NigeriaSat-2 active

NigeriaSat-2, the UK designed and build 2.5m micro-satellite, is now collecting imagery after its successful launch in August. The first image is over Salt Lake City and demonstrates the quality of the new 2.5m sensor. As the article notes, NigeriaSat-2 and NigeriaSat-X, cost a total of 30M which included training in design and build of their own satellite. A remarkable knowledge transfer partnership.

New Kindles available imminently

Amazon did a BIG product launch today attacking the portable media “appliance” market on all fronts with a swathe of announcements. A good roundup over at PCPro where we see the following:

Kindle (4?) ebook reader: e-ink, same size screen, smaller, lighter and no keyboard. The kick in the stomach…. $79 US or 89 UK!! Looks like the third generation with keyboard will remain available.

Kindle Touch: yes, a touchscreen version at $99

Kindle Fire (I blogged about earlier): the mythical beast is out, with a detailed review here and due out in November at $199. This is a killer price…. they are really going big guns for the tablet market and building in the media content (book, magazine, music, film) makes for a compelling product. It’ll be interesting to see how good the hardware is.

Kindle Maps

The OS blog highlighted that maps are now making their way on to the Kindle. Kindle Map Guides are a nice example and reasonably well put together use OpenSpace data. They are probably the best of the bunch and replicate a paper map on your Kindle. They do the job, but I can’t help feel that they missed a trick in maximising the screen space given over to the map. Useful to have in the pocket though. Kindle Maps are using OpenStreetMap data with their first offering a map of Dublin.

IT setup for travel…..

I took this picture last week whilst in Belfast. This is (currently) my IT setup whilst travel. On a day-to-day basis I now only take my San Francisco; however this isn’t sufficient for a longer trip. I need a Windows PC, reasonable size screen/keyboard, internet access and ALL my documents/software. The photo shows my ageing, but trusty, Sony Vaio, portable harddrive (stuff with all my work and portable apps. The San Francisco is then setup as a portable wifi hotspot to give internet access. Very portable.

Kindle Library Up and Running

Well the Kindle library lending scheme is now up and running in the US. Based upon a 2 week lending period… bear in mind this means Kindle the “brand” rather than Kindle the “device”. So if you want to borrow a book (and you need to be a library member) you can sync it to any Kindle application, be that iPhone, Android, Windows or Chrome.

Its not a panacea, but it will address those people who don’t want to buy Kindle books because they can borrow them. Quite how this would work for student textbooks I’m not sure, although discussions with academic publishers are meant to be ongoing….

GAMBIT and HEXAGON Declassified

Two of the later US spy satellites were declassified this weekend; Very Spatial have a nice summary, but also look at the Wikipedia page and USGS page on declassified imagery. What none of the press releases make clear is whether all the imagery will become available now that the satellites have been declassified; one would assume yes, although this will take time to filter through. And it looks like the headline spatial resolution is about 30 cm.

Kindle Cloud Reader

I was snooping around the Amazon Kindle webpages a few weeks back and came across the Kindle Cloud Reader…. intrigued because its not overly flagged I followed the link which leads you to a browser based reading client. This requires you to install an extension (Safari, Chrome, Firefox) and, once you’ve logged in, gives you full access to all your books. And, because its Kindle, syncs all your notes, highlights and where you’ve read up to. Its also an offline reader allowing you to download the book to your browser. This really completes the full-set of clients for Kindle and is genuinely useful. Also reminds you that Kindle isn’t a physical e-reader, its a brand that you buy in to for buying and reading electronic content.

University of Ulster Visit

I’m visiting the University of Ulster tomorrow, so took the opportunity to fly up from Southampton to Belfast. The last time I flew to Belfast was by EasyJet from Luton which is pretty standard fare. So imagine my surprise when I boarded the FlyBe aircraft and noticed these blade shaped things spinning around on the outside. Spooky.

RSPSoc 2011

I’m currently attending RSPSoc2011 which is again producing a wide variety of topics all centred around remote sensing. The conference is organised around three parallel sessions, with plenaries at the beginning of each day. Vegetation remains a key topic, but urban, UAVs, object based classifiers, archaeology, sensors and hazards are all key topics. There is pretty good commercial support (both journals and service/software/hardware companies) and its good to see these companies giving talks as well.

I missed the keynote yesterday, but Bob Binschadler gave a great historical overview and contemporary evaluation of how remote sensing has fed in to glaciology. A very interesting talk.

So another good RSPSoc, which is moving to U Greenwich next year.

Send to Kindle

Send to Kindle is a handy app for Android that renders a webpage and automatically sends it to your Kindle email address for syncing at a later date. Useful.

CK-12 Foundation

The CK-12 Foundation:

“….is a non-profit organization with a mission to reduce the cost of textbook materials for the K-12 market both in the U.S. and worldwide. Using an open-content, web-based collaborative model termed the “FlexBook,” CK-12 intends to pioneer the generation and distribution of high quality educational content that will serve both as core text as well as provide an adaptive environment for learning through the FlexBook Platform.”

These are designed for the school market, but can equally cover first year undergraduate as well. They can be read online (Flexbook) or downloaded as a PDF. Amazon have also transferred them to Kindle format as well, such as the Earth Sciences text. A worthy resource.

Scheduling an SMS message

SMS Scheduler does what it says on the tin…. schedules the sending of SMS messages. Allows multiple recipients, repeat sending (and different frequencies), as well as types of notification. Useful if you want to send a txt as a 1-off in the future or to schedule regular txts. Its ad-supported…. unless you either pay for it or use AdFree (you need a rooted phone for that though).

Apollo Moon Landings

Vook have published a short book on the Apollo Moon Landings for the Kindle. Currently free, its a handy (Wikipedia-esque) intro for those interested.

Kindle Clippings

As I noted in this earlier post, it is dead useful to be able to mark up paragraphs of interest which are filed under “Notes”. When you sync your Kindle these marked locations get stored on your account and then automatically synchronised to any other Kindle readers on the account (e.g. Android, Windows). So its quite nice to fire up the Windows version, see where you got to reading and the paragraphs you marked as useful. What you can’t do on Windows is copy the paragraph text and then annotate etc when writing. The obvious reason being that it would enable large chunks of the book to be copied. There are a few clunky semi-work arounds but nothing particularly useful.

The solution though is rather simple…. on the Kindle itself a “MyClippings.txt” file is stored in the Documents folder. And yes, this does store the actual marked-up text itself. For short sections that you want to quote in an essay or use to augment notes its useful.

LRO images moon landings

NASAs Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has been the talk of the wires recently. LRO is part of NASAs mission to go back to the moon and carries seven instruments on board, the most pertinent for geomorphologists being the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter and Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera. These use much of the technology developed as part of the MOLA and GLAS missions to Mars and Earth respectively. Orbiting at 50 km it has been providing unprecedented elevation data and high resolution imagery (down to 1 m). As part of satellite manoeuvres, the orbit was temporarily decreased to ~25 km (are the Americans going metric on us?!) allowing very high resolution to be LROC imagery to be obtained. Both the BBC and National Geographic explain some of the remarkable imagery (read: imagery of the Apollo missions).

BBP University College Fees Set

Mike baker reports on BPP University College setting its undergraduate fees at…. 5,000 per year. That’s a very aggressive price squarely targeted at the public sector. OK, Russell Group universities won’t have their bottom line affected, but see this as the thin end of the wedge. The government wants competition on price, universities played the game and all (pretty much) set the highest fees. How do you break up the closed shop? Bring in commercial operators. Expect the bottom to mid end of the sector to see huge disruption over the next 10 years. Difficult to hazard how this will play out, but more private universities, university mergers and closure are almost certainly going to follow. And expect that 5,000 price tag to be a marker in the sand; price may well fall over the next 5 years which means those going next year are unlucky.

Kindle Limited Time Offers

Amazon have a variety of short-term free books available, but you need to keep checking to see what’s around; I mentioned in this earlier post about one of the memory books being free last week.

What’s the easiest way to do this?? Well thus far there doesn’t seem to be have been a dead cert that I’ve found, but there are a few places to look:

1. The Kindle itself has pretty decent integration in to the Kindle store. Buying is easy, as is looking for free books, but that also mixes all the permanent “classics” in with the limited-time offers.
2. The Kindle blog is pretty reasonable for keeping up to date with things.
3. The main UK Amazon website has a “Free e-books” which links to the free popular classics in the Kindle store, as well as other book collections on the web.
4. As ever (!), the US Amazon website is slightly different. Again there is a “Free e-books”, but this time there is a specific link to “Limited Time Promotional Offers”. OK, you can’t then grab the ebook for you Kindle, but if you search the UK website for the same title you should find it available for free.

Make reading the number one skill?

An impassioned plea from Roy Blatchford (on Mike Baker’s blog) to make reading a top priority for all schools. From the article:

“Provisional figures for 2011 indicate that, in England, one child in five reaches age 11 unable to read confidently. Confident, that is, to access the secondary school curriculum they are embarking on this month.”

This goes alongside numeracy and writing….. and if children can’t access the secondary school curriculum at age 11, what are their chances of studying at degree level?

Imagining the future of the journal - RGS Discussion Panel

I was invited on to a discussion panel entitled “Imagining the future of the journal” at the RGS-IBG Annual Conference last week (very brief coverage in THES). This is warming up in to quite a topic at the moment with a (slightly over the top!) piece by George Monbiot in The Guardian last week. He makes some salient points about profit making in what is largely a monopolistic, unregulated and closed market. Anyway, the discussion panel was made up of

Noel Castree (University of Manchester)
Toby Green (Head of Publishing, OECD)
Sarah Porter (Head of Innovation, JISC)
Mike Smith (Editor in Chief, Journal of Maps; slides

Mobile proliferation?

The battle for mobile supremacy is on…. a good article on the proliferation of mobile platforms in a chart. A few older device platforms missing (not sure what Newton ran….) but just highlights that people are largely OS agnostic. They don’t care as long as they can email, access Twitter/Facebook and play Angry Birds!