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Thursday, October 18, 2007

I’m still decompressing after three long days in Huntsville for Directions Media’s Rocket City Geospatial Conference. I’ve been reflecting on the presentations I saw there, several of which were basically demos. I found myself antsy as presenters went through the marketing/positioning slides that always preceded the demo. As the bullet points flashed and different parts of the system/software faimly/app were mentioned a little voice in my head kept screaming “What does it look like?” Strange thing: I already knew as I’d seen almost all of the software before!

So, that’s my question: If the “sexy” part of the presentation is the demo, how should a presenter best position it? Here are three options:

1) Some slides first, then the demo, then more slides
2) Demo first, then slides
3) Slides first, then demo

I think the vast majority of presentations I’ve seen at conferences (and webcasts from vendors) have used #3: slides first, then demo. Sometimes I feel like I’m being held captive since I want to see the “good part” but need to sit through the prep. I noted that at the FOSS4G demo theatre there was a “no powerpoint rule” and you had to show actual software. I also have to say that I never managed to see a presentation there, so I’m not sure how it went.

Still, I like the idea of being able to weave all that marketing/positioning into a live demo. My gut feeling is that good software should be able to “show” what pain it lessens, or what problem it solves. It’d be like hiding the vegetables in the spaghetti sauce, as some parents do. I suspect the audience would not even know they were eating their veggies!

by Adena Schutzberg on 10/18 at 02:02 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Platial (BETA) (do it yourself Google mapshups) has acquired FRAPPR (BETA) (put yourself on the map). Recall that Platial is funded by:

KeyNote Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Omidyar Network, Ram Shriram, Georges Harik, Jack Dangermon (sic), and Ron Conway among others.

I only hear of Frappr on Very Spatial where they do a weekly Frappr “shoutout.” While the “map yourself” site seems to have many users in communities (“Mythbusters with more than 30,000 members and Harley Riders with more than 18,000 members”) it has yet be part of a group I frequent.

I confess this, in my opinion, is not quite TomTom/Tele Atlas or Nokia/NAVTEQ type news.

- Press Release

by Adena Schutzberg on 10/18 at 12:58 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Ed. Note: First a caveat…our keynote speaker at the Rocket City Conference is a good friend and fellow runner so I’ll give you a biased and slanted perspective of his keynote presentation at the conference. Feel free to view his presentation though it won’t mean much without hearing his words to explain it.

Dr. John Christy of UAH, a nationally recognized and awarded scientist on global warming and a member of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, provided the basic numbers and therefore his interpretation of where the facts lead him on these highly charged and politicized issues. He doesn’t take money from the big energy companies as his research is funded only by government sources. But my opinions here are in no way to defend his interpretations. He doesn’t need my support nor my interpretation; he’s been through so many other "grinders" by the media and grilling by congressmen that the confidence in his numbers is unimpeded by mere opinions shoveled by media pundits like myself.

Here is what I found significant. Christy has a global view of human progress and the effects of energy availability on humanity. He’s not just concerned about the energy resources we expend; not just the debate on whether it is possible to legislate away global warming; and not whether CO2 should be labeled a pollutant. What I took away was that energy use will increase globally whether we increase fuel emission standards or not. We in the U.S. are significant users of energy because it is so readily available. That’s not the case in the rest of the world. We’re not ready to give up the SUVs even with the high price of gas. Are you? Are you willing to make the sacrifices? Will you lower your thermostat during the winter? Raise it in the summer? What will be your sacrifice to prevent global warming?

Christy was a missionary in Africa teaching physics in schools for several years. His perspective of energy use in countries with so little availability of energy is quite different. Energy is the responsibility of women who walk 3 miles each way every day to collect bales of wood to burn for cooking and sterilizing water. Children die because sometimes sterilization is impossible. He must find it ironic and disheartening to go before congressmen who bemoan our high-energy consumption and the cries of those who discern the loss of glacial ice as the only evidence that global warming will have catastrophic effects when he’s experienced first hand what it means to those who have so little and could benefit so much from some of the conveniences we so readily enjoy.

So while you can debate his interpretation (and even skeptical colleagues do not debate his research), remember to take off the big red, white and blue blinders first.

The other part of his presentation I enjoyed was his fundamental approach to research. “All science is Numbers” was his opening slide. “Count the polar bears” was another statement. Their population is rising contrary to what you might hear in the news. But his best statement was…“Climate is always changing.” That’s just a funny way of putting it right? We get so wrapped up in the concept that we don’t want our climate to change but in reality it is a dynamic phenomenon and always has changed (See slide #9). What do you always hear when you go to Texas (or Alabama or California)...if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes! I don’t mean to trivialize this concept but we are a bit schizophrenic sometimes when it comes to weather.

And then Christy pointed to the changes in the Central Valley in California. Indeed the weather has changed due to center pivot irrigation. He was asked to research the climate changes in this area. His statement to the governor when asked what to do about the changing environment…return the Central Valley to its natural conditions…turn it back to a desert! Whoa…that must have gone over big!

So, while we Americans like the thought of helping the environment, there are few of us ready to support it. But, by all means, write to your congressman and tell them you want an increase to the fuel tax and are willing to set your thermostats at 59 degrees this winter.

by Joe Francica on 10/18 at 09:46 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

“...the difference between GIS software from Google or Microsoft and DualAlign’s technology is that ‘while GIS software works with satellite imagery, i2Align works with images captured from any digital camera.’”

- Remy Arteaga, DualAlign’s CEO, in a press release touting his company’s new “touring” solution for realtors. The technology for these “walk down the street” tours has been used by NGA and sounds a bit like PhotoSynth.

by Adena Schutzberg on 10/18 at 09:13 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

The terms were not shared but the gist from TechRockies:

The deal calls for DigitalGlobe to offer Oracle customers real-time access to its image library, for incorporation into logistics, supply chain, mobile field services, business intelligence and asset management applications.

To be clear, that’s real time access to the imagery, not real time imagery.

- press release

by Adena Schutzberg on 10/18 at 08:58 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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