Portable GIS — GIS on a USB Stick

I’ve blogged about putting GIS applications on USB memory sticks in the past, but there seems to be some traction going on with this. Jo Cook presented at FOSS4G2007 a talk about Portable GIS. Jo has followed up with a blog post about the talk:

Thanks to everyone who attended my talk at FOSS4G and/or came up and offered me kind words of encouragement afterwards. I’m pretty overwhelmed in the level of interest in this.

That is encouraging. There is now a dedicated page to portable GIS and with more community involvement, maybe we’ll start seeing some real progress here. As I wrote in the comments over there, I feel that for open source GIS to get penetration in many organizations, folks will need to be able to run these applications without the need to install them. Portable GIS is more than just running GIS applications on a USB memory stick, but the idea that these are self contained applications. Of course you don’t want to run production GIS using such applications, but being able to show how many of these open source products can integrate with existing workflows and improve your output might start getting companies to look at them and start deploying them internally.

This is sure something I’m keeping my eye on.

QGIS at FOSS4G2007

Gary Sherman has posted a couple documents on his blog that may be of interest to those trying to learn more about QGIS. First off he’s got his slides from his FOSS4G presentation as well as the workbook from the “Shuffling Quantum GIS into the Open Source Software Stack” workshop. Both are a great introduction to QGIS and show you how to use QGIS with existing datasets to make a map as well as perform GIS analysis with GRASS (that is the killer feature of QGIS, using the power of GRASS with easy to use GUI). In addition, you can download the QGIS Live CD that was used at the FOSS4G2007 conference. That way you can give QGIS a spin without having to install anything on your computer (Mac/PC/Linux).

We are getting really close to the 0.9 release of QGIS so there isn’t a better time to get familiar with what is becoming the choice in open source desktop GIS (to be fair I like what I see in gvSIG as well).

QGIS 0.9

QGIS 0.9 Splash Screen

First Thoughts about the 3Dconnexion SpaceNavigator and ArcGIS

Well I actually did have my SpaceNavigator in my laptop bag so I decided to download the beta driver and take it for a spin. So what do I think?

First off, ArcGlobe works exactly as you’d expect. If you’ve used the SpaceNavigator and Google Earth, you already have an idea how it works. You can customize the shortcuts to map tasks to the buttons to make repetitive tasks easier. In ArcScene, it works pretty much the same way, except you are rotating your scene rather than the globe.

In ArcMap, you don’t have a 3D view, but it works well for the 2D environment. The zoom/pan/rotate works well for navigating. The rotate function of the SpaceNavigator is a real time saver as you can rotate as easily as panning and zooming. I was very productive using the SpaceNavigator with my left hand and using my mouse with the right.

We’ll see how my opinion changes with time, but right now any ArcGIS user can improve their productivity whether or not they use 3D. My company had purchased the SpaceNavigator SE for SketchUp, but ArcGIS benefits much more and we’ll probably buy some more for the rest of our GIS Analysts (keep in mind that the $59 PE is only for education and personal use, you’ll need to spring $99 for the SE version if you want to use it for commercial use).

3DConnexion Space Navigator

The SpaceNavigator will now stay attached to my workstation at all times