Posts Tagged ‘microsoft’

Finding Duplicate Points in a Shapefile

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

[Editor's note: When building the 6,600 cities for Natural Earth vector, we had 6 extra townspots than town labels. Bound to happen on larger projects. One could take the halving approach and select half, see if the number of symbols matches the number of text objects, if so skip, if not subdivide in 1/2 again and reevaluate. Or if you use MaPublisher with Illustrator and/or Vectorworks to export out as a SHP file, we can open the DBF up in Excel and use the "countif" function and "conditional formatting" to quickly identify the exact features to resolve. By sorting the resulting "true" and "false" columns on lat, long, and feature name, we can quickly evaluate if there are multiple features at the same geographic location and compare their names. If they are the same name, assume 1 is a duplicate and remove it.]

Republished from Microsoft.

You can locate duplicates in a range of data by using conditional formatting and the COUNTIF function. Here are the details on how to make that work.

Set up the first conditional formatting formula

I’ll start by setting up a conditional format for the first data cell. Later, I’ll copy that conditional format for the whole range.

In my example, cell A1 contains a column heading (Invoice), so I will select cell A2, and then click Conditional Formatting on the Format menu. The Conditional Formatting dialog box opens. The first box contains the text, Cell Value Is. If you click the arrow next to this box, you can choose Formula Is.

Example

After you click Formula Is, the dialog box changes appearance. Instead of boxes for between x and y, there is now a single formula box. This formula box is incredibly powerful. You can use it to enter any formula that you can dream up, as long as that formula will evaluate to TRUE or FALSE.

In this case, we need to use a COUNTIF formula. The formula to type in the box is:


=COUNTIF(A:A,A2)>1

This formula says: Look through the entire range of column A. Count how many cells in that range have the same value as cell A2. Then, compare to see if that count is greater than 1.

When there are no duplicates, the count will always be 1; because cell A2 is in the range, we should find exactly one cell in column A that contains the same value as A2.

Note In this formula, A2 represents the current cell — that is, the cell for which you are setting up the conditional format. So, if your data is in column E and you are setting up the first conditional format in cell E5, the formula would be =COUNTIF(E:E,E5)>1.

Choose a color to highlight duplicated entries

Now it is time to select an obnoxious (that is, obvious) format to identify any duplicates that are found. In the Conditional Formatting dialog box, click the Format button.

Example

Click the Patterns tab and click a bright color swatch, like red or yellow. Then click OK to close the Format Cells dialog box.

Example

You will see the selected format in the preview box. Click OK to close the Conditional Formatting dialog box, and…

Example

Nothing happens. Wow. If this is your first time setting up conditional formatting, it would be really nice to get some feedback here that it worked. But, unless you are lucky enough that the data in cell A2 is a duplicate of the data in some other cell, the condition is FALSE and no formatting is applied.

Continue reading at Microsoft . . .

Microsoft GeoSynth to compete with Google Street View (MacNN)

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

Republished from Mac News Network.

Microsoft has announced plans to launch a mapping service, GeoSynth, that will take on Google’s Street View mapping feature, according to Pocket-lint. The new service will use Photosynth technology to merge high-definition photos taken and submitted by the general public, and then relate the content according to geographic data. The program could also be connected to Virtual Earth, potentially enabling users to browse street-level views of almost any location worldwide. According to Virtual Earth technology specialist Johannes Kebeck, the system will take the best images from a location to create a single image of a specific landmark. All geo-tagged images submitted by users will be uploaded into a central database that combines them into a larger detailed picture of the area.

Microsoft also made an announcement that Virtual Earth will support Silverlight in a beta to be released this summer. The company claims users will be able to access map tiles roughly nine times faster in its Internet Explorer 8 browser, or five times faster in Google’s Chrome browser.

Geosynth is expected to launch sometime later this year.

Live Maps in China: An Interview with Vincent Tao (O’Reilly)

Monday, August 18th, 2008

 

[Editor’s note: Somehow I missed this December announcement for Microsoft’s new street map service for China. The entire interface is in Chinese characters but the functionality is the same as the English version. Zoom into Beijing and check out all the Olympic sites or plan your next visit by launching the ditu “world” map via Microsoft Local Live maps (view). This street map geometry is much more complete than the normal Local Live map site (view). Thanks Yifang!]

Republished from O’Reilly Radar on Dec. 13th 2007.

Earlier today [December] Microsoft’s Live Maps launched in China (Radar post). Dr. Vincent Tao, founder of Microsoft-acquisition GeoTango and now Senior Director in the Virtual Earth org, led the project. I sent over some questions about the release (114 cities), future plans (an API) and Chinese data policy (strict). Vincent kindly responded.

See the full text of the interview below: 
vincent tao
Can you tell us about coverage? What exactly launched today? What’s the difference in the platform between VE China and VE everywhere else? 

[VT] The China release demonstrates our success in deploying our first VE data center remotely. We now have an in-country data center offering the better system performance and greater user experiences. This distributed mapping architecture allows us to grow the international markets in a scalable way. In this first release, VE China covers both tier-1 and tier-2 total 114 cities with very rich local contents (millions of POI/YP). In addition to most VE features in USA, China release offers the public transit feature for bus and train commuters. We understand that this is the most demanding feature for China users when concerning maps. We cannot afford not having this feature even for v1 release. 

Getting access to Chinese geo data is notoriously hard. Who are you getting the data from? Is it handled via a joint-venture? Where are your servers located? 
[VT] Our road map data is coming from AutoNavi, a Chinese leading data provider for on-line and navigation maps. We have a distributed system architecture but our mapping data is served from our MSN JV company. 

China is the only country mapped. Is there a reason that US or UK streets aren’t available? 
[VT] I guess that you are referring to ditu.live.com site. The release is focused on Chinese speaking users. We are working the design of multi-language mapping system. 

Who are your local competitors? 
[VT] There are no serious local competitors out there in the mapping vertical, though Baidu and Google have some good presence in the market given its strong market share in web search. 

There’s been recent issues with the Chinese government redirecting traffic from Microsoft and Google to Baidu. Do you have any concerns about being blocked by the government? 
[VT] We have worked closely with the Chinese authorities from day one when building our VE services for China. We follow the government regulations carefully and also proactively exchange our ideas on some of their data policy issues.

What’s coming in the future? Will there be an API? Will there be aerial or satellite imagery? Why is there satellite imagery of China in the US version and not in the Chinese version? 
[VT] We have our roadmap for China VE services both in B2C and B2B. Our VE API will be available for enterprise and mashup users in a not too distant future. We are looking into the image solutions. So far there are some issues, not technical, about on-line image publishing in China. 

Was the data allowed to leave China? What other restrictions were placed on the data and its use? 
[vt] The map data is not allowed to leave the border. Some other countries also have the same regulations (Korea for example). In China, maps can only be provided by the licensed map data providers. Also the on-line publishing maps need to go through a ‘encryption’ process whereby map coordinates are transformed to an unknown coordinate system (not in Lat/Long). This is mainly for the national security reason as far as I know.

What are the issues surrounding showing images? Why would they be more concerned about their own population seeing them? Is http://maps.live.com blocked in China? 
[vt] The same reason as above. In general, mapping is a highly regulated area in China and so on-line mapping services. Given the incredible opportunity in China commercial mapping market and the coming Olympic event, the China mapping agency is actively developing and examining their data policy and regulations. I was using maps.live.com when I was travelling China. Our site is running just fine.

Today, we have two good news: China Virtual Earth release and MultiMap acquisition. We are on our way to our international roadmap!

Way to go? Mapping looks to be the web’s next big thing (Financial Times)

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

Reprinted from the Financial Times. By Richard Waters in San Francisco. Published: May 21 2008.

When European regulators last week cleared the €2.9bn ($4.5bn, £2.3bn) purchase of TeleAtlas, a digital mapping company, by TomTom, the maker of navigation devices, they were giving a nudge along to one of the hottest business fads on the internet.

Approval for that deal makes it almost certain that a bigger transaction will also get the nod: Nokia’s proposed $8.1bn purchase of Navteq, the largest acquisition undertaken by the mobile handset maker.

Navteq’s database of maps covers more than 70 countries. Yet as a source for the next world-changing online idea, digital maps might appear a distinctly unpromising place to start. These basic graphical representations of the world seem a rather humdrum commodity, hardly a key to unlocking the riches of the internet.

That is not how it appears to Nokia. Anssi Vanjoki, a senior executive of the Finnish company, recently summed up the reason for its acquisition: “We can locate our experiences, our history, on the map. It’s a very concrete expression of a context.” Displayed on the bigger, higher-resolution screens that are becoming more common on mobile handsets, maps can become “a user interface to many things”.

This is turning into a prevailing view in the internet industry – partly because mapping does not stop at simple two-dimensional representations. Mike Liebhold, a veteran technologist who is now a fellow at Silicon Valley’s Institute for the Future, calls it a “3D data arms race”, with some of the biggest technology companies rushing to amass vast libraries of information describing the world in painstaking detail.

Erik Jorgensen, a senior executive in Microsoft’s online operations, says the software company is building a “digital representation of the globe to a high degree of accuracy” that will bring about “a change in how you think about the internet”. He adds: “We’re very much betting on a paradigm shift. We believe it will be a way that people can socialise, shop and share information.”

The bet, in short, is that the map is about to become the interface to many of the things people do on the internet – and that the company that controls this interface could one day own something as prevalent and powerful as Google’s simple search box. This proposition takes on added power when applied to the mobile world. Displayed on location-aware handsets, digital maps can be used to order information around the user. The information that matters most is information about things that are closest.

That explains why a car navigation company and a maker of mobile phones are leading the charge. A collision with established internet powers such as Google, which has itself identified the mobile internet as its next big money-making opportunity, is inevitable.

Reordering the internet around this new geographic interface is a project that has been under way for some time. It starts with what engineers at Google call the “base canvas” – a detailed digital representation of the physical world on to which other information can be “hung”. Thanks to the plunging costs of technologies such as digital imaging and geolocation equipment, the world is being mapped, measured, plotted and photographed in almost unimaginable detail.

At one end of the spectrum are people like Steve Coast, a British amateur who is hoping to create a communal map of the world as comprehensive as Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia. Volunteers who contribute to Mr Coast’s OpenStreetMap.org literally redraw the map. “You buy a GPS [global positioning system] unit and cycle around the roads,” he says. “It drops a data point every second, like Hansel and Gretel dropping breadcrumbs.” Collecting those data points and joining the dots is the first step in sketching a map of the road network.

At the other extreme are the likes of Google, which is approaching the task with its usual unbounded ambition. “Our goal is to make a kind of mirror world, a replica world,” declares John Hanke, head of its Google Earth unit. Many of these data are being gathered through painstaking methods and put into private databases. For instance, Navteq and TeleAtlas each use their own fleets of vehicles to collect a mass of street-level information useful to motorists but not shown on official maps – covering everything from speed limits and one-way streets to big construction projects.

These are not the only trucks and vans crawling the kerbsides of cities to suck up information. Google is there too. “Every five feet or so, we’re capturing a 360-degree image that is many megapixels,” says Mr Hanke. Those pictures add a detailed street-level view. Microsoft, not to be outdone, has taken to the air. It has gone as far as designing and building specialised cameras, flying them around to collect three-dimensional images using a technology called Lidar, a variant of radar.

This is about more than mapping and photographing the planet. It also involves modelling it, collecting enough geographic and spatial data points to be able to render a detailed digital version. With a service called Sketch-up, for instance, Google lets users draw their own digital models of real-world buildings and add them to its 3D “warehouse”.

These are expensive undertakings and are based on an untested proposition: that the resulting digital representations will form the new backdrop for a whole range of money-making online activities. Also, with several companies all racing to create what are essentially the same basic geo-spatial frameworks, the costs have been multiplied across a number of rivals.

Yet it is not hard to see how these companies justify the costs to themselves: gross profit margins on internet search are above 80 per cent and, for any company that can generate scale, these development costs are likely to pale by comparison. In addition, as the acquisitions of TeleAtlas and Navteq show, companies that have created parts of what could become the web’s next compelling interface already command high values.

(more…)

Flash Wars: Adobe in the History and Future of Flash

Monday, May 12th, 2008

AppleInsider.com’s Prince McLean produced a three part series earlier this month on the Flash Wars.

Direct links to Part 1Part 2, and Part 3.

(Reprinted from AppleInsider) 

Pitted against Microsoft’s efforts to crush Flash using its own copycat Silverlight platform, open source projects seeking to duplicate Flash for free, and Apple’s efforts to create a mobile platform wholly free of any trace of Flash, Adobe has scrambled to announce efforts to make Flash a public specification in the Open Screen Project.

Will it help get Flash on the iPhone? Here’s the first segment of a three part series with a historical overview of the wars between Flash and Adobe, Microsoft, Sun, Apple, Google, and the open source community, the problems Flash faces today, and what future Flash can hope for as an open specification.

A Brief History of Flash

Flash originated at FutureWave Software as SmartSketch, an innovative drawing tool. In 1995, the software was repositioned as FutureSplash Animator, with support for cell based animation. It was pitched as a way to quickly draw and animate vector-based graphics for efficient delivery over the web, as a direct challenge to Macromedia’s heavier and more complex Authorware and its Director-created Shockwave content.

FutureWave pitched the product to Adobe, but it was Macromedia that bought it in 1996, hoping to integrate it as an approachable, entry level member of its content production tools as the company’s business was rapidly pushed from CD-ROM oriented products to the web. Macromedia abbreviated the name from FutureSplash to Flash.

It turned out that the easy to use Flash rapidly sidelined Macromedia’s existing Authorware and Shockwave. Flash made it easy for designers to create interactive content with only minimal development knowledge. The real break for Flash came when Macromedia lined up a bundling agreement with Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 5, which resulted in the Flash player software being widely distributed.

While Microsoft embraced Flash, it actively worked in parallel to stop Sun’s Java and Netscape’s web browser as threats to Windows. Microsoft’s efforts to sideline Java into a Windows programming language and its strategy to embrace and extend standards-based, platform agnostic HTML into web pages that only worked in Internet Explorer gave Macromedia’s Flash fertile ground to grow as a quick and simple alternative to the more complex and resource intensive Java as a way to create simple, interactive applets on the web.

Adobe Hates, Then Buys Flash

Adobe purchased Macromedia in 2005 largely to obtain Flash, the crown jewel of Macromedia’s web development tool assets. Prior to owning it, Adobe unsuccessfully worked hard to kill it as a competing product.

In 1998, when Macromedia and Microsoft submitted VML to the W3C as a potential web standard for vector graphics (based on Microsoft’s RTF), Adobe teamed up with Sun to push the rival PGML specification (based on Adobe’s PostScript). The W3C developed a new standard that drew from both, called SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics).

Adobe pushed SVG as a competitor to Flash right up until it bought Flash, distributing the Adobe SVG Player as a free web plugin. Microsoft continued to push its own VML, which it built into Internet Explorer. This prevented either VML or SVG from making much progress, as other browsers didn’t support VML, while the SVG open standard saw little adoption given Adobe’s weak presence in web development tools. That let Flash easily win out over both as the way to develop and present animated vector graphics on the web.

Flash continued to develop at Macromedia, gaining a scripting language based on JavaScript and other features that turned it into a full presentation development tool rather than just a way to distribute small interactive graphics. Macromedia even took swipes back at Adobe, introducing FlashPaper as an alternative to Adobe’s PDF as a way to distribute electronic documents in the Flash format.

After buying Flash, Adobe gave up support for its own weak SVG Player rival and has apparently discarded FlashPaper as a PDF competitor. However, the rest of the industry has plenty of reasons to still hate Flash, as will be presented in part two: The Many Enemies and Obstacles of Flash.

Continue reading on AppleInsider.com . . .