Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Engagement Parties in the Park

After a brief conversation at the last meet-up I gathered that one of my friends was getting engaged, she currently lives in Melbourne so I was not sure where the party will be. Anyway I called up to congratulate her and got myself invited to the party.

This led to my first drive all the way to the city with my P-plates. I have been making a complete fool of myself driving on my own. I have called up RAA for the following reasons:
  1. I had not driven the car in ages and had a flat battery
  2. I had parked the car with the steering twisted and had no clue what a steering lock was.
  3. Best of all last night I left the parkers on and drained the battery and remembered in the middle of the night that I had done so. I went to the car , tried to start it and obviously it did not start so in frustration I got out and slammed the door shut with the keys inside.
In spite of all the drama and craziness I made it to the engagement. The photos are proof.

During the Christmas break I have also taught myself Python and used NumPy and Gdal Python bindings to some extent. It is surprisingly easy to use and powerful. I am looking forward to trying some of the object oriented features.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas and Reflections

Over the last couple of years my life has changed quite a bit. I was tempted to use the word "dramatically" but I think "soap operatically" is more fitting. The Christmas and New Year period has seen quite some topsy-turvy. I had a great big mess up in 2004 on boxing day, another one on 2005-2006 New Years Eve. These added salt to my life, taught me how to live and how to die and brought excitement and fears I had not experienced before. I grew up to see the world from a new perspective in these couple of years. Learnt to control my needs and to conquer my fears. 2006 has been quite a good year in terms of personal achievement and community achievement in the various open-source projects I have been privileged to be involved.

This holiday period has so far been quiet and happy, but I never know what surprise hides behind the next corner.

26th of December, a day to remember
The day I nearly died.
The Blue Morpho took flight
And taught me what is death and what is life.
Dont hold the butterfly in a cage
Let it free
Love is like sand, the tighter your grip
The more you let it slip

Merry Christmas to All

Thursday, December 21, 2006

After Graduation Party

Yesterday a lot of my friends doing Engineering and some other degree as a double degree graduated. So we had a small after graduation meet-up and it seemed to snowball into a reunion. After a few drinks I started ranting about World Wind and Google Earth and a few people tuned in, well they are all engineers anyway and everyone has an opinion.

A lot of them work in the defense industry and the pros and cons of data availability also popped up. It was fun and interesting. I got free beers after telling my sob story .... It's good to be in trouble. Just need the right friends to back you up.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Yahoo Maps, Nasa Worldwind Java and Lobethal Lights

It has been good the last few days. Worldwind 1.4 is getting massive publicity and views on You-Tube, just need to package it and release it. We also have the green light from Microsoft to package the Virtual Earth plugin in the default release with adequate license notice. This is shaping up to be a really data rich release with preliminary talks with Yahoo about them coming on board as Imagery suppliers, not just satellite but the massive archives they have built up on flickr.
This I guess will sort of add an on foot dimension to Worldwind.

I have also been running some design analysis on the Worldwind Java version under closed developement in NASA. So far the design looks consistent and good. With the addition of scripting support in Java 6. Plugin development for this platform seems like a reality.

On Sunday I had the first chance to have a stroll around Lobethal and look at the iconic Lobethal Christmas lights. I have not done this ever in the 3 years I have been working here. I am obliged to post a photo - of the state of our office during christmas. No wonder my boss hates the lights organizers.

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Finally I am Licensed to ... Drive and Smite WW haters

I had my final driving lesson/test today. All went well and I passed with 87% and got my competency certificate. I can finally drive on my own.

As expected there has been mixed reaction to Bull's digg and you-tube posts on Worldwind 1.4 Release. I am glad to be part of a team that people take notice of and bother to lynch or praise.

Check out the videos and digg the posts. I am not linking to them. Find them yourself. That's what Google is good for ... search power and making sense of a random web.

Nah I will link anyway.


Monday, November 27, 2006

Birthdays and Concerts

Another eventful weekend in Adelaide. It was a friends 24th birthday on Saturday and on the Sunday I ended up at the biannual French festival with a few very good musicians in the picturesque settings of Carrick Hill.

Isaac sure looks happy to be 24. Check out the relaxed stance.

The bands and musicians I got to listen to included Arnaud Dumond, Matmatah and the talented Yann Tiersen. For the first time I heard a guitar being drummed and not only strummed and a drill accompanying the guitar on stage.

After jumping around all afternoon I got really tired and called it quits after a round of baguettes with blue cheese and barbecued sausages.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Safari in Maasai Mara

The trip to Mara leads west from Nairobi through mostly dry scrub land. Going through the spectacular Rift Valley then passing through Narok - a big town suddenly in the middle of the desolate wasteland.

Then onwards through unmarked roads in the Nyika to the Mara Sopa lodge - with its nice semi-circular rooms and largely french clientèles. The view from the room is not much different from theAustralian bush land I am used to seeing. May be a bit drier with more cacti and acacia , no eucalypts. The lodge is on top of a hill, the vistas spread out before it, a children's sized pool caters for the whims of the European tourists unused to the heat. After arriving people rush off in their sarongs to the pool.

The dining room and lunch are an elaborate affair with Sh200 per bottle of water. There seems to be a global tourist exchange rate measured in units of bottled water.

At 4pm we rushed for the game drive. The grazers are in plenty, the black mass of wildebeest are impressive only for so long. In addition there are herds of antelopes, zebras and some elusive eland mingling among them. The carnivores take it easy with plenty of food roaming about. A pride of lions was fast asleep until one of them came up to pose on the hillock. We caught a youngish leopard by surprise and surrounded him with the tourist vans, until he found a gap and made a run for it. The only other member of the big five who made an appearance was a buffalo carcass.

I hardly slept at night in anticipation for an early start the next day. We started buzzing around at about 4am, We were ready after a morning coffee by 6am to hit the safari trail again. Hopefully we shall see the "hunt" mom has been obsessing about. Second trip to the park turned out to be quite eventful. Hordes or is it prides of lionesses made an appearance. One lioness stalked some zebras and was nearly ready to pounce when the multitude of tourists Intervened with cumulative noise. Buffaloes finally appeared in flesh and very much alive, with calves and all.

Made a trip to the fake manyatta near the hotel to buy some Maasai beads and artifacts. The huts are really small and cozy and dark and i guess smelling of animals when the maasai actually live in them. Ended up buying some beads and a bead and lions tooth necklace, which the seller vehemently denied being plastic when I suggested in passing that i will pass it as plastic to get it into Australia through quarantine.

The last game drive was quite fruitful. We sighted elephants mud bathing and giraffes walking about as if they own the world. Two prides of lions were lazing around and showed no interest in massive herds of buffaloes grazing a few feet away.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Asiyekujua hakuthamini

I am finally back in Adelaide from the couple of weeks away in Kenya. It feels good to be back and most of all to have the net again. I did not know how much I had grown accustomed to the connectivity and being in touch with myriads of people.

The title points to a proverb in Kiswahili meaning those that do not know you can't appreciate your worth. I had a small incident on my jet lagged night out which bears this out. Kenya being 7:30 hrs behind time, my body is still awake late into the night. So i went dancing in one of the clubs, "Sugar". I met a girl and we danced salsa for quite a while, since that is the only dance I know sort of well and I dance it or some variation no matter what the music. Anyway afterwards when we were getting some water her lawyer friend came up and refused to believe flat out that I grew up in Kenya and actually dragged her away saying, "Better luck with the next girl."


I rest my case. More Kenyan Safari stories coming up, stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Airport Passtime

I caught a cheap and early flight to Melbourne on my way. So I have a long wait. I decided to pass the time by starting on the redesign of the Worldwind Measure tool with the new Vector rendering classes. I have been planning this for some time , but have not gotten around to. Hopefully I will try to get a basic alternative done before I arrive in Nairobi.

I also made a few random sketches of people at the Airport. I am posting a sample here.

Via Virtual Earth via Worldwind

The Casey Chestnut VE Plugin for Worldwind is finally fixed for the new camera jitter code and in SVN under the unstable tree. So what is special about this ?

It looks like Microsoft has got a better deal with its satellite data vendor - GeoEye than Google - Digital Globe and Microsoft lawyers are allowing non-commercial, again strictly non-commercial usage of the plugin in Worldwind to show off Virtual Earth until the wonderful people at Redmond come up with their own virtual world respositioning any of the plethora of bits of code they have lying around, be it Mappoint, be it Flight Sim X. I would really love to see what Microsoft has to offer in the time-space model arena.

Another issue comes to mind along with this, why are the satellite vendors selling enter archives to Google-Yahoo-Microsoft instead of using their distribution network to sell scenes as they have always done? Are they not shooting themselves in the foot lowering the value of their data? I believe that is not the case they are gaining a lot of Market reach they could not gain with traditional sales teams. More people are now aware of the availability and quality of the high resolution satellite data and those who were going to buy a raw scene for a special purpose and scientific analysis in the high end are going to do so anyway at $6000 or so at a pop.

It also appears that GeoEye has been eating its cake and having it too, they have been selling imagery to both Microsoft and Yahoo. Not over the same areas though and sometimes not the same scenes, but Yahoo effectively has better coverage over Nairobi, CapeTown and Jo'Burg with Ikonos - Places I am heading to right now. Someone ask the Yahoo lawyers and make us a plugin.

I am off to my holidays for now. See you all later.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Grass is greener on the other side

"Vacation (n): something you don't realize you needed until a few weeks after you've recovered from it. by that time, it's too late." - I am taking a couple of weeks off going back home to Kenya . I have been really busy getting things organized at work and assasinating bugs in World Wind.

With some time in hand tonight I decided to try out VMWare + Debian 'Etchy". Coming from Gentoo, apt felt so much less configurable but faster considering I dont want to compile anything except the bare necessities on a VM. Strangely grass seems to be always greener on the other side of the fence when running Linux I always have a desparate urge to play games or code Worldwind, and while running pure windows I feel like making Ossim Qt work. Anyway with a VM handy I can indulge my whims. I finally got Ossim Qt compiled on Debian relatively painlessly and started grazing on the other side of the fence.

Friday, October 27, 2006

The new generation of WMS Browser

.NET WMS capabilities parsing being smoothened by Carbon Tools has allowed Worldwind WMS Browser to enter a new generation. WMS's can now be fetched and saved in the Worldwind catalog as any other Worldwind Tile Service layers. Thanks to withak(Erik Newman) for ironing out the last few bugs. Here is a screenshot of the latest incarnation of WMS showing the Demis World Map layers.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Water Rendering and Flooding Adelaide

Believe it or not, South Australia especially around Adelaide is one of the lowest parts in Australia. Though the mass scale flooding risks here are low, tsunami's are more likely near the Pacific Ring of fire, Gleneleg still gets water in the streets. So I decided to try out some of my new Water layer shaders on Adelaide. The results are in the screenshots.

The shader is a textured reflection map. Mesh deformation with waves and cubemap generation on the fly from the surrounding terrain and sky will give greater realism to the water.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Worldwind Java showing Globe

Finally Worldwind Java-JOGL version has a globe. I have been building and testing it in Eclipse, pending NASA's decision on the commit and Open Source interaction policy. Tom Gaskins is the lead on this and he does not take kindly to random meddling even on a small and insignficant scale as I found out when I submitted some trivial patches to WorldWindJ. My SVN access was promptly revoked and then restored after some pushing around from the Community and some sanity from Chris Maxwell.

Worldwind seems to be getting a really high profile within NASA. It may be even heading for the Mission Control Screens? Just speculation on my part at this point.

I have also been fiddling with the MingW Ossim and QGIS builds for a QT based multiflatform GIS/Remote Sensing Tool. Great vertical applications and solutions can be built using tools that are now on offer. Imagine an application, get some money together, it can be done in weeks.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Water Rendering

The coolest things to render are no doubt the elements - Water, Air , Fire , Earth and Spirit ( AI ?)

In Worldwind we have a tonne of Earth and Air so I decided to look into rendering some water using the mdxinfo water tutorial.

The basic tricks are surface vertex and texture map deformations using sine waves or gerstner waves and generation of reflection/refraction maps from surrounding terrain and clouds. Effects like those shown are what I am aiming for.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Sydney Bushfire and More of Spring

Finally back home and went on a few more walks. Sadly there is an early start to the bushfire season in Sydney. I have been analysing using the RapidFire Modis site. Here are few pictures and details.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Spring is here

Finally the fresh sunshine of spring is here. With all the warmth and rich smells of flowers. I went for a walk and took photos of wildflowers and some in gardens to make a "spring collection". Here are a few unedited shots of what I think looks good.

Tomorrow I am off to Canberra for a Homeland Security conference, I hope I can find homes for rich and thin clients in government departments and gain support for partially home grown technologies. WorldWindJ may become available in Eclipse RCP making it much more fun as well as adding a "traditional" GUI to it.

Monday, September 11, 2006

ISS-Atlantis Docking

I have been following the Atlantis flight from launch. Obviously due to lack of anything better to do except check its postion against WorldWind satellite tracker. This screenshot shows it being exactly where it should be over South America and the orbital sunrise coming up. I have also been experimenting with some direct show and live video streaming into Worldwind from VLC. I will love to have Video on Terrain quite soon.

Saturday, September 9, 2006

Friday night out

Went out on Friday night in Adelaide. Amazing how much fun you can have in a small town if you are bent on it.

I have been doing some web development for some extra cash. Basic blogging and news setup stuff for AADI. Not flashy at all but I am glad to see more and more corporations are following the employee expression philosophy.

On the Worldwind front Stephan has been doing some very good work on the Download/Texture loading optimizaton front. We may even end up with true streaming like Skyline or Google Earth use using ECWP or JP2K techniques. Adam Hill is taking up the WFS code I started and optimizing it. Nice to see such a good team coming together.

Also all praise Canon Australia, I sent my Canon IXUS I for repairs after it had an E18 error and they promptly replaced it with a brand new one complete with all the accessories. That is good service and warranty. Here are a few shots of some previous revelry I have been meaning to post. Aren't they pretty ?

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Model Feature and Hybrid Machines

Having a hybrid portable machine increases productivity a lot. I can conceptualize on the tablet and code on the laptop and stay on the net via 3G .

Anyway after recoding on some prior work by Mashi I have 3D Textured Models. Just need to work on animations and pixel/vertex shader enhancements.

Sunday, September 3, 2006

Finally "Somename"s via Geoserver WFS

I admit it's far from finished, but finally I am moving things along from the time they were stalled a year or so ago in terms of streaming Placenames from a WFS.

As ususal the major straw breaking the camel's back in terms of Placenames is the lack of unicode support on various fronts.

  • Worldwind does not support Unicode Placenames

  • Geoserver 1.3 on CentOS does not support Unicode Fields in Shapefile DBF

These problems only showed up since I started with Brazilian Placenames which have Portuguese characters.

I have made my best effort in these imperfect state of affairs. I hope the Geoserver crew and
the Worldwind rendering crew come to my rescue. Meanwhile you get "Somename"s over Brazil.

Friday, September 1, 2006

Placenames via WFS and Blogging from hilltops

The WFS placenames support in World Wind is nearly there. a few minor tweaks and fixes and we will have dual mode point data, from cache and from wfs, not to forget KML .

I finally found time to take all my toys together to a spot I like, on top of the hill overlooking the small town I live in. Nice and windy, in the shade of Eucalypts this post was written entirely using a GPRS Modem and pen input on tablet.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Toshiba M400 and Jumping for joy

Finally finally my new Toshiba M400 tablet is here. A laptop decent enough to run Windows on. I can turn it around, fold it up into a neato tablet for sketching and concept art. Expect me to start posting my concepts and sketches soon. For now here is a picture of the Model I got.

I have ideas about using the harddrive motion sensor to navigate Worldwind as well.

Monday, August 28, 2006


Ossim which is Open Source has a Image Chaining and Parallel processing architecture, it is just not marketed with as much zeal, in production environment I believe it will perform just as well if not better due to the open source nature and complete customization/optimization abilities.

The screenshot shows Ossim being used to view mosaiced Sao Paulo imagery and to write it to a Tiff file in a parallel chain.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

1st Indonesian GeoSpatial Exhibition

After a week of standing around and replying to wow's about Worldwind in Jakarta I am finally back home. I have seen a lot and learnt a lot and I am really happy to be involved in a world leading open source project.

Worldwind works really well due to the cached offline mode in this case where there is really bad internet or none at all. Only a few had used it before and recognized it on sight, some computer science students wanted to download it and play themselves, with the large population base there is bound to be a few talents floating around, a bit of organized development cannot hurt.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Finally the Embedded Browser

Axient has made some good improvements on the look of the Embedded Browser. There are still a fair few bugs but make up your mind on what looks better and is more open. Digital Globe Imagery is only 1 Php Script away, just to make the "I can see my house" folk happy.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Brazil Imagery and Ossim

The other open source globe that I have had some contact with deserves a mention on this blog. It is OsgPlanet (Open Scene Graph Planet) or Ossim Planet or simply planet. It is currently in a very alpha state but has two dedicated and one part time developers. In addition it has solid graphics, remote sensing and data processing backbone, being built on gdal, proj.4 and Open Scenegraph.

I have been painstakingly compiling it on linux (frustrated by some library errors). Now I have the viewer/processor application for rasters, imagelinker built. I loaded up some new Brazilian 50cm data we are processing for Worldwind in it and it looks really good. This combined with the Vector Capabilities of Qgis will make a really good application.

May be I can set up a processor chain to tile Worldwind imagery and terrain in Imagelinker.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Feeling Small and yet you have the World at your finger tips

This is sort of like the inside is bigger than the outside scenario. This image makes me feel so small.

Yet I regularly play with Worldwind and I am sort of addicted to spinning the Globe.

With the new Widget code from Nigel we can easily add time controls and control Space as well as Time in Software of course, which the entire universe might actually.

Forgot to mention, now you have a HOW-TO to import your little patch of Earth to Worldwind using Dstile.

Monday, August 7, 2006

Virtual Earth is set to near Google Maps

Well granted Orbview and Ikonos are not 60cm satellites like Quickbird but there are two of them now operated by GeoEye( merged company formed by Orbimage and Space Imaging) and from the sounds of it Microsoft has similar exclusive rights as Google has with Digital Globe to stream the archive of these two satellites.

There are signs of this data coming online via Virtual Earth.Meaning it will transparently flow into Worldwind. Microsoft does not even have the immediate need to make 3D spinny globe to show it off. Well then again they did make Flight Sim and now Photo Synth.

Enjoy the Imagery.

Saturday, August 5, 2006

Track Seal in GE, Track Geese in WW

Another exciting weekend. Bottles of Cointreau and Bombay Gin vanishing down the throats of girls. I think Australian ( and some French) girls will beat anyone at drinking.

If I remember there was an article about tracking Seal in Google Earth. Now they are tracking Geese in Mongolia in Worldwind as per this forum post.
Following the thread you will realize how a plugin was developed for exactly the purpose the user wanted in days by the community. This is the flexibility that World Wind offers. Time for a screen shot.

Thursday, August 3, 2006

Worldwind KML Capabilities

On Chad Zimmerman (Earth is Square's) request I am putting together a list of supported KML Features in Worldwind 1.3.6. These have been developed by Tim(Shockfire), Chris(dumdumhead) and myself in a rather ad-hoc and as needed basis. This list may not include all combinations or recursive capabilities.

  • Point Placemark support: Lookat and Description pop-ups are enabled. Time based play-through is also supported. Look at the samples here.

  • Linestring, Polygon and MultiGeometry Support: Worldwind renderer is slightly diffrent so appearances may differ. Lines may be textured on the side.

  • ScreenOverlay support: This was developed to support legends and can be used in KML as well.

  • GroundOverlay support: This is via the ImageOverlay code.

  • Folders, Networked KML and Referenced KML support.

  • Blue icon pallette for existing Yellow Google Icon set. User specified icon pallettes can also be used.

  • KML Drag and Drop support.
I will be adding screenshots and sample files to try to this post.

In addition you can load textured Direct X models. A Model tag is in the works to make this easier.May be even Collada models will be supported and all the Quake formats.

In Worldwind you can also make massive Data and Terrain overlays using Quadtilesets and HigherResolutionTerrain subsets respectively.

KML can also be used via a push mechanism over Jabber, UDP or any other protocol as opposed to a pure polling method.

Please leave comments on features you would like to see and how you can support us.