We interrupt our regularly scheduled non-blogging for this special programming:
- Had a guy call me today about one of the websites I developed and maintained for a local organization. It hasn't been updated since I closed my shop last August, and he had volunteered to take it over and bring it up-to-date. The only catch is that he doesn't know anything about websites. He asked me if I could teach him what he needs to know to do it. My short, immediate, and firm answer was "no." I suggested that if they didn't have the budget to hire a professional, perhaps they'd be better off just creating a Facebook page. Anyway, it's a source of ongoing amusement to see how people underestimate the complexities of the web design profession.
- Ooh...look what FedEx delivered yesterday. Watch for a report, assuming I survive.
- I've been downloading and testing a variety of cartographic apps for my iPhone and iPad. I don't envision using any of them as a serious work tool, but I'm finding that there are some pretty sophisticated and powerful programs available for map making/viewing. For example, ESRI makes a free mobile version of its ubiquitous ArcGIS desktop software. It provides the ability to import and view a wide variety of map layers (e.g. Bing street-level maps; topography maps; etc.) and to pull in data from external GIS servers. You can also use your phone's GPS to update existing maps, and if you're already an ArcGIS user, the app integrates with the desktop version.
Another free app, Avenza's PDF Maps, is a resource for topo maps, as it provides free downloads to your iDevice of all of the USGS 7.5 minute topo quads. The advantage of this is that you can use the maps even if you don't have cellular or WiFi access. The downside is that you can quickly consume the storage capacity of your device as each map can be up to 20mb in size. PDF Maps also allows you to import KML/KMZ files created in Google Earth.
- One consequence of living in a semi-small city for three decades and having a fairly active social life is that one often has a personal connection to front page headlines. While this sometimes can be a fun and interesting situation, it's occasionally disconcerting and even heartbreaking. This story is an example of the latter. The driver who struck and killed the man crossing the highway is a former co-worker and current friend, and I know he's devastated by this tragedy, even though he wasn't at fault. Another story in yesterday's paper reported on the suspension of a local attorney for wire fraud; we were acquainted with him, and shocked that someone with his obvious charisma and potential would put himself in such a position.
- On a much lighter note, here's a great example of turning lemons into lemonade. Many people complain about the recent trend toward glossy computer monitors that tend to reflect so much background that they're distracting and sometimes almost unusable. A company called Cybertecture apparently contends that that's a feature, not a bug, as they've essentially taken one of those reflective monitors, slapped it on top of a computer, hung it on the wall, and called it an intelligent mirror. It's a slickly packaged concept, but it's still just a computer on a wall, and it costs up to $7,700. I'm not sure the world - or at least the sane portion, however increasingly small that may be - is ready for it. Judge for yourself: