“I Have Returned” – General Douglass MacArthur 1944
Four years ago I closed my Facebook account. ( Actually at that time you could only ‘Suspend’ your account everything was still there to “reactivate it, you simply logged back on. Since that time, the Facebook Overlords have allowed users to actually delete their account and data, which I promptly did. ) I had a realization that I spent most of my time on FB trolling funny pictures and making snarky comments on Wall posts of people I hardly know, let alone have enough relationship collateral to be sarcastic about how they raise their children. So I quit. It was freeing and anti-climatic at the same time.
Just as someone who quits smoking, drinking or overeating is intensely-critical of those still indulging themselves, for years after being off, I still railed against FB users. “You’re wasting your time”, “Thats just gossiping”, “It’s Stalking”, “No good to compare yourselves to other peoples fake identities”, “He’s Just looking for validation”. All that was, and is, there. I was just continuing the rage offline.
Not Helpful. Not Productive.
So why am I going back?
- Well for one, My daughter says Facebook is on it’s way out. So that’s cool. And I like things that are no longer cool.
- Two, I’m reading a book about using Social Media to engage positively.
- Most importantly, I’m missing people’s lives.
Friends, family, their kids, Life. New jobs, new children, I don’t know things about people. People I care about communicate important events through FB. Recently, here locally, people used FB to coordinate disaster recovery for the Washington Tornado. I almost missed the opportunity to help with some clean-up. My wife Who’s on Facebook, texted me when and where to meet. I came to the conclusion, that as much as i was opposed to it, people were using this social network for communication. Also, a very small minority of people I know follow me on Twitter.
But knowing myself, I need to set up some Rules for using Facebook:
1. I’m not going to friend everyone that asks. Don’t take offense.
2. I will hide people that annoy me, not blast them back.
3. I shall not post endless personal information about me on FB.
4. I will not check FB on my iPhone.
5. I will only ‘Check’ FB Once a day unless coordinating for an event.
6. I will not join your cause, fan page, group or repost for whatever.
7. A phone call or face-to-face is still the best way to become a true friend.
That being said, http://facebook.com/micahwilli
by Micah Williamson
If you haven’t been to my house you might not know that I have an old 71 Volkswagen Van that has been rotting in the back for the past 10 years.
In a recent re-organization of personal priorities and goals, this van happens to find itself for sale. While I know getting rid of this idle project will eventually be freeing and cleansing, at the same time I do feel a sense of loss. This VW represents a former life. Getting rid of it won’t change who I am but it will close the door on that part of me.
Just a few weeks after my 18th birthday I bought my first Volkswagen, a 1978 bus. It was clean and had a smooth running pancake engine. Fun times ensued.
Being stupid, I did not care for it as I should have and the engine seized up.
So what does a college kid do? Buy Another!
This is the 1971 (Bert) that I have had for all these years and now it’s ready to sell. There were many great times and many stories about this bus. I was constantly in a state of fixing and jimmy-rigging things to keep it on the road, I conquered Centennial Drive hill, took it to music festivals, drafted semis (Stupid!), and eventually drove my new Bride away on our wedding day in it.
We actually just drove a few miles to my Folks house where we got in her much more practical Honda Civic.
I once replaced the engine to try and keep it going, which didn’t work out so well.
Over the years I have also owned a ’59 Beetle and ’72 Super Beetle.
I always have picked up VW memorabilia and still have quite a collection today.
5 years ago my son and I dropped the engine out of Bert and it’s currently 1/2 way dismantled in my garage. I will tinker around with it and have dreams of eventually finding a less-rusty (non-Illinois) shell to put it into. The Best Thing about a 1650cc VW engine? It can go into nearly any VW chassis.Bus, Bug, Type 1, Thing, Fastback,
So maybe the door isn’t quite closed all the way… ;-p
by Micah Williamson
In an amazing whirlwind of posts since July 9th, Wired has blown onto the geospatial
scene in a very significant way. Listen, if this schlep can just write whatever he wants on the web, then we all need to be very skeptical of the firehose of poor information that’s out there to sift through. Wired’s new map blog is a breath of clean, exhilarating, lung-expanding geo-information-air.
I’ve got Five reasons why I think MapLab is currently the best Geospatial Blog / News Source on the web. IMHO.
So there you go, if I can get someone to pay me to just write about my profession, I might actually stop “Doing GIS” and take their money. TCB Baby!
by Micah Williamson
After all of the hullabaloo surrounding iOS7 last Monday and after reading articles like this warning and other (much more) hateful sites, I decided to install it on my primary device. Because, why not, right?
It was just sitting there, ready to download on my apple development site. I’ve always tried to swim against the grain. Why would this decision be any different. After all, there is a way to roll back.
So, last Tuesday night my unsuspecting iPhone 4S got a new look.
Upgrading was rather uneventful. There are scads of online tutorials. I have a paid developer’s license so I didn’t have to torrent the package or find someone to install my UDID on their’s. This was legit.
I’ve got about 100 apps on my phone. In total 4 don’t work. That’s 4%. Not too bad for a beta. However ONE of those apps is my precious Geocaching app. That will be the only reason I switch back. It’s almost too much to bear a summer without it. I may just switch and install iOS7 on the iPad and switch back to iOS6 for the Phone.
I realize that some of these issues may be that my phone of one generation old (4S). Some are just because this is a beta OS. What did you expect? I think people are trying it out because the WWDC wagged the carrot and said wait another 3 months, which was mean. The whole minimalist look? I could take it or leave it. Functionally, there’s lots of impressively cool stuff, no doubt. But there are enough issues that I’m recommending the impatient ‘normal’ users stay away.
EDIT: I downgraded yesterday. Saturday night the phone got very ’hot’, I don’t feel comfortable with it as my primary device. I’ll upgrade again in a few weeks after a second beta release.by Micah Williamson
Caution: I’m poking a hornet’s nest with this post. read at your own risk and know this is my PERSONAL opinion.
Should tax dollars be directly supporting the general budget funds of a GIS ‘Consultant’?
Your answer to that question may be “Yes”. You may not like me asking the question and I may not like your answer, but it’s a good discussion for the Geo-Community to have. Here’s the backstory: I work for a growing new startup; a Geographic Information System (GIS) consultant. We compete on fairly small projects all across Illinois. Our target client is a small-town public works director in need of a GPS inventory or county engineer too swamped to maintain the few GIS layers they already have. Time and time again our experience has shown one of our largest competitors of such professional GIS consulting services is not other for-profit companies, but taxpayer-funded Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), Planning Commissions and state universities / community college GIS Labs. I’m not picking on anyone this is just what I’ve found.
Now, if you know me, you’d think this is a bit hypocritical: I graduated from a state school with a GIS Lab, taught GIS at a community college and I had my first GIS job at an MPO. So, I get it. I understand that the schools just want their students to gain ‘real-world’ experiences. I also know that some MPOs and planning commissions have GIS consultation services to fill a vital (sometimes unmet) need. They help build GIS for a small community who could not afford it otherwise. That’s great, GIS used to be expensive, VERY expensive. But not so much anymore. With cloud-based solutions, faster internet connections, ArcGIS online, free aerial imagery and LOTS of other inexpensive and easy solutions; the $500,000 price tag just isn’t there anymore. Try telling this to someone paying $35/hr for an MPO or even less for student labor. Competition between for profit companies is expected, but this isn’t an equal playing field. (Whine- Whine- Whine) I understand that all governments are being asked to do more with less, I’m reporting what I see and asking the question.
These governmental organizations can simply price out the competition because of two factors; 1. They can supplement operations with other funding sources. 2. They really don’t have to make money.
I also appreciate loyalty. If you honestly assess the progress of your GIS and are satisfied with it. Great. I’ll move on. But do yourself a favor and critically analyze the quality and progress of what you are getting. And it should be progressing. Like any other technology, the geospatial field is constantly advancing so should your GIS. Blindly paying for a consortium for 20 years because that’s what you’ve always done is simply poor management.
Before you think I’m just whining. This issue is as old as time. There are small business advocates, anti-governmental competition lobbyist groups and Chamber of Commerce’s all across America who have been talking about this subject since before my father was born.
If this is a hard concept or topic, then it’s a good subject to talk about.
by Micah Williamson
I’ve talked a LOT about the cloud here, here, here and here. Still, I get so confused by all the different offerings for GIS in the cloud. To keep things straight in my brain, made this spreadsheet to keep track of the differences as I learn them.
Below is just a viewable version of the Spreadsheet HERE on Google Docs. Feel free to open the Google Docs file and edit as you see need (the ??) or errors. There is no login required. If you’re an authoritative source on the product, make that blue or something.
The guys at Spatial Networks added some detail via the comments, click through to see them.
by Micah Williamson
Here is a Link to a Downloadable PDF that gets updated every 5 minutes.
As long as you know the process, nobody gets hurt.
Allow me to deviate from my normal geospatial technology topics to address a ‘Life’ topic….One thing I’ve enjoyed over the last 4 months is being able to take the kids to school. At first the idea of ‘Proper’ procedures for dropping them off was abrasive to me. Since then I’ve accepted and endorsed these as truth and correct. You should too.
Listen, I like systems and spatial organization. The collective thing we do every day to drop off our kids at school can be a bit overwhelming if you don’t know whats going on. There are some unwritten rules, that need to be written.
More Instructions below the pictures.
Davenport Elementary School Drop Off Procedure Map (I know the car lane looks like a sidewalk, but it’s not)
Eureka Middle School Drop Off Procedure Map
– If it’s rainy or snowing out, it is understandable to want to drop off your kid directly in front of the door. But this is why God invented snow boots and umbrellas. Teach them that the world is a harsh place.
– Failure to adhere to these unspoken/unwritten rules (which are now spoken and written) will result in the evil eye from mothers in bathrobes and a lot of personal stress. Believe-me-brother, You’ll have a better day just going with the flow.
(edit from a parent) -Here is one more I’d add. Please have your child ready to exit the vehicle prior to the drop-off. Don’t spend 5 minutes gathering up bags, books, kisses, and hugs in the midst of the drop-off. You will throw off the timing.
by Micah Williamson
I read the Blogs of some very smart people.
They talk about programming languages with funny names, Acronyms of acronyms, big data and how our world will look in 5 years. Usually after a few minutes of plodding through their theories and recommendations I feel quite neanderthalic.
SO, at the risk of being a simpleton and out of date (I Know, it’s 2013), I want to share with you some ideas about a question I think most normal computer users (like my dad) struggle with. “What’s the difference in all of these ‘cloud storage’ things?” and “Which one should I be using?”
I haven’t grabbed ALL I can of cloud storage, but I have quite a bit.
There’s two reasons for keeping files in the cloud.
1. Trust issues. You don’t trust yourself, your company’s computer guy or any backup plans that anyone has set up for you before this whole cloud thing exploded. Syncing files to the cloud does give you the sense that they’re (somewhere) safe.
2. Pride Issues. You need to, at all times, be just a few clicks away from getting to your precious files. Better yet, you need to be able to share them with anyone, on your terms; “I’ll just share that with You”.
Which category are you? I’m Both. I’ve accepted it. Not only do I have these applications installed and use them for various tasks (Current work, Personal stuff and Past work) I have apps on both mobile devices, so access is literally im my pocket.
Ok, maybe there’s a third more collaborative reason for using the cloud, but the majority of users fall into one of the two categories above.
Here’s a few lessons learned that I want to pass along.
This is all aside from my using of Evernote (free), Pocket and iCloud for other syncing needs. I don’t use iTunes Match or music.google.com or last.fm, just plain old-fashion MP3s on a flashdrive.
by Micah Williamson