Archive for the 'GIS' Category

ArcGIS Python Script Debugging as it Outta Be

Setting up debugging of ArcGIS Python Geoprocessing Scripts used to be quite an exercise in frustration. 

However, with the Komodo IDE (for scripting languages like Python and Perl), I was pleasantly surprised this is now as simple as

  1. Download and Install the Komodo IDE from Active State ($300 to use after the 21 day free trial)
  2. In the IDE settings, set the User Environment Variable:
    PYTHONPATH=C:\Program Files\ArcGIS\bin
  3. Copy/paste any arguments/parameters you want to test with from the ArcCatalog/ArcToolbox command line output into the Debug Command Line Arguments

And it just works.  How come this doesn’t happen more often with software? 

Government Inaction and the Google “Airbrush” Conspiracy

The threshhold for what exactly constitutes and rises to the level of “conspiracy” seems to be getting lower and lower.

Last week, the House Committee on Science and Technology, Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee (yes, that is the real name) chairman Brad Miller, D-North Carolina accused Google of “airbrushing history”  He wrote (in an open letter to Google):

 “Google’s use of old imagery appears to be doing the victims of Hurricane Katrina a great injustice by airbrushing history.”

Now, the real scandal and conspiracy here involves the huge sums of money the government spends on acquiring and processing map data (satellite imagery, street/road maps, and other geospatially descriptive data).  If the government was doing its job, it would have provided a similar easy-to-use satelite imagery service to the public many years ago. 

The government has spent many 1000s of times more than even uber-rich Google ever could, yet let’s see the federal governments version of Google Maps – http://www.geodata.gov.  Huh?  What am I supposed to do with this site again?

Now one could argue that letting people see satellite pictures of their house is not necessarily a key mission of the federal government.  But how about providing satellite imagery for the national Defense?  Are they doing any better of a job here?

This guy doesn’t seem to this so:

“Google Earth’s major problem was not it’s ease-of-use, but the manner in which it showcased the shortcomings of the American NGA (National Geospatial Intelligence Agency).” 

If a national web map had followed the GPS model, firstly it would actually work and provide a valuable service and secondly there would be 2 levels of imagery available to everyone in the world: one for those with a National Defense (or verified commercial need) and one for the rest of us.

So by not providing these services, the government creates a commercial need which then actually imperils us all.  For proof of this, read “Terrorists ‘use Google maps to hit UK troops’

The “conspiracy” has been abated by the way, Google has buckled under Congression pressure and restored the post-Katrina imagery.  Wow, that was a lot quicker and easier than getting the government to do its job – can we outsource all of the other government functions to Google as well?