Thursday, December 29, 2005

Heavens Above

Happy Friday! Oops, it's not Friday for most of you. Sorry! I'll be enjoying another four day weekend tomorrow. I hope all of you enjoy your day at work. Anyway, we have a GIS User Group meeting here at the City today. If you do not have a similar group at your business I suggest you consider it. It is a great source for open communication.

If you're interested in satellites or astronomy, you should check out Heavens Above. Their aim is to provide you with all the information you need to observe satellites such as the International Space Station and the Space Shuttle, spectacular events such as the dazzlingly bright flares from Iridium satellites as well as a wealth of other spaceflight and astronomical information. They not only provide the times of visibility, but also detailed star charts showing the satellite's track through the heavens. All of their pages, including the graphics, are generated in real-time and customized for your location and time zone. I know this one is not directly related to GIS, but if you use GPS as a data collection tool you will probably be interested. Check it out at

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Nature Conservancy

Hola! I have decided to take Friday off so that I could have one more four day weekend. I need more time off to mentally prepare myself for another year. I just hope that the coming year will be as successful as this year has been!!

The Nature Conservancy has been using GIS for more than a decade. Their usage has grown exponentially as geospatial technologies and data have become more accessible and more capable of meeting their diverse needs. GIS is currently used at all levels of the organization from executives to interns, and across the majority of their functional departments and widely distributed operating units. GIS has become a critical tool for internal planning, analysis and information management. It is also used extensively to produce maps, reports and statistics for external communications and fundraising. GIS assists conservation practitioners in every phase of TNC's Conservation Process. Primary GIS functions of map production, spatial analysis, and data management are woven throughout the four stages of the Conservation Process: Ecoregional Planning > Site Conservation Planning > Conservation Action > Measuring Success. You can also find maps, data and much more information on how the nature conservancy uses GIS at

Tuesday, December 27, 2005


Good Morning! I hope everyone had a nice Holiday weekend. I did well with the loot I received. I got some new globes, a new atlas, a book on Civil War maps and a really cool picture of Richard Nixon bowling (only true Big Lebowski fans will understand). With the New Year quickly approaching I will be contemplating what my New Year's resolutions will be and how many points the Longhorns are going to beat USC by (I'm thinking at least 14). Have a great week!!

DataPlace aims to be your one-stop source for housing and demographic data about your community, your region, and the nation. The site not only assembles a variety of data sets from multiple sources, but it also provides tools and guides to assist you in analyzing, interpreting, and applying the data so you can make more informed decisions. DataPlace provides easy access to data at geographic scales ranging from the neighborhood to the nation. The site currently contains data from the 1990 and 2000 Censuses (demographic, economic, housing, and social characteristics), Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (home mortgage applications and loans), Section 8 Expiring Use database (neighborhood- and property-level data on federally assisted housing at risk of loss), and Consolidated Plan special tabulations (data on housing needs by household income level). DataPlace's data library will expand in the coming months to include information on topics such as business establishments from the Census Bureau's ZIP Business Patterns database and Low-Income Housing Tax Credit developments from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. DataPlace also provides a powerful yet simple mapping tool that allows you to produce colorful thematic maps with just a few clicks of the mouse. You can customize a map's appearance by selecting different color schemes or interval ranges for your themes and save the results to a PDF file. Future enhancements to the mapping tool will allow you to define your own market area by selecting groups of census tracts, counties, or states and upload your own data for mapping in conjunction with data already provided on DataPlace. Check it out at

Thursday, December 22, 2005

NORAD Tracks Santa

Good Morning! This will be my last post until next Tuesday. My beautiful Polynesian Princess and I leave for Austin in the morning and then off to Dallas on Christmas morning. We will cover many miles, but it is all well worth to spend the Holidays with our families. Please have a wonderful and safe Holiday and remember it is better to give than to receive.

The GIS User Blog pointed out a great site the other day. NORAD, the bi-national U.S.-Canadian military organization responsible for the aerospace defense of the United States and Canada, has been tracking Santa for 50 years. The tradition began after a Colorado Springs-based Sears Roebuck & Co. store advertisement for children to call Santa on a special "hotline" included an inadvertently misprinted telephone number. Instead of Santa, the phone number put kids through to the CONAD Commander-in-Chief's operations "hotline." The Director of Operations, Colonel Harry Shoup, received the first "Santa" call on Christmas Eve 1955. Realizing what had happened, Colonel Shoup had his staff check radar data to see if there was any indication of Santa making his way south from the North Pole. Indeed there were signs of Santa and children who called were given an update on Santa's position. Thus, the tradition was born. So, how do they do it? It all starts with the NORAD radar system called the North Warning System. This powerful radar system has 47 installations strung across Canada's North and Alaska. NORAD makes a point of checking the radar closely for indications of Santa Claus leaving the North Pole on Christmas Eve. This Christmas Eve watch NORAD track Santa at Have a Merry Christmas!!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Google Transit

I'm recovering nicely from our Holiday party at my supervisors' house. It was a great time!! I even came away with an electric flyswatter (you don't see one of those everyday)!

Google is at it again!!! Google Transit could change the way we travel and hopefully increase our need for public transportation. Do you live in or near a city? Want to go someplace—to the airport, to dinner, to work every day—and not worry about the hassles and expense of driving and parking? Google Transit Trip Planner enables you to enter the specifics of your trip—where you're starting, where you're ending up, what time of day you'd like to leave and/or arrive—then uses all available public transportation schedules and information to plot out the most efficient possible step-by-step itinerary. You can even compare the cost of your trip with the cost of driving the same route! At the moment they are only offering this service for the Portland, Oregon metro area, but they plan to expand to cities throughout the United States and around the world. Check it out at!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


Good Day! I have been running late all morning. I hope I am not playing catch-up all day. No worries because we have a FOUR DAY WEEKEND coming up!!

Geocaching (pronounced "geocashing") is an entertaining adventure game for gps users. Participating in a cache hunt is a good way to take advantage of the wonderful features and capability of a gps unit. The basic idea is to have individuals and organizations set up caches all over the world and share the locations of these caches on the internet. GPS users can then use the location coordinates to find the caches. Once found, a cache may provide the visitor with a wide variety of rewards. All the visitor is asked to do is if they get something they should try to leave something for the cache. You can find out much more at Have fun and safe geocaching!!!

Monday, December 19, 2005


Somebody has a case of the Mondays!! Luckily it's going to be a short week and I only have three Holiday parties to attend. That's not including the two in Austin and Dallas with the family over the weekend. You have got to love this time of year!!

If you have never used ColorBrewer you need to check it out!! ColorBrewer is an online tool designed to help people select good color schemes for maps and other graphics. It is free and easy to use!! Just follow the "Step1", "Step2" etc. boxes and you'll be creating attractive color schemes appropriate to the nature of your data in seconds. ColorBrewer is a color diagnostic tool - not an online GIS. You cannot load your own data into ColorBrewer. Instead, use their maps to "test drive" a given color scheme to see if it suits your mapping needs. You'll need the free Flash plug-in for you browser if you don't already have it. ColorBrewer was designed by Cindy Brewer, a professor at Penn State University, who just released a book titled "Designing Better Maps: A Guide for GIS Users". Check out ColorBrewer at

Friday, December 16, 2005


It's Friday!!! I hope to get my Christmas shopping completed and catch up on some much needed sleep this weekend. Don't forget that this is a great time of year to donate your time or money to local charities. We can all give more!

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has created a great site. WildFinder helps you find where wildlife live. You can search by place to see what species live there, search by species to see where they live, or select and print a quick-map of global diversity patterns. WildFinder is a map-driven, searchable database of more than 26,000 species worldwide, with a powerful search tool that allows users to discover where species live or explore wild places to find out what species live there. Containing information on birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians, WildFinder is a valuable resource for scientists, students, educators, travelers, birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts alike. Check it out at

Thursday, December 15, 2005

A GIS Christmas!!

I am officially an ESRI Authorized Instructor for ArcGIS I! I must admit that the process was more difficult than I first thought. Anyway, if you know anyone that needs training here in Texas let me know.

Only 10 shoping days to Christmas!! Trying to find something "special" for that "spatial" person? How about a cool GIS t-shirt that says "Mapster" from Or possibly a new book from ESRI Press (you can find most of them cheaper on Amazon) or the full length GIS video "World in a Box" at You could always go with a reproduction of a historical map at or Even better would be the latest and greatest GPS from If you are light on the funds you could always download some free data from Enjoy the map of Christmas Island, I felt that it was appropriate. Have a Merry Christmas!!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


Good Morning! If you haven't seen this month's GeoWorld you should check it out. Their is a great article titled "Industry Outlook 2006". You can also find it here

Wow!! Map24 is cool! Where to start? First, you can choose from detailed maps of Europe, North America, Brazil and the Middle East. Once you have choosen a map you can search for an address or create detailed driving directions (including multiple stops). is a fully interactive map, based on a special internet protocol for vector map streaming, named MapTP, which allows incredible animated zooms from continental view down into city level. Any result list of searches leads is interactive as well and leads to animated map jumps showing each location as you click them. shows the full power of client side JAVA! The driving directions can even be modified for speed, path, etc. After you have mapped a route you can even watch it like a movie. Check it out at

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Map Sex Offenders

Howdy! I counted yesterday and I have six different Holiday related functions to attend here at the City. Wow! I can guarentee that my New Year's resolution is going to include excercise and a diet. I can already feel the pain!!

This is an excellent site for all!! is part of Orbizon Inc., a privately owned web development and technology company based in Orem, Utah committed to building interactive, easy to use websites that aid users in a variety of ways. The purpose of the site is to inform the general community of sex offenders in their area in a straightforward way. Sex offender registries have been on the internet for many years, but they are hard to find and even more difficult to use. is simply a map so that the data can be easily viewed. Each sex offender is highlighted on the map and you can zoom in to view the offender, address, and other information. The map also links to the state registry for additional information such as the vehicles offenders drive and their convictions. Parents concerned about their neighborhood or those who are moving can use this free service to make sure they are in a safe neighborhood. maps all sex offenders in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, DC, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming. It is their goal to map all 50 states in an interactive, easy to use design. We are going to create a link to their site from our Police website and I will never move into a new place without checking this site first. Check it out at

Monday, December 12, 2005

Windows Live Local

It's been a Monday! I am trying to catch up from being out Thursday and Friday. It was worth it because this years SCAUG conference is going to be great! We are also going to have a great year with ETUG. I have big plans now that I'm president. I'll tell you more in the near future.

Virtual Earth has a new name, a new look and new features. Virtual Earth is now called Windows Live Local and inlcudes an incredible amount of new images, enhanced features, and new ways to find what you're looking for. Some of the new features include Bird's Eye Images (Pictometry), Driving Directions, Custom Pushpins, New Mouse Features and Scratch Pad Updates. It sounds as if Google Maps has some competition. I also like that they have better aerial photos in areas than Google Maps. Check it out at

Friday, December 09, 2005

GIS Librarian???

Happy Friday! As you can see this post is very early. I am on my to Dallas (McKinney) for a SCAUG meeting. It is going to be a long day, but what are you going to do when you live in the sticks. I am also the new president of ETUG as of yesterday. We also have the big work holiday party this Saturday. It should be fun!! What a busy week. Have a great weekend!!

GIS Librarian?? When I heard this term the other day I wasn't sure what to think. So I did a little research. A GIS Librarian is a library professional with knowledge of GIS data models, concepts, techniques, technologies, and information and library science, and who can apply this knowledge
in collecting, organizing, disseminating, and preserving geographically referenced data, providing general help in GIS reference and in displaying geospatial data. That makes sense to me. Wouldn't it be cool to walk into your public library in the future and ask to speak to the GIS Librarian. You never know?!?!? An example of a GIS Librarian today is at the University of Texas at Arlington. You can find out more at The GIS Librarian there, MAPZ, also has a great blog. It is loaded with all sorts of information and great ideas. Check it out at

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Open Geospatial Consortium

Good Morning! I get to work from home part of the day today since I have a meeting near my house. It was good timing because it is cold and icy in places. What a change from this past weekend when I was wearing t-shirts. Have a good day and stay warm!!

The Open Geospatial Consortium, Inc. (OGC) is a non-profit, international, voluntary consensus standards organization that is leading the development of standards for geospatial and location based services. Through their member-driven consensus programs, OGC works with government, private industry, and academia to create open and extensible software application programming interfaces for geographic information systems (GIS) and other mainstream technologies. Adopted specifications are available for the public's use at no cost. Check them out at

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Degree Confluence Project

Good morning!! I hope everyone is getting caught up with work as the Holidays approach. I know that at this time of year the workload seems to lighten a little. I'm sure as soon as I say that the work will rain down on me. I sure hope not :()

The Degree Confluence Project is a cool idea that I ran across the other day. It seems it has been going on for some time. The goal of the project is to visit each of the latitude and longitude integer degree intersections in the world, and to take pictures at each location. The pictures and stories are then posted on the website. The project is an organized sampling of the world. There is a confluence within 49 miles (79 km) of you if you're on the surface of Earth. They have discounted confluences in the oceans and some near the poles, but there are still 11,932 to be found. You can help find one and add a picture at

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Where It's At...

Howdy! I have been trying to get ready for my busy week that starts tomorrow. I have my quarterly GIS Executive Committee meeting on Wednesday. The Executive Committee is like a steering committee for GIS here at the City. If you do not have something like this in your organization you might want to think about it. It sure is helpful. On Thursday we have a East Texas GIS/GPS User Group Meeting (ETUG) in Lufkin and on Friday we have a South Central Arc User Group (SCAUG) conference planning meeting in Dallas. I will survive!!

"Where It's At" is a website produced by the Spatial Sciences Institute Young Professionals who are a group within the Spatial Sciences Institute in Australia and New Zealand. The site includes a 'Where It's At... Newsletter' and 'Where It's At... Podcast' with content being sourced from many individuals and groups within the spatial information industry in Australia and New Zealand. Renee Bartolo and Paul Barnett are the current producers and presenters of the Podcast. You can even subscripe to the podcast on Itunes (search for spatial). Check it out at

Monday, December 05, 2005


I hope that your weekend was as great as mine. We enjoyed the company of friends and saw an excellent Christmas parade and fireworks. It even included a woman riding a Longhorn (only in East Texas). I guess it was fitting since our Texas Longhorns are Big 12 champions and will be competing in January for the national championship. Good job Longhorns!!!

Cubicworld intends to be a forum that links mature or postgraduate students of Remote Sensing and GIS with companies or institutions of the same field to enhance communications within this growing community. Students are represented in an interactive database that shows their qualifications, interests, and contact address. Companies and institutions can present themselves, their work and current internships or job vacancies. Cubicworld is open to everybody who intends to work or offer work in the field of remote sensing and GIS. There is no cost for either side and the entire site is free of commercial advertising. Check it out at

Friday, December 02, 2005

World Wind

Happy Friday! We have big plans for the weekend, the annual Christmas parade is Saturday in Nacogdoches. Ha! Not much else going on. I look forward to a weekend at home. Have a great one!!

Google Earth has competition?? I didn't know it either until a coworker pointed me towards NASA's World Wind. Actually, I'm not sure you can call it competition since World Wind is open source and completely free. To see how the two differ check out this comparision. World Wind lets you zoom from satellite altitude into any place on Earth. Leveraging Landsat satellite imagery and Shuttle Radar Topography Mission data, World Wind lets you experience Earth terrain in visually rich 3D, just as if you were really there. Virtually visit any place in the world. Look across the Andes, into the Grand Canyon, over the Alps, or along the African Sahara. World Wind leverages Microsoft .NET technology for rapid development and to easily access open standards such as XML, WMS, and other graphics standards. Real-time 3D graphics are driven by DirectX allowing a wide base of compatibility with accelerated video hardware. Primary data sources come from NASA, and TerraServer-USA of Microsoft Research. Oh yeah, it also comes with World Wind Moon so you can explore the Moon too!!! Check it out at

Thursday, December 01, 2005


This week is flying by! Before we know it will be Christmas. I will be adding a section to out intranet site here at the City to store .pdf's of maps. That way anyone in the City can print a 8.5X11 of existing maps or see what we have to request a larger version. This will also save other GIS users in the City time in map creation as well. Why reinvent the wheel?

SlashGISRS is an excellent user-driven ad-free non-commercial website for news and discussions about GIS and Remote Sensing. As they state on their site "SlashGISRS is a bridge across space and time to gather the community of the geospatially interested". It is open. Free to read. Free for anyone to share thoughts and ideas. Its content comes from the users. SlashGISRS is slash-based, meaning the content is filtered by members so only the most valuable tidbits reach the casual reader. Check it out at

Planet Geospatial - News - The complete GIS, LBS, and Geospatial Technology Resource

A VerySpatial Podcast