Monday, January 29, 2007

Google Tailors Earth for DoD Users

Here's a great article on how Google Earth is creating the ability to fuse geospatial information layers for visualization purposes for the US Department of Defense. Link.

I'll have to admit, even as a die-hard former ESRI employee, that the Google Earth visualization platform is hard to beat. It is simple and easy to use, provides a good viewing tool, and Google seems to be able to responsively make changes to Google Earth rapidly to meet customer's needs. But, it still isn't useful as an analysis tool like ESRI's ArcGIS is. The DOD executive decision makers may be asking for Google Earth to help them visualize the information needed to make the tough decisions, but most of the information creating the layers behind what they see comes from ArcGIS users.

ESRI is marketing a Google Earth-like viewing platform that will work well with ArcGIS 9.2 called ArcGIS Explorer that blends good visualization tools and detailed analysis capabilities, but it still isn't quite there. I played with it extesively last week and it still has some bugs in it. ESRI is trying to compete with Google Earth, and it is sad to say, but I believe as the Google organization gets bigger and more cumbersome it should be easeir for ESRI to compete in the viewer market.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

I Want To Die A Martyr For Christ

We kicked off the first Thursday Night Alive! at The Gate by having Noah Oldham, one of The Gate's charter members, come back and share with us last Thursday. Noah and his wife Heather took the 2 hour drive north to spend an incredible evening at The Gate. Noah graduated from McKendree College in 2005 and is serving as the Youth Pastor at Little Chapel Church in Harrisburg, Illinois. His program is very successful, and Noah has the opportunity to affect the lives of over 125 students that regularly attend his program on any given week. Noah has grown a lot over the last 5 years that I have known him, and the fire for Christ that he has in his heart pours out of every cell of his being. There are only 2 people I know personally who have a fire like that and Noah is one of them. He is truely an incredible person and brother in the Lord.

Whenever Noah visits us he always says something that is profound and keeps me thinking about my committment to Christ along after he is gone. This time he said something that I have been mulling over in my mind for the last 4 days. What he said was "I want to die a martyr for the Lord". Thursday night I took that to mean that he doesn't want to live a life that is comfortable and secure, but wants to push his dedication to the Lord in new and challenging ways that will cause him to live his life on "the edge."

But, over the weekend I really looked deeper into what Noah said. Here are a couple of my thoughts:

Most of the Apostles died as martyrs for their committment to the Lord. How did they live their lives when the Lord was with them? The Gospels describe them as a group of stumbling, disconnected, ineffective men devoted to a Lord they didn't fully believe or understand. Just look at the actions of Peter and Thomas in the final chapters of the Gospel of John. Peter boldly defends Christ by cutting off the ear of the high priest's slave (John 18:10-11), but then on the same night denies Christ three times (John 18:15-17, 25-27). Thomas truely didn't believe that Jesus had been resurrected until he sawHis hands and feet (John 20:24-29). The Apostles were in horrible shape when they gathered in the upper room After Christ was crucified and resurrected, and the Holy Spirit was poured out on them their lives were totally changed. The book of Acts records their lives as a bold, daring, committed, and effective group of men. They went from a group of individuals to a band of committed men. They lived their lives for the Lord as salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16) as a witness to the rest of the world to the extent that it cost most of them their lives.

As I pondered the changed lives of the Apostles I also thought about what it means to be a martyr. I thought about the terrorist suicide bombers in Iraq, and how crazy I believe they are, because they give up their lives so willingly for their cause. I don't believe they are true martyrs, because they chose to take their own lives. But their actions do cause me to stop and think about what it means to give up your life for a cause you believe in? Unless the Lord comes first, and I pray every day for it and believe it will happen soon, we will all die anyway. So, why not live our lives in a more meaningful way. If our time on earth is so short and we are all going to pass away like the grass (1 Peter 1:24-25) then living a cautious and safe life to a point where we never take any chances to step out in faith means our committment to the Lord is worth nothing to us. We may extend our time on earth and make us more popular with others, but what does living a safe life accomplish? Living a life that makes people think about their mortality, their personal relationship with a living God, and why they are not choosing to serve Him is a worthy cause. The Iraqi suicide bombers are giving up their lives pretty much because they don't like Americans. Our cause is so much more noble and important.

I just want to close with a quote from the Gospel of John. I think it sums up what I have been writing about so far today. John the Baptist's mission was to prepare the way of the Lord and to point to the coming Christ. His lived to see Jesus and his mission was almost finished here on earth when he said, He must increase, and I must decrease (John 3:30). I believe that is what living the life of a martyr is today. We must sacrifice our lives in order to live for Christ. It may or may not involve the giving of our physical bodies, but it surely involves the giving of our time on earth.

I don't mean to belittle Noah's comment about dying a martyr for the Lord, because, knowing Noah, I believe he sincerely meant it the way it came out. But, the concept of dying a martyr for Christ is so hard to grasp.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

IEC Awarded DHS Contract for First Responder, Three Dimension Locator Systems

Here’s a link to good article on the ASD daily about GPS 3-D indoor use in emergency settings. Link. Maybe a new line of business for those of us involved in GIS?

U.S. Warns About Canadian Spy Coins

Yahoo has a great article on using RFID bugs in Canadian coins to track US Department of Defense contractors as they travel through Canada. Here's the link. Link.

Friday, January 05, 2007

NCAA Football Playoffs?

Yahoo has a good article on the most powerful man in college athletics and his stance on NCAA playoffs. Link. Doesn't sound like we are headed for a playoff any time soon.