Just read on All Points Blog that ArcGIS 9.2 will be ESRI's biggest release ever. Nevermind the version number. In my humble opinion, if Dangermond really wants to get customers fired up he should go to 11.
Mapnik 0.3.0 is released. Mateusz Loskot and Matt Perry are also now blogging mapnik news, so that makes four of us. I think I'm still the only one regularly blogging MapServer releases. This doesn't mean that mapnik is developing at four times the rate of MapServer, but perception -- particularly in the blogosphere -- can often trump reality. The MapServer project really ought to make a little more noise.
In a comment on his blog, Andrew Hallam asked if there is a correlation between use of open source and high quality cartographic output. Only in that everybody, commercial or open source, likes high quality cartography. What's new is that there is more and more competition in the open source domain lately. The MapServer project has been content with the venerable GD library, and it wasn't until I began blogging about an Agg-based renderer for PCL, and the emergence of mapnik, that other MapServer developers started to become interested at all in using Agg or Cairo. Even the most conservative open source projects must respond quickly to competition and ever-rising expectations. I expect improvements in cartographic quality from open source applications to accelerate.
Via Igor Tavella, check out the livecam at the stage 17 finish line. The final 5.5 km climb to this summit was cut from the race today, as was the very top of the preceding climb, Passo delle Erbe. Sadly for us fans, there were no Hampstenean feats in the Giro today.
Piepoli wins the stage, with Basso immediately behind. From all reports it was a miserable day of riding.
Tomorrow's 17th stage of the Giro d'Italia finishes with a 1260 meter climb to Plan de Corones. In their never-ending quest to make the Giro the most macho of all stage races, the organizers are grading and resurfacing an alpine ski area's service road. Some stretches of the final grade, which averages 12%, run immediately parallel to the lift line. Rumor had it that some of the hairpin turns would reach 24% grade, and all but the hardiest of climbers would be walking their bikes up an gravel trail to the finish. Igor Tavella has a video of the climb, and it's clear that the route's surface is much improved over last year's gravel road to the Finestre. Still, it's high enough and steep enough to be another classic.
Igor has also made a KML file available for download.
What do you know: our first severe weather warning of the season. A band of thunderstorms is headed up I-25. Better get the quilts and comforters ready.
I must say that the new NWS radar web app is almost as bad as the prospect of losing my garden to hail. It's too clever by far, slow to load, and sporadically takes down my browser (Firefox). I thought AJAX was going to kill crappy applets forever, but apparently word hasn't gotten to everyone yet. The previous incarnation of the page worked just fine for me, and I'm missing it now.
Update: dodged that bullet! Also, a reader points out in the comments that I overlooked a link to the "classic" NWS radar pages.
URISA, the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association, has weighed in on the Federal Geospatial LoB RFI. In section 2.4 (page 15), the authors state:
"No New Funds": Not Realistic.
They have plenty of other serious recommendations as well. I don't agree with all of them, but I do appreciate their objection to rigid, top-down, governance, and emphasis on investment in geospatial infrastructure.
URISA's document mentions FEMA, but doesn't get into particulars. Here's the deal with FEMA: One of the Federal Government's most appreciated entities was reorganized into the Department of Homeland Security, where, through a combination of revolutionary thinking, cost-cutting, and cronyism, it was completely eviscerated. Congress is now discussing whether the agency should be given a burial. Could we be seeing another application of the same anti-patterns to our geospatial domain? Revolutionary thinking is clearly at work in the LoB: "Think big, propose big ideas". The cost-cutting is there, too. The Reverse Midas Touch is so common in the Federal Government these days that it's hard to be optimistic. I'm hoping that the GSA gets many more responses like this one from URISA; our geospatial infrastructure needs to be led by sober practitioners rather than by visionaries and revolutionaries.
Update: to avoid confusion, understand that the editorializing about FEMA and the Reverse Midas Touch is mine, not URISA's.
The biggest cycling stage races of the year are upon us, and that means that the TDF Blog bumps Planet Geospatial from the top of my blogpile. Last year I reviewed the official 89th Giro and 93rd Tour maps, but there's no significant changes this year: the Giro map is a little more brown, the Tour map remains the same gold.
The TDF Blog points out that the Tour route is emerging on Google Earth Hacks. By next year, the designers of the race websites will have realized that they need to supplement their drab itineraries and profiles with KML files.
Gabbo-like buzz for ArcGIS Explorer is building again (here for great picture). Does ESRI really need such an application to stay competitive, or is it more of a vanity project? I'll be an ArcGIS user again, but only on the desktop, and for selfish reasons I'd like to see the company not expend resources building a geospatial cathedral. On the other hand, an ArcGIS Explorer that is a viable alternative to Google Earth and WorldWind could help convince people that ESRI really gets the modern web platform.