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Sunday, January 22, 2006

At the SD Forum in Santa Clara, California Mr. O’Reilly, Sun Microsystems’ Simon Phipps and IBM’s Rod Smith participated in a panel on open source. First off, the three apparently refused to narrow the definition of open source (The Register), giving a sort of “it means whatever you think it means.” For example, anyone who uses Apache, they argued, is part of the open source community. That of course would include Microsoft which is oft reported to use open source technology in dribs and drabs in its empire. (Now, who would want to be part of a club that included Microsoft? Groucho would have a field day!)

More relevant to the geospatial world was the O’Reilly’s statement, “Google Maps is the new open source,” which followed the suggestion that Google is a great example of an open source company because it uses vast Linux server farms to build and deliver software services to customers. The writer at the Register felt O’Reilly was referring to Google’s “more open” interface allowing more users to create mashups than on Yahoo’s or Microsoft’s platforms.

If publishing an interface is all it takes to be open source than I’ll offer that Mr. O’Reilly did indeed redefine open source, or at least the “new open source.”

by Adena Schutzberg on 01/22 at 06:00 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Friday, January 20, 2006

Red Herring reports that Autodesk’s technology will be inside Verizon’s kid tracking technology called Verizon Chaperone. (I like the name - a bit less “big brothery” than many.) It’s one of six to eight location-based services from the company expected before summer.

Autodesk has been working on this particular service for some 18 months and Verizon has been very wary, looking to maintain privacy. “Mr. Astroth said Verizon Wireless’ Chaperone will have three options that a parent can choose for the service: ‘always track,’ ‘ask to track,’ and ‘deny tracking service.’ Different options can also be set to coincide with days of the week, or times of the day.”

According to the article, Autodesk also powers Nextel’s and Sprint’s location-based services, though I hear very little about that.

by Adena Schutzberg on 01/20 at 03:26 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

I read a job posting today that read in part: “Design and develop end-user tools and application using ESRI or ESRI-like GIS products.”

I find that amusing. My mind runs amuck:

“Mechanic wanted to work on Ford and Ford-like cars.”

“Baker wanted to create pastry with King Arthur and King Arthur-like flour.”

“Carpenter wanted to build cabinets from wood and wood-like materials.”

How would you have written that ad? I’d have said “Design and develop end-user tools and application using GIS products.” And perhaps, if I felt the need to say ESRI, “Design and develop end-user tools and application GIS products (ESRI, MapInfo, etc.).”

by Adena Schutzberg on 01/20 at 03:19 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

RadarGolf uses BPS to help you find your lost golf ball. The ball holds an RF chip and the user carries a radar device to track it down. Interestingly, the balls do not contain different chips, so there’s no way to determine if you’ve found your RadarGold ball or someone else’s. When close to ball, the handheld sends a signal that’s reflected by the ball, saying “I’m here.”

I’m no golfer, but apparently the USGA gives you just 5 minutes to find a ball before you are penalized. This $449 system - and you must use their balls ($39.95/dozen) - ideally solves that problem.

by Adena Schutzberg on 01/20 at 12:45 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Yesterday, another article appeared in the mainstream press about the virtues of location technology. This time, the Wall Street Journal published an article entitled, "Software Is Close to Putting Users On the (3-D) Map," which meandered banally: Maps on cell phones…find me the Starbucks, 3-D maps.

What? I’m not sure what the editor told writer Ann Keeton what the focus of the artcles should be, but it served little other than to highlight three disparate companies that did something peripheral to 3-D mapping and which did not tie well at all to the graphic that accompanied the article: a cell phone with a photo of a city street on its display and a caption saying, "You Are Here." Silicon Graphics, Harris Corporation, and Planet 9 Studios were the companies mentioned but there was absolutely no relationship between these companies and the mobile location technology that was discussed at the outset of the article.

Was the article about mobile technology or 3-D mapping…or maybe 3-D mapping on the phone? I think the later. However, I would hope that the WSJ would, in the future, try to discuss how these companies will propose sound business models for why it makes sense to have 3-D technology on a mobile device and those business models that auger success. In fairness, the article also mentioned Google Earth and Microsoft’s Live Local as those offering 3-D mapping online, I suppose because those are the companies that are supposed to get all the ink. But next time, let’s hope the mainstream business press, especially the Journal, will deliver something a bit more cogent.

by Joe Francica on 01/20 at 07:38 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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