Wednesday, October 24, 2007

NC Map Project, Part 3

Remember to save things to the flash drive earlier before the end of class comes. I'm still struggling with the issue of managing all these large files. I was working away and then it was 10 minutes before the end of class. So I went to save my files from the hard drive to my flash drive. and it says it's going to take 35 minutes, then 17 minutes, then 194 minutes. Pete wants to leave on time, and Haven is there, and she wants to leave too, because of the mouse situation at their house. She's all consumed with the mice as far as I can tell. As the minutes tick down, it's clear that I'm not going to get my files copied to the flash drive any time soon. Pete intervenes and puts my files on his portable hard drive. Why is the actual hard drive faster than the flash drive with no moving parts? Seems like the archaic whirling metal disk hard drive would be slower than completely motionless memory. I guess flash memory is just not that fast.

Below is the image I was working with tonight. The elevation data is in raster format. It's really quite beautiful. Raster data is something I'm pretty familiar with from working with digital photos. Where each pixel in a photo has qualities, like it's color and brightness, each cell in the elevation data has a quality. That quality is it's elevation. In the case of the image below, the elevation data for each cell is just converted to a shade of gray, with the highest being white. You can display it in many different colors, and process the data to simulate 3 dimensional views and stuff.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

WNC Map Project Expands

Tonight class started out with some recovery work. I had a pretty bad data disaster on my fancy new (cheap) 4 GB flash drive. I think it happened when I was working in ArcMap with some of that stupid giant 5 foot contour data, and things got all frozen up and it went shizzly bad. After that the flash drive was never the same. If I worked it too hard it just disappeared from the computer, like, *blink*, your drive could not be found. I ended up using a data recovery tool on it and I think I got most of the data back, but it was all over the place in folders with names like [29FF] instead of more meaningful names like "GIS Final Project". I ended up reformatting the flash drive, and it now seems to be working better.

I pretty much gave up on the data I recovered and decided to start anew on my project. I also decided to avoid the stupid giant contour data that has vexed me for several weeks. Pete sort of opened up what the project could include, so I also opened up my map to cover the whole state. It will still generally be a General Reference Map showing mostly major roads and municipalities and elevation data. I did figure out some cool stuff tonight. First I wanted to automatically label the roads based on data that is in the file. I decided to only show Interstates and US Highways so that the map would not be too busy. So I had to exclude all the other roads. Then I figured out how to automatically label the roads with the different little shields for Interstates and US Highways, and to put the appropriate route number in each little shield. After that I started working on doing something similar with Municipality Names. I want to not show the tiny town names, and show the larger ones with increasing font sizes based on their population. I'm well on my way to making that happen. Pete said he had never done that. I was surprised at that since he is uber GIS guru. Uber guru, that's fun to say. Please see above my map in its current state of development.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Cartographic Frustrations

We're continuing our WNC map project tonight. More computer frustrations dealing with huge data and... don't put any spaces in your file name or path! I just ran into that problem which we learned really early in the first class. My super 4GB flash drive acting weird too. Suddenly disappearing when I try to make it work hard, like saving a big file to it. These computer frustrations are really affecting my project. I haven't made much progress at all during the last 2 classes. I wish they would stop.

While waiting for the computer to work properly (or not) I have put some thought into what I want my map to be like. I think I will basically do a general reference map, with primary roads and towns and so on. I'd like to use the fancy elevation data to show the contours of the mountains, and maybe add some population data so that the viewer can see some relationship between Elevation and Population Density.

In shocking news, Mary was apparently injured in a fall from a ladder and required surgery! Mary, get well soon! That really sucks.

In the memories news this week, I had a dream. In this dream I was talking to a gearhead friend about the axles on the front wheel drive VWs. About how the one on the drivers side was shorter and solid steel and the one on the passenger's side was longer and tubular. They did that cleverly so that they would be the same weight. That much is true. In the dream, I went on to say that in the newer cars, they redesigned the transaxle so that the drive flanges were exactly centered under the car. This meant that the axles could be exactly the same length and weight. I'm pretty sure that is not true at all. I even had a name for what they were trying to achieve by making that change, something like thrust-centralysis. I explained that term in the dream to refer to the absolute lack of pulling to one side or the other under all driving conditions. Interesting how my brain engineers things when it is idle. Maybe I should have been an engineer like my Dad.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Cheerleader Photo

Here's a great photo from Jason (aka SweetAshvegas), taken for the latest installment of "A Day in the Life of Asheville" photo project. I participated in the one in April of this year, but sat this round out. I think Jason is a great photographer of the photojournalist ilk. In my youth I worked at a newspaper with some great photographers, and learned the power of the photo that captures something about a person or relationship. That was also the time when I was a teenager, and shot football games on Friday nights and umm, "admired" the cheerleaders.

So here's what I love about this photo. There is this pair of girls hugging and smiling huge for the camera, front and almost center in the frame. When I first saw the photo in smaller form I almost thought it was a mother/daughter pair. The girl on the right looks so young and girlish and the one on the left so much more mature. It feels to me like it's about the transition we go through in the high school years from child to adult. Right away I was grabbed by everything else that is going on in the frame. There are these 7 other girls clearly visible in the picture, and they all seem to be in compelling individual portraits at once. None of them seem to be relating to each other, which is such a contrast to the pair in the front. They all seem to have their own space in the photo, even though some are in front of or behind another girl. Most are looking or moving in different directions. All the girls seem to be white and about the same size (skinny) and have the same color and length of hair. And this similarity contrasts again with how they all seem to be in their own "worlds" in the photo. Finally, they are almost floating on this inky black surface that pops their white shoes out like light bulbs. If not for the white lines on the track, which further keeps my eye on the move, they might have actually floated out of the frame.

Great shot Jason. It's always exciting to see what you've been shooting.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

It's Jaime's Birthday

Today is Jaime's Birthday, a very important birthday.
If she lived in Australia, I'm sure it'd rival Perth Day.

She's not very old, she was born when Todd got married.
I hope she has a chill out day, and doesn't get too harried.

She works hard all day, kickin' ass at the helpdesk.
She sometimes likes to get on stage and dance a little burlesque.

She can't help she is a milktard, she just can't eat no dairy.
When I have a java chiller, I can dance 'round like a fairy.

Her work area's tidy due to her organizational ability.
She not really getting old, so has no trouble with senility.

Sometimes people see her name and think she's a male Latino.
Sam once had amazing gas and now we feed him beeno.

Each month we see her new calendars, her favorite one has Shih Tzus.
She's not so good at sewing things so the pants she makes won't fit yous.

Pepe is her long lost dog, he was the cutest little Pug.
Some said he was half Doberman and other half was bug.

Now she has a new best friend, his name is Willoughby Bobbin.
When Ken throws up at exercise, the sound is Blaaa, Blaaa-bin-bin-bin.

She gets breakfast from the Best Burger King in the world, lately it's a chicken biscuit.
When people call with techy problems, she always helps them fix it.

Her luck with men is not so good, some even say deplorable.
When her curls are fresh installed, they do look real adorable.

One guy she met had a cartoon where he set himself on fire.
Her super Mini needs no spare 'cause it comes with run-flat tire.

One ex boyfriend got in trouble for saying she was pretty when she was really sick.
He sounds sweet to me, but I guess she thought he was a prick.

Now I end this special birthday poem, 'cause I can't rhyme no more.
I hope this will be her best year yet, and just the first of many more.


Wednesday, October 3, 2007


We're starting on a new project that will span several weeks. We will each make a map of Western NC. There is certain data that we have to include and other data that we can adapt to our own preferences. I think it will be interesting to see what each of us comes up with.

I have done a you tube. I've done 2 actually. Dude, I totally you tubed. I did it with 2 different pretty young women. Not at the same time. (Remember this reference to most of my friends being pretty young women?) I diverge into the talk of you tubing because it is taking so long to copy files around. Files that I need to make my map. It's currently saying it's going to take another 4.5 hours to copy a few MB from the desktop to my flash drive. Stupid computer.

I'm working with some cool LIDAR data here. It's the digital elevation model for WNC, which is quite high resolution. It is basically contour data, like you would see on a topo map. Where most topo maps cover a fairly small area, being large scale maps, this covers many counties. It also shows a line for every 5 feet of elevation change where most topo maps are at 20 foot intervals. So we're talking about a lot of data. That's why we're running into trouble dealing with it. The digital elevation model files are about 1.5 GB.

Below is my map so far. It's not much to speak of. It shows the whole state and the national forests located in it are shown in a sexy hot pink. It's a darker hot pink, which is what makes it more sexy. I did collect data from various sources tonight and learned about dealing with massive data files.Mary is back tonight, and feeling better, and took the test the rest of us took last week. Maybe we'll get our scores next week. Pete was demonstrating something on the whiteboard and drew a crude outline of NC. He said that it was not an airplane, and Josh said he thought it was "The Iraq." This gave me a good laugh, which was good. See also the iRack from Apple.