Saturday, 23 February 2008

GeoInformatics making me Dizzy

I must be on the GeoInformatics mailing list as they sent me this link recently to their new look on-line magazine. On first sight the e-version looks snazzy and fun; but I grew increasingly frustrated as I tried to read the magazine. The articles are interesting and informative, as they should be, but once I was zoomed into a page everytime I moved the mouse the page moved too. Usually to navigate a page you hold down a mouse button and move - but this software doesn't need that. It therefore meant that when I was mid-article and I thought "I'll just google something on this" as I moved the mouse to open a new tab on Firefox the article moved. It drove me a bit mad after a while and made me want to print it out. I would prefer pdf in this instance.

Friday, 22 February 2008

Starting Up Business the Russian Way

March's GIM interviewed Dr Vladimir Gershenzon, the General Director of Scan Ex. Despite it being the late 1980s there were still difficulties in setting up a scientific business. I quote

"It is probably hard for an outsider to imagine, but at that time it was impossible to survive by being involved only in "hi-tech". So, with 40000 borrowed dollars ... we went to Germany to buy Mercedes cars for selling on the Russian market. It was dangerous: on two occasions ... I barely escaped from hijackers".

Not your average day at work in the surveying industry then?

And do I detect a lament at the tightening of customs rules and regulations?

"Today you need to fill in many documents to export any commodity, but at the time you could just pack it* in a refrigerator box and roll it past customers on a cart, declaring, 'for school, for school'."

[* a portable meteorological station]

Ah, those were the days...

Friday, 15 February 2008

Human Effect on Oceans

An interesting report today. I suppose it's not news to realise that we have an effect on the world's oceans, I was just surprised at the extent of man's impact.

This study is perhaps more comprehensive than others as it combined a variety of environmental factors rather than just focusing on, say, fish stocks. More details here. The UK comes out with a very poor score.

If you have time, watch the fly-through on the first link above. And if you're really keen/bored count how many times the presenter says "activities". Lots.

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Scale Factor for Non-Surveyors

Have been pondering this weekend how I can graphically illustrate the effect of scale factor to non-land/hydrographic surveyors. Spent ages googling last night in vain and think I'll have to draw my own diagram. So how exactly do you explain to a non-surveyor that the distance you measure on the map/grid is not the same as that you measure on the ground?

On a lighter note I was pottery painting with my daughter on Saturday and fell in love with a teapot. Now just how sad is this?

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

One Geology

I attended a great lecture by Ian Jackson last week on One Geology. It was the annual UK GeoForum lecture and well worth attending. I loved the lecture. The aim of One Geology is to create global geological map data available via the web. Some people would have given up before they started. The concept of international negotiations to ask people to add data to something when you have no legal nor financial incentive to offer them would put a lot of people off trying! But Ian and his team ploughed on and are cracking it.

As a scientist, my natural reaction this global concept is to worry about the edges - the areas where the data doesn't match up leaving holes and overlaps. Perhaps it's because I work with safety critical data. But the One Geology approach is to collect what people can offer, put it together as best they can and then try to fix the problem. I think it's working. Now funding authorities can see the gaps/overlaps they are prepared to offer money to fix it. Before, they had no idea of the issue and what it looked like. A lesson to be learned?