Check out this image taken yesterday by Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite GOES-13 of Hurricane Danielle (top), Hurricane Earl (lower left) and a developing tropical depression (now Tropical Storm Fiona). Here’s one from this morning, more up to date but less picturesque, and here’s a closer look at Danielle and Earl from Sunday.
The announcement of Facebook Places frankly reminds me of the last rollout of location services by an Internet giant: Google Latitude.
- The media freaks out about the privacy implications (see Lifehacker on how to disable the feature).
- Hardly anyone can use the service because of national or technical limitations: Facebook Places is U.S.-only, and can only be used from the updated iPhone Facebook app or from their mobile-browser-optimized website (which requires a device with an HTML5 compatible browser and a GPS — so I can use it with my 3G iPad, if I were in the U.S.).
- Of that subset of U.S. iPhone and HTML5-with-GPS users on Facebook, few will actively want to use it. (As with Latitude, the only people I’ve seen use it so far are people in the geospatial industry.)
The sort of people who have no qualms about sharing their location — who are eager to do so — are already using Gowalla, Foursquare and so forth; Facebook didn’t get to be Facebook by being dumb, so those services are integrated into Places.
From what I’ve been reading, the privacy critique of Facebook is essentially as follows:
- It’s on by default.
- By default, your friends can tag your location (which invites mischief and embarrassment).
- Private locations (like someone’s home) can become public and can’t then be removed from the location database.
I’ve already got friends concerned about this, even though Places isn’t available in Canada yet. This isn’t the first time a move by Facebook has generated privacy worries, but this is precisely the sort of thing that can cripple the rollout of geolocation services. The benefits offered by this sort of thing — serendipitous meetups — aren’t important enough to outweigh those concerns for enough people.
It’s Garmin night tonight, apparently. (This is what happens when I start paying attention to consumer GPS devices.) Garmin announced the Edge 800, a touchscreen GPS for cyclists, today. Rich’s post points out the pertinent details and differences about this gadget, and links to two early reviews at DC Rainmaker and About.com GPS; the rest of us won’t get to see it until October.
Yesterday, Garmin announced a voluntary recall of some 1.25 million nüvi 200W, 250W, 260W, 7xx and 7xxT GPS receivers; 796,000 of those were sold in the U.S.
Garmin has identified potential overheating issues when certain batteries manufactured by the third-party battery supplier within a limited date code range are used in certain Garmin nüvi models with a specific printed circuit board (PCB) design. It appears that the interaction of these factors can, in rare circumstances, increase the possibility of overheating, which may lead to a fire hazard.
I know I link to Rich Owings’s reviews on GPS Tracklog all the time, but I’ve been interested in the GPSMAP 62 since it was announced and was looking forward to his review of the GPSMAP 62s (the middle unit of the 62 series). Which turns out to be mixed: he had to go through three review units and a beta firmware update to address some surprising tracklog errors. “The GPSMAP 62s may not be the best unit out there, but give it a few more firmware updates and it could be. The 60CSx and Oregon both suffered quite a bit early on, and it took awhile to nail it. In a perfect world, this thing would be rock solid out of the box, but this review is long enough already, so I’m not going to delve any further into that can of worms.”
Previously: Geek.com Reviews the Garmin GPSMAP 62.
- Buy Garmin GPSMAP 62s at Amazon.com
On Regretsy, a blog about mishaps posted to Etsy stores, a quilted map of the United States gone a wee bit awry. Via John Reiser.
The National Geographic Store is having a limited-time sale on the deluxe hardcover eighth edition of the National Geographic Atlas of the World. Normally $150, it’s now only $60 — at least until midnight tonight. The reason for this sale is obvious: the ninth edition of the Atlas is coming out in October, so I suspect they’re trying to clear out stock of the previous edition. But if you don’t mind owning that previous edition, which came out in 2005, and getting it at a substantially reduced price, you might want to get a move on. I’ve made my own order already. (Full disclosure: I have an affiliate relationship with the NG Store, and these are affiliate links.)
xkcd again. Oddly enough, I was like this before GPS: give me your address, I’ll find it on a map and figure out how to get there. People navigate differently; those who don’t navigate like this don’t get those of us who do.
Useful interactive map of the Australian elections from ABC Australia: a Google Maps mashup that’s better than most; clicking on a constituency (or “electorate,” as the Aussies call them, and they are wrong) brings up data for it on the same page. Well done. Via Google Maps Mania.
James Fee reviews iExtMap, a mobile GIS viewer for the iPhone and iPod touch (it’ll work on an iPad, but not natively). iTunes link. Despite some issues, “I think there is a ton to like about iExtMap,” says James. “Out of the box you have OGC support (KML and WMS) which I really think is critically important. Support for ArcGIS.com (ArcGIS Online) layers is there as well so you have an iOS app that can work across OGC and proprietary services.”
Damon Zucconi’s Fata Morgana strips Google Maps of all the imagery — no coastlines, bodies of water, or roads — leaving only the labels behind. Zoom out and all you see is country names; zoom in close enough and you see street names, highway markers and exits, subway stops, and other points of interest. More at TAXI and GIS Lounge.
NASA has released movies showing the carbon monoxide levels present in the air as a result of the recent wildfires in Russia. “They show three-day running averages of daily measurements of carbon monoxide present at an altitude of 5.5 kilometers (18,000) feet, along with its global transport. The data are from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument on NASA’s Aqua spacecraft. AIRS is most sensitive to carbon monoxide at this altitude, which is a region conducive to long-range transport of the smoke. The abundance of carbon monoxide is shown in parts per billion, with the highest concentrations shown in yellows and reds.” Image credit: NASA/JPL.
These dramatic Landsat 5 images show a portion of southern Pakistan before and after the second wave of flooding hit; the images were taken only three days apart. More satellite images of the flooding in Pakistan here. Via Daily Dish.
Via many sources, including Tim O’Reilly, here’s a New York Times article about the privacy implications of geotagged photos, which implications generally boil down to whether the person taking said photos with a GPS-enabled camera (usually a smartphone like an iPhone) is aware of whether the photo is being geotagged, and what’s being done with geotagged photos that have been posted to the Web.
My own geotagging is either manual (click on a map) or involves attaching a GPS accessory to my camera, which is to say that for me, geotagging is conscious and deliberate — and I don’t geotag photos taken at home. The trouble occurs when you’re geotagging and don’t know it.
Good correlates how Americans get to work with obesity rates in a map-like infographic that is, well, information-dense and hard to follow at a glance. You have to look closely at each state’s box to see where they rank. There are five variables at play here — would there have been a better way of doing this? Via brownpau.
I don’t think this short article from Paul Fraser Collectibles on Matteo Ricci’s 1602 Chinese-language map of the world adds much to what we already know, but it does include the above video from Chinese media coverage of the map’s appearance at the Library of Congress. I have maybe five words of Mandarin but still found this interesting.
Keir Clarke points to this interesting infographic by Bill Rankin that plots the Earth’s population by latitude and longitude. A certain amount of this has to do with available land area — i.e., where the continents are. (I’ve taken the liberty of rearranging the graphic to go wide rather than tall.)
The Ordnance Survey Blog on the results of their survey on driving and navigation: “Our results show that two thirds of the population admit to regularly getting lost, a figure that soars to nearly eight out of ten in London, and that 38% of us Brits pretend to know where they are going even when we’ve got no idea!”
Here’s GlobalPost on efforts by a U.S.-funded non-governmental organization, Open Maps Caucasus, to map the country of Georgia — one of the emptier spaces on online maps. Their maps use the same mapping engine as OpenStreetMap, but OSM’s maps of Georgia are quite different (and arguably more complete). These are presumably quite different exercises; my impression is that Open Maps Caucasus is aimed first and foremost at involving people on the ground in the mapping.
If you’re in Edmonton, an exhibition in the University of Alberta’s Cameron Library, Journeys Beyond the Neatline: Expanding the Boundaries of Cartography, featuring two artist-cartographers affiliated with the university — Michael Coulis and Matthew Rangel — is on now until the end of August. Via MAPS-L.
Aurorae are in the news due to the recent coronal mass ejection; NOAA’s maps of auroral activity are found on this page. “The plots on this page show the current extent and position of the auroral oval at each pole, extrapolated from measurements taken during the most recent polar pass of the NOAA POES satellite. ‘Center time’ is the calculated time halfway through the satellite’s pass over the pole.” Via Catholicgauze.
This map illustrates a CNNMoney article on increasing levels of debt taken on by U.S. state governments; the map shows the amount of debt per state resident. It’s not as much as you might think: “The median state debt to gross state product is about 2%, a fraction of the debt burden of Greece.” Thanks to Reid for the link.
This interesting map from the 2009 Human Development Report shows the human development index (HDI) in U.S. counties and Mexican municipalities along the U.S.-Mexico border. “What is interesting is that the lowest HDI county on the U.S. side (Starr County Texas) is higher than the highest HDI municipality in Mexico (i.e., Mexicali),” says Steven Taylor. Via Andrew Sullivan.
Eddie Jabbour’s KickMap — an imaginative redesign of the New York subway map that tries to address the confusing and complex network of express and local lines — first came to my attention in 2007. Since then, the KickMap has migrated to the iPhone/iPod touch/iPad platform, and is available in free and paid ($2.99) versions, the latter coming in separate iPhone and iPad variants. All told, more than a quarter million people, Jabbour says, have downloaded a KickMap app.
In a must-read post on O’Reilly Radar, Jabbour describes what went into the design of the KickMap — the inspirations, the constraints, the trade offs, the multiple iterations that got him to his final version.
Because KickMap comes in an iPad version, I downloaded it to have a look for myself. There is no question that this is a map originally designed for print — static and not interactive — that has been adapted for mobile devices, rather than an interactive map application that has been designed from the ground up. But the app, at least the paid version, is a lot more than an image viewer with multitouch gestures.
- The main differentiation between the free and paid KickMaps is that the paid version includes a map of the limited late-night/early-morning service. This can be toggled with a button or can be set to automatically show the appropriate map based on the time.
- Another button reveals service alerts.
- A third button provides a close-up of the map legend explaining the different classes of station stops. Incredibly handy: how many times when zooming in to a scanned map have I had to pan like mad over to the legend to figure out what I was seeing, then try to find what I was looking for?
- There is a locate button that pops open a Google Maps interface showing you the distance from your location to a given subway stop (on the iPad this map is resizeable). Since I’m about 350 miles from the New York subway my ability to test this feature is somewhat limited.
In other words, there is considerable effort here to use the iOS interface to create a useful navigation tool that goes beyond the original static map. How effective it is I will have to leave to New Yorkers to determine, but a quarter million downloads suggests that quite a few of them have already voted. From my standpoint (for what that’s worth), the map’s innovative design and the additional features make it worth the $2.99 purchase price.
AllSubway HD is an iPad app that collects more than 100 subway and mass transit maps from cities around the world. That’s about all that can be said about it: it’s essentially an image viewer, with no other features, and the maps are the official ones from the various transit agencies, which are available elsewhere. No information is provided about transit services. There isn’t even a full-screen mode in landscape. Calling it Spartan would be an understatement. There is not much here, in other words, to appeal either to mass transit enthusiasts or to world travellers; at 85.7 megabytes and 99 cents, it’s not worth the storage space or the dollar.
Brian Cook has imagined a Metro for the Hartford, Connecticut area, and designed a map redolent of Harry Beck’s London Underground and the style of the Paris Metro. He’s doing a limited print run, too. Via Mark.
Public Radio International’s The World interviews John Gravois, author of the Washington Monthly article on Google’s attempts to be a neutral arbiter of disputed place names and boundaries. The audio segment is about four and a half minutes long. Via geoparadigm.