This Blog Has A New Address

I have updated the domain listing for my blog. The primary URL for it is now:

http://blog.geomusings.com

I have done this because I am planning to move my blog in the near future from wordpress.com to another WordPress hosting service. The address above will be the new address once the move is complete. So, please update any bookmarks or other links in order to ensure a smooth transition.

The old URL works for now but will cease to once I finish moving the blog.

Thanks for your continued interest in my blog.

Where Has The Time Gone?

It’s been four years to the day since I started this blog. This was not my first attempt at blogging but I wasn’t happy with my first one so it’s been lost to the recycle bin of history. It was (and still is) intended to be an outlet for my observations and experiences arising from my work. Sometimes, that means I post code and other times it means I post rants.

My first post was regarding a bug with raster layers in ArcGIS 9.2. That project evolved to include the use of SharpMap and PostGIS, which led me to get involved with zigGIS. From there, I got more involved with open-source GIS while also staying current with the various permutations of Esri technology (I can now say I was working with it when it was “EE ESS ARE EYE”).

Now I just need a cake.

Today, I’m still working with a lot of Esri tools (especially since I still do a lot of work for the government) but I still maintain a mix of open-source tools and, more recently, have begun working with various cloud platforms (see recent posts on WeoGeo, GeoCommons and Arc2Earth).

So, whereas I was probably spending over 80% of my time working with ESRI tools when I started, I’d say that number is closer to 50% now. I would not, however, read much into that other than my own personal decisions. I feel the broader perspective of working with a variety of tools makes me a better consultant, regardless of which platform my customer has chosen.

Over the past four years, I have gotten to know a lot of very smart people as a direct result of this blog so it’s definitely been a positive experience for me.

To all who have stopped by over that time, please accept my sincerest thanks.

Thank You, Mark

Back in the early 1990s, toward the end of the administration of George H. W. Bush and into the beginning of the Clinton administration, we were in a bit of a recession. It was not as bad as things are right now but, to someone who had just graduated from college, it was a tough environment. Even the US Government had a hiring freeze on. There was just no work to be had.

In the summer of 1993, I was bartender at the Chili’s in Waldorf, MD. I had about 8 years of restaurant experience and a freshly minted degree in Information Systems Management from the University of Maryland Baltimore County and very little else to recommend me in the face of so many college graduates and laid-off people with experience also looking for work.

One of our regulars was a guy named Mark. He wasn’t my regular so much as Ed’s, who was the senior bartender that I worked with on Fridays. He and his girlfriend (future wife) would come in for dinner and have a beer or two while waiting for a table. Waldorf was much smaller then and Chili’s was really the only game in town at the time.

Mark would also come in maybe once or twice a week after work and have a beer or two during the week. It was during one of these visits that he told me about a contract his company had just gotten digitizing Army bases for the chemical weapons treaty. I mentioned my degree and expressed interest if he was hiring and, a few days later, sent him my resume. Until he got my resume, he didn’t know my last name and I didn’t know his.

Eventually, I landed that job working for Mark Quasius at Applied Ordnance Technology (AOT). It got me started in a field that I had heard mentioned once, in passing, during a lecture in college: geographic information systems. During that job, I got exposed to AutoCAD, MapInfo, ARC/INFO (6.something), and ArcView 2.0. I got to do some programming in AML, MapBasic and a little bit of Clipper. I met a lot of really good and patient people, did some cool stuff, made some mistakes, learned from it all and moved on after about three years.

During my time at AOT, Mark got assigned to the Crystal City office and we didn’t work directly together as much. After I left, I lost touch with him but usually heard when he changed jobs and heard that he was having health problems a few years back. Yesterday, I learned that Mark Quasius passed away on August 9, too young, at the age of 45 after a long battle with cancer. Here is his obituary.

When I was leaving AOT, Mark told me the story of how I got that first job. Essentially, he had a big stack of resumes from applicants, many of whom looked stronger on paper. He felt he had something of an impression about me from our interactions at Chili’s and decided to take a chance on me. That decision earned him some quizzical looks from the owners but they left the decision up to him.

So Mark Quasius gave me my first “real job” in the summer of 1993 and set me off on a career that I didn’t expect. For that, I will always be grateful to him. At the risk of sounding cliche, he should have had more time. Goodbye, Mark and thank you.