Software agnosticism

Monday, February 25, 2013 at 18:07:08

Nice post from James Fee on software agnosticism….. and yes, we all too regularly build an ArcGIS script to find it no longer works in a new version or hasn’t been updated by a third party. And yes, the answer is don’t use them!!! However as I am also doing (some work with Niels Anders), move to Python and do you geospatial processing there, then call from within ArcGIS. You even have Portable Python so no excuse for being tied to a workstation.

Uninstalling apps from your Android ROM

Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 19:53:54

Sick and tired of the crap and bloatware that invades the version of Android on your phone but can’t remove they because they are built in to the ROM? this may be the ROM that shipped with your phone or one that you installed, but with budget phones shipping with budget amounts of memory every MB counts.

So I got to the point with my San FranII where I needed to free up space and didn’t use bloatware like YouTube, Mail (replaced with k9mail) and even Google Maps (MapDroyd). How to get rid of them? Well, first and foremost your phone needs to be rooted…. then it’s a case of finding an app that will do what it says on the tin. After a few false starts I stumbled across Root App Delete which just works.

Root App Delete allows you to identify all user and system installed apps…these can be disabled which moves them to the recycle bin. They are still there but inactive…..this is slightly counterintuitive, but actually very helpful because once gone…they really are and you don’t want to go removing something central to the OS (like the launcher!). If you are dead sure you want to get rid of it, uninstall from the recycle bin and “ta da”, it’s gone freeing up valuable space in memory.

Get some Oomf(o) in your presentations…..

Friday, February 15, 2013 at 08:35:32

Have you ever been watching a TED talk and wondered how they got that cool dynamic chart? Did someone slave for hours over a long Flash animation? Well, I can’t vouch for other speakers, but Oomfo, which is in a Google-esque long-term beta, provides such an option. It’s an add-in for Powerpoint that allows you to dump data in to the presentation and produce animated/dynamic charts, depending on the data type. This could be as simple as a rather stylish histogram with bars that grow, interactive pie charts that you can get dynamic labels/rotate/resize, fully interactive 3D plots or an infinite x-axis which is fully scrollable. The effects are excellent and, as ever, its not about the design replacing the content, but augmenting it and adding elements the surprise and delight, whilst reinforcing your message.

Try it!

Drones hit the big time…….

Saturday, February 9, 2013 at 12:37:16

Very useful tech story over at The Guardian on the increasing civilian applications of drones (or UAVs to to the rest of us). The is a useful summary of the current status quo, perhaps the most telling part is this:

“Companies like this have to operate under strict legislation. Our flight in Chelsea Physic Garden required an operator’s licence, permission from the Civil Aviation Authority and the police. Because of the urban environment, flight was limited to 100 feet and the local heliport had to be informed as soon as the vehicle was in the air. In the US, any commercial flight is banned.”

UAVs offer a fascinating future for remote sensing….be warned, its going to be a bumpy road!

Subglacial bedforms reveal an exponential size-frequency distribution

Saturday, February 9, 2013 at 11:04:18

Hillier, J., Smith, M.J., Clark, C.D., Stokes, C.R. and Spagnolo, M. (2013)

Subglacial bedforms preserved in deglaciated landscapes record character-istics of past ice-sediment flow regimes, providing insight into subglacial processes and ice sheet dynamics. Individual forms vary considerably, but they can often be grouped into coherent fields, typically called flow-sets, that reflect discrete episodes of ice flow. Within these, bedform size-frequency distributions (predominantly height, width and length) are currently described by several statistics (e.g., mean, median, standard deviation) that, arguably, do not best capture the defining characteristics of these populations. This pa-per seeks to create a better description based upon semi-log plots, which reveal that the frequency distributions of bedform dimensions (drumlin, MSGL, ribbed moraine) plot as straight lines above the mode (f). This indicates, by definition, an exponential dis-tribution, for which a simple and easily calculated, yet statistically rigorous, description is designed. Three descriptive parameters are proposed: gradient (the exponent, characterising beforms likely least affected by non-glacial factors), area-normalised y-intercept (quantifying spatial density), and the mode (f). Below f, small features are less preva-lent due to i) measurement: data, sampling, mapping fidelity ii) possibly post-glacial degra-dation or iii) genesis: being created, or not, sub-glacially. This new description has the beneift of being insentitive to the impact of potentially unmapped or degraded smaller features and better captures properties relating to ice flow. Importantly, using lambda, flow sets can now be more usefully compared with each other across the all deglaciated re-gions and with the output of numerical ice sheet models. Identifying the charactersitic exponential and that it is typical of ‘emergent’ subglacial bedforms is a new and poten-tially powerful constraint on their genesis, perhaps indicating that ice-sediment interac-tion is fundamentally stochastic in nature.

Bibliographic webmap: the Physical Landscape of Britain and Northern Ireland

Saturday, February 9, 2013 at 10:57:22

Piccinini, C., Smith, M.J., Hooke, J. and Hesketh, K. (2013)
Journal of Maps

In this article we present the development of a web mapping application as part of the “Physical Landscape of Britain and Northern Ireland” project. There are a large number of sources for information and data on the geomorphology of the British landscape including academic journals, books, unpublished student dissertations and third party reports, however there remains no single central repository to query the extent of such knowledge. This project, sponsored by the British Society for Geomorphology, has a long term aim of collating a bibliography on the full extent of published and unpublished research on the geomorphology of Britain and Northern Ireland, ultimately highlighting “gaps” in our knowledge and identifying topics and areas for future investigation. The first phase of the project involved the development of a web application that allows end-users to search for bibliographic references using an interactive map. Here we outline the implementation of a spatial database, a database front-end and a web mapping application built using open source software and open data. Data for pilot areas has been entered; a further phase of the project will populate the database for other areas.

Word Useful Tip of the Day: how to draw a straight line

Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 10:19:52

How many times have you thought you’d just use the drawing tools in Word (2003 in my case!) to draw a straight line to add that extra design dimension to your document to find that it wasn’t quite straight and ended up with some ungainly “jaggies” in it?? Maybe not at all, but every so often for me. So much so that I’ve tried alternative methods for creating line (like using paragraph borders or tables).

In trying to sort out a design today I finally did some online search to find…… press and hold the Shift key whilst dragging until after you’ve released the mouse button. This holds the line to principal points of the compass and ensures it’s straight.

Problem solved :)

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