More open data….

This is nothing but great news….. more open data! There is some genuinely useful stuff here: Met Office Public Weather Service, train/bus real time running and Land Registry. All valuable/useful stuff in and of itself that should already be public. In addition to last weeks criminal court sentencing records, there will also be personal health records. These will (anonymously) tell a very detailed story about the UK and provide invaluable data for further analysis by academics and companies.

Raspberry Pi

If you haven’t seen the fuss over Raspberry Pi then head on over and take a look at their website. And if you don’t want to invest too much time then read the excellent summary over at The Register. In short (and to quote):

“The most remarkable thing about this low-power credit card-sized computer is its price tag: little more than £20 for a fully functional system capable of, among many things, 1080p video playback and hardware-accelerated graphics.

The British-designed Pi is being heralded as the saviour of modern IT education in UK classrooms, one that will raise a new generation of young bedroom hackers - in the old sense of the word ‘hacking’, that is, to ingeniously cobble stuff together to make cool new things.”

Open Source Roundup

A useful open source roundup with a slight focus upon geo-stuff.

NPP Launch

NPP launched a few weeks back and has just sent back its first imagery. Jonathon Amos (over at the BBC) has an interesting article discussing the importance of weather satellites to remote sensing and society more widely. NPP is designed to fit the gap in polar orbiting meteorological data collection, although with a remit for land data collection (but bear in mind its a research satellite and designed as a pre-cursor for the future operational-grade JPSS).

Land data collection has been been achieved in the past with AVHRR, SeaWiFS and (more recently) MODIS. These have increasingly become super-spectral sensors with wide swaths and functional spatial resolutions. NPP is a 5-instrument mission, but the biggest and most important is VIIRS. This has 22-bands in visible and near/mid/far infra-red, 3000 km swath and something approaching 650 m spatial resolution. Radiometric resolution with be 12-14-bit. Anyway, it’ll be very interesting to see how data delivery and use goes.

Open Source GIS Intro

Nice article over at Directions on Open Source GIS…. a reasonable primer on the topic.

Landsat 5 Anomaly

Not a healthy outlook for Landsat 5 27 years after launch. Mind you, its not bad for a 3 year life expectancy!!

NERC Knowledge Exchange Grant

For those interested, I am currently a Co-Investigator on a NERC Knowledge Exchange grant titled “The Physical Landscape of Britain and Northern Ireland.” Under the auspices of the British Society for Geomorphology, this will be putting together a fully functional spatial bibliographic database for two locations in the UK and integrating references for all published and unpublished material that relate to the geomorphology. We successfully developed (through some of the hard work of Claudio Piccinini) a demonstrator webmap and this now moves on to a full prototype with our partners Mouchel, Halcrow, National Trust, Environment Agency and Natural England.

It’s a great knowledge exchange project and comes out of a BSG Steering Group which is looking far beyond the prototype envisaged here. There is some visionary thinking going on and big aims for the future utilisation of geomorphological expertise in the UK and maximising its benefit for all. Professor Janet Hooke is leading the project and has experience of similar knowledge exchange work before. Kingston’s expertise in GIS adds strength to the project. Layman’s press release is here.

One Story

One Story is a great subscription for your Kindle. Each month you get one new short story and they never use an author twice. The variety, breadth and freshness is revitalising. At at £0.99 its a bargain. Subscribe… today.

“One Story magazine features one great story every month. Because One Story never publishes an author more than once, you’ll discover a great new writer in every issue.”

“Launched in 2002, One Story has quickly become one of the top American venues for short fiction. Of the 115 issues published between 2002 and 2008, almost half were selected as among the year’s best by various anthologies and prizes, including Best American Short Stories, Best American Non-Required Reading, and The O. Henry Prize Stories. As The New York Times noted: “At a time when literary writing seems like a dying art, when little magazines are folding left and right, when publishers bemoan the sinking bottom line, here lies a spot of hope…It is called One Story.”“

Kindle Daily Deal

Amazon UK offering a “daily deal” each day for a heavily discounted book. See the blog post for further details. It’ll be interesting to see how these deals develop…. equivalent price in the US at the moment. Will have to see if it goes up tomorrow as well or whether its the usual “Brits can pay more”

Ball camera

How cool is this ball camera?? Love the application…. our Leica laser scanner grabs similar imagery and splices them together but this is so elegant and you get a whole sphere of imagery. The alternative would be to fish-eye images but not as easy to do. Great!

Eject USB

Safely ejecting USB devices is a perennial gotcha for those not in the know, recently brought home to me by a friend who copied some audio books to her Kindle and couldn’t find them to play them. What had happened was that she had “copied them” over to the Kindle and then unplugged it. In reality the files had been cached by Windows and were still there when she pulled the plug. The “Safe Eject” feature in Windows flushes the cache, completes writing the file and then ejects the drive. Except it can’t do all that if there are files open/running on the device.

EjectUSB is one (of many) solutions to this problem. Running the app will close all apps running on the drive, flush the cache (and a few other things) and then attempt to eject the drive, all automatically. It works very well and even if you can’t eject the drive, at least you will know that any incomplete file copies have been finished. Essential for people with portable apps.

Kindle loses audio…..

PCPro had a good review of current ebook readers this month. And yes the new Kindle came out on top, but as they say, its all about content! The Kindle has that in bucket loads and the compact size, fast page turns and low price make it a winner. In comparison to the previous version (now branded the Kindle Keyboard) the screen is improved and page turns are faster. Things have been removed…. the keyboard (doh!), 3G (useful for those travelling alot) and 2Gb of storage. However the big gotcha is the removal of the audio jack/speakers. This means no music, no audiobooks and no text-to-speech. Surely it can’t have added that much to the price?? Audio is a must-have for me, although I know plenty of people will be happy without it. Anyway, that makes the touch sensitive Sony Reader Wifi at £108+VAT all the more tempting. And there is also an alternative to the larger Kindle DX which are available in the UK; the PocketBook Pro 902 has a 9.7” screened device, although not (apparently) without its problems. A good round up and well worth the read.

“Couldn’t install on USB storage or SD card” error on Android

Finally got around to sorting out a niggling bug on my San Fran phone. For one application only, I kept getting the following error when I tried to install it:

“Couldn’t install on USB storage or SD card”

I couldnt be bothered to do anything about it, but when it then occurred for another app I thought I’d better do some digging. Turns out that Android appears to created the file smdl2tmp1.asec when it installs an app. This is a temporary file and for some reason caused the failure to install this particular app. The solution is simple: just delete it! smdl2tmp1.asec resides in one of two directories:

/sdcard/.android_secure - this is an invisible folder on your SD card, but you can access with any file manager
/mnt/secure/asec/ - access to this folder requires root access (and a file explorer such as Android Mate)

Looks like this has been a known bug for some time…. which isn’t good because the last thing you want numpties doing is rooting their file and randomly deleting files on the phone!

Mighty Text

I’ve just been trialling MightyText which allows you to send and receive SMS messages on your PC from your Android phone. Its a very clever bit of programming…. install the app on your phone, then the Chrome app on your PC. Log in to your Google account from both Chrome and your phone and, hey presto, they are then paired.

So what does it do?? Well, doh, allows you to send and receive SMS messages on your PC. The integration is pretty neat though…. a pop-up box notifies you when a txt arrives and allows you to reply. This brings up the main screen with threaded conversations (aka Handcent). You can import all your contacts from your GMail account (which means everything off your phone if you keep your phone synced) which is good, although incoming txt messages append the +44 for the UK, whilst the contacts dont. Which means you only see the phone number rather than the sender name.

Remember you need the data connection on the phone open in order for the app to work. The lag is acceptable…. about 10s which seems pretty good to me considering what is going on. The Android app is quite small, although I should look as to its utilisation. The Chrome app is a bit of a hog though… most extensions run 5-10Mb, but this is more like 50Mb.

So what’s if useful for? Good question and, obviously, you can txt from your PC which is useful in that typing is clearly easier. There are a couple of other side effects though…. you don’t have to have your phone near you to send/receive txts. And (or) you can put your phone in entirely inert mode (no notification, pop-up box, sound or tone).