Sunday, May 31, 2009

Ranty, rant, rant: There ought to be a law ...

Correct if I'm wrong, but we are near the end of the first decade of the 21st century, right?  We've had more than a decade of federal initiatives to make geospatial data more available and interoperable.  Then why do I get handed a largish data set (4 to 7GB depending on the format) produced by a federal agency in a proprietary format that requires me to have a license to ESRI products?  
My task is to move this data set into PostgreSQL/PostGIS, but since I don't have the necessary SDE libraries on the system, I can't even compile ogr2ogr to accomplish this.  This really is a vendor problem, specifically an ESRI problem.  If I was handed a Oracle export file, I can easily move this data by compiling ogr2ogr because Oracle provides the necessary libraries in its client SDK, which is available by download.  
Ironically, the purpose of this exercise to make this data more easily available.  However, I can't make it past first base because I'm hamstrung by the data format.  This is such a 90's problem.  Although shape files are the defacto lingua franca for geospatial data, the format has its limitations, namely a 2GB limit for dbf files.  It was unusual for a data set to be larger than 1GB in the 90's; but 20 years later, data sets over 2GB are not uncommon.  The current Federal procurement language should be amended to mandate that geospatial software produce entire data sets that are in an open and accessible format.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Paleogeography vs Neogeography

This was a common topic of discussion at Where2.0.  During my monthly email box clean out, I noticed that my GIS-L listserv mail was practically non-existent.  So I compared it to the Geowanking email list traffic. Here are the results:
Number of posts at GIS-L is definitely trending downward in comparison to the number of posts at Geowanking.  Before doing this analysis, I did a quick check of the archives and twittered this:
@spara: #wherecamp GIS is dying.  May listserv stats - gis-l: 2 messages vs geowanking: 99 messages
Dave Smith replied:
@DruidSmith: @spara GIS-L isn't the only trad. GIS listserv out there, ESRI-L, ARCVIEW-L, NEARC-L and others exist and have good traffic.
@DruidSmith: @spara Not to mention may other platform-specific ones, like GeoServer, GeoWebCache, Google Maps listservs...
All good points, but I compared GIS-L against Geowanking because they are the predominant generic geospatially oriented email lists.  Other email lists are focused on a specific vendor or software, so  I thought comparing GIS-L to Geowanking was a more apples to apples comparison.
The data is here if you want to do more analysis, and if you want to gather the data on other email lists, below is a one line bash script to harvest the number of messages per month from a Mailman list archive:
while read line; do url="$line/thread.html"; /sw/bin/wget -q -O- $url | grep 'Messages:'  | awk '/<b>Messages:<\/b>/ {printf $2}' | awk '{sub(/<p>/,"\r");print}';done < dates.txt > geowanking.txt
To run this: 
  1. replace the url to the url list archive of choice, note that the date is held in the $line variable
  2. create a text file call dates.txt with the year and month formated as year-month (2009-May) with only a single year-month entry per line for the time period you want to compare
  3. redirect the output for to the file of your choice ( > myoutput.txt)
It would interesting to see a comparison of email list traffic between open source and proprietary geospatial software. 

Friday, May 15, 2009

HowTo: OSX 10.5.7 update on a Dell Mini 9

As my profile states, I make lots of mistakes.  I woke up this morning  to the OS X 10.5.7 update bouncing perkily on my dock.  So sure, why not? WHY NOT? BECAUSE YOU ARE PLAYING WITH FIRE!!
So here's  a HowTo for updating your Dell Mini 9 to OS X 10.5.7:
1. Get the stuff you need on your disk.  The update will bork/break your screen so you have to boot to safe mode.  Another added annoyance is that the USB didn't work for me after the update, so having these files on your drive or on a network share is important.  Here's the stuff you need.
  • If you are on 10.5.5 or lower, use the combo installer.  If you are on 10.5.6, you can use the standalone OS X 10.5.7 updater (don't use the system updater, it crashed on me).
  • The DellEFI1.1 file
  • The AboutThisMac.pkg to fix the About This Mac screen.  This isn't necessary but it makes the install look all nice and tidy
2. The instructions for applying the update came from conq at the mydellmini forum.  I'm adding a few extra tips that people (including myself) were stumbling on.
1. Download the installer, don't use Software Update. Install 10.5.7. 2. Let it reboot.  3. At the boot screen press enter (or any key) to get the  boot prompt.  It should look like this: boot:     type -x and hit enter boot: -x     OS X will enter Safe Mode.  4. When in Safe Mode run DellEFI. 5. Reinstall the Mini 9 Extensions and remove custom dsdt.aml file.  These are the default options  for the DellEFI, take the default. 6. Reboot.  7. At the boot screen use the -x to enter Safe Mode again 8. After in Safe Mode run DellEFI.  Install custom dsdt.aml file, which is the default option, take the default. 9. Reboot
One minor annoyance was that my Bluetooth pairings went awry and I had to pair my devices again. Running monolingual again will help remove some of the bloat of the update as well as cleaning up any programs that you might have installed since the last time monolingual was last run.  I had installed Xcode and monolingual removed ~750mb worth of stuff.
That's it.  Good luck!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Off to Where2.0 and Wherecamp

I'll be at Where2.0 next week helping out with the GeoServer, GeoWebCache + OpenLayers: The OpenGeo Stack Workshop and the Spatial Database Tips and Tricks Workshop.  Both workshops offer lots of detail and examples, exactly the kind of workshops that I like.  The workshop materials will be available on after Where.  We'll also make a few OpenGeo announcements at Where2.0.
I'll also be at Wherecamp following Where2.0.  This year's Wherecamp is a bit shorter and only partly on a weekend because of requests not to cut into the Memorial Day weekend.  Sadly, there will be no camping this year, but Wherecamp will be held at Social Text, where the very first barcamp was held.  I'm looking forward to seeing old friends and what people are working on!