Very sobering

Sunday, 28 September, 2008

Donald Clark gives a thought provoking post about a recent talk by psychologist Philip Zimbardo on what makes ordinary people evil. Note that this video contains graphic images through examples from Abu Graib prison, however it does end on an uplifting note.

Forgotten Heroes

Thursday, 25 September, 2008

My local school had a vote last academic year to name each of the buildings on their campus. This was based around “inspiring” people (or even “heroes”) and the following won the vote:

1. Edmund Hillary
2. David Livingstone
3. Ellen MacArthur
4. Christopher Columbus
5. Neil Armstrong

An intriguing list of names for sure and not necessarily what you might expect, however it got me thinking about those that you might call “forgotten heroes.” Similar exploits, but not the fame. So from the list above, I’m building the “alternative” list below and wondered if anyone else had forgotten heroes to add.

1. Jacques Piccard and US Navy Lt. Donald Walsh: first descent of the Mariana Trench, the deepest location on the surface of the Earth’s crust (~11,000 m), January 23 1960. Intriguingly in the same timeframe as the ascent of Everest.
2.
3.
4.
5. Surely Yuri Gagarin was ranked a fair bit higher. First person in space and all. A very big moment.

Top 5 Entries

Saturday, 20 September, 2008

Curiosity got the better of me and I dug out the log files for the web server and, using Web Log Explorer, ran a quick analysis of the blog page requests since I started blogging back in September 2005. And the top 10 are:

AGI Tat: 3852
Einstein says it all: geography is much harder than physics: 1403
…. and Whipsnade respond!: 829
The Journal of Maps: rationale for its establishment and review of initial operations: 468
Copyright or database right… Does it matter?: 423

So there you have it, “AGI Tat” wins by, well, a long margin (proving why The Sun is such a popular read!). The good old fake Einstein quote does brisk trade, whilst, bizarrely, a verbatim letter from Whipsnade Zoo comes in at a respectable third. And somewhat satisfying to see my Cartographic Journal article about the Journal of Maps coming in fourth.

Enormous Google Earth images

Friday, 19 September, 2008

If you haven’t come across Super Googer before then it is well worth a look. This is a simple hosted PHP script that uses Google’s tile encoding system for Google Earth imagery to download as many tiles as you want.

Do you want a 200×200 super image London? Easy to do. The one parameter you do need to know is the upper-left tile from which the image will start. There are some useful instructions here. Once you know the start tile, specify the size of the image and it will download in to a new window. Of course the problem is what you actually do with this once its downloaded as its only in your browser. You could print it or try to stitch all the tiles back together (and there are some shareware products that do this). However the easiest solution is to use the ScreenGrab! Firefox extension which, as the name suggests, does a browser screengrab. However it’s a bit cleverer than that and can output the entire browser page as an image. Great solution to extracting very large Google Earth images.

Using QGIS

Tuesday, 16 September, 2008

I was at a meeting today where I need to show some GeoTIFFs and Shapefiles. I had my laptop on me so went to run up ArcGIS and then remembered that I didn’t have my dongle with me. So then loaded ERDAS Imagine and got a license server error (out of date license). I was just about to give up and then remembered that I had a portable version of QGIS as part of PortableGIS. It is more than usable for this type of activity and certainly alot quicker than ArcGIS. Its really very tempting not to bother with ArcGIS when out and about any more. Its slow, bloated and uses draconian licensing.

The iPod, another great British invention (that we didn’t make any money out of)

Tuesday, 9 September, 2008

This really seems a recurring theme for us Brits; hover craft, jet airliners…..

Google Power Tips!

Tuesday, 9 September, 2008

This article is worth a look at power tips for using Chrome. Note the startup options, about: keywords, portable USB version and anonymizer. Very useful.

Location is important

Monday, 8 September, 2008

Came across this nice editorial from Nature earlier this year bemoaning the fact that many scientists don’t bother to record location when depositing their data or reporting in research publications. “Spatially enabled” is fainlly hitting the mainstream.

How to do well in a PhD viva

Friday, 5 September, 2008

After a brief chat this week with a student about an upcoming viva I thought I would list some of the useful pieces of advice from my own viva (thanks to Ian Evans for a pleasant experience!) and some recent students:

  • be honest
  • its a 2-way conversation. Talk about your work
  • its better without your supervisor. It also means that if theyve made a bad project decision you can happily blame them!
  • its quite nice at the beginning of discussing each chapter to actually point out any mistakes you’ve spotted
  • make sure you references are totally spot on

Im sure there are others so feel free to add to them.

Sony London Underground

Friday, 5 September, 2008

These images did the rounds a few weeks back, but I really like them. As part of Sony’s advertising campaign for the Walkman they have produce various underground maps in the style of a set of headphones. In Sony fashion, they are understated but really rather pleasing on the eye. Worth a look.