I’ve been thinking about GIS data a bit lately, mostly because I’m cleaning off old hard drives I’ve had in my possession to try and consolidate my data (or not lose the data off of old hard drives). Typically GIS data was accessed one of two ways, either from a server through some endpoint or via a local file store. I can’t look at these old ArcGIS Desktop MXDs anymore but I recall most of the work we did was local file store. You know, sitting on the “P drive” and referenced via a file path. We all remember opening up projects and seeing those red exclamation points telling us that data was moved (or the project file was).
It is very easy in retrospect to go back and call yourself batshit crazy for storing data this way (back up hopefully every night on a DLT tape). I mean think about this for a minute, nothing was versioned. We live in this world of git where everything I do (including this blog) is stored in a database where I can track changes and revert if need be. Now I’m not using this post to talk about the need of GeoGig or whatever that project is called these days (I’m not even sure it still exists), but the realization that GIS over the years is such a workgroup discipline.
I worked for AECOM, the largest AEC in the world. We did some amazing enterprise projects but GIS was never one of them. It was a small group of GIS “pros”, “doing” GIS to support some enterprise project that changed the world. Tacked on if you will, and it’s not just AECOM that worked that way. Every organization views GIS this way, like “graphics”. Why is this? Because GIS “pros” have let it be this way.
I’m not trying to come up with a solution here because I don’t think there is one. GIS is just very small minded compared to other professions in the tech space. Even the word “enterprise” has been appropriated to mean something totally different. Just having a web map does not make GIS “enterprise”, in fact all you’re doing is taking workgroup and making it worse. It is easy to pick on Esri (as I did above) but they’re not the big problem. It’s the implementations which make Esri have such terminology. That is, it is the GIS “pros” who cause these problems on themselves. Who is to fault Esri for trying to make a buck?
I have made it my professional career to fix broken GIS systems. People always ask me, “What madness you must see trying to undo broken GIS systems” but the reality is I see some amazing work. Just small minded implementations. It is easy to make fun of ArcObjects or GML but they are just libraries that people use to create tools.
This isn’t a call to arms or a reminder that you’re doing GIS wrong, it’s just thoughts on a plane headed across the country where I’m looking at data that I created as a workgroup project. I’m sure there are people cleaning up my work that I implemented in the past, I can tell you there is some bad choices in that work. Technology has caused many of us to lose being humble. And that results in only one thing, bad choices. In the end this is my reminder to be humble. The good thing is I have no shapefiles anywhere on this laptop. That’s a start.
I’m 46. It is weird even typing that. I’ll be 47 later this year which is even weirder. In my mind I think I’m till thirty-something but age is starting to creep up to me. I’ve noticed that I need reading glasses to see my iPhone.
The days of small text on small screens so I don’t have to scroll is over. Out is 11pt and 12pt fonts in my text editors and terminal windows and in comes 14pt. Fixed with fonts such as SF Mono and Roboto Mono seem to handle my eyes better too. Originally I was thinking that the dark mode on many terminal apps and text editors was going to be hard on my eyes but the fonts above on retina screens really pops for me. That said, dropping down to a non-retina monitor I have a very hard time reading things. So the quality of the screen and fonts seem to mean more to me than the color of the screen. Right now this is my environment:
For text editing, mostly I’m using BBEdit. I’ve hacked the SF Mono font so it is available for BBEdit to use and it is set at 14pt. For my theme, I’m using Xcode Dark which attempts to recreate the Xcode dark mode on BBEdit.
But I use VSCode as well. There I’m using Roboto Mono and the Dark+ Material theme. It is different than the look for BBEdit but it works for me in VSCode.
I’ve replaced Terminal.app with Hyper.is which I’m in love with. I use Roboto Mono and the Hyper-Clean theme. Again a little bit different than the above, but it just works. 14pt font as of course.
I think given that I have three different themes going on here is proof that I haven’t settled down on what looks best for me. I think eventually I’ll have a common theme color and go with it for all three products. 14pt font for me works well. It’s big enough that my eyes don’t strain, but small enough that I can fit enough on my screen. I think if Apple releases SF Mono as a system font, rather than a hack, I’ll go with it over Roboto Mono but honestly Roboto Mono is a great font for me too. We’ll just have to see what happens.
Most other apps I use on a regular basis such as Evernote, Safari, Chrome, Slack, I just go with the defaults. Many have a dark mode that mimics the Mac OS X dark mode and that’s fine with me. If Apple were to allow customization of that dark mode I’d probably be happy but we all know that will never happen. The last year has been hard for me with my eyes, it was the first time I felt myself holding my iPhone out at arms length to read it. What I’ve learned is to embrace a larger font and not strain my eyes. Pride is not suffering because you can’t read like you did 20 years ago, it’s having the will to make the choices you need to continue to be successful. For me, the above works.
With politics and hatred all over social media these days, it’s hard not to be nostagic of the Twitter we all enjoyed between 2008-2012. I look at my twitter feed these days and it isn’t focused. It’s probably just like yours, full of bots, yahoos, idiots and morons. I started looking through who I followed in the past few years and it’s not pretty. I really miss interacting with people on Twitter, rather than just posting memes.
So I thought about declaring tweet bankruptcy. Just delete the account and start fresh. But that’s not helpful. Sure I did it with my Facebook account but let’s be honest that’s just good practice. With Twitter though I don’t want to just blow away all my tweets (looks like over 41,000 of them), but reduce noise. Looking at my follows there are some basic groups:
So then all I need to do is put everyone in lists (or multiple lists) and then I can segrate my twitter experience to my needs. I spent the weekend going through every follow I had (over 1,200) and move them into lists. But at the same time I culled my follows. I wanted to reduce it down to 200-400 follows. This way my main feed is what I consider value, but i can still enjoy conversations with people that aren’t follows.
It really has helped me get more value out of twitter. When I open Twitter on my phone I get only those accounts that I feel like are important enough to me that I should always see them. They all come out of those lists above. But then on my computer, I can use TweetDeck to have my lists always availabe and I can follow work related news or anything else with ease. The other nice thing is I can follow/unfollow people without worry that I’ll lose them. They will always be in my lists.
I can’t remember when Twitter had created lists but it has been a very long time. I resisted them because I thought the firehose was th best method for tweets but I’m enjoying this much more because I see tweets, especially in my Spatial/GIS list that I missed before because there was too much noise.
Back in the day I used to always have a Friday link blog post and I’ve noticed I’ve been doing a lot more reading so it just feels right to visit this back.
Apple owes everyone an apology and it should start with me, specifically - You can’t but own one of the latest Apple MacBook Pros and not hate the keyboard. I’ve been “lucky” enough to experience all three versions of it. The latest is on my new laptop from Spatial Networks which I have to admit feels the best of any of them but I’m just waiting for the “f” key to stop working like it has on all my other ones. I used to enjoy typing on MacBooks but not anymore. The thing is they keep trying to fix broken and not just go back to something that worked.
Electric scooters have zipped by docked bikes in popularity - Here in Tempe, AZ we get to see all of them. Bird, Uber/JUMP, Lime, Razor and various ones I can’t even tell the brand. Their are like lice on every corner just fallen over and broken. I noted in St. Pete that they didn’t have any scooters and it was surreal walking around on sidewalk without jumping out of the way of some idiot on a scooter. I don’t understand the business model but I hate to say they are here to stay.
While architects have enough detailed information about the cathedral to pull off a technically very precise reconstruction, the craftsmanship is unlikely to be the same. Today, the stone that makes up the cathedral would be cut using machinery, not by hand by small armies of stonemasons as in the 12th century. “Nineteenth-century and 20th-century Gothic buildings always look a little dead, because the stone doesn’t bear the same marks of the mason’s hand,” Murray told Ars Technica.
Nothing makes me happier than when baseball is back. Nothing feels like spring more than baseball. I’ve been reflecting on the San Francisco Giants chances this year and there will be no even year magic. I’ve gotten to the point of acceptance with this team. The infield is basically the same since the last World Series title but their WAR isn’t close to what it was back then. Any dynasty (except maybe those in the NFL) eventually has to pay for decisions made to get those titles. And the Giants are knee deep in this problem. Back in 2016, they sacrificed young players to get a good core to make one more run. Well that team collapsed and here we are in 2019.
So with that in place, I can enjoy this team in whatever they do. No longer worried about each series and how that might result in hosting postseason games or not. In 2 years this team will look nothing like it does and that’s OK. Baseball is back!
Bill Dollins and I have our latest podcast out today. It is a day late because of some work related stuff but that’s the best news this week for me. This was was a lot of fun, we dive into PostGIS with some suggestions on how to get started and tools we use to get the best value out of everything we do in PostGIS. Please enjoy and rate us on iTunes or Google Play if you have time.
As Spatial Networks is in St. Petersburg I’m spending my first week at the company here for orientation and meeting the team. If you’ve never been to St. Pete its a great small city that isn’t that complicated. The one thing I’ve noticed walking around the city is the lack of electric scooters. There are no Bird, Lime, Razor, Uber or whatever latest company is throwing scooters around. In Tempe, there are so many brands that I can’t even keep track of them anymore. But not here in St. Pete. It makes the sidewalks less crowded, you don’t seem scooters knocked over on ever street corner and honestly seeing everyone actually walking around feels relaxing. You just don’t notice it until you don’t see them. I miss those days…
Well today is a big day for me. I’ve join Spatial Networks as VP of Professional Services. This is a great opportunity for me because the team that Tony has put together is really second to none. I was goign to list all the people at SNI that I’m exicte to work with but realized it was basically the whole team. On the latest podcast (which isn’t out yet) Bill and I talked about how I’ve worked with so many of these great people but never at the same company. Well that’s no longer the case.
I’ll be heading up the Professional Services team at SNI so this is a great opportunity to work with many of the companies I have in the past, implementing some of the best technology and data sources out there. I’m in St. Petersburg for much of this week and then back again in 2 weeks for the whole week. Should give me some great 1 on 1 time with most of the staff and catch up with those who I respect greatly.
As I alluded to the other day, this blog is back and I’ll be blogging about technology and what gets me excited these days. Some GIS, some programming, some hardware and probably some photoshops. Should be a great time, I’m very excited!
I never had a Amazon Kindle, either I read books with a physical copy or I just used my iPad with the Apple Books app. This worked great for years but lately I’ve found myself being distracted more by life and reading has become difficult on the iPad. There are so many distractions with notifications, alerts and tweets that concentration becomes difficult. I’ve noticed that I listen to books more than read them, not because I have a long commute, but that when you listen to a book, you’re not looking at anything.
I’ve wanted to get back into reading because I find it very therapeutic and I finally bit the bullet and bought an Amazon Kindle Paperwhite. I looked at a Kobo but the Paperwhite 2018 was just so compelling. Since this is my first Kindle, I was taken back a bit by the E-ink technology given I was used to the high fidelity iPad displays but after reading books for a couple minutes, it was clear that my eyes preferred the E-ink to Apple’s True Tone displays. As this Kindle is my first one, I can’t compare it to the previous devices but it feels high quality and given I paid only $100 for it on sale, it feels like a steal.
So after the past 2 weeks of reading with the Kindle, what have I noticed?
I read much more than before and for much longer. I don’t get distracted.
The Kindle Store is so slick, buying a book is so easy and smooth that I dare call it enjoyable.
I can use the Libby app to check out books at my local bookstore. I find myself using the library much more than I did before.
Selection is so much better than Apple’s book store. I no longer have to compromise what I read because of Apple’s lack of focus.
I feel so late to this party but I’m OK with that. I’m always nervous about Amazon’s ecosystem knowing more about me but so far it feels good. Libby is working great for me so using the Tempe Library seems to be my biggest use so far. 2019 seems to be where reading gets back on top of my todo list.