Dear KSU Students, Alumni, Faculty & Geospatial Community,
Another GIS Day is nearly upon us in this dynamic world of spatialness!
Kennesaw State University is again hosting their Annual GIS Day and you are cordially invited to attend.
The event will be held on Thursday, November 15, 2012 between 6:30 – 8:00 pm in the Leadership Room of the Carmichael Student Center (2nd floor next to Card Services).
This year’s event will include many spatial festivities. There will be a Google Earth Limerick Challenge, faculty, student, and GIS community presentations, and a couple Google Earth related events. In addition to these presentations and challenges, the new GIS website will be unveiled. Additionally, GIS certificates and awards will be presented (including the Alumni Award and GIS Community Award) in addition to the many event gifts and prizes (such as t-shirts, GIS goodies, and the like). There will be customary food and drink available to all attendees, and free parking for those who RSVP.
Finally, there will be an informal post GIS gathering at Mellow Mushroom after the event for those attendees who wish to continue their conversations beyond the time on campus.
So yesterday’s post got quite a few views. Someone asked “…but you said you could do this in python”. Since I couldn’t sleep last night I did it in Python.
I’ve had this long running discussion in my head “So What are you good at…” . I can easily list the things I’m not: electrical, plumbing, carpentry, and programming. I like programming. It’s fun. When I started using ArcInfo oh-so-many-years ago you had to know AML or you were going to not have a lot of fun. I hated Visual Basic just enough to not go in that direction when this version of Arc we all know and love came out. I learned perl. Then started this long running infatuation with Python. I use it just enough to be dangerous.
In yesterday’s example you had a watershed you needed to separate. We did it in Model Builder. Today – Python. Instead of an iterator we declare a Search Cursor. I won’t go into all the ins and outs of python formatting or why you type pythong at times when you mean python. I will encourage you to read the ArcGIS help. There are a lot of good examples of how to use python to make your life easier. Python is more than just an ArcGIS tool. You can learn it and then step into ArcGIS and still be lost (or at least I am) trying to learn all the functions and ways to do things. There is no doubt a better way to do what I am going to show you.
You need to separate out the watersheds. Open up a python window….and start typing. I assume at some point you’ve been curious enough to dump a model into python. My phrase of “start typing” is misleading – you have to know what to type. Location of the Python icon is below.
It takes me a while usually to get “in the mood” and I start off making mistakes. Lots of mistakes. The thing you need to do is declare a search cursor. Locate the Field and loop through the results. It’s half art. The nice thing about the python window is you can load files into it and save information out of it. It will also prompt you along through the help window. Eventually I got tired of making mistakes.
I saved what I was doing into a text editor and made changes and load these back into a window. Expressions are a pain. There are too many quotes and double quotes and what not to make it fun. I always forget. I always have to go back and think and look at examples. Eventually – success! Here is what I ended up with (documented for your enjoyment)
import arcpy #declare a cursor rows = arcpy.SearchCursor(fc) #Loop through the cursor for row in rows: #Grab the Field huc = row.HUC_10 #Build an expression Pre = '\"HUC_10\" = ' #Format the variable to get it in Quotes Post = "'%s'" % huc #build the expression expression = Pre + Post arcpy.Select_analysis(fc, "C:\\temp\\watershed_" + huc + ".shp", expression)
So what did we learn here? You can do this in Python if you’re not scared to type. You can save it and re-run it (like model builder) and it’s another tool to get you an answer. It took me a bit longer because I had forgotten about formatting the variables to get quotes and SQL all straightened out. I have no doubt there is a better way to do this. Also – if you know your Arc Python lingo – it takes about the same amount of time as model builder – maybe less. Since I forget some things it took me a bit longer.
Know your data and your tools. Have some fun.
So this one is going to be interesting. I was going to do a twitter one but decided to jump over just a bit into some forbidden territory.
So one of the things I like…nay…love..maybe that was too strong a word…Greatly in Like with…is GIS. This year has been a bit of a re-awakening of that fling. When you start a business as I did with a handicap (no one knew who I was 5 years ago – like anyone knows who I am now – HA) you do all sorts of crazy things. One of those was tracking down a group(s) and just asking them if I could make maps. It’s led to some interesting moments this year. Volunteer work is my canary in the mine-shaft so to speak. If I hate my volunteer jobs it’s time to move beyond what I am doing. Some of the best work I have done has been volunteer oriented and not just from a standpoint of non-profit organizations. If the work has some sort of merit I don’t care about your status. I will work for lunch. I don’t use it as a tax writeoff. Actually now that I think about it I’ve never written any volunteer project off for tax purposes. I just do them. Maybe I should.
So it led to several weird and wild things this year: Working with a High School (again), working with GISCorp,and working with who(m)ever…. I was busy this year and it showed. Things that typically weren’t a problem doing became a problem. I had a hard time communicating to clients and my volunteer jobs. I learned a lot this year on how to approach people and what I was capable of because of the volunteer work. The canaries started squealing….or squeaking…or chirping….
Caribbean Sea: The big push for this group this year was to get their website…eh – weblife moved into their hands. They had a domain they didn’t own. A website they couldn’t fix. Email that was blinking off randomly. If you go to the website it’s now wordpress (and as you can tell they have been working on it), the email is now a gmail backend, and things more or less work. At least they own the domain now – that was 120 days of ICANN rules and craziness as we went from Mambo to WordPress. It wasn’t as smooth as I wanted….but it transitioned. Their email was down longer than it needed to be…the transition was not as smooth as I wanted….but at least they are in more control for better or worse.
Red Bank High School: My most problematic volunteer effort this year. Right in the middle of the biggest job I had landed as a business they popped up. ESRI donated an ArcGIS lab for the school. We ended up using it on a NASA Project. Something I thought would take a week at most took a month as I built models to compile data and churned out numbers as the kids/teacher estimated ages of craters on the moon. It taught me to be a bit more realistic as to planning and more truthful with the teacher. It was stressful. It showed. I enjoyed working with the kids Typically we do OSM. That’s easy. ArcGIS added unforeseen complications. I learned. their final project for this year centered around water quality. They digitized buildings and concrete. They took water samples. They related water quality to development in the watershed. For the finale they tested the schools water fountains and found ecoli. That was worth the effort to watch the principal sit with her mouth hanging open at the work, the effort, and the fact that all water fountains near the bathrooms weren’t clean enough.
GISCorp: I like GISCorp. If you’re a GIS person and slightly “bored” you have no excuse – volunteer. I was working on one project this spring and like I said above my life was getting tight. So I had to drop out of the project. I hated it. It annoyed me to no end. Luckily as things settled down I got involved again this winter. I am leading a small team of people digitizing in OpenStreetMap for HOT.
So when I started this company my fist thought was “I’m nuts”. The second thought “it’s not all about the money”. It is…it isn’t. I can’t throw large amounts of cash at a problem. I have no Randy Hale Foundation….but I do have North River Geographic Systems, Inc. I can do some things I want to do.
How long will I keep volunteering? It could be said if the company fails…if this whole thing becomes un-doable….. I might find something else to do…. A plan B if you will….but I can keep volunteering as a GIS Person and at least keep my foot in the industry.
There’s a great quote in Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy:
“He started to count to ten. He was desperately worried that one day sentient life forms would forget how to do this. Only by counting could humans demonstrate their independence of computers.”
This is going to a be a long running story arc in the life or North River Geographic Systems, Inc so watch for updates.
Back in my former career of not that long ago I had this long running argument that would rear it’s ugly head. It would go something like “Am I a employee of <blank> or a GIS person?”. I was both – you have to be both. I would find myself posing this question from time to time when I was asked to do something that I found to be off center as a GIS person. The thing I was asked to do would be great for the company – but I felt that it was of questionable GIS intent…and in general bad form. I find myself now – having been a business for just about 4 years – almost the same question. Am I a GIS person or an ESRI person? I’m a Business Partner and currently an Authorized Trainer…..so I’ve drunk the Kool-aid so to speak.
As a GISP – I think I owe it to myself and my clients to get more well rounded in the world of GIS. I’m participating this week in a GA URISA workshop on Open Source GIS. Being the education chair for GA URISA I’ve started perusing the material. Something happened….I feel woefully unprepared. I wanted to co-instruct and I’m really beginning to think I can’t just yet. You see – I can make ArcGIS do what I need it to do. I’ve used ESRI software since my fledgling career started 16 years ago. The open source stuff is a bit new to me. I want to know more – I need to know more. I know I’m not breaking new ground – but for those of you who read and keep up you might find this interesting. Open Source software – particularly Linux – has been a side to my life for some years that I have enjoyed immensely so why not let it be part of my career.
I pulled one of my lab laptops today and reformatted it with Linux. Which flavor? Ubuntu. So I abandoned Windows and as a result I abandoned ArcGIS on this machine. What am I going to put on it? What can you put on it?
- Quantum GIS
- Open Jump
…..and I am going to work on getting better as a GIS person. My Goal – share out data from that machine to my ArcGIS machine. Use my new linux machine to complement my work. Learn. Enjoy and immerse myself just a little bit deeper into GIS. It should make me a better “GIS Person” and a “ESRI Person”. I hope it will. At the absolute worst – I’m going to learn. I may even come up with some ideas that expand the business a bit.
Anyway – check back from time to time. I’m going to be doing some “stuff” and posting what I have learned back up here. So today I “counted” using Open Source GIS Tools. It was kind of nice.