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Friday, February 27, 2009

Driving your golf cart around Surprise, Arizona is fun until you find yourself on a highway or unable to cross a busy street. Enter the golf cart map, proposed by Councilman Richard Alton to help drivers of these vehicles get around safely. In fact, the map, useful to all, is simply a speed limit map; golf carts are safest on roads with speed limits under 35 mph.

- AZ Central

by Adena Schutzberg on 02/27 at 06:23 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

That’s the business model of Charles R. Carpenter who offers up scanned historic cadastral maps of the US on his company site, Historic MapWorks LLC. The pricing, per the site is complex and based on different prices for searching, printing and saving (as jpg or PDF). For now users include genealogists, title researchers, libraries and art galleries but the hope is to license the collection more broadly.

- Mass High Tech

by Adena Schutzberg on 02/27 at 06:08 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

“These developments are so new they are not on any maps. Not even Google.”

- NPR correspondent describing why a real estate buying tour bus got lost trying to find new developments outside Los Angeles. The story will be posted here later this morning.

by Adena Schutzberg on 02/27 at 06:03 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

The research, done by Cimex, explored how well UK crime maps are serving the public identified obstacles to government goals. The findings suggest “the current crop of crime maps is in fact leaving us more bewildered and confused than before.” (I’ve got an e-mail in asking who funded the study. More on that when I get an answer.)

The problems found:

- Information overload and sites with too many details
- Color coded maps or graphs that did not match
- Overcomplicated navigation & highly inconsistent wording
- Lack of interactivity in maps (whether for area selection or crime rates)
- Insufficient filters for users to narrow down the information
- Unclear time periods or missing points of reference
- Lack of comparison options that put the data into a meaningful context

Suggestions for improvement:

- Maps need to be informative and should be colour coded in a meaningful way.
- Maps and data should be connected to allow users to verify data and build trust.
- Users like to compare and require points of reference such as national averages, neighbouring areas or previous time periods.
- Interactivity enhances the user experience and should help users filter the information according to their preferences.

- press release

by Adena Schutzberg on 02/27 at 06:00 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Carl Bass, CEO of Autodesk, somberly began his quarterly call with investors and analysts by indicating his disappointment with the company’s quarterly and yearly report and said that the news was not at all what he is accustomed to delivering during investor calls. Bass however believes that Autodesk is positioned well for any potential investments as a result of the recently passed U.S. stimulus package. The company reported that their direct business held up better than that of their partner channel.

"All aspects of our business is being impacted by this slowdown," said Carl Bass, CEO. Declines in revenue were seen across all geographies. Bass said that emerging economies will be an opportunity after this economic downturn. But the company is going through a restructuring phase that includes a hiring freeze, travel restrictions and reduction in head count. The global economic environment has impacted Autodesk’s ability to forecast beyond the first quarter of the new fiscal year and they expect a loss for this quarter. The full benefit of restructuring will not be realized until the second quarter. Operating cash flow will be negative for the first quarter as well. The company expects their operating margins to increase throughout the coming year if the economic situation remains the same. Asked by an analyst if he could see a bottom to the market, Bass said that looking broadly on all the economic indicators, not just his sales, "I don’t really see any signs [of a bottom]."

When asked a "geography" question by an analyst who wanted to know what regions were not affected by the economy or were relatively strong, Bass joked that Antarctica and maybe Greenland were unaffected, "but perhaps not Iceland as we have seen." More seriously he noted that, "Maybe China or India…but I haven’t seen an unscathed territory out there." 

Asked about what the company might do with its cash position, Bass indicated that at these stock prices, the company monitors the situation and might consider a buy back of shares. Regarding possible acquisitions Bass said that, "Our tolerance for acquisitions has gone way down in this market."

Asked if he was considering a more drastic cut back in the company expenses and size given that the analyst asking the question believed that Autodesk could not sustain the revenue levels from the emerging markets, Bass conceded that he did not know what the appropriate level of his company’s size should be but would watch carefully during the current year. The same analyst thought that perhaps the company should return to levels seen in 2002 and not 2006 as Bass had indicated earlier in the call. Bass said, however, "We need to size this business considerably smaller."

by Joe Francica on 02/26 at 04:06 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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