News Roundup - September 2009

What follows is notable news and happenings that I want to purge from my bookmarks folder. It will be a combination of things you already know spiced with things you probably won’t care about. I apologize in advance.

OpenStreetMap continues to astound. This month, deCarta announced support for OSM data, free of charge. deCarta is one of the biggest LBS solution provider on the planet. Now Flickr will offer OSM integration, so you can associate photos with your points and polygons in OSM. In terms of quality and accuracy OSM data is quickly surpassing that of the traditional data vendors, and big organizations are starting to take notice.

Google Earth 5.1 hit the shelves this month, and it’s a great upgrade. It’s mainly a performance upgrade, and the changes are significant. It starts faster, uses less memory, and it even seems to download data quicker (maybe it just renders data faster). It’s definitely worth a download if you haven’t upgraded already.

James Fee links to updated ESRI deprecation plans, and there are a couple of interesting bits. Notably: no more Crystal Reports Wizard, no more MS VBA, no more MS VS 2005, and no more IE6 support. And prepare to kiss Workstation goodbye.

In the OS front, there have been some interesting releases this month. First, Intel has released Moblin 2.0, their Linux OS for (generally Atom powered) mobile devices like netbooks and MID’s. I took it for a spin, and there’s a lot to like. It starts extremely quickly, has a cool new rendering engine built on clutter (if you looked at alphas you were seeing XFCE), and it works really well. I can’t say it’ll be my primary distro on my netbook (last count I had 5 on it), as it’s a 10” netbook, which is plenty big enough for a standard desktop interface. One interesting thing that came up about Mobin recently is Microsoft’s intention to support Silverlight on it. It sure would be nice to be able to stream Netflix movies without having to jump into Windows. Makes one wonder though – why Moblin and Moonlight for everything else? Maybe a Slashdot commenter got it right – because on open source, there has to be at least two ways to do anything.

Next is the first alpha release of Haiku. Haiku is inspired by BeOS, an operating system so far ahead of its time that we still haven’t caught up with it. It died out long ago, but the Haiku project has been slaving away for years to resurrect it. It isn’t terribly useful at this point (limited software support and no WiFi drivers), but it sure is cool. It boots up in VirtualBox faster than anything I’ve seen, the user interface is the most unique I’ve tried, and it’s a fully threaded architecture design. It’s an oddity for now, but I’m keeping my eye on it.

Ars has a really good post called Word to Wiki. If you can get your organization to even fain interest in pulling themselves out of the MS Office/Sharepoint vice, it’s worth a read.

And finally, for the map of the month, check out the Best Beer in America 2009 map. Sure, it isn’t a piece of cartographic beauty. IT’S BEER, PEOPLE. I’d really like to seem some stimulus money spent to lift those numbers in the Carolinas.