So I’ve been Rebooting

Posted: January 31, 2017 in Uncategorized

I can’t believe the last time I took time for this thought-stream was almost 2 years ago. I’ve been busy.

First off, that thesis? Well heck ya I finished it. And after only one pass through review, i was granted a bachelor’s degree in GIS! (yes!) The thesis wasn’t my best work, but it was certainly my longest, most heavily endowed with pages work. And nobody really got what the fuck I was talking about. Hahaha. Oh college.

After finishing school in the Spring of 2015, I bounced around a little. A little like ping pong; my poor little ping pong children.  Finally, though, after moving from one friend’s basement to another’s, I got the best freaking call of my life: local government in the Shuswap, BC. Local government sounds … lame … I know …

But a month later I was building maps and databases at my very first office desk. Complete with the most excellent co-workers I could ask for (for real!), a superb manager/boss-man (phew!), and a brand new ergonomic work chair. My kid needs allergy meds? Bam! I got coverage for that. My kid needs braces? Bam! I got coverage for that. Oh crap, I need a root canal? Bam! Covered. fuh-kin-eh.

So ya, pretty happy mapping in the Shuswap. Beautiful communities, fresh mountain air, activities aplenty. Marvelous. And, since a new chapter is beginning, and my maps are slightly improving, I have begun a new section: First Few. It contains some of the more recent stuff I’ve been working on, both in and outside of work.



Writing a Research Paper

Posted: April 18, 2015 in Uncategorized

Dear Nether: It’s been a year! since my last post.

I’ve been fully engaged in completing a Bachelor’s Degree in GIS at Selkirk College in Castlegar, and I’m almost done! What is left to do still, this late in the college year? Ahh…the notorious Thesis paper is what. Here’s what I decided to do in order to get my thoughts organized and devise an action plan:

Research Paper Plan

Research Paper Plan

Now I just have to fill-in-the-blanks 🙂 Or rather, weave together the story so that it’s purpose is clear.

By the way, if you’re wondering what the subject of my thesis is, I am developing a web-based forestry asset map for interactive geospatial visualization to support sustainable forestry management in British Columbia. No sweat.

I can see the end of the academic road here, so close. This year is my sixth year in college!! My collection of diplomas and degrees is starting to take over my hall way wall… just kidding, they’re in a stack on my book shelf, unframed. The next chapter of my journey is going to be incredible.

Thanks Selkirk College for always letting me back in, and for so many years of excellent tutelage. And thanks double for the shiny medal you gave me back in 2010! haha

how-to: Plot Your Plan

Posted: March 8, 2014 in planning, tutorials

It’s March already!
For me, that means it’s almost the end of an intense and informative 3rd year GIS program at Selkirk College. Those guys are serious about molding us into spiffy professional techies, and this last month’s workload is a step into the “real world” for sure!

Along with a class-wide group project on influenza immunization rates, I have been tasked with completing 4 additional projects. Due? First week of April! I don’t know about you, but for me that a lot of juggling, and the trick to juggling many projects (all with their own lovely components and deadlines) is a well-organized action plan. So, I created a gantt chart to help me meet expectations.


Okay, yay! One thing is clear, spending time on blogging is not part of the plan! But one must take deep breaths and enjoy the finer things, even when bogged down with due dates.

In case you wanna but don’t know how:

1. Open a new m.excel workbook
2. Create a sheet with headings: Task, Start, Duration, End
3. Format the Start and End columns to be type “date”
4. Click on an empty cell and insert a blank bar chart of type “stacked bar”

5. Right click on the empty box and choose Select Data
6. In Legend Entries click Add
– select the column header “start” as series name
– select all the values in that column as series values
– click OK
7. In Legend Entries click Add again
– select the column header “duration” as series name
– select all the values in that column as series values
– click OK
8. In Horizontal (Category) Axis Labels
– choose Edit
– select all values in the task column, without selecting that column header
– click OK and then OK again to leave the data selection window

9. Now you need to reverse the order of the bars so they make sense as a list
– right click on the vertical axis and choose “Format Axis”
– find the box “Categories in reverse order” and check it, then exit.

10. To get rid of the part of the bars that visually represent “start” information, click inside a start bar (and the group should all be selected automatically) and choose ‘no fill’ and ‘no line’

11. The last step is to tell graph to begin where the first ‘duration’ bar begins so there’s not a huge patch of wasted white space where the ‘start’ bars used to be.
– right click on the cell that carries the first date under the ‘start’ column and choose “Format Cells”
– click General and write down the number in the Sample box (it represents the date)
– click Cancel to exit without actually changing the format
– right click on the horizontal axis and choose “Format Axis”
– inside the Bounds: Minimum box enter the number from the last step
– inside the Vertical axis crosses: Axis value box enter that same number
– if you want to change the number of days shown as labels you can do that in the Units: Major box

12. Don’t forget to SAVE your awesomeness

These charts are great for at-a-glance decision making to save you time (and money if you’re getting paid!)

charming the python

Posted: December 11, 2013 in python

I know what I’ll be doing for fun this winter break. I’ll be charming that sly, loopy python to dance to the tune of my intent. That’s right, I’m going to take the simple bones of my final project program and tinker with it until it does what I say.

The program I wrote works great, actually. It searches through a set of map documents (mxd’s) for layers with broken source links and fixes those links automatically, all without having to open up the mapping software, arcMap. All the user has to do is provide the path of the folder in which the maps are kept and the path to the correct file geodatabase (GDB). The thing is, that isn’t really what I want this program to do for me. I want it to do more.

What is the likelihood that the perfect-world scenario under which my program currently functions is actually going to happen in real life? I need this program to be capable of accepting any kind of layer file (right now it’s limited to feature layers in a GDB) as a fix for any kind of layer files that may carry the broken links. Ideally, the program will be able to connect the map layers with some new sources even if the broken layer types and/or names and the new, fixed ones differ. Ideally.

Am I really going to try to make this happen during my winter holidays instead of tobogganing with my daughters and sipping hot tea with my neglected book collection? Probably a little, ya. I’m kind of persistent. There’s something to say, too, for the feeling one gets when the intended outcome of a program runs without error. Maybe with today’s technology I should be writing my code on my wrist watch while I take the slow-lane down Cone Hill with my daughters on our toboggan.

(Oh, by the way, I DID totally beat my best time on that third round of GISing with my autoCAD layers. And you know what? that third map I made was the nicest one.)

trouble in project land

Posted: December 6, 2013 in arcGIS, autoCAD

So I’m sitting here happily, rearranging layers and symbols in arcMap, and it’s looking great, it’s getting done. It even has finesse. I’m thinking this autoCAD project is coming together beautifully. Oops.

I have a lesson here, to share, and it’s a gooder. If you import your autoCAD data into arcMap, never, ever change the source data set. Never even change it’s file path. For the second time this week (yes, I know) my almost finished .mxd layers have dissappeared, lost in the nether.

In order to get my CAD2014 layers drawn to arcMap 10.1 I first had to save the .dwg as a CAD2010 format. Why? I really can’t say. And so came the first case of dissappearing map layers. When I made some edits on my CAD layers, and re-saved (neglecting to ensure I was re-saving as 2010) the sources on my map layers were broken. And they were gone, too.

Okay, breathe. Three hours is all. It was three hours of work that disappeared from the map; but, now that I know exactly what my plan is, it should be much shorter to get there again. Okay.

Learning my lesson (hardy har har) I made sure to save two copies of my CAD file: one to never edit and one to edit before final submission if need be. So, of course, I was working with my never-edit-this copy, which I had imported into a brand new sparkling arcMap .mxd. Sweet. Things were going awesome. Hours, all of which I enjoyed, by the way, spent on perfecting my map, confident that the data would not disappear. I took the correct precautions. Then, because life is funny that way, I decided to put all of the files that I will not be directly submitting to my teacher (shout out to Tracey Harvey) into a new sub-folder for cleaner organization. Data management, Yo.  But, no. Don’t DO that.

I just lost all my map layers again. And again I am looking at a fresh, clean, sparkling, empty .mxd into which I am about to import my freaking CAD layers. This time, friends, I have finished completely the autoCAD part of the project (just in case) and I have made a duplicate .dwg labelled “never edit or move” from which I have sourced the map layers I am going to work with (just in case). I am going to make this map beautiful.

I’ll let you know if I beat my best time.

Posted: November 16, 2013 in Uncategorized



The Seven Summits Trail is a pretty wicked mountain biking trail near Rossland, BC, Canada:

For GIS321 we were asked to produce an infograph, using adobe Illustrator and arcMap. The process involved using a nifty arcGIS script tool called “Comparative Distance Line” where I inputted the vector track for the trail and the distance from the tops of the 7 peaks to the track. I was able to modify the scale (for visual clarity) and symbolize the output by elevation (for fun). The Adobe Illustrator made it possible to add artistic flair of the otherwise standard comparative line. Simple, for certain, but still effective, the poster shows hand-drawn mountains to pseudo-relative scale and a flipped comparative line for prettier page set-up.