Free the maps

The Map Ransom project is trying to collect $1600 to make publicly available “56000 USGS maps.”

I was really excited when I first read about this, but then I discovered that the maps being “liberated” are USGS Digital Raster Graphics (DRG) files. This is not exciting for two reasons: a) these maps are already available online for free at the USGS Seamless Data Delivery website and b) DRG’s… kinda suck. I mean, come on. Who wants a poorly scanned tif image of a map from the 1980s?

What I want is easy access to two things:

* High resolution satellite imagery. Someone needs to convert all of NASA’s LANDSAT data into the visible spectrum and encode it into GeoJPGs. This can be done already (and for free), but I haven’t found any tools that make it easy. Someone needs to just do it and put it online for everyone. 🙂

* Good road data. TIGER/Line is online and it’s free.. but the data is outdated and sometimes downright innaccurate. USGS Digital Line Graphs are online and free.. but the problem there is the data is outdated and doesn’t always contain street names.

You can get this stuff already through Google Earth and NASA World Wind, but as far as I could find you can’t export the data into something usable from either of these programs. Actually in World Wind you might be able too, but they don’t have good road data.

When that data gets put online in an easy-to-access form then I’ll celebrate. I’ll even donate some bucks to make it happen. Lemme know when it’s going down!

Dish Network Telemarketing

I’m on the federal do not call list, and I just got a telemarketing call from Dish Network. The conversation went something like:

Me: Hello
Dish: Hello may I speak with Mr. Derick?
Me: Who?
Dish: I need to speak with the head of the household or whoever owns this home.
Me: OK you’re speaking to him
Dish: Hi my name is xkjhdf and I’m calling on behalf of Dish Network and I’d like to offer you…
Me: Excuse me, but I’m on the federal do not call list.
Dish: Oh I’m sorry, I do not have that information. *click*

No good bye, no “have a nice day”… but I guess it’s a good thing that he ran away when I mentioned the do not call list.

I did a search on google for dish network do not call list and.. holy cow.. they were warned a lot in 2005 for violating the do not call rules. And here we are again in 2006 and they’re still at it. Maybe they consider the cost/risk of being fined less than the money they’ll make off of customers that don’t report them.

If you get telemarketed too and you’re in the do not call registery, please.. file a complaint with the FTC regarding a do not call violation.

Level 3 approached me yesterday…

I find this hilarious. Level 3 Communications – a top-tier Internet Service Provider – approached me yesterday by phone and email to see if I was interested in buying bandwidth from them. Here’s the email:

Good afternoon, my name is XXX XXXXXX and I am a sales representative with Level 3 Communications. We are global providers of bandwidth for content providers. We are interested in talking with you regarding your bandwidth requirements. Please check our our website below. Please call me if I can assist you in any manner with any data applications.

Account Representative
Level 3 Communications
One Technology Center TC8-Z
Tulsa, OK 74103

My message on the phone went something like: “We’ve recognized that your hosting facility uses a lot of bandwidth and we’d like to have a conversation with you about how you can save money by going with Level 3.”

Hosting facility? A lot of bandwidth? Content provider?

I’m none of those! I hardly think my little linux machine I run off my DSL needs more bandwidth. It doesn’t even have a 100mbit card in it.

Are they desperate or just misinformed? Or are they just scraping DNS records for leads? (Which is against the rules, supposedly)…