Tuesday, March 14, 2006

NASA confirms global warming

Satellite surveys of Greenland show melting of the ice sheets is accelerating. What is unique is that NASA is now confirming that this is being caused by global warming.

In the press release, NASA states:
"If the trends we're seeing continue and climate warming continues as predicted, the polar ice sheets could change dramatically. The Greenland ice sheet could be facing an irreversible decline by the end of the century."

Meltwater flowing into a moulin in the Greenland ice sheet.
Photo by Roger J. Braithwaite, The University of Manchester, UK.

Not to be alarmist, but we're in deep trouble in the next century.

It is beyond time for us all to take out heads out of the sand and do something positive to help mitigate the effects of this unavoidable catastrophe. At least in your own personal lives, please do something to reduce your reliance on fossil fuels, purchase fluorescent lights for your home (you can find them for about $1 each), bicycle to work, start a garden, vote Democrat.

New version of CosmoSaver

I've just released CosmoSaver 1.52 for anyone who may be reading this little blog.

CosmoSaver is a 3D screen saver that tours our solar system and 29 of the major moons. All of the planet and moon positions are within 1 arcsecond of accuracy. The rotations are supposed to be accurate too, at least they are for the earth, for the many moons does it really matter?

You can try out a free demo version at cosmosaver.com

I am planning on incorporating the solar system into the next version of EarthBrowser with much higher resolution versions of earth, mars and the moon. If I am a programming god, I'll make a cool sun model with flares and everything, but that is yet to be seen.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Is EarthBrowser a mashup?

EarthBrowser takes data from disparate sources and displays them on a 3D globe. I'm not sure what the exact definition of a "mashup" is, if there even is one. I think it is something like a service that draws together one or more sources of data and uses a mapping API to display them. Does the definition of a newly coined word like that really matter, or is it the underlying concept that is being labeled what is really important.

EarthBrowser certainly doesn't use an external mapping api, however it's internal program structure provides it's api. Are those KML files created independently by people defined as a mashup? My guess is they are not, but why not? Does a mashup require display on a web page, i.e. a web browser as a display mechanism? That seems overly restrictive. Perhaps it requires the logic being applied to the data through server scripts preparing it for final display. Google Earth with KML generally just displays static data, but it certainly can allow that through KML via a network link. Perhaps that is why so many in the geospatial community are excited about the network link in KML. It allows Google Earth to display live data, albeit in a pretty hacked up way.

I submit that the current definition of a "mashup" is a somewhat misleading goalpost for the amateur GIS community. The underlying concept of displaying location based information is much broader than what is contained in the current crop of mapping APIs. Also the restriction of server based processing of data is one that isn't an inherent restriction, there just aren't any tools to do general geoprocessing on the client side. Yet.

Update: I forgot about ArcExplorer which is supposed to have a pretty decent set of client side geoprocessing tools. That's what I get for trying to post when looking after a toddler and 6 week old...