geoMP3s of the Week

Filed under: Uncategorized — geoLibro @ 6:37 pm

geoMP3s for the last two weeks (Paul Simon doing Johnny Ace’s “Pledging My Love” and Ramblin’ Jack Elliot doing Lillian Bos Ross’ “The South Coast”) are available at the new location



geoMP3 of the Week: Leonard Cohen’s “The Stranger Song”

Filed under: Uncategorized — geoLibro @ 12:39 pm

Blog defunct. Posts migrated elsewhere.


This Blog is Moving/Has Moved (2007 May 22)

Filed under: Uncategorized — geoLibro @ 2:09 pm

This blog is defunct. 


New Feature: GeoMP3 of the Week

Filed under: Geotagging — geoLibro @ 10:44 pm

Let’s try this for a while: since I’m doing this anyway by geotagging my iTunes library, every Friday I’ll post for download an mp* file (mp3, mp4, etc.) of some song that happens to have some implicit geospatial reference and, presumably, is somehow colored by its geospatial…ness. Accompanying this file will be a kml that will take you to that location, if you’re so inclined. Some parameters:

  • I don’t really want to pay for WordPress space, so I’ll be taking each one down ~2 weeks after they’re posted.
  • I will resist the urge to make every week a Tom Waits week. (First week doesn’t count).
  • I may or may not add a little gloss to each entry about the song’s geography.
  • I will tend to stick to bootlegs, torrented live shows, rarities, etc. (First week doesn’t count).

Good? So let’s get on with it. The first week is a double, featuring two versions of Tom Waits’ classic "Johnsburg, Illinois." This isn’t Waits’ best song ever ("Make it Rain" from Real Gone is, of course), but it’s a remarkably well-built, fundamental romance, referencing and aggrandizing (by proxy, no doubt) the town in which his wife, Kathleen Brennan, grew up. According to Waits (according to Pieter Hartmans’s at least) in a 1983 interview, Brennan was raised "up by the Ching-a-Lings" on a farm that was situated, you guessed it, "outside McHenry" near the Wisconsin border. I would be interested in hearing from anybody who has any insight as to where the Ching-a-Lings tended to be, presuming they were in Johnsburg/McHenry at all.

Johnsburg, Illinois (from Swordfishtrombones in 1983)

Johnsburg, Illinois (from Big Time in 1988)

kml (or just a GMaps lookup)

Am I Illiterate or Does That Say PostgreSQL 8.2?

Filed under: Open Source GIS — geoLibro @ 8:49 pm

Nowhere else is there an indication of support for PostgreSQL as the real back end of ArcSDE (except for the perpetual conversations taking place in ESRI forums), but…doesn’t this suggest that it might be in the works? Am I stupid for thinking such things?

(Here’s a screencap in case it turns out to be some prank):
PostgreSQL behind ArcSDE


Bad Map Hits Close to Home, or Craptastic Map Leaves Backyard Swirling the Bowl

Filed under: Uncategorized — geoLibro @ 3:21 am

I was in Chicago two weeks ago waiting for a flight to Phoenix when I got a call from my wife, who had dragged the shop-vac out of the garage for some…cleanup. The toilet overflowed, see, and it turns out (and I have to admit I suspected it) that it wasn’t an ordinary local clog. That is, plunging didn’t do anything to fix the proble, because the problem was deeper than that. Well when I returned we called a plumber who asked me over the phone if I had a lot of trees in my yard. I laughed because hell yes we have a lot of trees. "It’s roots, then," he said. "I see it all the time." Because we don’t have a clean-out anywhere on a property, my new plumber friend "Walter" was going to have to get a map of the underground from the city, dig down to the sewer line, and A) install a clean-out and B) root out/cut away whatever was blocking the pipe.

Walter and his guys arrived on Friday morning, plunged the backhoe bucket into the ground and found…nothing. Turns out the map was wrong, which meant they essentially had to begin guessing where to dig. That might sound trivial, but wherever you "guess" to dig with a backhoe becomes a giant hole in short order. So when they guessed wrong the first time (so that’s two holes so far), a decent chunk of what made our house worth anything was gone. Just a couple swings of that bucket.

incorrect sewer map

Anyway, they guessed right the next time (on the other side of the original hole), but no thanks to that decrepit, monochromatic, cro-magnon photocopy of cartographic degradation the city gave them. Never mind that the pipe they finally found was way below grade and had been crimped by the weight of the garage built 6-7 feet above it.

the carnage

I love bad maps, but this one hit close to home (seriously, they ended up digging right up to the foundation to install a bypass). And we’ll always remember that week in 2007 when everything that we expelled from our house went straight into an open hole in the backyard. (Wife, pointing: "I remember you!")



“Your Job Sounds Interesting”

Filed under: GIS in Libraries — geoLibro @ 12:21 pm

Alright, alright. It’s been a while, of course, so let me get some stuff down on paper. I just returned from the Spring 2007 CNI Task Force Meeting in Phoenix, Az (more on that later) to find an email from someone who happened to be nearby when I presented at the 2007 Indiana GIS Conference and who now wanted to know my background, since my job sounded interesting. I’m posting my response here, because I suspect it’s something I’ll want to return to and read again in two years, then again five years after that, etc.

This is pretty fascinating work, I think. You know, being in GIS, how rapidly its technologies are changing. This makes GIS in and of itself pretty wild these days, but it’s particularly interesting (let “interesting” be a euphemism for “challenging”) to be in the niche that a GIS librarian occupies, since the problem that is staring us in the face is largely unfixed: how to intelligently store, and more importantly, provide intuitive-but-structured, easy-but-full access to those datasets. Oh, and at the same time try to offer support, advice, and infrastructure to pretty much anybody on campus who wants to do GIS but doesn’t already have the training, data, software, or hardware. “And can we get that into Google Earth?”

I don’t mean to sound flip or disgruntled, though. There are fascinating and tough GIS and GIS-related projects going on everywhere and I’m very glad to be a part of it. There are some really good ideas, and you know the technology is opening up so that it’s no longer a matter of “well, has ESRI enabled that?”

You would have a particular advantage, in many ways, since you come from the GIS side of things. I’m a humanist, really, and came to graduate school (in Library Science) following a Bachelor’s in English, where the texts I ended up wanting to write about had a lot to do with maps if they weren’t maps themselves. The tech. and science parts I’ve sort of had to teach myself and I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a GIS tech. Don’t have much interest in being one, really. The information and data and access side is what’s interesting to me (not to mention the opening up of GIS to user populations who are suddenly emboldened [and overwhelmed] by their newfound civic, political, and of course academic power).

Anyway, that’s a long-winded of way of introducing the notion that if you want to be a GIS Librarian proper, odds are that you’ll need a Master’s in Library Science, yes. I’m hedging that, because many libraries are hiring in people who aren’t librarians (in more like staff positions), but then allowing them to get their Master’s slowly, while on the job. That just happened to a talented systems guy here .

At the same time, some libraries are now in discussions on the way of becoming one, are hiring in non-Library Science graduates as library faculty. These people would be coming in from anywhere, really, as long as they could contribute to some part of what the libraries is trying to solve for the univesity. The old guard is a little upset about it, but the younger among us (generally, of course) don’t see a problem with it. The thinking goes “library science needs talented, technologically-minded people if we’re going to compete with the rest of the world that’s now run by computer scientists, and we don’t care where they come from.” My impression is that it’s increasingly possible to get into the GIS-as-information-mechanism (that’s opposed to the GIS-as-analysis-mechanism world that makes up most of the GIS work you hear about) without being a library scientist (a term which is loosely defined to begin with).

Anyway, I’d be happy to discuss it with you more, if you like. The short answer, since I haven’t given that yet, is that I’m an English B.A. (History minor) with a Master’s in Library Science from the University of Iowa, and by and large I taught myself all of the GIS I know.


Mountan View, CA Now Our Prime Meridian?

Filed under: Geographic Exploration Systems, GES — geoLibro @ 11:54 am

I was reading a particularly obtuse Digg exchange when I came across this (particulars changed):

For anyone interested, Google Earth Coords for Hubbard Park:

41° 39′ 42" N

091° 32′ 18" W

…suggesting to me that even the coordinate system is now being credited to Google. But it also suggests another way to leverage Google’s infiltration for good: if the U.S. government is serious about us learning and using the National Grid (USNG), they need to have Google use it for U.S. locations. That would take care of it shortly, I suppose.


If Google Really Wants to be Useful to Me…

Filed under: Maps & Cartography — geoLibro @ 6:09 pm

…They can swoop in to hundreds of academic libraries in this country (or others) and scan the thousands and thousands of maps that have always been and are mostly still uncataloged and even largely unaccounted for. Almost every issue of the ALA MAGERT bulletin baseline includes a somewhat depressing round-up of the state of map record availability in academic library OPACs. Digitization projects, a few high-powered exceptions aside, are also not terribly abundant or comprehensive. Since Google has, sorry, but googles of dollars, why can’t they just send a robot in to scan our map collections? Those exist, right? Then they can hire thousands of people to rectify them. Maybe it’s already happening.


Plug Up ka-Map

Filed under: GISUI (GIS User Interfaces), Open Source GIS — geoLibro @ 1:32 am

This is going to work out fine, yes. I’ve been toying with the notion that the open source ka-Map might just be smooth enough (built on top of MapServer‘s robust enough) to handle some of the web mapping projects we have coming up. ka-Map is a javascript and php-built front end that takes MapServer’s output and tiles it, precaches it, then renders it within any number of web environments, a number of which come pre-built with the source. Think Google Maps to MapServer’s ArcIMS. So after a couple of false starts, one of which was due to a mysterious incompatibility somewhere within the string of libraries required to run it on OS X (it set up with no problem on Ubuntu and one of the grad assistants got it set up on Windows with a little text editing), everything fell into place this past weekend. Now in just a couple of days I have map attributes (shapefile) query and search running, have those queries then throwing out to some other database.

…And back! What’s the point? Well, Google recently attached map searches to their Book Search results. MetaCarta has been leading the pack on the same thing. What we have going here is something a little like that, but without the great power of the former and the awesome natural language processing of the latter. Specifically, we’re supposed to have an old soil survey of Tippecanoe County, IN scanned, its map scanned and rectified and, in fact, digitized, and ka-Map is going to allow us to run searches back and forth between the text of the survey and the data layers extracted from the map. In our minds it will be a great combination of library work and GIS and ka-Map is getting us closer every couple of weeks.

draft of ka-Map installation

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