Wednesday, 28 February 2007

Exploratory Data Analysis - GeoDA & Cartograms

My final piece of coursework due is an exercise on Exploratory Data analysis. We've used the Geoda package previously, and doing some analysis on health data derived on the Birmingham area, using census data.

There was an article in the The Times on Monday where they wrote a very interesting story about using cartograms and some of the work Danny Dorling is doing on them. He has a really interesting website - and one of his maps relating the size of the country to it's population is shown below.


Pretty cool stuff.

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Saturday, 24 February 2007

Voronoi and end of week update

It's Saturday at last! A rather hectic week has past with this tricky paper on KML finally handed in. I attempted to cover coordinate transformations between different projections, and how KML might handle such an issue.

I managed to cover enough luckily without having to delve into some of the complex equations that you need to use. My main point, is that rather than have the client (GE etc.) interpret different notations of coordinate tags, which is probably unlikely, it may be possible to build these complex transformations into the XSLT that you would use to transform your XML data source into KML...?

Now I've just to do a small essay on using Virtual Worlds to aid teaching, a small exploratory data analysis exercise..and I'm finally done with courses and can focus on my dissertation.

Before heading out last night and consuming a few too many beers, I went to the Edinburgh Earth Observatory/AGI weekly seminar, which this week featured Chris Gold, EU Marie Curie chair at Glamorgan University and Voronoi Evangelist!. For such a potentially dry subject, focussing on algorithms, he made it remarkeably interesting, and is an excellent speaker. For those interested, Glamorgan University is hosting the Fourth Annual Symposium on Voronoi Diagrams

Finally, related to my dissertation, Earth is square links to an excellent article about using WW in the classroom.

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Tuesday, 20 February 2007

About Sedna & KML coordinate musings

As I said in my previous post - there have been no further updates since boxing day on the shearwater whose progress I've been following. Knowing that GPS receivers don't transmit very well underwater, I had somehow just assumed that was the most likely cause - either by the device coming off, or a tragic event befalling our Sedna.

I emailed the team over at and they had a far simpler, more obvious explaination.

There is a simple reason that you have stopped getting updates
on the shearwater tracks...batteries. Turtles are large and able to carry
transmitters with large batteries that will last a long time. Birds,
unfortunately, can only be tracked with short-lifespan tags due to weight
limitations. Sedna's battery was supposed to last only 90 days and we tracked
her for 118 days which we were very happy about!

Cheers, Rob

Good stuff!

sedna final map

Also for my geoinformatics essay I'm looking at a limitation within KML. Related to my dissertation on the Gazetteer for Scotland we are having a few issues converting from other map projections into what I assume to be GE projection datum (WGS84?). Wouldn't it be great if we could somehow auto-calculate/convert from say, British National Grid, straight into lat long coordinates. Sadly, it all doesn't seem quite as simple.. though the OS does a great booklet explaining some of the problems and limitations.

Finally, a great link I found to using virtual globes in the classroom.

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Sunday, 18 February 2007

Sedna & Zahara update

It's been a while since I had time to update on the 'progress' of our GPS tagged animals. Zahara, our Loggerhead turtle has entered the Gulf of Aden, and is almost directly south of the Yemen city of Al Mukalla. Note the staggering statistic of over 8000km travelled in 6 months on the map below. Not bad for a baby turtle.
zahara feb update

There has however been no update on Sedna, our shearwater since boxing day. Most likely this is due to a failing of the gps tracker, though I'll email the folks at to see if they have any further information. Most likely cause is probably the GPS tracker sinking, which means it's most probably come off in some kind of way.

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Saturday, 17 February 2007

Jim Gray Search suspended. Interesting KML stuff..

According to All points blog, the official search for Jim Gray has been called off. In addition, the old link to the mechanical turk site no longer brings up the group.

Ogle Earth has a really interesting interview with Michael Jones, CTO at Google Earth, with some detailed information on searching and ranking KML files. Directions Mag also covers similiar ground. Worth a look for my KML essay due end of this week.

More soon.. gotta go out for dinner.


Rather scary that I've appeared on Planet Geospatial! Better try to keep the quality up!


Sunday, 11 February 2007

Uni work, Yahoo Pipes and some Apps

It's all gone a little bit quiet on the blog front, which is just as well as I'm having trouble finding the time to stay updated!

At uni, we're delving into a wide range of things, and with teaching now complete it means I'm finishing a whole bunch of projects. These include extending a java Lotka-Volterra model integrated with a Cellular Automate for my environmental modelling project. Finishing a database project that requires us to use HTML to SVG interaction, and running perl scripts to generate SVG directly from a Oracle Spatial Database. Yes, sometimes it feels like it is as complex as it sounds. Then I have an ontology project to finish, whereby we as a group are trying to model a geographic process with an ontology and be able to reasoning with and upon it. I've been playing with some of the stuff at including their Pellet reasoner, but it's all very complex stuff with barely an example to take inspiration from.

Then I have a project on KML to finish, whereby I'm going to extend one of it's capabilities or address a problem. Not too sure where I am on that yet. Then finally, I need to try and explore the use of virtual worlds to aid teaching. Hmm. And all this on a GIS course. Haven't used an ESRI product for months!

Anyways, the big news I suppose is the launch of the Yahoo Pipes service. I haven't had time to use it myself, but the GE blog discusses it's implications for Google Earth/Map. In many ways this is kind of related to some of the OWL ontology work we are doing now, but on a lower level. Pipes allows you to take the output of other websites, combine/analyse relative to other data or parameters and displays it in some way. It's simple drag and drop editor interface, will appeal to those who aren't complete techies.The Guardian however isn't convinced.

Why pipes? Well, it's probably named after the Unix | character that lets you use/pipe the output of one thing in another. It's certainly an interesting idea, and allows potential novices to do things with data feeds that in the past have been the domain of the programmer only. KML support is also coming.

New Version of World Wind due this Wednesday, according to earth is square Yes Valentines day. Looking forward to it :)

The Chinese are getting in on the virtual globe act too, reports Ogle Earth. Looks like it will be proprietary though.

Finally, James Fee does a great example of how to combine a range of services to do some interesting practical applications - finding a new home!

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Saturday, 10 February 2007

The Imp Internet Radio, Reciva and WPA

I took the plunge at last and bought a Magicbox Imp internet radio from ebay the other day.
And I really like it.

However, I think I need to say that this, and other products that use reciva technology, such as the logik ir 100 and AE , are really still in their infancy, and there are a lot of technical issues and bugs present.

Anyway, I'll document the problems I had - and how I managed to solve them, in the hope that it aids other people. I found a lot of the information on the Reciva Community Forums, but had to play around to find a proper solution.

Problem 1 - Radio stations that are listed on Reciva that use intro sequences
These stations cannot be played currently with Reciva powered radios, although they stream fine on a PC. This occurs because when the radio reaches the end of the intro, it assumes the end of the stream is reached, and stops playing. The work around is in some cases to find a direct stream, and to add this to your Reciva My Streams. When you've registered your radio to your reciva account, you can then play your streams over your radio. (Your account is updated whenever your internet radio receives new stations from Reciva, which can be obtained when you unplug your radio, and plug in again).

In my case, I wanted to listen to Radio 538 a Dutch radio station. However the link listed on the Reciva website(and thus the stream you navigate to on your radio) now includes a ten second intro clip. However after searching the internet and with the help of some forum members I was able to find an alternative access point. This access point was then added to My Streams in my Reciva account, and I can now play it on my radio.

Problem 2 - After upgrading the firmware to the latest version I was no longer able to connect to my Wi-fi network with WPA.

The solution to this appears to set your key on WPA encryption from Open to Shared. I wasn't able to find this option on my belkin router, but was however able to set the encryption to WPA/WPA2-Personal(PSK) with authentication as WPA-PSK + WPA2-PSK and encryption as TKIP+AES which did allow the radio to connect.

The other solution is to use a WEP key, but understably this isn't ideal.

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Saturday, 3 February 2007

News roundup: Scientist missing at sea

The major story is that last week Jim Gray, a prominent computer scientist at Microsoft went missing off the coast of San Fransisco. The coastguard called off the search, but the efforts continue through volunteers manually scanning satellite imagery in the search for his yacht. It's pretty difficult stuff, with the images not ortho-rectified and often pretty dirty/noisey - but the hope is that with lots of volunteers scouring billions of pixels, Jim's yacht may well be found.

The Earth is square also reports that the World Wind JAVA alpha release is looking for testers - preferably people with java development experience.

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Thursday, 1 February 2007

Some random news stories..

Some amusing and quirky news stories that caught my eye today (yes, slow day at uni).

First, the amazing fish man plans to conquer the Amazon river. He's risking death by: poisonous freshwater stingrays, bull sharks, piranhas, anacondas, rapids, whirlpools, and the possibility of tidal waves. Not to mention the toothpick fish that can enter the body by swimming up the penis, and can only be removed by surgery. Starting in the uplands of Peru, and finishing at the mouth of the Amazon at Belem, he's set to enter the record books on completing the feat. Madness!
Source: BBC NEWS

Then, also from BBC NEWS we have the 'oh-so-streotypical' "Mexicans March in Tortilla Protest". Corn prices have risen due to high demand. Seems, biofuel isn't such a good thing after all in the eyes of the poorest Mexicans. Perhaps not a funny story in the detail as we are dealing with potential malnourishment, but the headline was at least amusing.

Reuters then reported on rampaging elephants in Thailand. According to a local: "Sometimes the whole elephant herd, six or seven of them, stand in middle of the road... some of them try to pull sugar canes from the lorry, when they can not, they just break the wind shield,". Elephants fight back. Brilliant.

And this could only surely happen in Italy? Berlusconi..every man's favourite villain (and a little bit of hero). Source: Reuters UK


Sweden mania forces Ogle Earth into hiding..

Perhaps not quite.. but the news that Sweden is to establish an embassy in second life, is apparently causing the Ogle Earth blog author a lot of sleepless nights.

Besides the news source above, and the former BBC front page story, poor Stefan has most likely also had to cope with prying reporters from online news sites such as The Register, Omninerd, MSNBC, Spiegel and Reuters from their own Second Life presence