U3 Program Launcher

Wednesday, 20 September, 2006

I’ve been looking for a program menu to go with my external USB hard drive for a while now. I’ve blogged before about running portable (U3) apps from an external device. As I have slowly accumulated more apps it has become necessary to have some kind of application launcher. And the one that consistently comes up in discussion is PStart. I would actually go as far to say that this is essential to using an external drive. PStart has some great features that make it dead useful in this role:

  • tray application
  • relative shortcuts allowing the device to be mounted to any drive letter
  • autoplay PStart to load it
  • auto-load certain applications, once PStart as started up

What this means in practice is that you can plug your device in to any (Windows) machine and it will load PStart from any drive letter, auto-start applications on the drive and then give you access to a program menu just for the device.

Converting IDRISI IMG Files

Tuesday, 19 September, 2006

I had a stack of old IDRISI IMG files that I wanted to look back at a short while ago. I fired up ERDAS Imagine and found that it didn’t have a convertor for IDRISI. After a lot of searching on the internet I still didn’t have much of an answer other than you needed IDRISI to convert files in to Imagine format. I did a load more searching and finally came back with a newsgroup post about IMG format files. If yuo look at the directory listing you will see that there is actually an IMG file (the image data) and a DOC file (header information). The former is binary and the latter text. It turns out that IMG files are actually just RAW (as in SunOS, not digital cameras) files. So my solution was to change the file extension to RAW, load Paint Shop Pro (or Photoshop) and open the file. You need to get the image size (rows and columns) from the header DOC and enter these in the import dialogue. Hey presto the image appears! I then saved this as a TIFF and imported it in to Imagine. I could then add the image properties (coordinates, projection etc) and had a fully working image.

Hopefully this might make it easier for anyone else in the same situation!

AGI Tat

Thursday, 14 September, 2006

I was speaking in the Solutions Centre at the AGI Exhibition in the British Design Centre (BDC) today. In order to setup I had to get to the BDC at lunchtime which left me with a few hours to wander around the show floor. I thought I would run a little competition to see how good (or bad!) the free “tat” on the stalls was. So, to pre-empt my list below and in no particular order I’ll briefly run through some of the tat I encountered. To make my life easier I immediately discounted anyone with pens, sweets or bottles of water; we can all do better than that!

The OS were weak with a stupid little key-ring designed to remind you of TOIDs, MapInfo appeared to have nothing, whilst ESRI had t-shirts and not much else. So a poor start from the bigger vendors. Positioning Systems had a natty three-nib highlighter and HP were constantly running off big A0 poster prints (and, because this was a geospatial trade show, no one was interested in maps, but rather grabbed the Disney Madagascar posters!). Cities Revealed had a naff “build your own” press out cube jigsaw and Infoterra really plumbed the depths with a paper aeroplane!! Cadcorp started out well with some good (cycling) water bottles and Intermap hit dizzy heights with a credit card full of mints and an impressive super-bright LED keyring. So I saved the best till last, with Autodesk providing a full set of stainless steel coasters. Cool!

Worst Tat
1. Infoterra: paper aeroplane (well done Andy)
2. MapInfo/ESRI: nothing of value
3. Cities Revealed: stupid cube (Note: its not a bad coffee matt though)
4. OS: pointless TOID (Ed, does this fall under your remit?)

Best Tat
1. Autodesk: high quality, Chinese manufactured, bright as a button, stainless steel jigsaw coasters
2. Intermap: super-bright LED
3. HP: great posters
4. Positioning Systems: highlighter

I have to admit at being disappointed at the pointless tat this year. Things are definitely getting worse. For instance, a couple of years ago Intermap had some super nifty stainless steel thermal mugs. All this can mean is that GIS is a mainstream, low cost, product that has been commodified. Anyway, does anyone have any highs and lows of pointless tat from AGIs gone by? Leave a comment below and lets see what used to be on offer!

TanDEM-X

Thursday, 7 September, 2006

An interesting interview in Geoconnexion this month with the Chairman and MD of Infoterra, the commercial operating arm (from a public-private consortium) of TerraSAR-X/TanDEM-X. With launch scheduled for 2009, TanDEM-X is of interest to me as it takes the technology flown as part of the shuttle SIR-C and SRTM missions and develops them further, deploying them as part of a dual-platform. TanDEM-X will deliver a DEM product that has a claimed vertical accuracy of ~2 m and spatial resolution of 12 m. Whilst this is impressive, as TanDEM-X will be a polar orbiting satellite, the entire landmass of the Earth will be imaged within 3 years (i.e. a global DEM).

New Mobile!

Saturday, 2 September, 2006

Well I have to eat a little bit of humble pie and say I have actually bought a new mobile phone. Shock, horror! Whilst I was away in China a borrowed a Nokia 1101 and liked it so much that I bought one. Whilst it doesn’t do anything more than the old T180 could (texting and phone), I have to say that not only is it much smaller andlighter, but it also is much more refined. And of course at 20 it stays within my remit of cheap and functional!