NASAs Messenger entered orbit around Mercury a few weeks back. These are exciting times for exploring the solar system and there hasn’t been an orbiting satellite around Mercury before, although imagery was sent back by Mariner 10 in the mid-1970s during a flyby. Anyway, we now have the first imagery from orbit. Expect a flurry of rapid academic papers from the plethora of data to follow.
As good as Google Maps is on Android (and it is good!), you have to have a data connection. Whilst it can cache some data (and it looks like there are some workarounds to increasing this) it don’t store the entire UK!! So I had a quick look around for something that does do offline storage… and there seem to be a few rambling apps that use OS data (and some online ones as well). I started hunting around for Open Street Map products and MapDroyd popped up as one. You can download street level OSM maps for wherever there is coverage and store it on your SD card. The entire UK comes in at about 180Mb which is pretty good. I’m non-too-happy with the styling but it works and is OK. There is no routing (coming in the paid-for app) and you can’t overlay tracklogs, but you do get the entire world on a streetmap and you GPS position places over it. Worth a play with.
Really good blog entry on map projection distortion from Aileen Buckley over at the Mapping Center. Even if you understand the principle by which a projection is created, this really helps illustrate the net effect of it. And download the template as its a good way to experiment with different projections.
I had had the signs of impending failure on my portable HDD so thought it prudent to replace it. At the same time I noticed that my Synology NAS only had 5Gb left on it, so I took the opportunity and bought two new drives from Scan. The NAS takes an IDE drive which are relatively expensive in comparison to SATA drives. £50 gets you 320Gb though which ain’t too bad. I got 500Gb for the same price for the portable drive though. The IDE drive required stripping the NAS apart, connecting it up and putting it back together then. Then copying the firmware across the network and installing it, then setting the drive back up and copying all the backup files on to it (which took a day to do!). I thought that would be the hard one, but (to cut a long story short) a semi-failing portable drive meant I ended up copying files across multiple times before it finally died.
I got an RMA from Scan, but they test the drive when it comes back to them. Fine, except they charge yo £15 + inspection fee + VAT if its not a failure. That seemed a bit steep and a bit unfair to me. That said, the courier turned up the day requested, 2 days later it was confirmed dead and the day after a replacement delivered. In a cut throat industry, all credit to Scan for an efficient and reliable service.
Very interesting blog entry from Steven Feldman on the history of web mapping. The mind map and slides are well worth looking at by all as it is one of the few detailed and succinct summaries around and is based upon his extensive experience and interviews with many in the industry. Spend the time as its well worth it!