Maps Navigation — providing free turn-by-turn navigation on Android phones — has arrived in Canada and 10 continental European countries (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and Switzerland). Via Engadget.
Previously: Google Maps Navigation Comes to the U.K. and Ireland.
No sooner do I post a roundup of GPS reviews than I discover that Gadling has reviewed the Garmin-Asus Garminfone, a smartphone available from T-Mobile in the U.S.
next month tomorrow. Truth be told, I have a bone to pick with the review: if this, as the reviewer, Scott Carmichael says, is “the best GPS unit I have ever tested,” connected or otherwise — despite the fact that, as he notes, the Garminfone’s speaker is weak (a common problem with smartphones versus dedicated navigators; see previous entry), there were GPS reception issues and the price is “a little on the high side” — then I suspect he needs to test a few more GPS units.
Vector One reviews Lining Up Data in ArcGIS by Margaret M. Maher: “This book is very helpful. It explains how to identify geographic coordinate systems as compared to projected coordinate systems. If you are using ArcMap, then this book will show exactly how to determine projections and set them. It even provides examples for going to ArcGIS Online, downloading imagery and aligning it properly. … It explains a lot of things people using GIS and CAD need to know, even if you are not using ArcGIS. Many pieces of information we often refer to as geodesy, but ArcGIS users will find this book helpful when using lots of different spatial data within the ArcGIS environment.” Via Slashgeo.
- Buy Lining Up Data in ArcGIS at Amazon.com
Collected in a single publication, here is a wealth of interesting and useful information about the Baltic Sea, the environmental problems facing it and the solutions needed in order to restore its health. … This 192-page book features thematic chapters providing basic information on the physical characteristics of the Baltic Sea, human activities and associated pressures, status of the marine environment, as well as climate change. These sections of the Atlas are lavishly illustrated by thematic maps and diagrams and contain pictures and drawings which display complex environmental information in a simplified way. Additionally, the Atlas features a set of political, physical and maritime maps covering all the Baltic drainage area and the sea sub-basins, as well as city through-route maps and centre plans of major cities. The content has been designed to provide maps on scales that enable a wealth of details to be presented.
The book costs €25 and can be ordered from the Commission’s website.
TomTom’s senior vice president of market development, Tom Murray, doesn’t think GPS-equipped smartphones will replace dedicated navigation devices any time soon. “There’s been no market impact on the demand for stand-alone GPS devices,” TomTom Tom says in an interview; he outlines a number of advantages dedicated units have over smartphones. Via All Points Blog.
Here’s something a little different from a heat map: Doug McCune has plotted crime in San Francisco as though it were elevation, creating these and other interesting three-dimensional maps in which high elevation means high incidence of a given crime. Via io9 (among other sources).
Garmin’s GPSMAP 60CSx has long been considered the gold standard for accuracy among its units, so this tracklog comparison with an Oregon 400t is interesting. Via GPS Review. (Note that a successor to the GPSMAP 60 series, the GPSMAP 62 series, has been announced and will be available in July.)
Meanwhile, the new Garmin nüvi 295w is a strange beast: a car navigation system with Wi-Fi, a web browser, e-mail, and a built-in camera, it’s been compared to a Garmin-Asus nüvifone without the cellphone bits — the nüvifone iPod touch, as it were. GPS Tracklog has a review.
Finally, Gear Junkie reviews the DeLorme Earthmate PN-60w GPS with SPOT Satellite Communicator, which has been delayed until next month. Via GPS Tracklog.
With the World Cup as its backdrop, Google has launched Street View in South Africa.
What’s fun about errors in Google Maps is that, thanks to the fact that Google is using its own map data assembled from diverse sources by divers hands, is that their errors are unique; errors in NAVTEQ’s or Tele Atlas’s data are replicated across many platforms. And sometimes they’re, well, special.
Teresa Baldwin noticed these strange labels on map tiles outside Laramie, Wyoming; they’ve already been corrected on the desktop version of Google Maps, but they’re still there on the mobile version (including the iPad), which apparently takes longer to be updated. (It takes about a month for the desktop maps to be updated, based on an error report I submitted; the error is still there in the mobile version.)
Closer to home (at least for me and for Teresa), it’s clear where Google got the map data for the University of Ottawa campus: they’ve labelled the university campus as “University of Ottawa — Carte de campus” — “carte de campus” is French for “campus map.” Not something that should have been transcribed onto Google Maps tiles, I think.
(I’m not completely cruel; I do submit these errors to Google as well.)
Previously: Saint-Pierre and Miquelon Are Apparently Underwater.
It’s one thing to read stories about people who blithely follow their navigation systems and end up driving into a river or off a cliff; the driver feels stupid, the rest of us have a good laugh and mutter something about remembering to use common sense as well. The story of the woman who is suing Google because the pedestrian directions on her Blackberry instructed her to walk onto a busy highway, where she was struck by a car, is another. (She’s suing the driver too.) Now it’s serious. Psychologically speaking, it’s hard to go against instructions issued by an authority, even if that authority is your smartphone; it’s more than just blind trust. There’s a reason, in other words, for Google’s disclaimer on its pedestrian directions; other map sites have them too. According to the plaintiff, Ms. Rosenberg, though, that disclaimer doesn’t appear on the Blackberry version. It’ll be interesting to see how this one turns out. Via GIS Lounge and Slashdot.
Update: CNet’s coverage is worth a read.
The Astronomy blog makes mention of The Great Atlas of the Sky, “the world’s largest printed atlas of the entire sky,” by Polish astronomer Piotr Brych. “The 296 foldout maps, each measuring 17 inches by 24 inches, depict the entire sky and include 2.4 million stars, down to magnitude 12, and some 70,000 deep-sky objects. The precision of the plotting and labeling is fabulous, the neatness of the sizing of stars and articulation of star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies perfect,” says Dave Eicher. Only problem is, it’s not cheap, and shipping a book this big is a challenge: depending on where you are, add anything from $40 to $180 for shipping to the atlas’s $159 sticker price.