June 27, 2002


From the Editor
Tablet PCs and GIS
MapInfo Receives Rating Cut, Cuts 16 Employees
AT&T; Wireless Introduces Friend Finder

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The "old" PC EXPO is now named TechXNY (Technology Exchange Week New York) and still holds court at the Javitz center in New York City. The change of name is timely since the hot stories these days are not about "old" desktop PCs, but handheld PCs, mobile PCs and Tablet PCs, along with wireless connectivity.

Microsoft announced Tablet PCs about two years ago and the hardware is just coming on the market. Microsoft products designed for the Tablet PC are due later this fall on November 7th. From a quick look at the reviews, it seems that the weakness of the Tablet PC is its handwriting recognition (HR). Microsoft is the first to point out that HR is not the main purpose of the machine and is generally playing it down. David Coursey of ZDNet gives the Tablet PC's HR a big thumbs down, though he likes other aspects of the machine. One point he makes, that I sympathize with - the Tablet PCs only reads script, so those who print (like me) are out of luck. On the other hand, the operating system can be adjusted for right- and left-handed users.

Most vendors who have signed on to produce the hardware are hedging their bets with hybrid models that act both as a notebook computer, with a keyboard, and as a tablet, with the keyboard safely tucked away. There is a bit of a change in intent from the early announcements that touted the lack of keyboard to a more conservative approach that will speak to "traditional" notebook users and gently introduce the wonders of the tablet. To be fair, exclusively pen-based solutions (remember the Newton?) have not faired well in the market, so Microsoft is paying attention, even as it tries to find a new niche for its "new" software.

The tablet PC is expected to be a bit more expensive than a traditional notebook, about $2500 according to the New York Times. It will run a special version of Windows XP Pro with added tablet capabilities called Windows XP Tablet PC Edition, which can run all existing Windows apps.

So, what does the upcoming tablet PC mean for GIS? Intergraph, at its conference spoke about .NET but didn't speak specifically about tablets. A spokesperson noted that the platform is "under evaluation."

Autodesk's Vice President of GIS, Larry Diamond, an admitted gizmo person, feels the long battery life will be a big step forward for field users. Autodesk has already touted tablets as the appropriate hardware for non-GIS software such as Autodesk Architectural Studio, introduced this past winter. The other product associated with a tablet is OnSite View, which is touted for handhelds and tablets. A GIS group statement called the Tablet PC "an important technology for GIS." The group is "evaluating possible uses/solutions."

MapInfo Product Manager Moshe Binyamin notes that the company "does [not] develop or test for TABLET PC devices today, we have several customers that are using our products in that environment successfully." In the future MapInfo will be "looking at the .NET technology very closely which in turn will enable better support and integration with all platforms including the TABLET PC."

ESRI, in March, committed to supporting ArcGIS on the Tablet PC. It's interesting that conservative ESRI is the first major GIS vendor to commit to the new platform.

One of the reasons the Tablet PC may be a good choice for GIS is that applications are unlikely to require vast amounts of handwriting recognition. This may make the current limitations seem less significant. The Tablet PC may simply become a larger version of the iPAQ. I've heard many potential CAD/GIS users balk at the handheld due the size of its screen real estate. Will the larger screen of Tablet PC solve the problem? Will potential users of ArcPAD (ESRI), OnSite (Autodesk) and OnDemand (IntelliWhere) who said "no" to a handheld, say yes to comparable solutions on the Tablet PC? Stay tuned.

Tablet PC: You'll love it, hate it--or won't care (Coursey, ZDNet)

It's a Tablet. It's a Notebook. From Microsoft, a New Hybrid. (New York Times)

Windows Comes to Tablet PCs (PCWorld)

Autodesk Introduces Freehand Conceptual Design and Multimedia Communication with Launch of Autodesk Architectural Studio

ESRI Announces Support for the Microsoft Tablet PC

MapInfo received a blow on Monday when J.P. Morgan changed its rating from a "buy" to a "long term buy." The analyst didn't fault the company's execution but rather the state of the economy, especially in telecommunications arena. COO Mike Hickey noted in the Albany Business Review that the company is "in that business for the long term. We're very patient."

The same day the company announced that 16 employees involved in research and development were laid off. The headcount worldwide now stands at 690.

Hickey, who became COO in April, saw the company's 25% of revenue figure for R&D as significantly above the typical 15-17%. He chose that area for reduction. The good news: he does not expect any more cuts.

And there is more good news: MapInfo is number 97 on Fortune's list of the 100 fastest-growing small companies in America.

MapInfo Rating Cut to "long term buy" (CNET)

Fortune's List of 100 Fastest-growing Small Companies in America (Albany Business Review)

MapInfo Lays Off 16 Employees (Albany Business Review)

AT&T; this week began offering a friend finder service to customers in the US. According to AT&T;, this is the first such service in the States.

The service offers several features:

- You can search for up to 5 people at once;

- Once located, you can call or send a text message to the friend;

- With a friend's location in hand, the service will also find convenient local places to meet (coffee shops, book stores, etc.)

But, of course there are limitations - all geared to providing revenue to AT&T Wireless. All those who use the service must have a plan with AT&T Wireless and a GSM/GPRS phone. And, the users must be in AT&T Wireless GSM/GPRS coverage area. And, the phone must be on and the user must not be set to "invisible."

As for privacy, ATT&T does note that the network itself always has some information on a phone's location, but that this service stores no additional information. Further, an article in Wired offers that the location given is the friend's "street intersection." The Q&A part of the Find Friend site explains that its really the location of the cell tower that most recently communicated with the friend's phone. That location the site admits "could be right next to the phone or more than 10 miles away." The service is currently available in 15 metropolitan locations in the U.S., but is expected to cover most of the company's network by the end of 2002.

Wonder why the system has the ability to offer a good place to meet? In part it solves the problem of having to provide directions from one friend to another. AT&T directions are only available if at least one of the locations is an exact address. With two friends it simply has the two latest cell tower locations, so that doesn't qualify. If your friend is more that 125 miles away, the system cannot provide a suggestion as to where to meet.

I'll be curious to see if this takes off. I'm a skeptic. My current solution to find a friend is to simply call the person's cell phone and ask where they are.

AT&T; Launches People Finder (Wired)

AT&T; Find Friends

You can see
maps of inbound and outbound planes from Los Angeles International Airport on the Web. The site, aimed at tracking noise violations, gives anyone access to ten-minute delayed moving maps. The delay is for security, but also allows folks noticing noise overhead a chance to log-on and find the aircraft. There is also a three-month archive of past flights. Clicking on a plane provides its flight information, altitude, aircraft type and other information. Because of the size of the symbols, there is a disclaimer: Planes appear closer together than they actually are. Thanks to Larry at MIT for the tip.

Glenn Harlan Reynolds, writing at Tech Central Station, coins the term "version fatigue" noting that "almost every piece of software is different from its predecessor version." He argues that much of what one learns about a piece of software is useless when the new version comes out. He uses as examples modern electronics and in software the fact that the tricks we learned in DOS and Windows 95 that are no longer useful. "Version fatigue comes from the accumulated realization that most knowledge gained with regard to any particular version of a product will be useless with regard to future generations of that same product." Is that true in GIS software? The first software that I had an in-depth relationship with was AutoCAD. My sense is that I could sit down today in front of AutoCAD 2002 and key-in the commands I knew so well in 1989 and they'd work just fine. What about the move from ArcView 3.x to ArcView 8.1? The commands are not the same, but the concepts are certainly related.

Interested in how cameras are stabilized when used from helicopters? The New York Times reports on some new technologies available that use fiber-optic gyros instead of "old fashioned" gyroscopes. The gyros use bursts of laser light to calculate movements which are then corrected using magnetic torque motors. These tools are currently in use in law enforcement helicopters, but the real demand is from another sector. No, it's not the military, it's broadcast news! The American Civil Liberties Union has some privacy issues with law enforcement using it in everyday work without a warrant.

Wearable communications devices are getting a new twist. Two research associates from MIT Media Lab Europe are showing off a tooth implant that receives digital signals from radios and mobile phones in an exhibit at the Science Museum in London. Two thoughts: Is there room for a GPS chip? And, didn't they do that on Gilligan's Island?

Japan's largest mobile operator, NTT DoCoMo, plans to roll out global positioning system (GPS) phones by the end of this year in a bid to catch up with a major rival KDDI which has 1.4 million subscribers thus far.

Wired reports that the U.S. Census lost a few people in counting the population of Bellair Shores, Florida. The count: 0. The number of registered voters according to the town: more than 90. The number of houses according to the mayor: 52 with four under construction. The Census-takers did a recount. They found 63 houses and 75 residents.

Happy 7th birthday to the folks at the GeoCommunity! They've added a new geoimaging channel and generally spruced up the site for the occasion.

Ron Yekutiel, General Manager of Paradigm Advanced Technologies, Inc.'s Destinator division, confirmed that a manufacturing licensing and distribution agreement had been signed with MapLink Informatica Ltda in Brazil. According to the contract, MapLink serves as a licensed manufacturer and exclusive distributor of Paradigm's new co-branded navigation product for the Brazilian market, the 'MapLink Destinator Navigation System'.

Luciad will participate in the BRIDGE-IT (Bringing Innovative Developments for Geographic Information Technology) project. As part of the BRIDGE-IT initiative, Luciad will extend its core product, LuciadMap, by incorporating geo-server components that distribute geo-data from multiple data sources, via diverse applications. BRIDGE-IT is a shared cost endeavor initiated by the European Commission's IST program.

The Open GIS Consortium, Inc. (OGC) and the Earth Institute at Columbia University, New York, have signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at advancing the global information infrastructure and supporting multidisciplinary research in the Earth sciences and sustainability.

DCSE and ESRI announced that Map Library from DCSE has been selected as the online repository for the electronic versions of map displays that will be viewable at this year's ESRI User Conference. This year, all the displays and the information about them that are uploaded to Map Library will be viewable over the Internet.

MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates and Navitrak International Corporation announced that they have executed a Letter of Understanding to jointly pursue strategic business opportunities in the Military, Government Agency and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) markets.

COMEXCO, the country's largest hardware and system integrator, became the exclusive Bulgarian SICAD partner for the implementation and development of GIS applications and solutions.

TimesTen Inc. announced that TeleCommunication Systems, Inc. (TCS), a developer of wireless location and messaging software, has signed an agreement to become an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) reseller of TimesTen's real-time event processing system.

RMSI Hyderabad has been awarded the ISO 9001:2000 certification.

LocatioNet partnered with Telecommunication Systems (TCS). The combined TCS/LocatioNet offering will allow wireless carriers to locate their wireless subscribers using the TCS Xypoint solution, enabling LBS over the LocatioNet middleware.


The Truckee Meadows Water Authority (TMWA) in Reno, Nevada purchased multiple GS50+ receivers from Leica Geosystems' GIS & Mapping Division to create an accurate GIS of its water facilities infrastructure.

NearSpace, an innovator in handheld applications, announced that it is developing a handheld PC EXPO Event Guide for Microsoft Corp. The PC EXPO Event Guide will contain exhibitor information and booth locations, interactive maps, as well session schedules for all TECHXNY conferences. The company's president and CEO Creighton Hoke spent 13 years at Autodesk before founding the company in 1999.

SchlumbergerSema announced it has signed a Real-Time Energy Management (RTEMS(SM)) contract with Austin Energy, a municipally-owned utility serving more than 336,000 customers in Austin, Texas. The contract is valued at approximately $30 million over 15 years. SchlumbergerSema was formed from a merger with Convergent Group in October 2000.

Telkom SA Ltd (Telkom), South Africa's leading communications company based in Pretoria, has selected Smallworld Network Inventory (software for use with the planning, building and subsequent maintenance of a fully integrated network inventory (information) system.

Rain Bird Corporation's Golf Division has released FREEDOM-Pad, a new application built on top of ESRI's ArcPad 6 software. The product gives golf course superintendents the ability to manage their irrigation control system databases from anywhere on their course.

Earth Resource Mapping announced that Intergraph Mapping and GIS Solutions has integrated native Enhanced Compressed Wavelet (ECW) support into their newest release of the GeoMedia product suite - version 5.0.

Maporama announced the launch of Maporama Property and Facility Management Solutions, the fifth module of the company¹s professional suite - Maporama Enterprise Solutions.

The GS50+ data collector from Leica Geosystems' GIS & Mapping Division is now available for purchase worldwide. The GS50+ is an upgrade to the GS50 with an added dual frequency engine and RTK capacity, which, when combined, provides quick and accurate 1 centimeter-level data collection results.

James W. Sewall Company released the Pipeline Open Database Standard (PODS) model in the ESRI ArcGIS 8.x Geodatabase environment. This implementation, which integrates the PODS relational database schema with ESRI's object-oriented database supports enhanced use of the Geodatabase, including multi-user capabilities, wizard-driven menus, and high-quality mapping.

MPSI Systems Inc. a global provider of spatial decision support systems and information services, today announced the release of a new, advanced retail analysis and modeling system called Retail Explorer Plus. Users can readily create, analyze and display standard or customized data, maps, reports, forms and photos and evaluate and predict consumer and retail store behavior. The product will be available July 1, 2002.

ESRI's BusinessMAP 3 is now shipping. Enhancements include: multilevel territories, US wide routing, "What's Nearby" feature, drawing tools, customizable toolbars, filter tool capability.

CellPoint Inc. announced a new SDK (Software Developers Kit) containing the first public version of MLP 3.0.0 (Mobile Location Protocol). The kit is available for free download.

CompassCom, Inc. introduced CompassTrac Mobile, a new software product that displays Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) information on a mobile computer in the field.

GDT's Dynamap/2000 version 12.0, U.S. Street Data, U.S. Street Map Service, and Canadian Street Map Service are now available on ESRI's Geography Network. Pricing for Dynamap/2000 is $15.00 for 1 ZIP Code and $10.00 each for multiple ZIP Codes. Also, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Q3 Flood Data is available for 1,293 U.S. counties, representing 76 percent of U.S. households. The FEMA data is $35 per county.

GeoConcept launched GeoConcept Pocket, its mobile GIS solution for Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs). The software is fully compatible with the rest of the GeoConcept product line and sells at E700.

Resource GIS and Imaging Ltd. (RGI) announced promotional price reduction of $US 300, $CDN 425, for all Orthorectified Landsat 7 scenes produced from raw Landsat 7 data archived by Natural Resources Canada, the Canada Centre for Remote Sensing (CCRS). The CCRS archive of raw Landsat 7 data for more than 64,000 Landsat 7 scenes, covers all of Canada, Eastern Alaska, most of the Continental USA and Northwest Cuba and is updated daily. The promotional price of $US 550 per ortho Landsat 7 scene, reduced from $US 850, will be available until July 31, 2002.

Karen Morley has been appointed Director of Product Management, Geospatial Imaging at LizardTech. Morley will guide the market specifications and productization of LizardTech's geospatial imaging. Morley was previously at Earth Resource Mapping and Autodesk.

Dakota Worldwide named Larry Salinas as Sr. Vice President and Managing Director of its East Coast operations. Salinas joins Dakota Worldwide from Pathmark Stores, Inc. where he had served as Vice President, Public Affairs and Market Research. Dakota provides data and expertise for the retail businesses.

Vicinity Corporation, provider of Web, wireless and speech-based enterprise location-based services, today named Steven Weinstein as chief technology officer.

Tele Atlas North America, the U.S. arm of digital mapping concern Tele Atlas NV announced that George Fink has been named president and chief operating officer. Fink will be responsible for the overall management of the Tele Atlas North America operations. Fink replaces president and COO Richard Selmeier who is pursuing independent business opportunities.

Mr. Joseph D. Cardinale has rejoined Boeing Autometric as the new GIS Solutions Department Manager.

Larry Konty has been hired as Chief Operating Officer for VARGIS, LLC. Prior to joining VARGIS, Konty was VP of Operations for Pixxures, Inc in Denver, CO and Director of Customer Service for Space Imaging in Lanham, MD.

James W. Sewall Company has hired Robert M. Anderson as Project Manager. He is a professional land surveyor.


June 26 - Autodesk to Trial Laser-Scan Technology
Laser-Scan is working hard to get its name out beyond its traditional UK borders. Hooking up with Autodesk would be a big step forward.

June 26 - ACUNIA Joins with Flemish Government on Telematics
With telematics very quiet in the US, it's good to know other countries are moving ahead, with government support.

June 25 - RSI's IDL Software Helps Map Forest Fires
IDL software is used to process and display satellite images in near-real time so that scientists, researchers, and the general public can evaluate the impact and status of fires in Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and Western Canada.

June 25 - RedVector.com & Professional Surveyor Magazine Launch Online "Dream Team" Courses
RedVector.com and Professional Surveyor Magazine announce the first release of online coursework. The first 10 courses are already available for purchase on RedVector.com. GIS courses will also be available in the future.

June 24 - RadioShack Picks geoVue for Forecasting
The company launched formally launched marketVue, a market planning and sales forecasting system. Early marketVue users include RadioShack, The Limited, Little Caesar´s, and Sterling Jewelers (parent company of Kay Jewelers and Jared).

June 24 - Book Eases Avenue to VB Conversion
Avenue Wraps, a $95 book addresses the most common 250 Avenue requests, and how to bring them into VB.

June 21 - David Rumsey GIS Site Wins Webby Award
The site is the first mapping and Internet GIS site to earn the Webby, which honors excellence in Internet technology and creativity. Tradition holds that winners can give a five-word speech. Said Rumsey, "maps are ultimate eye candy."

June 20 - ER Mapper Donated to UN Landmine Clearance Program
Earth Resource Mapping has donated two ER Mapper licenses to The United Nations Mission to Ethiopia & Eritrea (UNMEE). In the passed maps were distributed in hard copy. With ERM's compression, they are now distributed on CDs.


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