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


USGS Earth As Art Gadget Released

I got word from the USGS this morning that they recently released a Google Gadget called USGS Earth As Art. The gadget shows random imagery from Landsat, ASTER and MODIS. You can put the gadget on your iGoogle page, or embed it on a web page.

USGS Earth As Art

USGS Earth As Art on iGoogle

see also GeoLounge


3Dconnexion SpaceNavigator Support in ArcGIS

Well the day is finally here. ESRI and 3Dconnexion have announced support for the SpaceNavigator in ArcGIS. I don’t have my SpaceNavigator SE with me or I’d give it a shot right now. This is great news for ESRI ArcScene and ArcGlobe users who currently have to navigate the 3D environment with a 2D mouse.


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


New Virtual Earth 3D Cities

I like that my hometown of Tempe, AZ is now included in the Virtual Earth 3D. My office looks great in 3D.

TEC Tempe Office

This is where the magic happens

If you rotate, you can even see Sun Devil Stadium (and home of the 23rd ranked Sun Devils) from my office.

Alas, my house is not modeled, but thanks for Google SketchUp, I’ve already take care of that. 🙂


Friday Humor

I’ve been going through my inbox (physical, not email) this morning and caught something that made me laugh. I grabbed the latest issue of ESRI’s Federal GIS Connections and looked at the address.

We Don't Need Departments

We don’t need no stinkin’ departments!


OSGeo Journal Volume 2 Available

Tyler Mitchell (Editor in Chief, OSGeo Journal) has announced in the OSGeo Discuss email list that the OSGeo Journal Volume 2 is now available for reading/download. I really enjoyed reading Volume 1 and while I don’t have time right now to read Volume 2, I see that there is an article on MapWindow which I’ve been trying to learn more about lately. I highly recommend that everyone interested in geospatial technology read the latest OSGeo Journal.


Peter Batty starts Spatial Networking

Peter Batty has decided to start up a company called Spatial Networking that will:

be focused on location related applications in the social networking space

I’m quite interested to see what he has up his sleeve here.


Even toddlers are getting into the social networking space

BTW, Happy Talk Like A Pirate Day!


Fair Use and Google Earth Imagery

The Free Geography Tools blog has been posting about saving out Google Earth imagery and georectifying them in your GIS applications. When pressed on the post by a couple users and bloggers (here, here), he’s posted up a clarification of “Fair Use”.

I still don’t believe one can use Google Earth imagery the way he is proposing and not be in violation of the EULA, but maybe I’m wrong. What do you guys think? Is this “fair use” of GE imagery or as some bloggers say, “stealing” Google’s product? As I said above, I’m of the opinion this is at best a very bad idea. Use NASA World Wind for this and you’ll be fine.

Gordon Gecko

Gordon Gecko would use GE imagery in his GIS applications