A Level Text in GIS

Friday, January 30, 2009 at 11:01:54

With the inclusion of GIS in the A-level syllabus it wasn’t going to be long before a textbook arrived on the market and low and behold the Geographical Association have the imaginatively named GIS for A-level geography listed (and earlier noted by Steven Feldman). It isn’t published yet and doesn’t show up on Amazon, but is obviously “in the wings”. The Table of Contents seem standard fare, but perhaps the most interesting thing is that it is produced in collaboration with ESRI and comes with a (UK) licensed version of ArcView 9.2. This is a very clever tie up and is similar to Microsoft’s “hearts and minds” approach to virtually giving away Office to students. If people are trained at school (for free) then businesses often follow suit. Of course it remains to be asked where Cadcorp and MapInfo, amongst others, are in this brave new world. Indeed it would be nice to see people from the open source community help deliver something. With QGIS reaching version 1 status I think it would be an ideal candidate. Time will tell.

SSTL technology

Thursday, January 22, 2009 at 20:06:44

A nice article this week at the BBC on the continuing development of low cost technology from Surrey Satellite Technology Limited, the high tech, low cost, British satellite development company that is now owned by EADS Astrium. Current sights are set on the high spatial resolution (<1m) sector which has been largely “owned” by US commercial companies. SSTL reckons that they can develop a satellite at ~0.6m resolution for ~$70M, rather than the ~$500 it normally takes. This would reduce the unit cost from $20km2 to $0.15km2. That would really shake up the market!

The satellite coverage of the US presidential inauguration was interesting, but with US regulators restricting resolution to 0.5m, GeoEye wasn’t able to offer the full 0.41m resolution. Clearly there is the potential to compete by offering higher resolutions which US companies can’t offer. It will be interesting to see whether these restrictions are relaxed.

Keyboard PC

Tuesday, January 13, 2009 at 08:55:06

With the phenomenal success of the netbook form factor (and, not least, the price!) Asus are clearly trying to capitalise on their market success by diversifying the basic idea in to new form factors. A “desktop” netbook has already be released integrating the hardware in an LCD screen. Well now comes the Eee Keyboard, a standard size keyboard with, yes, a netbook built in. It does come with a 5” screen on the side and runs Windows XP. Perhaps the neatest aspect is the wireless HDMI interface, designed so that it can display direct to your TV. It’ll be interesting to see how variable netbooks come become.

Palm webOS

Friday, January 9, 2009 at 14:08:10

Palm appear to have been wowing the crowds at CES this year with no sign of the downturn at all! Before Christmas Palm announced that an invitation only event, which was hotly thought to be an announcement about their new operating system. And that is exactly what was announced, along with a new smartphone the Pre. PCPro have a nice article on the announcement and even think its the top story of the show. The piece de resistance would have been to make a new phone immediately available, but thats not the case with “first half 2009” the only indication. And thats for the US. However it will be a GSM phone with tilt sensor, GPS, 3G and wifi, touch interface and, hopefully, the ability to run Palm apps (although it wasn’t mentioned). No sign (or likelihood) of a PDA version; I suspect that form factor is now dead. Phones are what people want and the level of integration is now worthwhile. Roll on full product release.

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