TUGIS 2017

Yesterday, I attended TUGIS 2017, which was the 30th installment of Maryland’s annual statewide GIS conference. It was a great experience as there is a lot of innovative work going on in Maryland. The one-day format is specifically designed to be a high-value experience. Attendees trade the minimal impact on schedule for the fact that they will certainly miss some content they want to see. I think it’s a fair trade-off.

I also happened to give the keynote address at the conference. It was quite an honor to be asked to address so many geospatial practitioners who are working to tackle pressing issues in Maryland. Thanks to Ardys Russakis and the conference organizing committee for inviting me.

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Engagement

A few years ago, we sold our house and moved into a new one that we had built. The old house happened to be the one in which I had grown up. The process of disconnecting from that house got me back in touch with a lot of tasks that had become muscle memory. For example, mowing the lawn.

I had mowed that lawn roughly every week since middle school. By the time I was mowing it for what I realized was the last time, I could have done so blindfolded. I knew where every obstacle was and knew every contour in the ground. I had long since stopped paying attention to the task. There were many other things that I realized had become the same for me.

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Making a Change

Most of my January has been a process that culminated in today’s announcement that I will be moving on from Zekiah and joining the team at Spatial Networks, where I will be taking on the role of Vice President of Engineering and Technology.

I’ve been at Zekiah for fifteen years and have had the pleasure to do groundbreaking and meaningful work for a variety of federal customers. During that time, I’ve worked with a lot of incredibly talented people and the current team is no exception. The company and its customers are in great hands and the geospatial team, led by Eric Mahaffey, is poised to do great things. A little inside baseball: There’s never been an instance where the partners at Zekiah didn’t completely agree on a course of action. It’s been a great experience to have such trust in your colleagues, and they have been completely supportive of my decision. I’ve learned a hell of a lot about business while getting to do a lot of great work. I leave with no complaints.

I am looking forward to joining another incredible team at Spatial Networks. After 23 years as a federal/defense contractor, I am excited about the change of focus to a commercial setting. I’ll be working remotely, with periodic trips to St. Petersburg, Florida. The team at Spatial Networks is highly motivated with a strong sense of purpose and I expect we’re going to have a lot of fun while building great tools.

HIFLD Open January 2017 Updates

I just got an announcement in my inbox of a major update to HIFLD Open. A number of new data sets have been added, along with updates to many others. The announcement also addressed HIFLD Secure, but I won’t touch upon that here. From the flyer attached to the email, here are the updates. If you are so inclined, it’s time to get scraping.

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Thank You for 10 Years

My last few posts have been bit…shall we say…retrospective, so I won’t dwell there too much this time.

The beginning of this month saw the ten-year anniversary of my first post on this blog. A lot has changed during that time in the geospatial industry. I am fascinated by the tools, concepts, and issues that were important to me a decade ago.

A quick skim of posts and comments reveal a number of relationships that began through this blog, jumped over to social media, and eventually found their way into real life. More than any technology that I may have written about, the people I have come to know as result of writing this blog are invaluable to me.

So I will leave it at this, today: To everyone who has read, shared, re-posted, commented, clarified, or otherwise participated in this endeavor with me, thank you. I can only hope that the value you have received from this blog approaches a fraction of that which I have gained from you.

I can’t wait to see what the next ten years has in store.

Directions

The 10-year anniversary of this blog is rapidly approaching and it is not lost on me that it has been laying rather fallow of late. I know others with long-running geospatial blogs have experienced similar situations at around the decade mark, and that only seems natural. If you are living your life well, the motivations and interests that prompt you to start an online presence such as this evolve over the course of a decade.

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When I started this blog, it was simply to create the kind of resource that I had been looking for: code-heavy posts that showed how to accomplish tasks I was working. I did that in the hope that others would find it useful, but also to serve as my own personal archive. Now, such resources are abundant as companies and projects recognize the need to engage via blogs and social media.

Of course, all such outlets now seem to be some sort of “official” arm of a company or organization or project. It seems to be increasingly difficult to find a “sole-proprietorship” blog that’s being kept current. It’s not for me to say whether that is positive or negative. I speak from experience when I say it is difficult to maintain such a venture over time, and I certainly see where being part of a content team has advantages.

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Bring Out Your Maps!

It’s time again to get into calendar-making mode. A new call for maps was issued over on GeoHipster for the 2017 calendar. We had a lot of fun last year seeing the creativity from the worldwide geospatial community and we are looking forward to this year’s batch of maps.¬†We also learned a lot from the process last year, so we’ve refined the guidelines.

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This year, we’ve added a student track in which three months are reserved for the work of undergraduate students. It’s our way to support those who are just getting started. We hope it helps in some way.

One thing that jumped out at me last year was that the creativity in our community knows no bounds in terms of technology. Last year’s calendar featured maps made with a full range of proprietary and open-source geospatial tools, graphics software, and even cross-stitch (as in needle and thread).

So keep and eye out. We plan to, once again, have the calendar ready for holiday purchases. And bring out your maps!