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Nearmap | PC warranties | OCAD 12 updates

ANZAC flags

Nearmap now in NZ

Image of Nearmap NZ coverage (grey) as at Mar 17. Click to zoom.
Nearmap NZ coverage (grey) as at Mar 17

Nearmap recently started operation in NZ. Initial flying has been over metropolitan and adjacent areas. The image at right from the Nearmap website shows the coverage in grey. Nearmap images can be acquired at various zoom levels and the highest zoom level provides a clarity of detail I have not seen elsewhere. The images are georeferenced so can be used as background images in OCAD provided you select an appropriate co-ordinate system. WMS can be used to  access Nearmap directly from OCAD.

When Nearmap was first introduced to Australia, free access was provided for a time. When this was pulled, a personal licence was available for a year or so. That was pulled and only business licences are available. It is unlikely an individual would have sufficient use of Nearmap to justify the cost of even the basic business licence (250MB p.m.) but a regional organisation might. Another option is to locate a contact in a company that uses Nearmap and obtain imagery from them if their licence permits.

Note that in Australia, issues were experienced with the transformation into the Australian grid of Nearmap’s Popular Visualisation CRS/Mercator projection. I don’t know if this is still the case.

ACCC hits PC warranty exclusion

This might seem a strange item for this blog but if you are using OCAD then you are using a PC and could easily fall victim to shonky warranty exclusions. (OK it isn’t PC to call an Apple one such but it is convenient).

In essence, the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) told Apple that upgrading the software on a computer is not a valid warranty exclusion. I currently have a warranty claim on my new PC and was told by one customer service person that upgrading from WIN8 to WIN10 voided the warranty. The warranty claim seemed to stall until I mentioned the ACCC finding and shortly after received acceptance of the claim. Coincidence?

The ACCC’s decision covers more than just the software upgrade as this excerpt shows;

…having a component of the Apple device serviced, repaired, or replaced by someone other than Apple cannot, by itself, extinguish the consumer’s right to a remedy for non-compliance with the consumer guarantees.

If you have a similar situation then quote this article to your retailer or manufacturer www.accc.gov.au/media-release/accc-takes-action-against-apple-over-alleged-misleading-consumer-guarantee-representations  Maybe it applies in NZ as well.

Recent OCAD updates

Image of some ISOM 2017 symbols
Some ISOM2017 symbols

For the benefit of those not yet on OCAD v12, here are some recent key updates;

  • Orienteering edition > v12.1.2 now has Shape file import  While, unlike Pro edition, this does not import the database and has only one key field for layer identification, the attributes of your selected key field can be examined during import selection.
  • Starter & Orienteering editions now have OSM (Open Street Map) import. OCAD already includes an OSM symbol set and a .crt file for translation to orienteering symbols.
  • ISOM 2017 symbol sets for 1:10k and 1:15k in v12.2.1 plus ISOM2000 to ISOM2017 .crt file for conversions. Also available for OCAD 11  – link then scroll down.
  • Please note it is not possible to convert an ISOM 2017 OCAD 12 course setting project to OCAD 11, because the preview objects have other symbol numbers.

ISMTBO 2010 proposed changes

This MTBO Commission project had suffered delays. Ursula Haeusermann of Switzerland is the new chair. She has advised;

Re the ISMTBOM you may know that they are being reviewed at the moment. A working group is preparing the material to start a testing phase which is based on a proposal. Actually it was planned to launch this testing phase in May 2017, but the preparations take more time than expected so it might become June until everything is ready. When this is the case, all IOF federations, organisers of major events and – if we know about them – other interested people… will be informed.

I would think that it will be possible to give feedback at all levels, from individuals to federations. There will be a questionnaire referring to the proposal, but I guess feedback of a more general nature will also be welcome. We, the MTBO Commission, want to develop our sport further in collaboration with the MTBO community, and we appreciate all the knowledge and experience which different parties and people have. It would therefore be a pity and not in our sense if we restricted submissions or inputs in any way.

You can keep up to date via the MTBO Commission web page. Ursula intends that a subscription facility for ongoing news will become available on those pages.

ISMTBO 2010 rideable areas image
ISMTBO 2010 rideable areas

Here in VIC there are four persons who have concerns about ISMTBO 2010. A call will go out shortly on the AUS MTBO Facebook page to see if others in Australia are interested in exchanging views and/or making submissions via OA. If you are not on Facebook, you are welcome to use this website’s contact form or email me to register your interest in contributing to our federation’s submissions via the proposed testing phase. If there is sufficient interest a limited life e- forum could be set up to enable an Australia wide focused conversation.

A common concern so far is with the four proposed ‘rideable area’ symbols. I evaluated these when preparing the map for the VIC MTBO Champs at Barkstead. Later I formalised my evaluation and you can peruse the text and samples on this Dropbox page. What is best for Barkstead’s rideable area may not be best for other maps and rideable areas. So maybe we need more than one rideable area symbol.

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Become More Productive with OCAD in 2017 – Part 3

OCAD productivity through hardware, software, processes

Upgrading your PC on a limited budget

Check the OCAD wiki

When buying a new PC or Mac with OCAD in mind, the first port of call is the OCAD wiki section on Technical Data.

Memory vs Processor

Having to make that choice? My unquantified experience is to spend the money on a faster processor. I recently bought a new Asus 64-bit PC WIN 10 on a special that did not allow me to order over 4GB memory. The processor is an i7-4790. This PC replaced a 64-bit laptop with WIN10, an i5-2450M and 16GB memory. I had intended to buy more memory for the Asus but the difference in performance was so great that initially I had no need. I do have some very large OCAD files. Geekbench performance scores are 4,596 for that i5 and 13,094 for that i7.

But some months later I had a map requirement that led me to order more memory. When I loaded a large number of Nearmap aerial images as background to a large map, the PC ground away and after 30 seconds or so entered a comatose state (OCAD now provides a warning in that situation).  In theory, if I limited the viewable area of map, then many images would not need to be in memory at that moment, but that is not really practicable.

So I now have 20GB and all is sweet. If you do not use a lot of aerial images, or are prepared to have visible just those you work on at any given moment, then you will not experience this memory issue. See also this earlier post on CPU power.

SD drive

Mark Roberts’ experience shows a Solid State Drive (SSD) will load OCAD and files somewhat faster.

Larger and/or second screen

27" ASUS PB278
27″ ASUS PB278

When I upgraded to the new PC I also bought a largish (23″) 1920 x 1080 screen as recommended by Mark Roberts in this post. Wow! Even though this is smaller than Mark’s old screen, it is a significant advance over my laptop screen.

Probably an even greater cost/benefit is to have a second screen. I had an old Dell screen in the garage so cost was nil.  See Mark Roberts’ earlier tip on using a second screen.

Software

As OCAD has advanced, my need for external softwares in mapping has reduced. Nowadays I occasionally use Cad Viewer to quickly check out a Shape file before importing. I still frequently use GPS Utility to convert GPS files to OCAD readable GPX files. I also use it to get rid of multiple and extraneous track segments such as when I forget to turn off the GPS driving home. I could do that in OCAD but find the utility overall easier.

Processes

In the last 5 years or so, for me two processes stand out as being the most productive.

Master maps

Master map image
Master map in OCAD

Having a master map of an area that has a number of adjoining maps is top of my list because;

  • the master map enforces version control as all corrections are made to the master map
  • a master map simplifies control through a map library check out check in process
  • symbols are uniform across all maps
  • flexibility of map areas is hugely increased as any area can be ‘cut’ from a master map for an event

Drawbacks? Establishing version control can be quite difficult in the ‘relaxed’ club orienteering environment. But once firmly established it should become second nature. Ken Thompson has produced a detailed process for setting up and maintaining a master map system. It is basically similar to the system I use but adds processes suited to a club where the map librarian may change from time to time.

Symbol status manager (new in OCAD 12)

Symbol status manager dialogue
Symbol status manager

This OCAD function is very useful if you develop or maintain maps that are used for multiple types of orienteering such as foot and mtb. Being able to switch from one view to the other so quickly is a boon.

Got an OCAD or mapping productivity tip to share? Just enter it in comments or draft a post for publication.

 

 

 


Aiming off

Not quite contours - Paulo Mendes
Not quite contours – Paulo Mendes
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New Non-commercial Nearmap Offer

NearMap logo

Update

Nearmap appears not to offer personal accounts any longer. Your can check out their licence offerings at www.nearmap.com.au/legal/licenses

If you are in Queensland then check out the post on Queensland Globe service.

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Limited time offer for Nearmap

Check out their just announced offer for Australian personal users. Available over next 7 days (their email to me is dated Monday 15th September).

Option 1 is $99 for 1 year of 50MB per month.

Option 2 is $199 for 1 year of 250MB per month and for the first 2 months you get unlimited usage.

Now I cannot guarantee it still applies, but when I took out my $99 package a few months ago I got unlimited usage for 1 month. That was great for downloading all the areas I felt I would be most likely to want in the following year or so.

Watch your usage

50MB might seem a lot but ‘downloading’  includes what you view as you locate the area you want. That can drive up the MB very quickly. You need to use judicious searching to locate your target area and then select the area with minimum fuss.

My opinion

I love it. Even though I don’t use it each month, my $99 package is great value. Similar reports have been coming in from other orienteering users.

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Queensland Globe – Nearly Nearmap

Earth from space

Queensland Globe free spatial data

We’ve taken the loss of Nearmap hard but now here in Queensland is something pretty close. I have to say I’m very relieved.

Queensland Globe (QG) is a Queensland Government open data initiative which uses Google Earth (GE) to present a variety of spatial data and they are progressively adding more.

[button link=”http://www.nrm.qld.gov.au/mapping/queensland-globe.html” style=”info” color=”orange” window=”yes”]Learn more of QLD Globe[/button]

Queensland Globe Pro

You will want to use qglobepro instead of regular qglobe, but it’s hidden away. Download the .kml file, open it and GE will start up with checkboxes for QG data in the Layers pane on the left.

[button link=”http://globe.information.qld.gov.au/GoogleInstall/qldglobepro.kml” style=”download” color=”aqua” window=”yes”]QLD Globe Pro kml[/button]

Remember you need to switch off terrain features or you will have a parallax view which is no use for mapping:

[ordered_list style=”decimal”]

  1. In GE: Tools / Options / 3D View / Elevation Exaggeration = 0.01.
  2. In the QG checkboxes: Terrain = Off.

[/ordered_list]

Queensland Globe screen
Queensland Globe screen

Here is why Queensland Globe is special

[unordered_list style=”tick”]

  • The aerial photography is reasonably up to date in the areas I have looked; it’s not as good as Nearmap, but a lot better than Google Maps (GM).
  • The aerial photography has been selected for clarity, unlike GM, which can be murky, shadowed and useless.
  • The orthorectification of the aerial photography appears to be quite accurate.
  • Photography is high definition – again better than GM but not as good as Nearmap.
  • It has 10m contours which look reasonably good.

[/unordered_list]

But Queensland Globe is not perfect:

[unordered_list style=”red-x”]

  • No georeferencing information is available, but see below.
  • Contours disappear when you zoom in very close.
  • Cadastre is unreliable and sometimes appears only when zoomed out too far for usefulness. Just keep trying.
  • Images can’t be downloaded, you have to take screenshots.

[/unordered_list]

Georeferencing

Here is how to add georeferencing information to the GE / GQ image. Download the Gridlines Manager .kml file.

[button link=”http://nearby.org.uk/google/Gridlines_mgrs.kml.pl” style=”download” color=”aqua” window=”yes”]Gridlines Manager kml[/button]

This one appears in the Place pane in GE (I’m not sure how or why) and will remain there for future use. (It seems to be necessary to load the QG KML file each time.) Switch on 0.1km grid lines as well as the QG imagery and contours, take a screenshot and you have an image which you can easily load into Ocad and print out for fieldworking.

Once again the gridlines are not entirely reliable, sometimes they don’t display, I think because the system relies upon the availability of a server somewhere to provide the data.

How to load the image in Ocad? I find it’s easiest to import a GPX track somewhere in the vicinity of your map, as this fixes up your map’s Coordinate System, Zone and Offset, and locates you near where you want to be. Now in Ocad go to Map | Set Scale etc and set a grid distance of 100m. Switch on the grid and you can now load the QG image and adjust to the gridlines.

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OCAD Adds Co-ordinate System for Nearmap

NearMap logo

A Mercator projection for Nearmap imagery

Grounded Patterns near Bendigo
Grounded Patterns near Bendigo

In testing Nearmap’s not-for-profits’ plan, Russell Rigby of NSW reported that after analysis;

  1. The Google Mercator units aren’t even close to metres so current Nearmap imagery cannot be imported straight into OCAD at a meaningful scale.
  2. The OCAD transformation [via registration of image corners to OCAD map] from Google Mercator to Map Grid of Australia is good, but needs testing in more areas to be sure.

Following further investigation by Russell and myself we determined that the EPSG code 3785 referenced by Nearmap was not present in OCAD’s co-ordinate system range. Further detective work showed that OCAD contains the original version of the Google Mercator projection (EPSG 900913) but it is no longer officially in use. Not that a cursory search of the spatial world would tell you that. Fortunately Russell came across this post in Alastair Aitcheson’s spatial blog.

Popular Visualisation CRS / Mercator

I advised OCAD hq of the issue along with the background we discovered and they got onto the matter immediately. Their recent service release 11.1.5.1351 of 2013-09-04 contains the co-ordinate system referenced by Nearmap images available under the latter’s Basic plan. In the OCAD co-ordinate system list it is named Popular Visualisation CRS / Mercator (EPSG 3785). Note this addition is not documented in the release notes.

OCAD EPSG 3785

Images previously downloaded via Hypertiles

If you downloaded images via Hypertiles before Nearmap closed off the free service, then you should find those images are georeferenced. Thus if used as a background image, the images will register nicely with a georeferenced map.

You can check the co-ordinate system of such images by opening the .vrt file that is in each Hypertiles data set. The first few lines show;

[quote] <VRTDataset rasterXSize=”75677″ rasterYSize=”113090″>
<SRS>EPSG:28355</SRS>[/quote]

The EPSG reference can then be looked up at spatialreference.org. In this case [quote]EPSG:28355: GDA94 / MGA zone 55[/quote]

However, whichever you selected when running Hypertiles, OCAD should convert nicely.

Russell Rigby on trialling Nearmap’s Basic plan

(Nearmap’s Basic plan offered to orienteering appears to be the same as, or very similar to, their Photomaps Standard Plan).

There is no equivalent of Hypertiles now, where you can nominate the area and resolution level that you want ( at least at the subscription level that is in any way likely).

The current subscription model has a download limit (50MB/month basic, next level 250MB/month). Any image displayed on the screen is included in downloads, to the extent that Nearmap suggests reducing the size of the browser window as a way of reducing the downloads. Panning or zooming adds to the download, as does viewing an image sequence. Using the screen tools (measuring, area, lat/long etc) does not add to downloads as long as the image is not moved.

There are two choices when saving an image. The first is to effectively capture the screen, the second is to define a box to download at high resolution. Both options can generate a world file, in the format attached to the image I sent previously. The only indication of the size & resolution of the resulting image file comes after the download has been requested and performed, so working on a tight download budget could be difficult.

The jgw is the only world-file format – there is no equivalent of the vrt file. Nearmap help suggests loading the output files into a GIS system (ESRI, Mapinfo etc) to work further with the image.

In the test data area Level 17 corresponds to approx 1m pixel size (1.19 “units”), and each change in level corresponds to a factor of 2 eg level 18 == 0.5m pixel. The only way I can see to control download size is to measure the max dimension of the area I want, & do a quick calculation of which scaling level will give between 3k & 6k pixels along that dimension, or I get to level 21 (approx 6cm) which is the smallest pixel size available.

The quality of the imagery is very high, and for capital city areas, very frequent. Regional coverage is less frequent (3-6 months for Newcastle), & is patchy and one-off for other coastal & inland towns in NSW. Many towns are not covered, or are only photographed in flood time! Some areas I have looked at have more recent coverage on Google or Bing, but usually not as high resolution.

The terms & conditions for the licence say that the first 2 months have unlimited downloads.