Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Shout Out to Tablet PCs at Vassar

Somehow Vassar's College Relations office discovered some slightly older but still nice-looking photographs of students using tablet PCs in the field. These photos made it to two web pages recently. The one above is from a local magazine, Hudson Valley Magazine, and features Vassar College - Then and Now. The 'Then' shows some Vassar gals hanging out in Bermuda shorts in the Josselyn House Parlor (not mentioned - but I know it because it is where I currently live) and the 'Now' shows Vassar students doing Science! (Again, tablet PCs are not mentioned, but I will overlook that.)

The other kudo is the newly revamped Environmental Studies program's web page that features "Field opportunities" and show ME helping out a student using a tablet PC. This shot was taken on the same day as the one above. Another nice mention under 'Campus facilities' is that we have a "GIS laboratory," though they used this blog's link and not the GIS lab's own, out-dated web page. Here I am...

Monday, December 22, 2008

GIS in Higher Education Conference at Skidmore College

Skidmore College is hosting a GIS conference January 9, 2009, geared towards those of us in colleges and universities. These conferences that Skidmore has put on before are very effective for meeting other geospatial folks in higher education and hearing what your GIS colleagues are doing. I highly recommend this conference. Here is what Skidmore's Alex Chaucer says:

The Skidmore College GIS Center will be hosting a regional GIS conference at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY, on Friday, January 9th, 2009. We will be focusing on GIS in the college setting. Some possible topics for presentations/conversation include: GIS and statistics, supporting student and faculty GIS research, community GIS, and creative applications. We also are open to other topics, and if there is something that you think may be a good discussion topic, please let me know.

Please RSVP to Alex Chaucer, achaucer (at) skidmore.edu

Google Earth, Sanborn Maps and NYC in 3D

You don't need your own plane or helicopter to get remarkable views of New York City. Check out a great post at the Ogle Earth blog on the combined project of Google Earth and Sanborn maps integrated with accurate photography of lots and lots of New York's buildings. Stefan also has some really nice screen captures to highlight this interesting project. Just zoom into New York City in Google Earth to see these buildings (with Buildings layer turned on, of course). Rendering was pretty quick.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Landsat Data from the USGS

Landsat imagery data going back 35 years or more are available on the USGS web site. Read about the landsat program on the NASA site and find the data here on the USGS site. Enable Java and allow for pop-ups on this site. See below for a look at the data download window.

The USGS's EarthExplorer is another remote sensing and geospatial data download site worth checking out too.

Thanks VerySpatial .

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Creating Your Own Maps With Google MapMaker

Adding to the democratization of map creation and wikification of mapped data, Google has made available Mapmaker. From the Google LatLong Blog: "Map Maker now allows people to create complete maps for 164 countries across the world. As we expand the launch of Map Maker to more countries, we never forget that for any user it's all about the world they live in." Above is the location of the best bake and shark in Trinidad.

Here's a how to get started in Map Maker page.

I think that this sort of map creation has been available through Google Earth, but there's still a slight disconnect for those folks who don't want nor know how to download the Google Earth geobrowser (like my in-laws). Making maps in a standard browser is now even easier.

Edited 12/22/08

So I tried out a post/placemark showing one of my most favorite places to eat, Richards at Maracas Beach in T&T. I placed the placemark and got back a response. Surprise! Someone is watching out for accuracy!

Action : Comment
Remarks : Hey, all that I could see there is water, are you sure about the location of this edit, if not please undo this.
signed, Google Map Maker

My bad. I tried again.

Action : Comment
Remarks : Hi, I am not able to locate the feature from the image.. Are you sure about the location???
signed, Google Map Maker

Wow! And I call myself a GIS guy. OK. So when I turned ON the satellite photos I was able to see that I was NOT in a place where there could be a yummy shark and bake shack because I was located in a forest. Again, my bad. I tried once more and, TA DA!, I think I got it right because the Google Map Maker didn't get back to me and here is the placemark (below). I do like knowing that there's some quality assurance/quality control to Google Maps, don't you?

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

NERCOMP Pen-based Technologies SIG

Keri VanCamp and I gave a talk at the NERCOMP mini-conference as I discussed previously. There were four sets of speakers and all but we discussed pen-enabled technologies within a classroom setting. Our presentation, of course, focused on our use of tablet PC in 'outdoor' classrooms. Though this is a talk that I have given and modified from the first time I gave it (NERCOMP annual conference), each time something is added and I hope each time it improves.

I thought that this was one of the better NERCOMP SIGs that I've been too. The first speakers from WPI brought in a lot of pen technology tools and discussed where their focus is at this point. They plan to deploy Sympodiums by Smart to their technology-rich classrooms. I think that sounds like an ideal solution between a Smartboard and a tablet PC. Another interesting and notable point made is that we are seeing pen-technologies sold in places like Target and Circuit City...Wacom tablets and LiveScribe, to name but two. I believe we are starting to see the mainstreaming of pen technologies. Frankly, the more varied technologies we have to choose from not just as educators but as consumers the better for those of us with different learning styles and preferences.

Another issue that came up was the use of wireless with a tablet PC, especially in a classroom with many tablets. It can give troubles if your wireless is encrypted, but I'm not that versed on it. This is troublesome since we are investigating a wireless/projection tablet implementation.

Lastly, a point that came up is that there was a sense that tablet PCs have been slow to take off in higher education because of the heavy Macintosh use on our campuses. This is likely true. One attendee said his experience with the Axiotron was less than satisfactory. We don't have pen-enabled Macs now, it's been but a rumor for years, it probably will not happen that Macs will make the tablet PC of the higher educator's dreams.

By the way, no one gave a talk on Smartboard use. Not surprising but notable.