My first management position was at a restaurant. It was a chain steakhouse in a one-horse town in Maryland. A few months into that role, I was the sole manager on duty for a weekend night shift that was going poorly.
Feeling my frustration mounting, I did the most mature and leaderly thing my 19-year-old mind could think of – I tipped over the break table, causing everything on it to crash loudly to the floor.
I felt a momentary rush of power as people scurried away from my obvious anger, setting off to do whatever they could do to right the sinking ship that was this shift. Word apparently spread quickly throughout the staff because, before I had walked another ten feet through the kitchen, I was confronted by a member of the waitstaff.
I forget her exact words, but they boiled down to “You’re being an idiot. This is your shift. If you want it fixed, go fix it or find another job.” She was right, and jarringly so. I’m pretty sure I didn’t fix that shift, but I never flipped a break table again in my restaurant career. Thus began a lifelong interest in leadership and management.
I should also note that, several years later, the woman who confronted me agreed to marry me and we will celebrate 25 years of marriage next year.
This blog started as my lifeline. Fifteen years ago, I was working on a project that wasn’t particularly compelling in an environment that wasn’t conducive to collaboration. I wasn’t doing geospatial work and I was worried that it would slip away. This blog was the mechanism that motivated side projects that kept me in touch with geography.
It started out as a technical outlet, with the intent of being the kind of blog that I often found myself searching for. From there, it evolved over time, though I fought that evolution for a while. Motivated by the same fear of losing my technical edge that caused me to start it, I kept a technical focus here even as my daily work became less technical. Eventually, I let that struggle go.
Perhaps because I know what my own thoughts were as I blogged, I can see that evolution unfold. Inadvertently, I ended up documenting the arc of a career in the geospatial technology industry.
Episode 3 of the “Cageyjames and GeoBabbler” podcast is now available. In this one, we talk vicariously about FOSS4G-NA. We also discuss Polaroid and how I don’t do enough to keep his computer running.
Check it out here or on Apple Pocasts, Play Music, or Spotify.
Recently, I’ve gotten back in touch with .Net in the form of .Net Core. I’ve been shaking off some the coding rust and building some tools to help with data handling related to the Foresight data service at Spatial Networks. It’s been fun to get my hands dirty again and also interesting to see how .Net has evolved over the past few years.
It’s been a few years since I’ve done a lot with .Net and, after spending some time in the Node ecosystem, this was my first foray into .Net Core. The application I was working on just wasn’t coming together correctly in Node, so I started prototyping out the logic flow in .Net Core, with the intent to port it back to Node when I had a good reference implementation. The more I kept using .Net, the more impressed I got, so I just kept the application there.
James Fee and I released the next episode of our podcast this week. This month, we are taking a closer look at PostGIS and how you can get started with it. We’re both longtime users and huge fans of PostGIS, so it was fun to dig into it a little.
You can check it out here, on Google Play, iTunes, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.
It seems that I tend to revisit the state of desktop GIS every so often. With the continued advancement of “web GIS,” as well as the increased power of mobile platforms, proliferation of spatial analysis techniques into non-traditional environments, the ubiquity of spatial databases, and a host of other factors, it’s tempting to speculate on the long-term prospects of traditional desktop GIS software. This seems especially true when the software in question originates in Redlands, California.
I was brought back to this topic by a recent discussion on Twitter, initiated by my friend, Atanas Entchev.
The ensuing discussion grew legs and continued much longer than I would have thought. The core of the discussion centered around confusion in Esri’s messaging or, more accurately, subsequent interpretation of Esri’s messaging with regard to the status of ArcGIS Desktop. Long story short: much ado about nothing. Esri is releasing new versions of ArcGIS Pro and ArcMap. There are primary sources reaffirming their commitment to desktop GIS, so we can all go back to what we were doing. Awesome.
I started this blog because I love to write. At the time I started it, blogging was what passed for social media, but I wasn’t necessarily looking for a social experience. I just wanted to write.
I was at a point in my career where I was fairly cloistered inside the windowless rooms of the Washington, DC defense contracting industry. I went home every day without anything to show for it, having left my work behind in places few could access. Blogging became a way for me to craft the technical skills I was developing into something demonstrable, something I could point to and say “that’s what I do.”
I started programming young, around the same time I started writing for pleasure. This is probably not coincidental. Piaget would probably say that I had reached an appropriate stage of cognitive development for both skills to emerge, possibly late in the concrete operational stage or early in the formal operational stage. Whatever the explanation, they emerged at the same time for me and, consequently, both have felt to me like forms of creative expression.