2006 (old posts, page 6)

Geographic Features for Python

The upcoming PCL 0.11 release will include a new feature model. In a nutshell, it's a Object-Relational Mapping for Python which supports the OGC's Simple Feature Profile. The GDAL-based filesystem and psycopg-based PostGIS backends are operational in read-only mode, and a WFS backend based on elementtree or lxml is in the works. An introduction to the model and a tutorial with example code has just been added to our GIS-Python wiki.

Souring on Apple

Mark Pilgrim is ditching his Mac. Tim Bray sounds like he may not be far behind. I became an iBook user in 2002, but I've mainly used my laptops as though they were Linux systems which just happened to have better hardware-OS integration, dirt simple networking, and a slicker desktop. At the 2003 MapServer Users Meeting I plugged the overhead projector into my iBook and drove the presentation directly instead of converting to PowerPoint to use the conference machine. In many convenient ways, it just works. On the other hand, I've always preferred Mozilla and Firefox to Safari, and other than iTunes and Mail.app don't make much use of the Apple app suite. I don't think I'm quite ready to unswitch to a Linux laptop, but I'm getting close. The Python experience on OS X has always been crappy, and Apple's love of DRM annoys me.

Data is All

Errors in the Gutenkarte picture of Pride and Prejudice remind me of a truth universally acknowledged, that data is everything in this game. Of any of the works offered in the demo, I know this novel best. I read it last year, and watched half of the classic 1995 BBC mini this past weekend. Gutenkarte is confusing character names with place names: Wickham, Fitzwilliam, and Bingley are the most outstanding errors of this class. Not only will Gutenkarte require an all-encompassing place name gazetteer, but also a database of characters, and the sense to exclude one or the other. Works of fiction will also be challenging to geocode. In which database can one find the location of Pemberly, Longbourn, or Netherfield? Until this data is in hand, Gutenkarte can't geocode fictional -- or ancient, by that matter -- works to satisfaction.

By the way, I thought Bride and Prejudice [2004] was hilarious, and Pride and Prejudice [2005] pretty good as well.

Update: Jo also notes Gutenkarte's issue with names.


Re: Data is All

Author: Joel Lawhead

A database of characters would work but it would be a brute-force solution. The real problem is MetaCarta's "natural-language geoprocessor" is simply a keyword search rather than actually parsing sentence structure and trying to derive context and meaning. A true natural-language parser (in Python of course) looks more like this: http://web.media.mit.edu/~hugo/montylingua/

Re: Data is All

Author: Jo Walsh

Joel, MetaCarta's "geographic text search" does a lot more than keyword matching, but as it's a proprietary / patented codebase, we can't know how much more is really going on ;). FWIW, Schuyler says he set the "confidence threshold" for gutenkarte very low, preferring to get false positives rather than false negatives... Another comparative service to this is GeoNames' georss geocoder, which I also heedlessly accused of a brute-force approach, then had to eat my words: http://mappinghacks.com/2006/06/19/there-will-if-necessary-be-a-grass-roots-remapping/#comments http://www.geonames.org/rss-to-georss-converter.html I'm guessing a core problem with this approach is that it's relatively easy to get 85% of the way, staggeringly hard to get it right on the other 15%. And they claim we'll have strong AI by 2026 ... ;)


The other night I helped Schuyler out with a Python and PostGIS problem. Now I suppose he was working on Gutenkarte. We saw a preview of this at the 2005 Open Source Geospatial Conference.


Re: Gutenkarte

Author: Tom Kralidis

Thanks for the info. Pretty neat stuff. I've posted some thoughts on this on my blog.


I had no idea that Microsoft prefers mix-in over mashup. Adena suggests it may have something to do with ice cream. I thought it was more likely to have come from Lisp, but a little research indicates that ultimately, the term was inspired by Steve's Ice Cream.

Python Cartographic Library Summer Tour

If two points make a line, do two engagements make a tour? I'm going to be making a series of presentations this summer about the Python Cartographic Library, PrimaGIS, and open source GIS tools for Python in general. The first is to the Triangle Zope and Python Users Group, Tuesday 27 June. My host in Chapel Hill, NC is Chris Calloway of SEACOOS. During the week of 10-13 July I will be in Santa Barbara, CA. My wife is attending a workshop at NCEAS, and I am tagging along to visit the geospatial folks at the Center, and hopefully arrange for a visit to the Alexandria Digital Library as well. If you're in the area, and interested in hearing about these projects, send me an email and I'll keep you apprised of my schedule in Santa Barbara.

No Where 2.0 for me. Although it seems to be much more about business than technology, the buzz is intringuing. If it weren't for vacation plans a year in the making, I'd probably have gone.

Sadly, I failed to check the schedules of other summer tours before getting tickets to Santa Barbara, and got burned: we're missing the Built to Spill shows in Boulder while we fly out, and missing the Sonic Youth and Pearl Jam show in Santa Barbara same night as we fly home. Argh! Rather Ripped, featured yesterday on NPR, is downloading as I write.


Re: Python Cartographic Library Summer Tour

Author: Luiz Fernando Vital

Hey, Sean lots of activities for the gispython. Surely great news! About Sonic Youth, I got to see them in a concert here in Brazil last year... really great show.... at the same night Flaming Lips and Iggy Pop.

Obligatory Simpsons Reference

I'm certain that for every brouhaha in the Geospatial community there is a parallel kerfuffle in The Simpsons. First there was MapServer Cheetah/Enterprise. Now, my question is this: does the GeoRSS episode more resemble the conflict in "Mr. Plow" (9F07) or that in "Flaming Moe" (8F08)? Discuss.

Sorry, James, Brian: I couldn't find any images of the Plow King or any good ones of a Flaming Homer/Moe.


Re: Obligatory Simpsons Reference

Author: James Fee

How about: http://www.jingleuniversity.com/images/homer.jpg http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Simpsons_8F08.png

Re: Obligatory Simpsons Reference

Author: James Fee

Actually I pasted the wrong link for the plow king: http://img159.exs.cx/img159/3591/simps144ky.jpg

Re: Obligatory Simpsons Reference

Author: Sean

Thanks, James, but there will be no Aerosmith on this blog. I'm beginning to think that the parallel to "Flaming Moe" is stronger. Multiple the flavors of GeoRSS (W3C, simple, GML) by the flavors of RSS (1.0, 2.0, Atom, etc) and you have a cocktail as complex as Homer's original.

Re: Obligatory Simpsons Reference

Author: Brian Flood

if we go with the "Flaming Moe" analogy, will the original GeoRSS proponents end up ruining it for the OGC by freely disclosing all of it’s secrets in the future (albeit, not from the wooden rafters of a bar) :) here’s my clipart picks: (Sean, please don’t forget the Gabo reference as quality clipart) I like this Mr Plow pic since all the intertwined characters are present http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/d/d1/Mr_Plow.gif/150px-Mr_Plow.gif as for Flaming Moe: http://uloc.nerdtank.org/screenshots/8/8f08_flaming_moe.jpg

Writing Myself Out of the Script

I was fortunate to have a lightning talk slot at the 2005 Open Source Geospatial conference. Among other things, I talked about my changing priorities. I said that MapScript (and MapServer) were practically complete and that I'd be working more and more on the Python Cartographic Library and PrimaGIS. Now, a year later, I'm finally making it official. Howard Butler is taking over stewardship of MapServer's Python language bindings. Umberto Nicoletti and Tamas Szekeres are taking charge of the Java and C# bindings. I'm also resigning my seat on MapServer's Technical Steering Committee. It's too hard to be a good leader in both the PCL and MapServer projects, and I'd be embarrassed to be a non-participating member of the TSC.

Although I didn't accomplish everything I'd wanted, I've had a positive impact on the MapServer project. I recruited and mentored new committers. People are happy with the Linux-style odd/even version numbering. The unit tests did make MapScript more robust. There's even a slowly increasing recognition of how dearly MapServer needs to be refactored. I'm satisfied. Good luck, MapServer! It's been a fun and rewarding ride. Long may you run.