vol 7 num 2

from VizMAP – letting you see where you stand…

Volume 7 Number 2

About VizMAP

VizMAP Pty Ltd, is a leading supplier of terrain simulation 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.


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A Moment’s Notice"
"Ever consider what they must think of us? I mean, here we come back from a grocery store with the most amazing haul – chicken, pork, half a cow.  They must think we’re the greatest hunters on earth!" — Anne Tyler on Dogs

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

The List Server has now been configured for automatic subscriptions and unsubscriptions.

  • To subscribe, send a blank e-mail here
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In 2008, VizMAP has again been flat out like a lizard drinking, performing jobs for the Australian Department of Defence and the Queensland Department of Infrastructure and Planning to name but two.

We have also revamped the VizMAP flier which details the fundamentals of what VizMAP does and as a departure from the normal VirtualGeography, this is attached. Please take the time to review it and send it on to those in your contact list who may benefit from our services.

If we don’t work, we don’t eat. Is that the same as you?

On a personal front, I have just given away my second daughter in marriage. That’s two within six months! Luckily I only have two boys left, and they have been put on notice that I need at least two years advance notification before "the next one".

I trust 2008 has so far been equally tantalising for you.

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 installments 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.


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…

TerraSim, Inc. Awarded DARPA Contract Extension 
from TerraSim
Pittsburgh, PA – TerraSim, Inc. has been awarded a 12 month contract extension under a U.S. Army Phase II SBIR entitled "Software Tools for Modeling Urban Details" to support the DARPA Urban Reasoning and Geospatial ExploitatioN Technology (URGENT) program. This work will enhance and adapt software tools previously developed by TerraSim to support the automatic compilation of 3D road networks using LIDAR and multi-spectral source data.

The technology developed under this Phase II extension will be implemented in TerraTools® and RoadMAP from TerraSim®. TerraTools is a COTS geospatial database generation system used throughout DoD to support the generation of modeling and simulation databases for U.S. Army OneSAF TestBed, WARSIM, and OneSAF Objective System as well as correlated visual systems. It is used to generate hundreds of one degree cells for large area simulation as well as highly detailed urban environments, including building interiors and underground structures, with submeter accuracy. These databases are used for exercise development and training as well as archived for use on DoD community networks.

RoadMAP is a semi-automated road network extraction product which currently supports the analysis of panchromatic and color imagery. Integrating pan/LIDAR/MSS data under this contract will increase the level of automation of model creation for urban visualization while improving the results of feature extraction. Under this extension, TerraSim will add two additional levels of analysis to the RoadMAP process. The first, macro-level terrain analysis, uses LIDAR digital elevation model (DEM) data to aid scene interpretation, feature extraction, and visualization. Road network extraction is one example of macro-level terrain analysis. The second, micro-level terrain analysis, will fuse elevation and classification information to generate a traffickability map. Using this, coupled with the use of spatial context information, we can extract fine features, such as trees, cars, and light poles, usually found in cluttered urban environments

Wilson Harvey, senior computer vision scientist and co-principal investigator for this work explained, "We are excited to be a small part of the DARPA URGENT program and to be able to extend our current products to support LIDAR and multi-spectral processing."

Please contact sales@terrasim.com for more information on TerraSim source data preparation products or Urban Details™ database creation products.

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

NVIDIA to Sponsor New Stanford Parallel Computing Research Lab 
from nVidia
SANTA CLARA, CA – APRIL 30, 2008 – NVIDIA Corporation has announced that it is a founding member of Stanford University’s new Pervasive Parallelism Lab (PPL). The PPL will develop new techniques, tools, and training materials to allow software engineers to harness the parallelism of the multiple processors that are already available in virtually every new computer.

NVIDIA’s investment complements the company’s ongoing strategy to solve some of the world’s most computationally intensive problems with its market-leading GPUs and world-class tools and software. The company has enjoyed significant success to date with its Tesla™ line of GPU computing hardware solutions and, more importantly, with CUDA™ technology, its award-winning programming environment that gives developers access to the massively parallel architecture of the GPU through the industry-standard C language.

"Parallel programming is perhaps the largest problem in computer science today and is the major obstacle to the continued scaling of computing performance that has fueled the computing industry, and several related industries, for the last 40 years," says Bill Dally, chair of the computer science department at Stanford.

Until recently, computer installations delivering massive parallelism could only be deployed in large-scale computer centers with hundreds to thousands of separate computer systems. With the recent introduction of many-core processors such as the GPU and the multi-core CPU, most new computer systems come equipped with multiple processors that require new software techniques to exploit parallelism. Without new software techniques, computer scientists are concerned that rapid increases in the speed of computing could stall.

From fundamental hardware to new user-friendly programming languages that will allow developers to exploit parallelism automatically, the PPL will allow programmers to implement their algorithms in accessible, "domain-specific" languages while at deeper, more fundamental levels of software, the system would do all the work for them in optimizing the code for parallel processing.

"NVIDIA has been tackling parallel computing challenges since its founding and, as a result, the GPU has evolved into an incredibly powerful processor, capable of running thousands upon thousands of concurrent operations," said David Kirk, chief scientist at NVIDIA. "We applaud, and are proud to be a part of, Stanford University’s formation of the PPL and its mission to push the software industry to expose the inherent parallelism in today’s computers." 

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

Archaeologist Uses Satellite Imagery To Explore Ancient Mexico 
from GIS Development
  ScienceDaily (May 14, 2008) – Satellite imagery obtained from NASA will help archeologist Bill Middleton peer into the ancient Mexican past. In a novel archeological application, multi- and hyperspectral data will help build the most accurate and most detailed landscape map that exists of the southern state of Oaxaca, where the Zapotec people formed the first state-level and urban society in Mexico.

"If you ask someone off the street about Mexican archeology, they’ll say Aztec, Maya. Sometimes they’ll also say Inca, which is the wrong continent, but you’ll almost never hear anyone talk about the Zapotecs," says Middleton, acting chair of the Department of Material Culture Sciences and professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Rochester Institute of Technology. "They had the first writing system, the first state society, the first cities. And they controlled a fairly large territory at their Zenith – 250 B.C. to 750 A.D."

The process of state formation varied across the Zapotec realm. Sometimes it involved conquest, and other times it was more economically driven. Archeologists like Middleton are interested in different aspects of society that emerged in the process, such as social stratification and the development and intensification of agriculture and economic specialization.

Middleton’s study will explore how the Oaxacan economy and environment changed as the Zapotec state grew and then collapsed into smaller city-states. Funding from NASA and National Geographic will also help Middleton build a picture of how climate and vegetation patterns have changed over time.

"For the past 4,000 years, human activities have been a factor in environmental change," Middleton says. "And there are some parts of Mesoamerica that we have pretty good evidence that the environment we see today is the catastrophic result of ancient agricultural practices." Middleton will focus on two sites in the Chichicapam Valley located in between two of the major arms of the central valleys of Zapotec. The National Geographic-funded portion of the study began last summer when he documented important archeological sites and selected candidates for excavation.

Imagery from Earth Observing 1 and Landsat satellites obtained over three years will help Middleton identify the natural resources found at archeological sites. He will work with colleagues John Kerekes and David Messinger along with graduate student Justin Kwon in RIT’s Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science to analyze the large amounts of data taken at different wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum. Their own research uses similar techniques to analyze urban landscapes, and inspired Middleton to apply the technology to archeological landscapes.

Read that full story here
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A Recent Outing…

Abbot Point 
from VizMAP
VizMAP was recently engaged by the Queensland Department of Infrastructure and Planning to provide a visualisation of the proposed Abbot Point Coal Port Precinct

The visualisation was basically a phototexture on terrain visualisation of "what exists". This will be used for public consultation, flood mitigation modelling and planning.

The visualisation was based on 4.6Gb of mosaiced aerial orthophotography supplied in GeoTIFF and a 5m regular cell DEM in ESRI GridASCII format. 

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…

Childish superstition: Einstein’s letter makes view of religion relatively clear 
from The Guardian
"Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind." So said Albert Einstein, and his famous aphorism has been the source of endless debate between believers and non-believers wanting to claim the greatest scientist of the 20th century as their own.

A little known letter written by him, however, may help to settle the argument – or at least provoke further controversy about his views.

Due to be auctioned this week in London after being in a private collection for more than 50 years, the document leaves no doubt that the theoretical physicist was no supporter of religious beliefs, which he regarded as "childish superstitions".

Einstein penned the letter on January 3 1954 to the philosopher Eric Gutkind who had sent him a copy of his book Choose Life: The Biblical Call to Revolt. The letter went on public sale a year later and has remained in private hands ever since.

In the letter, he states: "The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this."

Einstein, who was Jewish and who declined an offer to be the state of Israel’s second president, also rejected the idea that the Jews are God’s favoured people.

"For me the Jewish religion like all others is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions. And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I have a deep affinity have no different quality for me than all other people. As far as my experience goes, they are no better than other human groups, although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything ‘chosen’ about them."

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 Country House
From Grime
At dawn the telephone rings, ‘Hello, Senor Rod?  This is Ernesto, the caretaker at your country house.’
‘Ah yes, Ernesto. What can I do for you?  Is there a problem?’
‘Um, I am just calling to advise you, Senor Rod, that your parrot, he is dead.’
‘My parrot? Dead? The one that won the International competition?’
‘Si, Senor, that’s the one.’
‘Damn! That’s a pity! I spent a small fortune on that bird. What did die from?’
‘From eating the rotten meat, Senor Rod.’
‘Rotten meat? Who the hell fed him rotten meat?’
‘Nobody, Senor. He ate the meat of the dead horse.’
‘Dead horse? What dead horse?’
‘The thoroughbred, Senor Rod.’
‘My prize thoroughbred is dead?’ 
‘Yes Senor Rod, he died from all that work pulling the water cart.’
‘Are you insane?? What water cart?’
‘The one we used to put out the fire, Senor.’
‘Good Lord!! What fire are you talking about, man??’
‘The one at your house, Senor! A candle fell and the curtains caught on fire.’
‘What the hell?? Are you saying that my mansion is destroyed because a candle ?? !!
‘Yes, Senor Rod.’ 
‘But there’s electricity at the house!!  What was the candle for?’
‘For the funeral, Senor Rod.’
‘Your wife’s, Senor Rod.  She showed up very late one night and I thought she was a thief, so I hit her with your new TaylorMade SuperQuad 460 golf club.’
‘Ernesto, if you broke that driver, you’re in some deep shit here!’ 
Smile... it's free.
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Letting you see where you stand…

Feel free to forward this to whomsoever you wish.
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…that’s all, folks. For now…