Monthly Archives: July 2012

$100,000,000 Investment in GitHub

The latest issue of Bloomberg Business Week reports that Andreessen Horowitz has invested 100 Million dollars in GitHub, the company that offers support for community development on software projects. This is the largest single investment made by Andreesson Horowitz.

I think it shows how important open source software development will be as a business moving into the future.

The Sunburned Surveyor

Talk Next Wednesday on Construction Surveying Business Models

Next Wednesdy I’m filling in as the speaker for the CLSA Central Valley Chapter monthly meeting on short notice. I worked up my talk slides tonight. My talk is entitled “New Business Models for Construction Surveying”. I’m giving my talk as part of my work on the chapter’s Construction Committee.

The talk will hopefully accomplish the following:

  1. Provide a simple definition of a business model.
  2. Provide a list of business model elements.
  3. Discuss the traditional business models for construction surveying.
  4. Discuss why business models change.
  5. Discuss possible alternatives for construction business model surveyings that take into consideration machine control and construction with digital design files.

My talk is based partly on the book Business Model Generation.

I will try to videotape the talk and post it on my Redefined Horizons Talks web page.

The Sunburned Surveyor

Tools for Debugging AutoLISP

During my work on a parsing library for AutoLISP yesterday I started to think about some debugging tools I wanted to write for AutoLISP. These tools include the following:

1) An AutoLISP function that will display the current values of all the variables in a function in a DCL dialog.

2) A functional testing library that includes export of test results to HTML and a DCL test result viewer dialog.

3) Support for Java like exceptions that can be thrown inside a function, and display error reporting to the user in a DCL dialog. This may involve some hacking to enable stack tracing and other debugging support through something like a “surveyos-execute” function.

I hope to start work on these tools soon, which will be released through the SurveyOS Project under the GPL Version 3. This is way better than debugging with alert function calls.

One reason I need these tools is because BricsCAD for Linux and AcceliCAD for Windows don’t have the VisualLISP editor that comes with AutoCAD.

The Sunburned Surveyor

Wikipedia: Looking for a Few Good Editors

I’ve read before about the decline in contributions to Wikipedia. It isn’t easy to keep people in crowd sourcing schemes like Wikipedia motivated.

NPR’s All things Considered recently had a piece about the struggle of Wikipedia to attract more editors, or the Wikipedia users that serve as administrators and policeman.

The piece on All Things Considered discusses some possible reasons for the decline in editors, including the difficulty in becoming an editor and the arrival of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

The Sunburned Surveyor

A Parser Library for AutoLISP

One mistake that I’ve made for the last year as a programmer is writing custom parsers, from scratch, in the different programming languages I work with. I know realize I can save a lot of time and effort by factoring out common parsing tasks into a parsing library for each programming language I work in.

One of my current programming projects is to implement WKT import in CAD using AutoLISP. Instead of taking my traditional approach of writing a custom WKT parser from scratch, I’m going to create a parser library in AutoLISP, and then I will build the WKT parser using that library. I can then more easily implement other parsers (like a LandXML parser) in AutoLISP with more efficiently by using the parser library.

What does my parser library need to do?

It is going to handle three (3) basic tasks:

  1. Separate target strings into “chunks”. Four (4) basic chunks will need to be recognized. These are (1) whitespace, (2) groups of letters [or words], (3) groups of digits, (4) symbols [or punctuation]. (The groups of letters may also include embedded numbers).
  2. Process “chunks” into token chains.
  3. Interpret token chains into expressions.

This is different from the traditional parsing method in which tokens are produced in one step called scanning or lexing. I separate this into two (2) tasks: Chunk production and THEN token production. I’ll talk about this later in another blog post.

I started implementing the parser library for AutoLISP today. I’ve written functions that identify letters, digits, symbols, and whitespace using ASCII codes. I’ve started writing a function that will separate input strings into chunks.

When I’ve completed this parsing library in AutoLISP, I’ll implement it in Java and Python.

I’ll keep my readers posted on my progress.

The Sunburned Surveyor

Finding The Correct Mobile First Responsive Web Design Template

I started work on my first mobile design web project today. I initally planned on using the 320 and Up template, but it was a little to complicated and full features. I decided to use the Goldilocks template instead. This template seems to be more device independent, and was also a bit simpler. I’ve already started using the template and tweaking it to my needs. So far I like what I see.

The Goldilocks template also introduced me to the Aside element, which I’ve never used before. The Aside Revisited article from HTML5 Doctor talks about the changing definition and use of this HTML5 element.

The Sunburned Surveyor

Update on OSGeo Journal Volume 11

My work on OSGeo Journal Volume 11 continued today. I updated the California Chapter Annual Report Item to include new member activities from chapter members. I also completed the preliminary PDF versions of the Francophone Chapter and PDX Chapter Annual Report Items. Tomorrow I will work on the last chapter report that was submitted, for the one for the Korean Chapter.

I’m only waiting on one other Annual Report Item, from the Deegree Project.

My next step is to work on HTML versions of the report items so we can get this issue of the OSGeo Journal on the web as well as in PDF. I might also find time to convert the HTML files to EPUB.

The Sunburned Surveyor

Analyzing Cities

The Economist Magazine had an interesting article on urban research recently. The article talks about new analysis of urban areas based on new data sources and technology. One interesting result of the research is the discovery of a disturbing trend: The surface area of cities grow twice as fast as their populations. That has some pretty severe consequences for urban sprawl.

Another interesting research tidbit revealed in the articles is that cities become more efficient as they become larger. So the residents of bigger cities consume less and produce more.

I’m sure GIS will play a big role in this research, and in the real-time management of cities using these new data streams, in the future.

The Sunburned Surveyor

Patch Coming for OpenJUMP GPX Plug-In

I realized a couple of weeks ago while working on a volunteer project trail mapping in the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness that my GPX plug-in for OpenJUMP choked on route segments with only one waypoint. This particular data set had a lot of those solo-waypoint routes. The cause was probably satellite signal problems because of the tree cover.

I got the problem fixed with a patch to the code. I’m going to try to release an updated plug-in in the next few days.

The Sunburned Surveyor

Work on the OSGeo Journal Volume 9: 2011 Annual Report

I started work in earnest today on the OSGeo Journal Volume 11. This volume is the Annual Report for 2011. I realize I’m almost 7 months behind, but I hope to have next year’s annual report out by the end of March 2012.

Today I finished the preliminary PDF versions of the California Chapter Annual Report Item and the GRASS Software Project Annual Report Item. I’ll be working on the Korean Chapter, Francophone Chapter, and PDX Chapter annual report items next.

It sounds like we may get a topical article contributed this year. The article will be related to the Geopython Projects.

I’ll also be contributing three or four topical articles to this volume. The first will be an article on sharing GIS data models. It will discuss some of the work I’ve been doing to create a standard GIS model for Sanitary Sewer Networks as part of the CCVGPG Utility Working Group.

I’ll post more about this article and the other topical articles I’m contributing to Volume 11 later.

The Sunburned Surveyor