vol 7 num 1


from VizMAP – letting you see where you stand…

Volume 7 Number 1
Contents

About VizMAP

VizMAP Pty Ltd, is a leading supplier of terrain Visualisation and related services to the defence, GIS, environmental, mapping, mining and exploration industries, engineering and construction firms, developers and planners, as well as government administration departments dealing with land, transportation and the environment.

VizMAP’s products are designed to be run on reasonably to highly configured graphics computers (PC, Linux and Unix) for public display, group training, mission rehearsal, environmental monitoring, etc. and to enhance management decision making. 

VizMAP is headquartered on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast (Australia) with affiliation in Asia, Europe, Africa and the USA and thereby provides support and services to customers worldwide. 

If you need to visualise anything geographic, e-mail VizMAP here with the details. 

For more information about VizMAP visit the VizMAP Web site at http://www.vizmap.com.au.

VirtualGeography
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A Moment’s Notice"
I don’t kill flies, but I like to mess with their minds. I hold them above globes. They freak out and yell "Whooa, I’m *way* too high." — Bruce Baum

 

VirtualGeography – the newsletter

G’Day… and Welcome to VirtualGeography
from VizMAP
Welcome to another free VirtualGeography from VizMAP Pty Ltd. 

Our Grime List Server for VirtualGeography has been configured for newsletters only (i.e. from me to you) so you can’t respond to this e-mail. If you want to respond to me in person, send me an e-mail here. If you want to subscribe or unsubscribe, just do it as per the links at the bottom of this screed.

What a fantastic year VizMAP had in 2007, and 2008 is set to be a stunner. Given that this is the first VirtualGeography for 2008, let me be the 54,098th to wish you all the very best for the new year. Let 2008 be the year that you knock all your adversaries off their perches (or better still, collaborate with them so that absolutely EVERYONE wins) and attain the heights that you always knew you were capable of. The catch-cry for 2008 is "3D Rocks". 

If you didn’t already know, VirtualGeography is a collection of interesting snippets from all over the shop, dealing with industry issues concerning the computer based visualisation of geography and a few other associated (or otherwise) interesting bits and pieces. You are receiving this either because you subscribed to VirtualGeography or you have had recent dealings with VizMAP Pty Ltd. If you do not wish to receive further instalments of VirtualGeography, just click on the unsubscribe link at the bottom of this e-mail. 

A new VirtualGeography is pushed out every now and then when we’ve collated enough interesting bits and pieces, which shouldn’t be too big a drain on your mailbox if you’re not already subscribed (of course it won’t be a drain on your mailbox if you ARE subscribed, either This is funny ;-)). The regularity of the distribution may vary depending on what else is going on at VizMAP at the time. If you know of anyone who might like to get VirtualGeography, feel free to forward this to them and ask them to subscribe. By the way, subscription and unsubscription details are at the bottom (click here).

So, g’day to all you enthusiasts requiring to visualise and simulate both urban and rural geographic information (GIS), cartography, photogrammetry, remote sensing, digital elevation modelling (DEM) and general mapping.

By the spelling of "Visualisation" you may have already guessed that we’re not US based – that’s a good thing, or at least not a bad thing. This comes to you from Mooloolaba on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland, Australia, where it’s beautiful one day and perfect the next. As a postscript to that, you can have a look at the Mooloolaba beach, now, 800m from where I sit as I write this, here.

The link between visualisation and mapping may seem a little esoteric if this is your first encounter with this sort of stuff, but let me tell you, the bond is significant… but enough of that: on with the show… I hope you like it. Any feedback you might have is highly appreciated. E-mail me here to make your comments.

Enjoy…

Graeme Brooke
VizMAP Pty Ltd
 

P.S. You’ll need an active internet connection to view any images that are in the content. We’ve done it this way to keep the size of the e-mail to a minimum.

 
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The Industry’s Two Cents Worth…

A Better Virtual World, One Tree (or Millions) At A Time
from Science Daily
ScienceDaily (Jan. 11, 2008) — When Stanford computer scientist Vladlen Koltun decided to build a better virtual world, he began with 3-D trees—millions of them. Now he wants to give them away.

Trees, like almost all objects in virtual worlds, whether in video games or Internet social communities like World of Warcraft or Second Life, are enormously difficult and expensive to build.

"There is a very, very tiny community of people around the world who are skilled at creating three-dimensional objects," Koltun said. "And they are the ones who do it all. Which is one of the reasons why you don’t see three-dimensional content on the web; because nobody can create it."

The inability of casual computer users to build 3-D objects—you practically have to be a sculptor, Koltun says-is an anchor holding back the promise of virtual worlds. When the day arrives thatanyone can design everyday objects, the three-dimensional environment of virtual worlds will finally live up to its promise as an ideal setting for almost any human interaction: education, business, job training, phobia therapy, gaming, sharing interests with other people (or their avatars) and, of course, flirting with alien creatures.

The virtual world should serve as "a social network that allows you to share space and participate in experiences together," Koltun said. "You can form ad hoc groups that don’t require any sort of registration. You can just walk up to a person, walk up to a group of people, and start a conversation."

When Koltun, an assistant professor of computer science, set out with his Stanford Virtual Worlds Group to prove that object construction can be sophisticated without being difficult, they began with trees.

Why trees, instead of buildings, animals or humans? Because, it turns out, botanists have already cataloged and categorized the trees of the real world in great detail. Koltun’s group has incorporated that data into a powerful mathematical engine that creates trees using about 100 different tree attributes, all of them almost infinitely variable. How thick is the trunk? How big the leaves? How are the limbs spaced?

The result is a new, intuitive way for individual users to create unique trees by simply using a mouse to seamlessly navigate through the entire "space of trees," changing appearances by changing direction. Koltun’s software, Dryad (a tree nymph in Greek mythology,) lets users move through the 100-attribute tree space in a fashion similar to navigating city streets on Google Maps.

Read that full story here
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Hardcore Stuff (hardware bits)…

NVIDIA to Acquire AGEIA Technologies 
from nVidia
PhysX on GeForce Will Bring Amazing Physics Dynamics to Millions of Gamers

NVIDIA (Nasdaq: NVDA), the world leader in visual computing technologies and the inventor of the GPU, today announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire AGEIA Technologies, Inc., the industry leader in gaming physics technology. AGEIA’s PhysX software is widely adopted with more than 140 PhysX-based games shipping or in development on Sony Playstation3, Microsoft XBOX 360, Nintendo Wii and Gaming PCs. AGEIA physics software is pervasive with over 10,000 registered and active users of the PhysX SDK.

"The AGEIA team is world class, and is passionate about the same thing we are—creating the most amazing and captivating game experiences," stated Jen-Hsun Huang, president and CEO of NVIDIA. "By combining the teams that created the world’s most pervasive GPU and physics engine brands, we can now bring GeForce®-accelerated PhysX to hundreds of millions of gamers around the world."

"NVIDIA is the perfect fit for us. They have the world’s best parallel computing technology and are the thought leaders in GPUs and gaming. We are united by a common culture based on a passion for innovating and driving the consumer experience," said Manju Hegde, co-founder and CEO of AGEIA.

Like graphics, physics processing is made up of millions of parallel computations. The NVIDIA® GeForce® 8800GT GPU, with its 112 processors, can process parallel applications up to two orders of magnitude faster than a dual or quad-core CPU. 

Read that full story here
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Softcore Stuff (software & data bits)…

Technology pulls curtain back to offer new world views 
from CNN
 We can see the world like never before. A confluence of ubiquitous cameras, the commercialization of satellite imaging and Web sites specializing in photos and videos has put the world at our fingertips. And more is being put there every day.
art.geoeye1.getty.jpg

Consider planning a trip, or a move. If you’re heading for a new place, a photo-sharing site such as Flickr could reveal your future neighborhood, street, building or even specific rooms. A video-sharing site such as YouTube might bring up a video that someone took of your future surroundings.

Or, for that matter, your past surroundings. It’s just as easy to find pictures or videos of the places you used to live, or visited in the past. There’s something voyeuristic about seeing a place you’ve known before through the lens of somebody else.

You can also see how things have changed, or stayed the same. Using the "street view" feature on Google Maps, this writer noticed, with some satisfaction, that whoever is now occupying his old apartment in New York is using the same off-white reverse blinds he installed many years ago.

Some lenses are in handheld gadgets, but others are in orbiting satellites. The Ikonos satellite weighs some 1,600 pounds and glides above us at about four miles per second. A high-resolution imaging satellite, it is owned and operated by GeoEye, a fast-growing outfit in Virginia that does brisk business selling bird’s-eye views to developers, the government, and other big organizations.

But the company has a philanthropic arm, too. The satellite, launched in September 1999, has collected nearly a decade’s worth of imagery, meaning changes that have taken place over time can be spotted.

That’s potentially useful for a variety of research projects. Among them are tracking beetle infestations in Yosemite’s pine forests, discovering ruins in Peru and revealing paths created by animal poachers in Africa.
Don’t Miss

The GeoEye Foundation was established "because it was the right thing to do," says spokesman Mark Brender. But it also has a less altruistic function, he admits. It helps the company spot university talent it might want to hire. The company had about a hundred new hires last year, and it’s a constant struggle to fill the dozens of positions it usually has open.

Many of the graduates being hired by GeoEye and its competition are versed in "geospatial information systems" and headed for high-paying jobs that are still hard to categorize.

Geography is almost sexy these days. Many drivers now wonder how they ever lived without GPS guidance, a feature now appearing on many handheld gadgets. One of the most popular games on the Internet (including social networking site Facebook) is Traveler IQ Challenge, whereby players click on a world map to locate various places. Millions now wile away their free time taking a geography test.

Read that full story here
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A Recent Outing…

Vault Point (Rodd Park), Sydney 
from VizMAP
VizMAP was contracted by a Government Department to produce a 3D flythrough of the park and vicinity of Vault Point (aka Rodd Park) on Sydney Harbour. The visual database includes the "vault", being a mausoleum where old Mr Rodd was originally interred.

Rodd Point marks the spot of the family vault with an outlook to the Iron Cove and Iron Creek off their land.

Brent Clements Rodd emigrated to Australia in 1822 with his widowed father and 2 brothers. He was admitted to practice law in the Supreme Court of New South Wales in 1833.

Rodd purchased two allotments with frontages to Iron Cove and Iron Creek in 1838. He married Sarah Janet Robertson the year later. They had eight sons and four daughters after whom the local nearby streets were named. 

You can read more info here.
 

Click on these small resampled images to view the full screen images from the VizMAP website. Bear in mind that these are just screen dumps from a dynamic, interactive, 3D "flythrough".

If you would like more information on this project, or need your own similar project performed, let VizMAP know

If you have a need to dynamically visualise your geographic data, let VizMAP know your requirements…
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OK, That’s Different…

ASUS Eee PC 701 4G 
from PC World
Although its title is about as obscure as Nintendo’s Wii, there is a clear and definite purpose to the naming of ASUS’s new, ultraportable notebook, the Eee PC. Its title and slogan are one and the same; easy to learn, easy to work and easy to play, or Eee, sums up this little nugget fairly well. However, it could also have been called the Eeee PC, adding ‘easy on the wallet’ to the end.

At just $499 it is possibly the cheapest firsthand notebook you’ll get your hands on, but it doesn’t resort to cheap or old technology. In fact it is one of the few notebooks currently available that uses a solid state drive, even if it only has a 4GB capacity. Solid state memory is advantageous in terms of speed and also for data safety. With no moving parts there is far less risk of causing damage to your drive with a knock or drop.

The Eee PC uses an Intel chipset and CPU, 512MB of RAM and uses a Linux-based operating system. This, of course, helps the Eee PC function on just 4GB of storage as the operating system uses considerably less space to run than a standard Windows installation would. It also has a very short boot time when starting the system up. One small disadvantage is the lack of an optical drive, but there is a built in webcam, a microphone and speakers, plus a VGA output (D-Sub), three USB 2.0 ports and there is even a media card reader supporting MMC and SD cards.

The screen is just 7in but has a reasonable viewing angle with good brightness. The keyboard, touchpad and mouse are all mini versions, but despite its size the keyboard is quite comfortable and easy to type on.

The interface is quite intuitive and easy to navigate. Due to its weight (just 0.92kg) and simplicity, ASUS claims the Eee PC is targeted at travellers and the elderly, but it’s primarily targeted at education. In this respect the interface is perfect. Large icons populate the screen under a set of tabs; Internet, work, learn, play, settings and favourites. The Internet tab contains your Web-based e-mail shortcuts, Firefox for Web-surfing, Skype and a number of other funky shortcuts, including Wikipedia and Google Docs. There is also a messenger application that allows you to connect to multiple instant messenger servers, such as ICQ, MSN or Google Talk simultaneously. 

Read that full story here
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Whazzup Next – with 20/20 Foresight…

Check these sites for events to look out for in the Vis/Sim, GIS, LIS, Remote Sensing & Photogrammetry calendars…
 
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A Parting Gesture…Smile... it's free.

The Guinea Pig 
From Grime
A guy walks into a bar and asks the bartender if he will give him a free beer if he shows him something amazing. The bartender agrees, so the guys pulls out a guinea pig, who begins dancing and singing "Tuff Enuff" by the Fabulous Thunderbirds.

"That IS amazing!" says the bartender and gives the guy his free beer.

"If I show you something else amazing, will you give me another beer?" The bartender agrees, so the guy pulls out a small piano and the guinea pig and a frog. Now the guinea pig plays the piano while the frog dances and sings "You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet" by Bachman-Turner Overdrive.

The bartender, completely wowed, gives him another beer. A man in a suit, who’s been watching the entire time, offers to buy the frog for a princely sum, which the man agrees to.

"Are you nuts?" asks the bartender. "You could’ve made a fortune off that frog."

"Can you keep a secret?" asks the man. "The guinea pig’s a ventriloquist."

Smile... it's free.
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VizMAP
Letting you see where you stand…

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…that’s all, folks. For now…