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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

I recall all the hoopla around ArcGlobe a few years back and point out now and again that its use doesn’t seem to have matched the hype. Then I run into it again. It seems the City of Yreka has set aside $10,000 to build an ArcGlobe 3D database of at least one part of its master plan. The vote was unanimous after a demo by a GIS company.

It doesn’t match the use of Google Earth, but it’s a start.

by Adena Schutzberg on 03/01 at 01:36 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

As a trial, the folks at Microsoft presented a live session outside Boston on Virtual Earth that was also carried via Live Meeting and a dial in conference call. The hope is to make it available online on demand, as well. The about 20 of us seated in Waltham, Mass (17 guys, 3 women, including myself) watched as the two presenters fiddled with phones and cables and such to get the session running. So far as I could tell there were 2 folks on the phone and 19 online.

The first part was an in intro to Virtual Earth by the Microsoft’s local developer evangelist, Thom Robbins. The second part, the down and dirty code part, was led by Don Sorcinelli
a Microsoft MVP, and local third party developer. He runs BostonPocketPC.

Based on the questions, I believe this was a group of programmers, not a group of geo-geeks. They did however manage to stump the Microsoft host on questions such as how a business gets in the Live Local listings, the source of imagery and the license agreement. I’m sure trying to be an evangelist for so many developer platforms is tough.

Sorcinelli did a nice job building up from a basic map to one with added functionality. Apparently he drew on Dr. Neil’s material on Via Virtual Earth, a semi-affilicated to Microsoft developer site. Though I didn’t completely follow everything, I felt pretty comfortable that I could copy some code and start mucking with it. (That’s how I learned AutoLISP and Avenue back in the day…)

The other reason for the event seems to be the announcement of a contest of VE apps. The winner takes home an XBox. I smiled when they asked how many people in the room would like to take home the prize and only a few of the many gray haired developers raised their hands. I’ve found no details about the contest; I left before they talked about it.

by Adena Schutzberg on 03/01 at 12:47 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share’s media blog describes Tech Soups new “mashup” site, the NetSquared Project, aimed at getting the tech savvy to help out the non-profit part of the world.

I like that non-profits are becoming a key part of every technology discussion these days, as is social change. I was lucky enough to run into a company called Social Change Online some years ago and now watch organizations like Allan Doyle EO/GEO, a non-profit aimed at supporting non-profits in geospatial area grow. One more plug in this space, the World Changing blog.

by Adena Schutzberg on 03/01 at 06:00 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

I pulled a few more facts about “Street Side” from other coverage on the Web:

“Currently, San Francisco and Seattle are the only cities covered, but ‘many more cities’ would be added by the time the feature is formally integrated into the Windows Live Local site this summer…” according to Sean Rowe, program manager for Virtual Earth paraprased at TechWeb.

Rowe has a blog post on “Street Side” at MSN Searh’s blog.

MSDN’s channel 9 did a little movie of the app.

A couple of people noted it’s all done via AJAX.

A WebPro News article notes that Microsoft blogger Robert Scoble says the idea came from pushing Amazon’s A9 imagery one step further. Further, a city worth of imagery takes about a month to capture.

by Adena Schutzberg on 03/01 at 06:00 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The technology preview from Microsoft went live a bit early (and as press person I got a heads up - thanks!). “Street-Side” has definite potential but suffered from some delays as I roamed the streets of Seattle.

The screen is split in half. The top is what you see and the bottom is where you drive. The display on the top shows three views - front, left and right. Depending on if you are walking, in a sports car, or a race car different “masks” display these images. The two cars have different “windows” and gadgets (like GPS navigation systems!), too.

On the bottom half you are presented with street, road and hybrid maps on views on which to drive. Steets offers a street map, road offers thumbnails of the images you’ll see above laid out along the streets and hybrid offers streets over imagery. You can drive by moving the mouse or using the keyboard arrow keys. I like the latter better as I’m not great with video games. You can spin the car around and make it go sideways, too. Kids will enjoy that! Frankly, I got a bit dizzy (as I’m prone to do in video games, IMAX theaters and the like) while exploring.

I do not believe the choice of “vehicle” impacts how fast you can go, but rather, the look of the screen (the masks noted above and the icon for your vehicle). In walk mode “you” are represented as a “radioactive hockey puck.”  Each mode (walk or car) has a viewshed shown on the lower portion outlining what area can be seen above.

The one limitation seems to be the speed at which the imagery for the top can keep up with your driving speed on the bottom. Many times I experienced a significant delay. (I’m on DSL.) I enjoyed looking at the parking garage signs out my window and seeing the tops of those same buildings from above on the driving pane. I could see Starbucks signs and can image “pre driving a route” in this sort of tool before heading to somewhere scary (like the city, where I try to avoid driving). Knowing to turn at the Starbucks or where the entrance to the parking garage is would certainly reduce stress.

Now, how well this offering scales to more cities (just bits of Seattle and San Fran are in the preview) and more users (I suspect usage was low when I visited) will be key in its success. How Microsoft plans to monetize it will also play a role. As a preview, there’s no way to “mashup” Street-side but in the future, perhaps that will be posssible.

by Adena Schutzberg on 02/28 at 01:22 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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