Bad Software Causes Global Warming

This Friday, I hopped up from my computer, told it to shutdown, turned off my monitor and hurried home.

This morning, I got in, turned on my monitor and … my computer was already on. Huh? It had never shut down in the first place, because Acrobat Reader doesn’t respect Windows telling it to shut down, it only listens to you, the user. So my Acrobat spent the weekend waiting for me to confirm that yes, I really wanted it to shut down!

I wonder how many tonnes should be booked to Adobe for this particular design infraction.

FOSS4G Update

By my count, it’s just 38 days until FOSS4G! Scary thought, the amount of logistics involved.


The opening plenary session is now set, with some great keynoters (Geoff Zeiss, Autodesk; Tyler Mitchell, OSGeo; Peter Rushforth, GeoConnections) and a fabulous feature speaker, Damian Conway.

Also, a full line-up of 5-minute lightning talks, to get the blood circulating! Peter Batty, Raj Singh, Schuyler Earle, Chris Schmidt, and more!

We had our update from the conference organizer yesterday, and the hotel blocks are almost sold out! Make your travel plans now, otherwise you will be paying higher prices for accommodations. The hotels are chomping at the bit to take away our block rooms and sell them for more on the open market — snap them up!

Sol Katz Award

I never met or corresponded with Sol Katz, but I’ve been puttering around the GIS world long enough to have had cause to use the tools he made available for working with geospatial data in the 1990s.

Sol was an early pioneer of free geospatial software and left behind a large body of work in the form of applications, format specifications, and utilities while at the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. This early software archive provided both source code and applications freely available to the community. Sol was also a frequent contributor to many geospatial list servers, providing much guidance to the geospatial community at large. Sol unfortunately passed away in 1999 from Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, but his legacy lives on in the open source world, and the open source spirit of which he was a pioneer.

The Sol Katz Award is given annual to an individual who has demonstrated leadership in the open source geo-spatial community. The Call for Nominations is open right now. If you know someone who embodies the Spirit of Sol, place them in consideration!


So, I’m busily evangelizing REST in my company, because it “just feels right” to me, but… there are practical problems to solve!

For example, what would a REST geocoder look like? The application is bascially all service, no resources.

Green Fields

One of the points I make repeatedly when talking to people about how open source GIS and open source in general are penetrating the marketplace is that open source thrives in “green fields” environments.

“Green fields development” is a real estate term, referring to brand new housing build on previously un-developed land. I use it to refer to systems that are built fresh without having to fit into pre-existing technology infrastructure. Usually, green fields developments are undertaken by start-up companies, but sometimes larger companies will allow new developments to choose their own technology baseline.

Linux/Apache really took off as start-ups built out their web serving infrastructure. A whole new application category with no incumbent vendor. When they evaluated their technology options, start-ups could see Solaris/SunOne as one expensive option, and Windows/IIS as another less expensive option, and Linux/Apache as the least expensive option. Given approximate technical parity (80/20 rule) the choice is clear.

The same thing is happening now with the geo-start-ups. I found very interesting the technology list that Peter Batty laid out in his musings on a geo-start-up. PostgreSQL, PostGIS, Ruby, Python, web services. All very open, most open source. And this is an individual with an intimate knowledge of the various technology options available in the geospatial market-place.

We see the same thing in the kinds of people contracting us for work on PostGIS and Mapserver and web mapping apps. They are start-ups. They don’t have any built-in vendor biases. They are just choosing the infrastructure with the best price/performance, and open source is what they are choosing.