Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Christmas zig

I have some exciting news for you zigGIS users - editing functionality has finally received some love! Click on to view a screencast of the newest zigGIS capabilities. But, before I go any further, allow me to alert you of some licensing changes:

Bill Dollins, Paolo Corti, and I have all worked extremely hard molding zigGIS into what it is today. We want to continue to develop and support our product. Therefore we have decided that our next release will require purchased licenses for our corporate users. OK, OK, before you go trashing us, please take a minute to read on and understand our position.

First and foremost, the zigGIS codebase will remain open. Secondly, personal and educational use of zigGIS will remain free. We hope many more become interested in zigGIS not only for its use, but also utilizing it as an example of deep ArcMap customization and use of the ArcObject API. We have gone through hundreds (maybe thousands) of trial-and-error hours wrestling with ArcObjects. By keeping the codebase open, others can learn from our mistakes and avoid the pitfalls to which we have oft found ourselves prey.

As for our corporate users - you will need to purchase licenses per seat. Licenses will fall somewhere below $300 each. We hope this keeps zigGIS affordable to those organizations that require heavy-duty GIS capabilities. (don't forget that the use of PostGIS + zigGIS saves you from all ArcSDE licensing costs) Bill, Paolo, and I are forming a software company around this product. And - though certainly we want to make a profit - this will ultimately best serve our users' interest. Having a financial backing will ensure zigGIS's continued support and development.

video


Thank you for your interest, patience, and support. Stay tuned for more news and have a safe and happy holiday!

I'm Abe Gillespie, GIS - and anything else - programmer for hire (abe at digital - pulp dot com). I'm a technophile, love life, animals, people, and God. I'm involved with some Open Source projects such as Mono (more of an outside observer) and zigGIS. Check back here for posts on life, consulting, GIS programming, and whatever else might strike my fancy. Check out my company at www.digital-pulp.com. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Certified Mail

I recently had the need to send myself an encrypted email ... to myself. Sure, the task smacks of Austin Powers, International Man of Mystery gratuitousness, but I had a valid business need, I assure you. *raises outward-turned pinky to corner of mouth*

I use hosted Gmail as my business email provider and sometimes lean on it as a quick backup service. Occasionally I email myself business / trade sensitive data - such things I would not be comfortable with stored in plain text on a server I do not own. For this reason I setup Firefox to send / receive encrypted personal emails. Follow these steps to get your very own encrypted Gmail on:

1. Create / Install email cert.
You can use services like Thawte to create your email cert, but I found Comodo the easiest. Go through the online registration, open the email they send, and click on the supplied link. Viola! You personal email cert created and installed.

2. Install Gmail S/MIME extension.

That's it! From now on you'll see a lock icon next to the "Check spelling" link when you're composing a new email. Click it to send super secret Enigma-ciphered emails to anyone whose email cert you've installed.

Some words of caution:

1. Make sure you backup your email cert. Store it somewhere else locally and store remotely on a thumb drive, external drive, or a secure online account like .Mac., etc.

2. Transmit keys via - what I like to call - "Flesh & Blood" ... which is a take on the "Brick & Mortor" internet cliché. Whoever you want to send / receive secure email with you need their and they need your email cert. Avoid the temptation of emailing certs. It's best to swap certs personally (and much more fun!). Of course, you can setup a password-protected download for your cert if your spy escapades deny you all human contact.

3. Hold onto your cert! If you lose it you'll never be able to read your encrypted email again.

About me:

I'm Abe Gillespie, GIS - and anything else - programmer for hire (abe at digital - pulp dot com). I'm a technophile, love life, animals, people, and God. I'm involved with some Open Source projects such as Mono (more of an outside observer) and zigGIS. Check back here for posts on life, consulting, GIS programming, and whatever else might strike my fancy. Check out my company at www.digital-pulp.com. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The Accidental iPhonist

The Accidental Tourist is a film I was exposed to in 11th grade English. The premise being a travel book author sleep walking through life as his marriage falls apart. Macon eventually meets a unique woman who brings color and flavor back into his life.

Forgive me, the following metaphor is pathetic, but I couldn't help shoehorning the blog title into something literary.

Much like the woman to Macon, the iPhone has brought me new found enjoyment.

But, before I go further, let me construct the context. I bought two iPhones to resell on Ebay. After missing the Wii opportunity, I hustled at the same perceived opportunity during the iPhone launch. I figured, at the very least, I'd break even. All while learning the ins and outs of Ebay salesmanship.

I learned, learned to hate Ebay. There's no Ebay get-rich-quick scheme just as there's none in any other medium. Don't get me wrong, there certainly are ways to make money (even good money) selling on Ebay. But you have to work hard. Very hard.

Without getting too deeply entwined describing the aggravating Ebay selling process, I will say that, mainly, there are two ugly monsters lurking in Ebay's closet: Frauds and Fees. The first makes it difficult to actually sell anything. The second makes it difficult to actually make anything. Frauds and fees alike are rampant on Ebay; pirates of both the digital auction house and the digital bank account. The two combined make for one, nearly insurmountable Megabeast of anti-entrepreneurism.

To make a long story short, I ended up selling one for negligible profit and keeping the other. I tried FOUR times to sell the second and eventually kept it. I convinced myself of iPhonership thanks to the battles waged at the "Theater of Ebay." Two other reasons that made the rationalization easy: I desperately needed a new phone and I was already an existing Cingular / AT&T customer.

So I own an iPhone. And perhaps - for all you astute Freudian scholars out there - yes, I might have even secretly wished this iPhate would befall me.

Onto the iPhone.

I usually avoid Gen I tech. I knew I'd eventually become an iPhowner but certainly not upon the first release. And certainly not at a $600 price point. But an Accidental iPhonist I am. And it's a pleasure. I'm thrilled. Or, as the recent Tony Blair divorcees might say, the iPhone is "brilliant." It really is.

Now I could go on describing how it's pregnant with cutting-edge tech and gadgetry. But I'll spare you since it has been hailed all over the blogosphere ad nauseam. What I will say is that it has brought the color and flavor back (was it ever there?) into my mobile life. The iPhone really is a joy to use. My "aha!" moment happened during a recent cardio session at the gym. The iPhone synch's itself with iTunes, bringing over music, podcasts, and videos. And as I peddled away while exploring the contents of my mobile media, there I found - to my surprise - a fresh new episode of Diggnation. It quietly lied there waiting to give meaning to an aimless stationary bike adventure. That was the easiest 25 minutes of cardio I've ever endured.

But I think iPhone's glory is stated even clearer by my girlfriend's experience. Colleen is practically one recycle bin load away from being a self professed luddite. In fact, she doesn't even own a computer. Huh? But she LOVES the iPhone; requesting it two or three times a day. Where to eat? Give me your iPhone! Where to see Ratatouille? Hand over your iPhone! With what to write a quick love note? The iPhone!

And that makes me smile.


About me:

I'm Abe Gillespie, GIS - and anything else - programmer for hire (abe at digital - pulp dot com). I'm a technophile, love life, animals, people, and God. I'm involved with some Open Source projects such as Mono (more of an outside observer) and zigGIS. I'm a relatively new immigrant to the capitol of Virginia and love it. Check back here for posts on life, consulting, GIS programming, and whatever else might strike my fancy. Check out my company at www.digital-pulp.com. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

My Turn

I've returned to the independent scene. It's a reunion with my love of life, technology, and people. With the excitement of a Frenchman cracking his crème brûlée in a sun-filled Parisian café, I anticipate the sweet tastes of my adventures to come.

For me, leaving a cushy, salaried job at CapTech [1] and pursuing my own interests is less about fame and fortune than it is this: a chance to experience life with all the risks and (hopefully) all the rewards that make life worth living. I'm not satisfied being a Honda Accord.

Honda Accords are a safe bet. Relatively stylish, comfortable, and reasonably priced. Accords are consistently one of the best selling cars in the United States. I'm sure if an Accord owner survey was conducted, the overall satisfaction would rank high in categories ranging from economy to maintainability to ergonomics. You just can't go wrong with an Accord!

But you can't REALLY go right either; there are no mysteries, no surprises. If you boiled the vehicle down to a single adjective you might find it described as "good" or "reliable." Instead, what I need is excitement, creativity, adventure, a chance to dream. I'm an old, dusty, paint peeling '98 Dodge Neon; all its glorious quirks included. But being a Neon lends to pursuits and dreams of greater things. Things which are impossible to see when blinded by mundane comfort. Being a Neon makes you constantly strive to transform into a slick, elegant, and shiny new Porsche 911.

Perhaps I'll never become a Porsche. Perhaps my wheels will fall off and my engine will burn up. But at least it won't take me six years to figure out I'm an Accord.


About me:

I'm Abe Gillespie, GIS - and anything else - programmer for hire (abe at digital - pulp dot com). I'm a technophile, love life, animals, people, and God. I'm involved with some Open Source projects such as Mono (more of an outside observer) and zigGIS. I'm a relatively new immigrant to the capitol of Virginia and love it. Check back here for posts on life, consulting, GIS programming, and whatever else might strike my fancy. Check out my company at www.digital-pulp.com. Thanks for reading!


[1] CapTech is a pretty amazing company winning consecutive awards for its success in and contributions to Richmond and the surrounding community. I would recommend the company to anyone looking for technology centric work in Virginia. They pay well and employ very talented people. I left simply because I was ready to be on my own again (read above).