Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Best GIS Career Advice I've Read So Far...

From Thierry Gregorius, via GeoHipster
Over the years there has been much discussion and debate about what career a GIS professional should aspire to, or what a GIS career even is. In my opinion you need to have at least one skill that nobody else has. I once called this the “geomatics striptease” — what expertise and value is there exclusively to us geospatial folks? I came to the conclusion that, if I had to strip off my non-exclusive layers, my naked self would be a geodesist and cartographer. No other field does these things, or at least not as well.
There may be a few other exclusive skills in GIS or geomatics, but many so-called geospatial expertise areas also reside in other professions. They’re not unique and this can be a danger area for career development — unless of course you want to become a multi-disciplinary generalist. In which case, sure thing, go ahead and become that ‘architect’ who orchestrates input from different fields. But whatever you do, it needs to be a conscious decision, and it requires focus. If you dilute yourself too much as a professional you’ll become the Swiss army knife that people only use when there’s nothing better at hand.
So to stay relevant, build a unique skill, stay focused, and never grow up. If you do those things, nobody can eat your lunch. 
(bolded emphasis mine)
So true. Find some focus, & make yourself indispensible. Helped my own GIS career over the years.
Also good, along this vein of thinking, Cal Newport's "So Good They Can't Ignore You".

Friday, 19 September 2014

Friday Frustrations.....!

God damn it.

Friday pet peeves.

1. People who don't text back within a resonable amount of time, given the weekend is coming fast.
2. Slow networks at works. Slow editing. Not having a ArcInfo license until January 2015.
3. FME connections to SDE databases that used to work before but now don't. Argh.
4. I haven't played ice hockey in weeks.


As you were.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Friday Mediations

Going to try and write down the best links I can find on a regular basis. Kudos to TM's Recently posts ... And special kudos to this: How to be Polite. Good read.


Geohipster: Interview with Jonah Atkins

Kottke: The Precision of Lat/long Coordinates. Short answer: the sixth decimal place is worth up to 0.11 m

Via Gordon Price (@pricetags) & VanCityBuzz, a Vancouver link: The beautiful empty homes of Vancouver

When a colleague stops by my cubicle to ask how our internal Web GIS works... (ht: DBA Reactions)
When an end user stops by the IT cubes

(I'm so new to the job, I barely know the app myself....!)


Run, Walter, Run!


13 Shoes.
Not all of these, maybe the boots at the end of the list, a couple pairs of brogues, and a set of white Vans for casual Fridays.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Where to Begin...

If you are into SQL server, I highly recommend having a gander at Brent Ozar's DBA training. While most of this is out of my purview, some of the philosophies seem pretty relevant to GIS, expecially if you are maintaining your own system.

As I get entrenched into maintaining YVR's own internal GIS system, which is in it's infancy, this graphic pretty much dictates how I'm going to manage this system.

In between making maps and updating our data, I really have to start from the bottom up (data, users, backups) before diving into anything new like application revamps or Javascript training to figure out those new fangled ESRI API's.

So to my fellow GIS'ers, if you've ever managed your own enterprise system, where do you start? Any tips or tricks I should try? Things you wished you had known back in the day?


(Updated for grammatical reasons...)

Monday, 11 August 2014

Agile Results - A New Workflow?

As someone, who for most part in my career, has been used to taking orders, or had a definite & clear understanding of the work I was assigned to, this new job means that my range of tasks in developing and producing a solid GIS program has become wider.

The last few months, like most new jobs, has been a bevvy of administration duties, budgeting processes, and the standard airport security courses. Such as is it working for an airport, and rightly so.

But overall, the airport is a mini-city and while I could never develop the range of mapping applications or services like a big city and a vast GIS section to service those user requirements, I think I can modernize what's here into something a little more robust for our core users in Engineering and Airport Operations crews. Between meetings for new requests, meeting new people, and figuring out all the new data and software, some days can be overwhelming.  (Side note: Microstation has improved a lot since I took that dreadful course in 2004. <shudder>)

Lots of freedom to explore but a lot of responsibility as well.

I've always had an interest in how to develop a good enterprise GIS program. Kudos to the BCIT GIS program for giving a good foundation in what a GIS can be for an organization.  Now that I'm no longer a small cog in the GIS section, and now the primary one facilitating most aspects of GIS here, it's important to nail down what's important and how to go about giving my coworkers the best data & maps either via ArcMap, or online, or in a printed map.

So JD Meier's post the other day on Agile Results got me thinking. Agile development is all the rage with GIS developers - time to get into that and apply it to my workflow too. Let's see if I can keep up with it in the next month or two and make it a solid habit. With all the changes in my life (personally and professionally), it's a crazy, busy time.

It's great food for thought and something I'll have to practice to be productive. Because my productivity is no longer tied to waiting for a hard-copy map to be printed or icons to be designed for a new map app by the GIS Analyst Team.


Gotta channel some Ron Swanson, daily!  And good coffee helps too.

Thursday, 31 July 2014

New Job, New Challenges

A few months ago, the local airport posted a position for a GIS Specialist. Given my family circumstances, it was an opportunity I couldn't pass up. Career-wise, it's not much of change from my job at the City of Surrey, but definitely a lot broader responsibilities. Which is good, and expansive, as a result of coming to a smaller organization. I'll be doing a lot more GIS system design and maintenance, which, when you are part of a bigger team, and defined by your job description, you may not necessarily get to do very often.  

In the meantime, there's been a lot of tours, security clearances & HR paperwork, and proposal writing. And every now and then, behind-the-scenes looks at the airport inbetween the odd map request!

Monday, 9 June 2014

Going to miss this view...

New start, fresh ideas. Change is good. And inevitable. 

And having Coach Taylor in the back of your mind helps too...

Friday, 9 May 2014

Python (et al) Cheat Sheets

Awesome. Big Bookmark.


Bonus... even more programs and stuff available there too (oooohhh, REGEX!)

Monday, 7 April 2014

Adding CKAN Open Data Geospatial Icons

A little something I've been working on for the City of Surrey Open Data Website. The CKAN github project lacked some geospatial icons, so thanks Adobe Illustrator and the Sam Smith's original design files, I've created a template for AI and hacked a few more designs to add to the CKAN sprite image later on.

Kudos to Sam Smith, Aron Carroll, & St├ęphane Guidoin for their help on this.

Thoughts on the last few geospatial design icons?

(Yes, I know there's no shapefile icon. We here at the City have decided not to offer that tidbit on Open Data. Make of it what you will...)

CKAN Icon Template 54x62 px

Friday, 28 February 2014

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Geospatial Data Analyst posting at Boundless

(HT: Paul Ramsey)
I'm pretty much joined to the hip with the ESRI product line and to my hometown of Vancouver, but if I was a young turk again with no family and aspirations for bigger things, I would have totally applied for this. Nice little sweet spot between being the map production guy and the hard-core geodeveloper.

Seriously kids, if you are in the Open Source Geo World, it looks like a great opportunity. Amazing what changes are going on in the geospatial industry right now.

(and if Homeland is any indication, Maryland, VA seems like a nice suburb of Washington DC. NYC might kill you on the daily expenses, but heck, it's NYC, so there's no shortage of stuff to take in, right?)

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

My Map, Deconstructed


I'm working on a new template where I've been reducing down the roads and parks as background layers. Here I've got the watercourses in south surrey as the main focus, colored with our standard symbology for fish habitat. Trying to find a green for parks that is fairly neutral is tough when one of your line symbols is a bright green.

(But will the print colors match? Sigh, don't even get me started....)

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Prepping for a job interview this week...

.... and trying to plan my wife's birthday plans for the weekend too....

panicking cat

(HT Mashable)

#panic #nopanic

UPDATE (Jan 28): Well, everything pretty much went like this:
Charlie Brown misses football


Nothing to do except....

Thursday, 9 January 2014

New Years Resolutions

Aiming to be a little better with this blog than years previous, or at least document my attempts to get more "professional".

The Lift app helps. Will try to blog once a week and post some semi-permanent GIS activities that I think you'll find interesting. 2014 will be a year of python programming. If that's for you too (and it should be in your toolkit if you call yourself a modern-day cartographer/GIS analyst), get yourself to PyCon 2014 in Montreal! 

Cheers y'all.

PS. 2013 blog of the year, IMHO? Drunken Geographer
PPS. In all seriousness, you should be following Planet Geospatial. It's your source to all good geospatial  blogs.
PPPS. Because sometimes you'll just find golden gems like this from Tobin Bradley's blog, Fuzzy Tolerance: What's in My Toolbox 2014. Will have to do one myself, maybe the next one. His, though, will be substantially be better. ;)