A green jeep pulls up. “My name is “C”….you the addressing people?”
I answer – “Yes”
“I’ll let everyone know you comin’ – I run the interior section” and he drives off.
I actually have no clue how far I am from home. I looked today and for all of my software wizardry I turned to google maps and it couldn’t calculate a route. Of course you need a good starting point and it’s hard to pin down these days.
Tuesday March 26th found me on the island of St Croix on a job. Yes – I’m actually working in the US Virgin Islands. I’m the subcontractor on a job here. That morning I pulled into the area known as Mon Bijou and started working. We decided to stick out and put orange vests on…like we weren’t going to stick out already. Orange vests and chasing bits of paper and bags all over a field wears you out on a good day. Especially with no shade and not enough water. Cars make terrible desks.
That’s pretty much when “C” appeared. I never know quite what to make of people these days. Color still has a hard time registering with me. I joke about it a lot though. I will mutter “Oh here comes the white guy” quite a bit at times. It makes me chuckle. This neighborhood is probably 95% African American. I never think twice about it most of the time. I could really care less…but being 1500 miles away does make you wonder if you are wanted in the spot you occupy.
The next day “C” reappeared. As it turns out he runs the Mon Bijou Community Center. It’s three very nondescript cinder block buildings just west of nowhere. He unlocked the gate and opened the door. He offered us food. He offered us water. He gave us electricity. His name is Craig.
The best part about GIS are the stories. At least for me. The geometry is incidental to the big picture. The big picture turned into the community center. Approximately 5 employees work here. Classes range from after school programs to Tae-Kwon-Do to zumba classes. Craig used to be quite the guy…trouble….run ins with the law…some jail time – I think the correct term is ex convict. Now, the community center is his business and business is good. His goal is to stop kids from doing what he did. He applied and received a large grant. A grant big enough to expand the operation and build new buildings. He gets a bigger and better computer room (did I mention he has a decent recording studio here). He gets a bigger place to hold classes (he turns away people because he’s at full capacity now). …and there we sat. The job was saved because he opened a door and gave us a spot to sit. He got to name two of the roads in the area. So he let his VP pick the road names. The VP most likely isn’t 18 yet.
“You tell your kids…and your grandkids you got to name these roads. That’s something. Not everyone gets to do that”.
Not everyone gets to sit in the Mon Bijou Community Center. I did. That was something.
Sorry for the quiet – had a lot going. So much so – let me start off here: Greetings from the US Virgin Islands.
There’s a lot to discuss and let me start off with Field Work. Yesterday I found myself and my handy coworker Zac roaming Charlotte Amalie. I also am in the possession of a new phone. A Google Nexus 4. We were trying a couple of things. One of which turned into Geotagging pics. You can with (I assume) every android phone (and Iphone) embed your lattitude and longitude into a pic. So that’s what I did. I ended up shooting about 20 pics and a few scenic tourist shots (above). I came back and the plan was to rip them into a shapefile. I think I even uttered that standard phrase of GIS Professionals everywhere “Well – I’ll just write a script to do this.”. Well – I’ve got work to do and script writing is for fun – so here is what I did.
- Open QGIS
- Download the Photo2shape plugin
- Download the pics from the phone to a directory
- Run Photo2shape
At the end I had a shapefile with the photo path and photo filename. What was nice I ended up with (red dots).
The Orange line is a different story. Every photo has a recorded location and the reported accuracy of the phone is 9 feet. I’ve noticed that with this phone GPS Status bottoms out there. So I’m guessing this is a software lock or something – because the points when matched to NAIP/Google are pretty close to what was expected. I know – I’m mixing all sorts of accuracies but that’s what I have to check it against. Three meters in general isn’t great – but for what we’re doing it’s pretty good.
Next up – Hyperlinking on QGIS……..
I decided to do something I rarely do – download beta software and start playing with it. I used to do it all the time. You would scream beta and I’m there using it. I downloaded the QGIS 1.9 master and started looking for things that are different. Things that stick out. I decided I would just start talking about things that are different until 2.0 comes out. I saw a code freeze email this week and a proposed date of Mid June (If I’m not mistaken) for the release. So what did I notice first…
When I taught the Qgis class one of the things that people noticed was the ability to edit multiple layers at once. All the layers (per ArcGIS) didn’t necessarily have to be in the same directory or workspace. Data in two different directories that could be actively edited.
See – edits have a small pencil beside them and both of these are in different directories.
Edits would be made. Mistakes could be pushed back using the undo button/menu pick. Now it gets a little bit nicer in 2.0. Now with a new “Current Edits” button and a new menu choice (found by right clicking the layer) you can save, roll back (undo), or cancel editing. See the new orange pencil to the left of the yellow one.
Also the icon set is new. Over all is it that big of a deal? Yes and no. It does show that people are paying attention. New icon sets and some user improvements in editing. It makes life a bit easier (IMO) on the editing front. I now have about four places to roll back an edit instead of two – and new tools are in easier to get to spot. To me it’s more intuitive. We’re used to right clicking for abotu anything. Right click your layers and do the same thing on editing and undoing those edits.
So editing gets some new tricks with expanded ability to undo/save/rollback edit changes. Every few days I’m going to download the newest 1.9 master and talk about something new. Small things and big things. Stay tuned.