Surveying, Mapping and GIS

Exploring all aspects of mapping and geography, from field data collection, to mapping and analysis, to integration, applications development and enterprise architecture...

  • Geospatial Technology, End to End...

    Exploring all aspects of mapping and geography, from field data collection, to mapping and analysis, to integration, applications development, enterprise architecture and policy

To Savannah, Georgia...

Posted by Dave Smith On 11/20/2006 08:07:00 PM 0 comments

Gratefully, things are finally starting to sort themselves out on the move...

Currently I am gearing up to head south to the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center in Georgia, to attend the EPA Environmental Information Symposium from December 5th to December 7th. This afternoon, I just finished putting together a PowerPoint for a brief talk on ingestion, analysis and mapping of unstructured data during one of the sessions.

We are also hoping to put on a live demo - using MetaCarta web services integrated with ArcIMS and ASP-based Window to My Environment - we are also currently in the midst of a redesign for the infrastructure of Window to My Environment and EnviroMapper applications, to look at good stuff like integrating the application into the Oracle Portal environment, ESRI Geospatial Portal Toolkit, Service-Oriented Architecture, and Reusable Components.

Along the MetaCarta lines, there are a few other interesting tools emerging, with potential for geotagging - Aerotext, which I discussed previously, and SRA's NetOwl, developed for the CIA - which I may get an opportunity to see next week.

I had a great time in Las Vegas last time, so I am looking forward to this event as well...

Verizon Online in the doghouse this week...

Posted by Dave Smith On 11/18/2006 07:34:00 PM 0 comments

The imponderable annoyance du jour: Verizon Online. So we moved across town in anticipation of our pending sale... everything has gone pretty smoothly so far, all things considered. On the 13th, we switched the phone line over to the other house. Same number, same town, just a couple of miles southeast.

Verizon says, 5-8 day wait time to switch the DSL over. What the.... I already have the DSL modem, the account is already set up, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.... many reasons why this should be a very simple administrative thing for Verizon.

GRRR.... I tell them that the wait is unacceptable. "Um, sir, that's the ready date that comes up in the system." GRRR... "you can use Verizon Online via dial-up in the meantime for free".

Oh, gee.

Meanwhile, Verizon Online dial-up doesn't recognize my username and password.

Another call to Verizon tech support and they say "Mr. Smith, our records show you don't have dial-up". GRRRR. So they set me up with temporary access.

Temporary access doesn't work either.

Meanwhile, I hook the DSL modem up, and it detects DSL, 864kbps downstream, 150kbps upstream.

BUT, it's unable to logon.

Verizon Online dial-up folks tell me dial-up won't work if this is the case.

Well, anyways, in the meanwhile the Verizon Online DSL folks call and tell us that it won't be ready until the 27th. Yea, half a month. No explanation.... just going to take that long.

Add to this, all of the times I tried dialing up their customer service department and navigating their voice response system - to have it a.) not recognize what I was saying (particularly considering that with as much traveling as I have done, I have as close to a non-accent as is possible in American English), and b.) getting dropped after waiting 5 or more minutes on the call... AND of course, "can you give me the phone number you are calling about" AFTER their system has already confirmed this?

Well, the windows are fogged up from the steam escaping from my ears... Time to grab a cold beer and try to relax.


Posted by Dave Smith On 11/15/2006 10:30:00 PM 1 comments

Been hoisting furniture, packing, unpacking... 45, yes FORTY-FIVE boxes of books from my office alone - Surveying, Civil Engineering, Law, Philosophy, History, GIS, .NET, Java, XML, Web Services, Environmental Science, Stormwater, Wetlands, Limnology, Soil Science, Transportation, Geography... That's just the books. Add to this, an antique map table and a massive desk - old mahogany antiques on a grand scale that no longer exists... Several computers, servers, routers, hubs, monitors, et cetera...

Well, that about sums up one room of my house. Now scale that up by nearly 4,000 square feet. Living on leeched neighborhood broadband until my own gets restored, along with a lot of other seat-of-the-pants flying this week.

So... We do have a closing date on the Jean Kerr house... I don't want to curse myself by posting any more details, but it is a good thing.

Now I must sit and rest the aches...

SAFE joins the GeoBlogging scene

Posted by Dave Smith On 11/15/2006 10:03:00 PM 0 comments

The folks at Safe Software have joined the GeoBlogging scene - They sent out the following:

Announcing Safe Software's Blog
We are pleased to inform
you that Safe Software now maintains a weblog (blog) at

We plan to use our blog to:

  • keep you informed by posting breaking news about product updates
  • share our insights into developments in our rapidly-evolving industry
  • post information on upcoming Safe Software eventsdirect you to podcasts and
    articles prepared by Safe staff
  • point to slide presentations from conferences and workshops
  • surprise you every so often with a light-hearted posting, just to keep
    things lively.

We hope you'll visit our blog, and check back often.

They have been a good group of people to work with - they were very responsive and knowledgeable for us during Katrina for some of our ETL needs, particularly their wizard Juan Chu Chow.

We also hope to be working with them again on one of our EPA projects in the near future - after all, while there is no "true" ETL for spatial data yet, but.... the Safe folks have thus far come much closer than anyone, hands down.


Posted by Dave Smith On 11/06/2006 06:38:00 PM 0 comments

Geo term du jour: SAOGI 'say•yogi' - "Senior Agency Official for Geospatial Information". Per FGDC,

The SAOGI will oversee, coordinate, and facilitate the agency's implementation of the geospatial-related policies, directives, requirements, and activities.

Key Roles & Responsibilities

  • Representative on the FGDC Steering Committee
  • Oversees coordination of geospatial information activities
  • Appoints the agency rep to serve on the FGDC Coordination Group
  • Appoints reps to FGDC subcommittees and/or working groups
  • Knowledgeable about its agency's geospatial investments
  • Serving as a champion for the use, value, and benefits of geospatial information
  • Collaborates with the agency CIO (if not the CIO) to implement geospatial information initiatives


Posted by Dave Smith On 11/05/2006 11:38:00 PM 2 comments

Though I have been playing with code for close to 30 of my 40 years, I have always considered myself far more of a hack than any kind of disciplined programmer with a formal background, as my focus has always been one of the science and engineering professional, oriented toward solving specific domain issues, such as surveying, hydrology, environmental issues, transportation, and the like - and most recently I have been thrust into Enterprise Architecture mainly due to my understanding of both the business and IT side of geobusiness - yet in terms of coding I have always managed to get some quick and often unique results in my forays into the programming world, and I am once again quite pleased tonight. One of the things I was ruminating on a few days ago is the possibility of using ASPMap as a web service, and calling the service via JavaScript and populating the view via AJAX. Better yet, extending ASPMap to serve WMS requests, but I am getting ahead of myself...

Yesterday I sat down and managed to build a web service around ASPMap (MS Visual Studio 2005 ASP.NET and .NET Framework 2.0), and as its primary functionality, it currently accepts bounding box and image size as parameters - layers and other settings will be forthcoming. Essentially the service renders the image and then dumps it out as a file - I used a milliseconds function in JavaScript to provide the unique identifier (no cookies, no viewstate or other serverside issues - all these are managed by JavaScript in the browser)

I then tried Matteo Cassati's Soap Client for JavaScript and then used the DOM to insert the image (with the known URL) into the view. I still want to better understand what I can and can't do with the return types, but that will come...

I then built some JavaScript functions to pan, zoom, et cetera, as well as a one to resize the image (with a new call) whenever the browser is resized (note the views here are full-screen, although with the banner blurred out to protect potential customer). The map view will be dynamic, trying to maximize screen real-estate. I also want to do some nice AJAX magic with collapsing/resizable map controls and query panels (the navigation/toolbar shown in the upper right is already enabled in this fashion)...

The next thought actually ties back to my original thought in a way... Having already built all the infrastructure, what would be involved in hitting an OGC WMS service and bringing in the image? Not much at all, just a little magic trying to navigate how JavaScript deals with ampersands in constructing strings. An hour and a half tonight, and my WMS client is also done - you see here a classic image from NASA JPL (MODIS Mosaic) - there is still much more tweaking and functionality to be developed, but for a mere weekend's work for a hack like me, I am quite pleased with the results.

Considering I managed to fit all of this in during a hectic weekend, in the midst of preparing for a move (with painting and carpeting the new house, boxing things up at the old house, et cetera) and driving 4 hours to Washington, DC tonight for meetings tomorrow, I am frankly amazed that I managed to get this done so quickly.

I am very much looking forward to what the next few months will bring. My intent is to build some very robust and reusable infrastructure. What I have started here will become universal throughout future applications, and the beauty of it is that I will be able to snap in whatever mapping infrastructure is available, whether ArcIMS or ArcGIS Server, ASPMap, WMS Servers, or anything else I can either build a Web Service wrapper around or convert to WMS outright.