April News Roundup

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.

Ubuntu 9.04, aka “Jaunty Jackalope”, has been released. If you’ve read this blog much, you know I like Linux, Ubuntu in particular. I’ve been using Ubuntu at home full time since Dapper Drake, and I have to say this is the most polished and stable version I’ve seen to date. Whether it’s running on my tiny ASUS EEE HE1000 (brand new and I love it) or my home built Black Tower (specs classified), it’s smooth, stable, and gorgeous. On my ASUS everything just worked out of the box - suspend, hibernate, Bluetooth, webcam and mike, everything. I didn’t have to touch a thing. If you’ve ever thought about giving Linux a try, now’s a great time to do so.

As I first learned of on Slashgeo, MapServer 5.4 has been released. Aside from the usual round of bug stomping, this release includes labeling and cartography enhancements and WMS 1.3.0 support. You can read the full change log here.

As James Fee points out, the 2009 ESRI Developer Summit presentation and code samples are available online. We recently had a meeting with our local ESRI reps and looked at a lot of the upcoming features in ArcGIS Server 9.3.1, and things are starting to look a lot better.

As far as city governments go, you’d have to consider New York City to be on the larger end of the scale. The All Points Blog links to a story in Government Technology about New York’s NYCityMap2.0. They’re using a combination of GeoServer and Oracle Spatial, and it’s a really cool site, if somewhat monochromatic (from my in-laws I’m guessing this is a NYC taste thing). But the point here is FOSS4G isn’t just for small shops with small budgets - GeoServer can handle high traffic sites loads without a problem. It looks like they wrote their own front end in Dojo, which is an odd choice but it works well. Since they already had the equipment and Oracle Spatial, the net new expense for this is zilch.

Still a little fuzzy on what open source is? Don’t feel bad; you’d be surprised the number of high-level IT people whose only understanding of open source can be summarized as “that free stuff” or “that hippy/commie stuff”. Take a look at this great guide (PDF or SVG) over at DoctorMO’s blog. It’s a simple visual guide that really sums it up well.

Check out this TED Talk by Erik Hersman on How texting and GoogleMaps helped Kenyans survive crisis. The software is called Ushahidi - Crowdsourcing Crisis Information. While the inital site was done using the Google Maps API, it looks like their more recent work uses OpenLayers.

Finally, for the health conscious, Google Maps has a good Swine Flu mashup. Updates seem to be coming in nearly real-time. And in great news, scientists are the WHO are reporting a strong lead in finding the culprit responsible for the swine-human flu jump: