bdodson is currently certified at Journeyer level.

Name: Bruce Dodson
Member since: 2002-06-02 22:13:34
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To give my clients the best value for their consulting dollar, I use open source software in my work when it's pragmatic to do so. However, it's important to choose one's battles. I can make recommendations or suggest alternatives (that's one of the things consultants are good for - cutting through the "we've always done it that way" effect), but in the end it is my responsibility to work within the constraints set by my client.

Open source software is such a great resource - it has improved my work environment and has helped me to develop better solutions for my customers. I do what I can to return something to the open source community, and especially to those projects from which I benefit. I think we all have an obligation to do that, and I think we all have the ability to do that - often, one of the best contributions you can make is word-of-mouth advocacy for the projects that bring you value.


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SHPTRANS Shapefile Transformer has just turned 1.1b. This marks its first "official" release under an open source license.

This also marks a significant milestone for me, since it means that every piece of software that I have published on my web page is now released under an open source license.

The guys at SourceForge came through for me; a member of their staff read my diary entry from yesterday and they wrote me back to say that a GIS entry has been implemented in the Trove, under Scientific/Engineering. Now that's service!

(I am guessing that this change had already been requested through proper channels, and was in the works; still it's commendable that they would spot my obscure diary entry, and even more commendable that they took the time to reply.)

Wow, summer's already over. I now have a new project released as open source: SHPTRANS. This is command-line GIS utility, also sporting an ArcView GUI, sort of like my other utility NTXShape in that regard. This one does map projections rather than file format conversions.

I wish SourceForge had an appropriate Trove category for GIS; the closest that I can find is Scientific/Engineering.

What else did I do this summer?

I did some work on Scintilla, contributed a few useful patches (useful to me, at least), and put together an installer for Scintilla Text Editor. This has been a very gratifying experience for me: a programmer's text editor is a lot closer to mainstream than the GIS-related work that I do. Watching the number of downloads, I am definitely motivated to keep this one maintained. (Thanks Neil for linking to my site.)

One of my tools, AVPython (Python for ArcView GIS), got implicated in a "best in category" award from the map gallery at the ESRI International User conference in July. AVPython wasn't the focus of the poster, of course (AVPython is just plumbing and that doesn't make for a winning poster); it was about a project called avTerra which integrates Microsoft TerraServer into ArcView. avTerra uses AVPython to pull this off. It won the "integration" category. This is exactly the sort of thing that I had in mind when I created AVPython. (Thanks and congratulations, Howard!)

What else? Spinner-Wiki has been fixed up some; I think I've worked out all the bugs caused by hosting it without admin priviledges, e.g. on SourceForge. It is probably stable enough to be used on other sites now. It is probably still more stable when used in an environment where you have admin priviledges, though; I installed a copy of it at work, sort of like a web journal and guest book, and it has been pretty solid for the past year or so.

I published a version of Jakarta Tomcat configured to install easily for use with ESRI ArcIMS. Unlike the standard distribution of Tomcat it bundles Jikes and does not require the JDK. Also, it is based on 3.2.4 rather than the latest in the 4.0 series, since 3.2.x is the latest that ESRI has certified for first-level support. Although it's intended primarily for ArcIMS I suppose there's nothing preventing you from using it in some other way. (But you would probably get better mileage from 4.0.x)

I've also been learning about Jython servlets, and about templating engines (my current favorites are FreeMarker and WebMacro, although I also hacked on Tea and Velocity). I'll definitely be taking that knowledge into work next time we do an ArcIMS Java server-side app.

Why do I work on such a variety of projects? Well, I suppose it helps to take my mind off work after hours, while still allowing me to feed my computing addiction into the wee hours of the morning. That addiction especially needs feeding on those occasions when I end up on email and teleconferences all day. Anyway each of the projects, taken individually, is small enough that it doesn't require daily effort on my part. The variety allows me to hack on whatever suits my mood.

Lately my role at work has been changing to include more project management and less implementation. This is out of necessity - the office needs that - and it's a positive change as far as I'm concerned since I get more human contact at work this way and can always satisfy my technical cravings at home.

(Needless to say, I'm single. Ha ha. Who could put up with me?)

"The [Free Software] Foundation believes that people should be free to study, share and improve all the software they use, as they are free to share and improve all the recipes they cook with, and that this right is an essential aspect of the system of free expression in a technological society."

Counterpoint: When you enjoy a delicious meal at a restaurant, should you consider yourself entitled to the recipe? Maybe that should be up to the chef...

3 Jul 2002 (updated 3 Jul 2002 at 03:45 UTC) »
bytesplit: don't know if you'll see this but, aside from bash's history, you might find the script command useful. script ~/session-jul02.log would spawn a new shell and write all of your typed input, and any program output, to the named logfile. It doesn't capture output from curses-based programs, but it's great for exploring line-oriented shell commands. Just type CTRL-D or exit when you're done exploring for awhile. Then you can scan through the logfile to review what you learned.

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