Jul 31, 2007

National Library 3D Building Model for Google Earth

I'm submitting this model to Google Earth today.

Google Sketchup Model

National Library of New Zealand, Google Earth Model Image
Link to this image: http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1176/962260016_9c348e09e3_o.jpg

Google Earth view

Google Earth View - Click to Enlarge
(Click on Image to Enlarge)
Link to this image: http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1010/971357387_6f747e9bc0.jpg
Link to large image: http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1010/971357387_fb76db9f49_o.jpg


Google Earth is a very popular downloadable program for users, that allows one to 'dive in' and navigate the earth as seen from the air. Originally, this would have started out at as a GIS (Geographical Information System) that was mapping satellite photos on to the globe, but a rapid pace of innovation has introduced a lot of extra possibilites. Basically, if you can place it on a map, then it should be placed on this application. A very popular such feature layer is 3D buildings where if you navigate to any place on Google Earth, you can actually see 3D realistic models of buildings standing in their positions. The first such models were built by Google, but since has been opened up to accept user built contributions. Google released a very user-friendly application called Google Sketchup to build such models, and an online repository called 3D Warehouse to store the contributions. Google then assesses these for their suitability for inclusion.

Video of the Model


Current status (and how to see it in Google Earth)

Right now this model has been submitted to Google's 3D warehouse. You can search for it by going to the 3D Warehouse site and searching for "National Library" or more specifically "National Library of New Zealand". If you are using Google Earth, please note that the model will not turn up by default in Google's 3D building layer until it goes through Google's approval process, but you can still see it by following the instructions here to get the Google 3D warehouse network link.

I've been doing this project in my 'spare time' at home. Now that I've finished, my wife will finally be happy to get more of my time. Not easy being married to a techie sometimes.

Also ..
just in time for the Library building's 20th Anniversary of completion (5 August 2007)!

National Library of New Zealand Foundation Stone

Relevant Links

Jul 25, 2007

More from Unshelved - the Public Library Comic Strip

There's been another interesting series from Unshelved that I covered last time, which relates to new media and old media. This time books and ephemera join the existential discussion. See below.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Friday, July 13, 2007

Previous Related Post

Jul 19, 2007

Debate - Anarchy vs. Authority online

Seeing that history turns in cycles, I always wondered, that after the overall demise of extreme socialism in the form of communism, if the victorious individualistic driven world of capitalism would have to reckon with a new socialism ideology.

Here's a delicious online debate on the Wall Street Journal that a colleague kindly forwarded. Whenever there's a contentious topic at which we are seeking definition, it's useful to get the experts to have a duel to decide for us. The debaters are

Keen kicks of the debate with:

[...] Mainstream media's traditional audience has become Web 2.0's empowered author. Web 2.0 transforms all of us -- from 90-year-old grandmothers to eight-year-old third graders -- into digital writers, music artists, movie makers and journalists. Web 2.0 is YouTube, the blogosphere, Wikipedia, MySpace or Facebook. Web 2.0 is YOU!
Yes, the people have finally spoken. And spoken. And spoken.
Now they won't shut up. The problem is that YOU! have forgotten how to listen, how to read, how to watch. Thus, the meteoric rise of Web 2.0's free citizen media is mirrored by the equally steep decline in paid mainstream media and the mass redundancies amongst journalists, editors, recording engineers, cameramen and talent agents. Newspapers and the music business are in structural crisis, Hollywood and the publishing business aren't far behind. We've lost truth and interest in the objectivity of mainstream media because of our self-infatuation with the subjectivity of our own messages. It's what, in "Cult of the Amateur," I call digital narcissism. A flattened media is a personalized, chaotic media without that the essential epistemological anchor of truth. The impartiality of the authoritative, accountable expert is replaced by murkiness of the anonymous amateur. When everyone claims to be an author, there can be no art, no reliable information, no audience.

Everything becomes miscellaneous. And miscellany is a euphemism for anarchy.

then, Weinberger responds with:

[...] We also agree that the Web is a problem. ... is that because anyone can contribute and because there are no centralized gatekeepers, there's too much stuff and too many voices, most of which any one person has no interest in. But, the Web is also the continuing struggle to deal with that problem. From the most basic tools of the early Internet, starting with UseNet discussion threads, through Wikipedia, and sites that enable users to tag online resources, the Web invents ways to pull together ideas and information, finding the connections and relationships that keep the "miscellaneous" from staying that way.
that raises one other myth that I think runs under your comments. You say "the intellectual authority able to help people understand the world is indeed endangered." Then you ask if I'm convinced that the Web benefits intellectuals. Yes, I am. And that's because, while some talent is indeed solitary, many types of talent prosper in connection with others. That is especially true for the development of ideas. Knowledge is generally not a game for one. It is and always has been a collaborative process. And it is a process, not as settled, sure, and knowable by authorities as it would be comforting to believe. ... Consider how much more we know about the world because we have bloggers everywhere. They may not be journalists, but they are sources, and sometimes they are witnesses in the best sense. We know and understand more because of these voices than we did when we had to rely on a single professional reporting live at 7.

And so on it goes. There are further links below to follow up, if you are interested.


Time Magazine 2006 Person of the Year - You

Jul 18, 2007


We had BarCamp at work.

BarCamp, you say? Wikipedia begins to define it as an 'unconference', but that was where the similarity ended. Normally, a BarCamp is about Information Technology professionals getting together and sharing their knowledge in an open communicative environment. When it comes to geeks (mostly unmarried) and communications it means - Laptops, Wi-Fi, Blogs, Wikis, Coding, Sleeping Bags and so on. However in our building we have more librarians then techies.

There was basically an open schedule board, where participants could sign up to give a presentation, or be a moderator. In this case, no topic was off-topic. The schedule was to be finalised, hardly 5 minute before the event. It was planned that each session, the presenter had a few minutes to showcase his/her idea and then the audience joins into a discussion. Of course, depending on the topic there were variations.

I moderated a couple of very significant sessions, presented by a fellow techie colleague related to hotdesking with terminals and remote access to office applications. There was a lot of interest from the audience/participants in what's-in-it-for-us fashion. In my turn, I presented a unprepared session (in the spirit of the un-conference) on Google Earth and our interest there (picture below). I gave a demo in 3-dimensional modeling in Google Sketchup, attempting to show how easy it is. I also presented a few ready-made models from Google's 3D Warehouse such as the Taj Mahal and Eiffel Tower. I was taken aback to notice that our CEO was also in the audience - she asked some very good questions related to importing of CAD drawings into Sketchup software. Everybody was interested in the technology and wanted to know more on how to get into this and what was required to contribute.

BarCamp Session

Overall, the event generated a lot of involvement, buzz and energy - above normal levels. I enjoyed playing the roles of organising team member, moderator and presenter.There's a plan to follow up with a similar and longer event in a month or so.

Jul 11, 2007

Evolving Language

Some time ago, I had a brief conversation with a colleague (who happens to be Canadian) on languages. He overheard me talking on the phone with an Indian friend in Hindi, combined with English shortcut phrases. Overcome with curiosity, he couldn't help asking me which language I was thinking in, while I was having this bilingual conversation. It was a good question for I couldn't tell.

Language is a carrier of the human consciousness, and like it, it's continually evolving. Divided by geography, our ancestors each evolved their own separate languages. Now due to the amplification of our transportation and communication abilities, the world is shrinking, languages and cultures are coming together.

English is the primary language in many countries, mostly the nations that arose after the dissipation of the British Empire. As it was the last great empire - 'on which the sun never sets', so English is the widest understood tongue today. In India, the favoured language of commerce and education is English. Another recent example is the Soviet Union - nations that now constitute the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) still largely support Russian. For example, on my visit to Armenia, I encountered Russian still to be the favoured language of business and government. The current adult generation was educated in Russian medium.

Language is affected by the manner in which it is used. Traditionally, it was used for discourse and expression of feelings, it could become very poetic and beautiful. However, when used for formal workflows - business, science, law, government etc. - it tends to become very fixed, industrial and inhuman. That's when we have to start memorizing book-loads of vocabulary.

Enter the digital age - English is the language of computer science. If you wanted to do computer programming, you have to do so in English. One of the reasons that India enjoys such an advantage in Information Technology. I had the very strange experience of learning BASIC computer language in Spain, in Spanish. That was another multi-lingual experience I didn't fully realise until later.

Language is evolving still, with the Internet it's become a medium as well as a technology itself. The rest can probably be explained by the video below, which has been circulating for some time in my work place, and being shown in an awful lot of presentations.

Jul 7, 2007

LiveEarth - performing for the planet

Right at this moment is occurring, what is being said to be, the biggest entertainment event ever held on the planet. It had to be this big because it's about the planet. Started by SOS (Save our selves), the messaging campaign and larger movement, Live Earth is a series of concerts all over the earth to be held today 7.7.07, over 24 hours following the dateline that traverses the earth. There are performances on all continents, starting with Sydney - Australia, then going on to Tokyo, Japan; Shanghai, China; Hamburg, Germany; London, UK; Johannesburg, South Africa; New York, USA; Rio De Janeiro, Brazil; and some others.

Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore (The Inconvenient Truth) and Kevin Wall, founders of the SOS movement are behind this event. They have roped in some of the most famous names in World Music into this event, some including Madonna (see video below) composing exclusive songs for the concert.

Hey you - by Madonnna (official Live Earth Video)

A major aim of this concert, which Al Gore admitted is aiming very high, is to have 2 billion people worldwide sign on to the 7 point pledge helping the movement. The pledge reads:

  • To demand that my country join an international treaty within the next 2 years that cuts global warming pollution by 90% in developed countries and by more than half worldwide in time for the next generation to inherit a healthy earth;

  • To take personal action to help solve the climate crisis by reducing my own CO2 pollution as much as I can and offsetting the rest to become “carbon neutral;”

  • To fight for a moratorium on the construction of any new generating facility that burns coal without the capacity to safely trap and store the CO2;

  • To work for a dramatic increase in the energy efficiency of my home, workplace, school, place of worship, and means of transportation;

  • To fight for laws and policies that expand the use of renewable energy sources and reduce dependence on oil and coal;

  • To plant new trees and to join with others in preserving and protecting forests; and,

  • To buy from businesses and support leaders who share my commitment to solving the climate crisis and building a sustainable, just, and prosperous world for the 21st century.

There's more in the Larry King Live interview of Al Gore available below

Note: the above video may become unavailable, then you can find it here.

Walking the talk
A lot of people including the LiveAid concert founder Bob Geldof have criticised the concerts. There is a concern that the event itself is a sort of contributor to global warming considering all the energy used. The organisers though, are doing their best to 'walk the talk'. One of the initiatives has been to offer public transport vouchers with the concert tickets to all audience so they leave their cars at home.

Another very interesting thing I noted was that the official website www.liveearth.org is 'Green Hosted'. It's hosted by AISO.net which "is the only 100% solar powered data center in the world".

Still, I can't help being reminded of some lyrics, that one of my favorite singers, Sting (who, incidentally is also performing in this concert with his former band, Police), wrote in his album Soul Cages:

"A government saved a dying planet / when popular icons failed"


Official Website - www.liveearth.org (Green Hosted!)
Online coverage - liveearth.msn.com

Jul 2, 2007

SiB, Search in Black

My wife put me on to this web site. Apparently web pages with white background take more energy to display than black colour backgrounds. So the logic goes that if Google, which is one of the most used websites, were to be redone in black, then we would be saving Megawatts in electricity. That call was answered by an Australian group Heap Media who've set up Blackle. Yes, here you can search Google in black.

The claims of power saving are more applicable to CRT (Cathode Ray Tube monitors, the TV-type boxes) monitors rather than the LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) monitors. In fact it's thought that showing black consumes more power than white on LCD monitors. So the debate can go on.

This reminded me of the first Webstock conference, held here in Wellington. At first the organising group had set up a very well designed site with lots of images, bright backgrounds and detailed fonts. Then apparently an email circulated that designing these kinds of sites causes more power to be consumed when viewing on the computer. Being the caring-and-sensitive types, the group promptly took down all the styling until the web site was normal text on plain-gray background. This would have satisfied the green-minded, but by the time the conference was about to commence, lo - the styled version was back without any explanation. Somebody must have figured it out - you can't hold a prestigious conference with a dull, boring online website.

See related article.