Let us now praise John McPhee, some more

He’s the reason I subscribe to the New Yorker, he of the three-part series on oranges, birchbark canoes, headmasters, Bill Bradley’s basketball career, geology as revealed in highway cuts, the zen of long-haul trucking, the merchant marine, freight trains and tugboats. All hail John McPhee, the finest essayist that ever lived, master of the long form, and my hero in non-fiction authors.

As I sit on the plane, and watch poor saps miss out on the elegance of McPhee in favor of the latest Dean Koontz, I want to shake them, point them at Amazon, and say: “Buy everything this man has written and read it. And then read it again.”

I just finished his three-essay collection, The Control of Nature. The first is about the control of the Mississippi and should be required reading for anyone thinking of moving to New Orleans. The second is about man fighting volcanoes in Iceland and the final is about mudslide control in Los Angeles. This man can make anything interesting.

Fake Blogging Across America « Magnosticism

Fake Blogging Across America « Magnosticism

In the WTF department — Rob O’Regan floored me with the news that a couple blogging about their excellent RV adventure and parking at Wal-Mart parking lots was being bankrolled by Edelman.

Who in this day and age of instant gotcha would think of hiding their interests, conflicted or not? Shame on all involved. Time for deceptive marketing stunts, particularly ones undertaken in a medium ostensibly devoted to building open conversations, to die and die some more. See my earlier posts on deceptive viral — it’s time has come and gone too.

“Earlier this week, the “Wal-Marting Across America” blog – ostensibly the musings of a happy couple traveling the country in an RV while overnighting only in Wal-Mart parking lots – was outed for being bankrolled by Wal-Mart’s outside PR firm, Edelman. This is not the first time Wal-Mart has been caught pushing the ethical boundaries of the blogosphere. Granted, the retail giant desperately needs some ammo for its ongoing steel-cage death match against its well-organized critics, but come on – what was it possibly thinking? I continue to be amazed when big brands and their big agencies swing and miss so badly. Wal-Mart got its buzz alright, but once again for all the wrong reasons.”

Google Reader vs. Bloglines

I’m making the switch and so far, Google is winning me over. Bloglines is awesome, no complaints, but there is something different in the Google Reader U/I in terms of feed management that is making me happier.

We’ll see how it goes.

Mapping Truck

I’d never seen one of these before this morning, but parked at the Extended Stay Deluxe (don’t I wish) Suites on Highway 54 in the Research Triangle Park was this menancing black SUV bedecked with really cool cameras on the roof. The other night I spied on the operator sitting in the driver’s seat peering into a laptop.

Given the “Windows Live Local Beta” stickers on the rear window, I expect this is a local contractor driving around doing street level 360 degree capture as part of an overall integration with Microsoft’s local search capabilities. Amazon A9 used to have something similar, a street level view of the world so one can see house and store fronts, but alas, the function is no longer available. This notion of online mapping merged with photography takes the 3D tilt and pan effect of Google Earth down on the Z axis to a real-life view of what one would see standing at a specific cartesian coordinate.

Being a major cartography geek (I minored in cartography in college as part of my Scholar of the House program), I am all over this sort of stuff.

The truck belongs to a company called Facet Tech 

Here’s the straight poop from the Facet Tech website:

“Digital map data can never be better than the collection method used to attain it. With that in mind, Facet Technology Corporation developed a collection and processing technique that is unparalleled in its precision, information-depth and efficiency. At every step, we’ve refused to settle for the status quo of the digital mapping industry. Whether it’s our determination to maintain a fully georeferenced, 360-degree video record of our entire coverage area, our rigorous multi-tiered processing methodology, or the way we collect street-based imagery for every accessible street, road and alley in our coverage area—we’ve gone to great lengths to ensure that our geographic information is as complete and useful a reflection of the real world as possible.”

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