Monday, February 15, 2016
A couple of mundane, weekend chores helped remind me about the ever-present need to re-visit assumptions. They were no where close to being exciting - and bordered on the inane, but for different reasons they reminded me about tasks that we take on in our projects, and the assumptions we operate on.
Exhibit #1 - two many household electronics, not enough outlets. We all know this one: where am I going to plug this new thingamajig in to keep it charged? Well about a week ago I decided I had enough plug-swapping and needed to expand the capacity of select outlets in my home. The act of pulling one plug out, temporarily putting in another, then repeating the whole cycle ad infinitium, ad nauseam was beginning to irk me.
So we were at Target and I started buying outlet expanders: a six-outlet tap here, a power strip there, etc. etc. At the checkout when the cashier announced some ridiculously large number, and my wife asked what the heck we had purchased. I coolly decreed that it was all necessary and non-discretionary. But truth be told I was unnerved at how expensive outlet-expansion was going to be...
At home I plugged in a dazzling new surge protector here, a USB-expansion outlet there, but all the while that number at the checkout was bothering me. It made me curious - was there another way? A quick rummage through the house revealed: an under-utilized 3-way tap here, an un-loved power strip there, a still-in-the-box adapter up in that closet. Before long, I had assembled pretty much everything I needed to replace that shopping bag. Moving one or two items to different, empty outlets was the final step. At the end of it all, I was able to return every one of the items I purchased back to the store.
Exhibit #2 - a mountain of snow, and a path to the bus. Unless you lived under a rock last month, you probably heard about the blizzard event on the east coast. There was plenty of white stuff blocking roads and sidewalks for days on end. The school system finally decided to re-open it's doors, but there was no easy way for my young kids to walk to the bus-stop. On the corner crossing, Mt. Snow-everest stood in their way.
So I took to shoveling that corner. I started from one end - towards the middle things got rough. Lots of snow to move and it was wet and heavy at this point. I started from the other side - same story: going somewhere, but not nearly fast enough for me. So I climbed on top of this mess and surveyed around - and just for the heck of it, started shoveling there. Low and behold, the snow up top was kinda light - a lot easier to move from the top-down. In a matter of minutes I had reduced that great big mound of impasse to a manageable level. Now with an even level of material, I made quick work of the rest of the path.
Two different examples, same important story: check your assumptions in order to minimize your effort. Do you really need to spend that money, to accomplish what you need? Do you already have resources at hand your not fully utilizing? And if you must go through that effort, can your change your approach to ease the workload for everyone involved? These are all things that we should constantly be on the lookout for in our project lives.
Monday, May 18, 2015
So I noticed this article just now, referencing the 2014 iOS 8 release, and it's lack of map features. I would gather from this that either the maps team at that time, or possibly Apple overall had a weak PM culture that contributed to this. We all know Apple has a great product management culture, where good practitioners will focus on the strategic nature. Good Project management on the other-hand requires mastery of the tactical, which I suspect might be difficult in a culture like Apple's, especially with the laborious back-end discipline that is part and parcel to geo data.
Thursday, July 11, 2013
I liked Latitude, but the writing was on the wall for some time and I noticed that almost all of the ~ dozen or so of my contacts who were using the app have long-since stopped updating their positions. For me, it was a handy way of collecting history, sharing general location to most friends, and sometimes showing specific location to a few select users, at select times. The API was also useful for developers to extend location functionality into other realms,like Jeffrey Fridel's reverse geocoding functionality for Adobe Lightroom. (which worked mostly, sometimes....
And I hate check-ins: just one more useless "feature" IMHO. I didn't have to check-in w/ Latitude though to still have it be useful for me.
Alternatives? OpenPaths is an altruistic-sounding, privacy-concerned group, that I've tried out somewhat in the past. There are other apps that sound promising on the AppStore, like this one for geotaging photos on non-GPS'd cameras... For me the selling points will be privacy, battery management and functionality related to history. To be continued...
Friday, May 24, 2013
It’s new – and empty :)
Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Superstorm Sandy's impact might indeed live up to the hype that preceded it. But the challenges for emergency management officials remain the same: identifying the priorities, and moving the right assets and resources into the right place at the right time. This storm is no different, the response has already drawn criticism from many sides, including FEMA's supplemental power generation.
Geospatial technoligies have seen a proliferation of 'open' and interconnected components in the last few years. REST APIs and OGC standards help, but it is still much easier to connect systems, than it is to connect people. The challenge remains - getting the right people the right information at the right time. With every new GIS portal launched, the promise of a Common Operating Picture fades from view. When questions of "which portal do I use?" reverberate across the list-serves, sharing shapefiles via E-mail help soothe the pain of COP-creep.
Encouragingly though, it is now easier to connect people with the technology. While silos and fiefdoms may not like talking to each other, the crowd will now push them to action. Even FEMA has praised the collaborative efforts of groups like Humanitarian Open Street Map and their application to validate damage assessment photos from the Civil Air Patrol. The abundance of crowd-sourced data and applications helps to augment (and QC) the 'authoritative' versions. Evidence of this also includes two road-closure sites maintained side-by-side in Fairfax Co. Virginia.
All maps lie - they hide truths and obscure facts. By their very nature, they must present a viewpoint that is myopic - limited by the variables and symbology chosen by their creator. The challenge for those in the profession is to discern the burning questions that decision makers face, and tell a story that best illustrates a path forward. We have plenty of techno-talent, geo-lingo-jargon-experts and princely fiefdoms. It's encouraging to see democratic systems that help feed swift solutions to bridge the gap of what-do-we-know and what-do-we-do.
Monday, November 5, 2012
Friday, September 21, 2012
I don't see "maps" anywhere on this chart....
Apple's unusual stumble proves that LBS, navigation and online mapping is a key business driver - one that requires a significant investment in data, programming and expertise. Don't leave home (or go to market) without it...