Dr Mike J Smith
Kingston University

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Kickstarter Plug: Spooly
Wanted to give a plug to Spooly who are running a Kickstarter campaign at the moment. I've not link to them, but the product looks great - I'm always on the lookup for innovative products that solve problems or make life easier. And this is a little gem - its a USB charge cable but incredibly small and rolls up into a perfectly neat package. What can you say other than a fantastic piece of design, doesn't cost much and worthy of the plug.

posted on: Sat, 14 May 2016 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

Occupations associated with what.....
..what indeed?? Read here to find out, but, as they say, a picture tells a thousand words (data caveats excepting in the linked post).

posted on: Thu, 12 May 2016 | path: /GIS | permanent link to this entry

Column Numbers in Excel?
I've been doing some more programming in R recently and working on a large XLSX spreadsheet (using the excellent readxl package) where I needed to cross-reference columns. Excel painfully uses letters for column titles and I needed the column number; useful to know then that you can change this option in Excel: Pre-ribbon Go to Tools, Options, General, check 'R1C1 reference style' Ribbon Go Options, Formulas, check 'R1C1 reference style'

posted on: Thu, 12 May 2016 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

New Mayan City Discovered
What a great story - a 15 year old with a passion for Mayan civilisation discovers a lost city on the Yucatan peninsula using satellite imagery, hitherto unknown to archaeologists!...

posted on: Wed, 11 May 2016 | path: /remote_sensing | permanent link to this entry

Boaty Floats... err, sinks
Well, as I noted last week Boaty McBoatface lost out to David Attenborough.... so Boaty was sunk. But NERC have now floated his boat... or rather they have sunk it! Yes Boaty will be the name of an ROV. Perhaps the most famous ROV in the world!

posted on: Tue, 10 May 2016 | path: /fun | permanent link to this entry

Pie on Boaty McBoatface
The whole process for naming NERCs new polar research vessel twists and turns through the media. The fact that naming a polar vessel actually made the news is pretty good in and of itself - how much the general public is aware of polar science is somewhat of an unknown, but it was great to see some coverage of the vessel itself....

posted on: Fri, 06 May 2016 | path: /fun | permanent link to this entry

QGIS at the Financial Times
A really interesting interview with Steve Bernard, Interactive Design Editor at the Financial Times. There are some great examples of work he has produced for the FT which principally involves QGIS and Adobe Illustrator. He is hugely enthusing of QGIS, so much so that he has a YouTube Channel dedicated to demonstrating the methods/effects he uses. Check it out as at over 30 videos now its a veritable resource.

posted on: Fri, 06 May 2016 | path: /GIS | permanent link to this entry

Open Source Software for the Geosciences
Great list of OSS of relevance to the geosciences over at the GRSS. Someting for everyone to pick over - I particularly both Whitebox GAT and the R package for atmospheric correction of satellite imagery. Excellent stuff.

posted on: Wed, 04 May 2016 | path: /remote_sensing | permanent link to this entry

RGS: Accreditation of university geography programmes
The RGS have announced accreditation of university geography programmes. This is all part of their strategy for professionalising geography and follows on from the Chartered Geographer status intended for individuals, to accreditation intended for programmes....

posted on: Tue, 03 May 2016 | path: /teaching | permanent link to this entry

Food in Vienna
I was away at the European Geosciences Union last week presenting in a number of sessions. EGU has long been in Vienna which is a wonderfully cosmopolitan city with by far one of the best transit systems I have used....

posted on: Fri, 29 Apr 2016 | path: /meetings | permanent link to this entry

Esri: 6 Easy Ways to Improve Your Maps
Some really helpful cartography tips from staff writer Lisa Berry on 6 Easy Ways to Improve Your Maps. I particularly like point 2, Find Signal within the Noise, which is pertinent to any kind of exposition. What is your main point and highlight it.... demonstrate you signal.

posted on: Fri, 29 Apr 2016 | path: /GIS | permanent link to this entry

Some government sense...
Following on from my earlier post from Sense About Science, the government have now suspended implementation of the anti-lobbying clause for further consultation. Whilst not removed (yet), this is good news and allows researchers to set out a sensible case.

posted on: Thu, 28 Apr 2016 | path: /publications | permanent link to this entry

Shadbolt's Aerial Images of London
Historic England have just released Shadbolt's iconic photos of England which went under the hammer last year and were rescued by HE (and, yes, for those confused Historic England was part of English Heritage which split in two in 2015). These photos form the earliest aerial images of London and largely cover the suburban fringe that were undergoing rapid expansion - all in amazing detail. Sadly Shadbolt was killed in - perhaps unsurprisingly - a ballooning accident. A great collection that forms a unique part of early aerial photography. Copyright Historic England

posted on: Wed, 27 Apr 2016 | path: /remote_sensing | permanent link to this entry

Beagle 2 and Super Resolution
The Beagle 2 was perhaps the most infamous of British attempts in space. The sheer audacity of a tiny mission, built on a shoestring to achieve a dramatic landing on Mars....

posted on: Tue, 26 Apr 2016 | path: /remote_sensing | permanent link to this entry

A small milestone with a paper from my PhD (Smith, M.J. and Clark, C.D. (2005) "Methods for the visualisation of digital elevation models for landform mapping." Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 30, 7, 885-900) hitting its century of citations - yes 100! Bringing flashbacks just looking at it again!!!

posted on: Fri, 15 Apr 2016 | path: /publications | permanent link to this entry

TIROS Flashback
EPoD provided a great flashback last week to the first ever image acquired from TIROS 1 and, no joke, 1 April 1960. That is a LONG time ago and it was remarkable because it was the first time there was routine observation of the Earth's weather. A remarkable achievement. It only lasted 77 days but this was a research mission testing feasibility and system designs. The TIROS programme was hugely successful and paved the way for Earth observation as we know it today. And if you want an extended flashback.... read the National Geographic article from that year.

posted on: Mon, 11 Apr 2016 | path: /remote_sensing | permanent link to this entry

ASTER Data Available at No Charge
Great news from USGS over at LPDAAC announcing that ASTER data is now FREE OF CHARGE. A great data resource and invaluable to researchers around the globe....

posted on: Fri, 08 Apr 2016 | path: /remote_sensing | permanent link to this entry

Maps.Me Adds OpenStreetMap
Great news from Maps.Me developers. The slightly more minor news is that theyve gone much more granular for map data downloads - so now you don't have to downloads 800Mb of data for the UK, but pick your regions. Much better. The big news though is the ability to feedback map updates to the OpenStreetMap community directly through the app. Now that really is a brilliant way to improve PoI information. You can both add new points and edit point information. Not only is a great offline map app but you can now give back to the community.

posted on: Wed, 06 Apr 2016 | path: /GIS | permanent link to this entry

Geography’s place in the world
A really interesting opinion piece over at The Times Higher Education Supplement on Geography’s place in the world....

posted on: Sun, 03 Apr 2016 | path: /teaching | permanent link to this entry

GISgeography: Quick Sheets
GISGeography have some great "quick summaries" or quick sheets as I like to call them. They are short, focused, "explainers" usually with good use of graphics and links to other sites....

posted on: Sat, 02 Apr 2016 | path: /GIS | permanent link to this entry

Monopoly Map
Vaguely following on with the underground map meme, I thought it would be good fun to locate all the Monopoly squares on a map of a London and visit them....

posted on: Tue, 29 Mar 2016 | path: /fun | permanent link to this entry

Ultra lightweight KAP cameras?
I briefly commented on KAP cameras when looking at the PhaseOne iXU180 - a great medium format camera for medium weight UAV use....

posted on: Sun, 27 Mar 2016 | path: /remote_sensing/UAV | permanent link to this entry

Lost London
OK, so it's another hackneyed take on the well worn tube map meme, but the Londonist's Lost London is a wonderful trawl down memory lane with the map providing location for those not so familiar with London. It's history, tourism and discovery all rolled into one and well worth spending 10 minutes looking at. Then go and visit some of the places!

posted on: Sat, 26 Mar 2016 | path: /GIS | permanent link to this entry

Nik Collection now Free
For all you photography lovers out there, a great announcement from Google to say that the Nik Collection is to be made freely available....

posted on: Fri, 25 Mar 2016 | path: /photography | permanent link to this entry

Nature Futures
My colleague Kerry put me onto the rather excellent (and free!) Nature Futures which is a growing collection of science fiction short stories. These are sci-fi in the "real sense" as they are intended to be firmly founded on science but pushing and blurring the boundaries with what is real and what isn't. As they say: entirely fictional, self-contained story of around 850–950 words in length, and the genre should, broadly speaking, be 'hard' (that is, ‘scientific') SF rather than, say, outright fantasy, slipstream or horror. And they really are short and focused on a very specific idea. They are often physics based, but there are all sorts of subject areas covered. Some fun reading!!

posted on: Wed, 23 Mar 2016 | path: /teaching | permanent link to this entry

What are the British Isles?
A seemingly simple question but one that causes no end of confusion because it is both geographic and political and using it the wrong context can cause no end of upset!!! Is Northern Ireland in Great Britain? Or the UK? Is Jersey? Where does Ireland fit in? To bring some clarity the EUler diagram (below) from Wikimedia helps considerably and visit the Terminology of the British Isles page. In short its easiest to refer to the British Isles when thinking geographically of all the islands, whilst the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (or UK for short) when talking about the commonly designated political entity.

posted on: Tue, 22 Mar 2016 | path: /fun | permanent link to this entry

Too good to be forgotten
Too good to be forgotten (from Radio 4 Analysis) talks about "corporate memory loss", that is the body of knowledge about how a company "does stuff" that is lost when people move companies or move jobs within a company....

posted on: Mon, 21 Mar 2016 | path: /fun | permanent link to this entry

Social Media for Active Learning
I obviously blog!! It's not a vanity project, but rather a whole mix of rationales for presenting my thoughts to the general public....

posted on: Sun, 20 Mar 2016 | path: /teaching | permanent link to this entry

EGU Photo Contest Finalist
It was a great honour this week to hear that my entry for the EGU 2016 Photo Contest (below) made the final cut....

posted on: Sat, 19 Mar 2016 | path: /photography | permanent link to this entry

Government Nonsense About Science
Yes, believe it or not the government wants to STOP scientists from influencing Parliament when they have funded research....

posted on: Thu, 17 Mar 2016 | path: /publications | permanent link to this entry

Qualification Levels
Yes, it's that time of year again - open days!! Applicants and parents trail around the country getting similar accommodation and finance talks, along with more detail on courses, facilities and location....

posted on: Tue, 08 Mar 2016 | path: /teaching | permanent link to this entry

Seriously! In Windows 10, create a new folder and give it the following name: GodMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C} And you have a control panel link to ALL control panel settings. I am God!!

posted on: Mon, 07 Mar 2016 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

Surviving a Global Zombie Attack
Surviving a Global Zombie Attack... now who would have thought biomathematics could be so useful!!

posted on: Thu, 03 Mar 2016 | path: /publications | permanent link to this entry

DJI Phantom 4
The rapid development roadmap for DJI continues (see Phantom 3 camera review). Camera improvements continue abate and onboard you'll find a 12MP stills camera with a 1/2.3-inch (8.8x6.6mm) sensor. ISO goes up to of 1600 for photos and, crucially, records Adobe DNG RAW. This is a BIG step forward for a drone camera as it allows much greater headroom in post processing. The field of view is 94° which is about equivalent to an 18mm lens on a full frame camera (which means wide and with lots of distortion).

posted on: Wed, 02 Mar 2016 | path: /remote_sensing/UAV | permanent link to this entry

Tired of a £27k degree??
That's about the total cost of a three year degree in the UK... so if this really represents the actual cost, can you go anywhere else that's cheaper?...

posted on: Fri, 26 Feb 2016 | path: /teaching | permanent link to this entry

101 Top Tips for PhD Students
101 Top Tips for PhD Students gets some good reviews over at Amazon, along with one in the current Sensed (although you might have to wait to see the back issue). My PhD student James O'Connor liked it and commented his favourite tip was: You can get drunk at conferences, just not the most drunk! Clearly sage advice, although I might edit that to You can get drunk at conferences, just check who you should be less drunk than! So, buy a copy and help support poor, under paid, academic staff!!

posted on: Mon, 22 Feb 2016 | path: /teaching | permanent link to this entry

OS Maps Mars
Yes, the OS Maps (some of) Mars in their own inimitable style... great bit of PR!

posted on: Mon, 15 Feb 2016 | path: /GIS | permanent link to this entry

GISc RG Dissertation Prize
Great news for one of my MSc dissertation students last year, Jen Rozier, as she has just been awarded the RGS GISc Research Group dissertation prize. Her project Vegetation Response and Recovery in the 20 years following the 1982 eruption of El Chichón volcano: A Remote Sensing Approach looked at effects of vegetation recovery following the El Chichon eruption and correlating them with potential topographic effects and proxies using multi-temporal Landsat data. This has also now been summarised in a short article for Sterling Geo (the UK reseller for ERDAS Imagine) titled El Chichón: Vegetation Response and Recovery Following a Volcanic Eruption.

posted on: Fri, 05 Feb 2016 | path: /publications | permanent link to this entry

Journal of Maps Best Maps
The Map Room highlighted the Journal of Maps Best Maps today in this blog post. Our Best Maps are freely available, but since being published in partnership with Taylor and Francis we have become subscription based which means everything up to 2012 is open access....

posted on: Wed, 03 Feb 2016 | path: /publications/journals | permanent link to this entry

Structure from Motion 101
I gave a short talk on numerical approaches to capturing "landscape" in a general sense and more specifically on my collaborative work on Studio of Objects with hijack and Chris Horrocks (at Kingston). Working with Flora Parrott, this was to give her students on the Foundation Fine Art Degree a taster of both laser scanning and Structure from Motion techniques. Slides below for those interested. My PhD student James O'Connor did the most dangerous of things - a live demo!!! He's now written this up as a 101 for getting started in Structure from Motion processing - and, of course, as a tribute to Oscar in Sesame street (not Elmo!). A great primer.

posted on: Sat, 30 Jan 2016 | path: /remote_sensing | permanent link to this entry