A Week in the Life of a Geotech Omnivore

Earlier this week, I posted the above tweet. To explain the variety I referred to, here is a partial list, in no particular order, of the tools I’ve worked with in the past week.

  • Node
  • TileMill (Yes, I still use it)
  • ArcMap
  • QGIS
  • Python
  • ArcGIS Server
  • GeoServer
  • C#
  • WMS
  • SOAP (!)
  • Windows Communication Foundation
  • JavaScript
  • Python
  • PostGIS
  • Microsoft SQL Server
  • SQL (Spatial and non-spatial for the above platforms)
  • Leaflet
  • GeoJSON
  • X.509 certificates

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The Consultant’s Dilemma

I’ve worked as a consultant for my entire career, and one of the most rewarding aspects of it is the variety of projects you get exposed to. I’ve gotten to meet and work with great people over the years and have also gotten to work with a lot of emerging technology. In that regard, it’s been a great experience.

One of the most challenging aspects of being a consultant, and probably the biggest thing that makes it not a life for everyone, is what I call the “consultant’s dilemma.” It goes like this: A consultant is often brought into an organization to provide a specific set of expertise that does not exist in the organization at a sufficient level to meet a goal or solve a problem. Despite being brought in to provide a form of leadership, the consultant is never the owner of the solution; nor does the consultant have authority to direct execution. In short, a consultant is brought in to provide direction, but must do so from the back seat.

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Migrations

With my first post of 2016, I’d like to wish you a happy new year. After a bit of a shutdown for the holidays, I am back at work on some project activities that I had been working in the last quarter of 2015. Specifically, one of our long-standing federal customers has been directed by their customer to migrate their application platform to an open-source stack. The application in question is a mature analysis and visualization application that has been built on a Microsoft (with a little bit of Esri) stack. A migration will be no small effort.

Image by Daniel Rosengren [CC BY 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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Slow Food

In 1985, I was a junior in high school and I got my first job at a local chain steakhouse. I ended up staying there for a few years and did everything, including management. This particular location happened to be the busiest store in the chain, which had a couple hundred locations at the time. Basically, we just unlocked the doors and people came in. We often had a line and managers from all over the country came to see how we did business.

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Lock-In

I’ve been a consultant/programmer/integrator/other for over twenty years now. That’s not quite long enough to say I’ve seen it all but long enough to notice a few patterns. Admittedly, I’ve spent the vast majority of that time working in the defense world so the patterns may be heavily skewed to that but I think not.

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Meanwhile, Over at Zekiah…

I don’t usually cross-pollinate between this, my personal blog, and the company blog over at Zekiah. One of the great things about working at a place like Zekiah, however, is the opportunity to work with smart people and see what they are doing. At times, my colleagues will share components of their work on the company blog. We encourage this, and the experimentation that leads to the posts, as a way to keep our technical capabilities fresh and to also showcase what we do in a way that goes beyond the typical capabilities statements that exist on every site. My colleagues have been pretty busy but have managed to take some time to write a few posts about their work:

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Of Predictions and (Geo)Hipsters

“Never make predictions, especially about the future.” – Casey Stengel

A few days ago, my friend Atanas Entchev asked me for my thoughts on coming trends in 2014for a feature he was preparing for his GeoHipster site. Being the obliging sort that I am, I provided a couple and I’ve been attempting to explain one ever since. This has mostly been back-channel via private messages and such but, today, the GeoHipster piece was the subject of the “#geowebchat” on Twitter. Twitter is very effective for some types of communication but quickly goes off the rails where nuance or anything long-form is required. So, it was time for a post. My prediction went like this:

I think 2014 will be the year Javascript takes over mapping and visualization in the geospatial world.

It was followed by an apparently too brief explanation that I will attempt to expand here.

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