Archive for personal

Rocking the Loser Phone

loser phoneI was compelled to write this after reading about Paul’s experiences. A couple of months ago, my Motorola E810 came to a screeching halt: the display died. As well, the battery recharge became spotty at best. So I was in need of a new phone. I called my wireless provider, who give me a story about having to lock into another 3 year contract to get a new phone.

I was very hesitant this time about locking in again; I’ve taken a beating on cellphone costs in the past, and I didn’t want to sign up for another “plan” again until I had reviewed all my options thoroughly. So I wasn’t given a phone. I asked if I could cancel my contract, which would have costed something ridiculous.

So at this point I was stuck. A friend lent me an old cellphone which I’ve been using in the meantime until I figure out what to do (another friend has since coined it the “loser phone” 🙂 ). So don’t laugh too hard next time you see me with a circa 2000 cellphone / brick on the table 🙂

What’s a guy to do? The prices of wireless communications are ridiculous! Is it like this everywhere (Man, my Vodafone was dirt cheap when I was last in Europe). Contract? Pay as you go?

I couldn’t agree with you more, Paul!

Cheers to 2007

Since I did this last year, I thought I’d try this again for 2007. Here’s a lowdown for my 2007:

  • REST is really here: and as popular as ever. For me, I finally realized that REST was a style, not a syntax, API or schema for that matter. Sean’s recent post sums it up quite nicely. It’s nice to see the OGC has acknowledged this
  • Mass Market is really here: Things like Google, Yahoo Maps, and lowering the barrier to application development and, more ultimately, content, are paramount in the Web 2.0 sphere of things. Defacto standards / approaches matter
  • Geospatial Catalogues: I blogged about this last year. Even with Cat 2.0 CSW / ebRIM formally approve, where is catalogue interoperability? Is a federated / distributed catalogue approach realistic in the near future?
  • MapServer:
    • SOS Server: There has been much development here, including forthcoming support for 1.0.0, as well as implementation of POST support in mapogcsos.c. SWE DataBlock has also been implemented. We’ve also introduced automated testing for SOS in msautotest/wxs/ And a slew of bug fixes, memory leak fixes, etc. So I’m really happy about how SOS Server support has progressed this year. It goes without saying that major props to Assefa are in order here, as well Charlton and other MapServer SOS Server testers who have provided valuable feedback
    • OWS Common: Through increased usage in SOS Server, as well as the WCS 1.1 Server support (thanks Frank!), mapowscommon.c usage has been slowly increasing in the codebase to reuse existing functionality. This is a result of the OGC standards gradually adopting OWS Common for their “common” bits of XML and such. mapowscommon.c is also becoming more robust as a result of more integration and testing. I’m also happy about the increased libxml2 support in MapServer. We used libxml2’s xpath functionality in supporting SWE DataBlock, and have generic utilities now defined in maplibxml2.c
    • I’m happy to have become more involved in the MapServer codebase and project overall as part of the Project Steering Committee. There is definitely alot going on and alot to do, and the enthusiasm, commitment and helpful nature of the developers is great. MapServer is a special project to me, starting in early 2000 as part of my research / dissertation. The rest, as they say, is history. Oh, and “STYLES=” is optional again 🙂
  • Publications: I was glad to see “The Geospatial Web” published this year. Nice to see new folks and goings on out there
  • Adventures in Python: I decided to dive into python finally. With some sound advice from Sean, I embraced stuff like Genshi and etree. I managed to stand up a generic SensorML generator which I’m happy with, as far as my first Python project goes. My next goals are to experiement with doing things differently (like SQLAlchemy; I had to use good old SQL scripting as I ran out of time)

In other news:

  • Construction time continues: I did some major work on my place, including new fencing, landscaping/gardening, central air conditioning, as well as a shiny new veranda. A bit more curb appeal for sure
  • Condo: I finally picked up my condo this year. After much thought, I decided to sell. This was a beautiful property in a can’t lose location! Onwards
  • Lifestyle changes: Perhaps my biggest victory is quitting smoking. I have been absolutely smoke free for all of 2007. I can’t say that there haven’t been times where I wanted one from time to time, but I feel much healthier and better overall

So as 2008 quickly approaches, here are a few things I’m looking forward to:

  • MapServer: I look forward to continuing in helping more with OGC support, as well as become more familiar with the inner workings of the codebase.
  • OpenLayers: I really want to get into OpenLayers this year. I have not done much on client side work since the initial Mapbuilder days
  • New Springer publication: keep an eye out for a new, exciting book on GIS and open source this year
  • OWSContext and KML: it will be useful to see a resolution or unification of some sort between these two standards
  • OpenSearch: I think OpenSearch, with the geo extensions, will make a big hit this year. Nothing like a simple search facility which is already supported in browsers
  • I’m renovating my basement this year. Gutting the entire basement and installing a new bathroom and kitchen. I hope to have this done by summer 2008 — wish me luck!

So that’s it from here. I wish you and your loved ones the very best in the holiday season and for 2008!

Disaster Steak

(preamble: if you know me well enough, you’ll know that I use the term “disaster” in multiple modes / contexts. In this case, “disaster steak” is a good thing).

the beginning

This was a steak night. I had some friends over this weekend and sparked up the BBQ. I picked up some (big) sirloin steaks from Costco, made sure beer was stocked and away I went. Here’s how one makes a simple steak to die for:

  • wash down steaks with cold water
  • place steaks in a large bowl
  • douse steaks with balsamic vinegar (white or red) and rub
  • douse steaks with olive oil and rub
  • sprinkle steaks with Montreal steak spice (you can make your own if you really want)
  • seal the bowl and place in the fridge for an hour or so to let the steaks marinate
  • heat up the BBQ and slap on the steaks (N.B. have booze, appetizers, both, or whatever you want along the way — it’s always better than everyone just sitting there watching [and waiting]!)

appetizerson the BBQ

  • cook steaks as desired (I like mine _well_ done)
  • serve and enjoy!

bon appetite!

Click on any of the photos to see the whole process in pictures. Pretty simple, not much fuss and tastes awesome — disaster!

Anyone have any pointers or other ideas? I’d be glad to hear them!

Nice Stop Smoking Timeline

Check out this graphic I found (thanks digg), which shows the effects of smoking cessation. I also saw this recently in the doctor’s office, and found it really helpful and encouraging.

I’m glad to say I’ve been 100% smoke free (via Zyban for a month) for almost six months now (the only New Years Resolution that I’ve kept this long!).

Spring in Ottawa

Headed to Ottawa for the OGC meetings. After waking up at an unsightly hour to catch the plane, we found out that Ottawa International Airport is shut down because of the weather there. Martin (Daly), who travelled from the UK (and 25C conditions), sent me a photo from the scene. Some days I miss living there. Some days (like snow in April, ice storms, snow in October), I don’t.Snow in Ottawa, 16 April 2007

Update: I’m in Ottawa now.  It is terrible outside.  Imagine rain, snow, cold.  Near wipe-out on the way to the hotel.  Worst ever!!

Five Things

Sean tagged me, so here are five things that you probably didn’t know about me:

  1. I have dual citizenship. I was born and raised in Canada, and got my Greek citizenship in 2005
  2. After undergrad, a few of my buddies and I decided to forget about looking for work, and packed our backpacks for Europe for a couple of months. We visited 10 countries. After blowing the bank, it was time to come home. Hands down one of the best experiences in my life
  3. My bachelor’s degree was in social / economic and urban geography. Stuff like urban growth patterns and gentrification were things that really interested me (they still do)
  4. I didn’t learn how to program or anything UNIX-ish for that matter until 1998. My first introduction to this world was by Mike (Adair of mapbuilder fame) who suggested I take UNIX training. I was hooked. The rest, as they say, is history. Thanks again Mike!
  5. I’m mildly considering a PhD, having bounced around research ideas with Carleton and McMaster. I’d like to do something which combines my social/economic and urban undergrad degree and the stuff I do nowadays. The showstopper being the feasibility of actually doing it relative to having a life, salary and mortgages

I hereby tag Cameron, Jody and Tyler.

Cheers to 2006

I thought I’d put in my $0.02 CAD after reading a few similar posts out there. So here are some from my point of view (in no particular order):


  • GeoRSS is here: GeoRSS made v1 this year at foss4g2006 and has proven to be a simple, yet very effective way to tag feeds. I’ve used and integrated in all my projects (I use the GML flavour) which produce RSS content by way of outputting an overview map based on the position. It gives the developers endless possibilities, and folks just love to see ‘where’ a post is
  • Getting to Know PHP: Earlier this year, ignorant to PHP, I decided to take the plunge and see what all the fuss was about. Boy was I glad I did. So easy, even I could figure it out. So easy that I’ll be porting bits of my website to PHP in the coming year
  • MapServer SOS support: It’s great to see OGC SensorWeb support in MapServer. Given that MapServer can already do stuff like spatial, temporal and aspatial queries, I think SOS was a relatively easy initial implementation effort. The more complex effort is the data bindings (sensor data is quite complex and multidimensional, and getting in and out of MapServer, in a generic framework is quite the challenge
  • ResEau portal launch: I was very fortunate to work with a great bunch of people to have finally released the ResEau water portal after two years of planning, design and development. I think this portal is a great example of the benefits of using standards-based approaches all the while providing useful information to a vast audience
  • MapServer commiter access: I was very honoured to be nominated this year for commit access to the codebase. My main focus was and is to implement the OGC OWS Common Specification for use by other OGC implementations
  • Web 2.0, Time article and information overload: Such a good article. And so true. As a result, we are overloaded with information! At one point, I refactored all my bookmarks to be pure RSS feeds just to handle it all. Whoever said computers would lessen the workload!?
  • foss4g2006: This was a great conference. The lighthing talks, BOF sessions, and demo fest, as well the gathering of the OSGeo crowd further solidified OSGeo’s existence. Can’t wait until next year’s event!
  • Catalogue woes continue: the Cat2.0 ebRIM vs. ISO implementation debate continued. Add to this the lack of (especially open source) implementations, and stuff like owscat, and other catalogue-ish projects continued to exist. The OGC has recently endorsed ebRIM as the future base for Cat2.0 implementations, so hopefully we should start seeing some interoperability between catalogues
  • Atlas of Canada 100th Anniversary: Congratulations on the 100th anniversary of this valuable Canadian resource. Kudos to the Atlas!


  • Cool travel: Charlottetown, Alabama, Washington D.C, Lausanne, Las Vegas, San Diego, Moncton, Winnipeg were among some of the neat places I visited this year
  • Home renovation: I did my biggest renovation job ever on my house this year, which lasted almost 6 months. I’m really glad the way things turned out, and I’m looking forward to doing some more stuff in 2007
  • Condo putters along: construction continued on my condo, and is now ahead of schedule, ready this coming June. Looking good!
  • Website changes: This year, I finally succumbed to using software packages to manage my website content. This website originated in 1998, as an HTML learning experience, so I was inclined to do *everything* by hand. While very useful, as time goes on, I find myself with less and less time (go figure!), and there’s so many solid tools out there to make things easy, and standards based (i.e XHTML, CSS, etc.). So why not use these great tools and concentrate more on the stuff you want to do, right?

Looking forward to 2007:

  • Further OWS Common support in MapServer: mapowscommon.c/h is almost complete to spec (missing some operations support). The next step will be to begin integrating into the OGC specs as they migrate to OWS Common for stuff like GetCapabilities XML, etc.
  • OWSContext: look for further formal development on this specification. OWSContext has been used frequently in the OGC testbeds, and interest is increasing in seeing the spec push forward.
  • Further development on discovery and cataloguing: I’m hoping to see some development / experiments on this track. It will be interesting to see how packages like deegree2 progress given the recent motion passed at OGC
  • Publications: I’ll be published in two Springer London books this year (The Geospatial Web, as well as Open Source Approaches to Spatial Data Handling)
  • MapServer Brazil: I was honoured to be invited to this event, and look forward to speaking on OGC and open standards. Looking forward to this!

Did I miss anything? What else was geospatial-worthy in 2006?

A Beautiful Wedding Photography Season

Compared to 2020, 2021 was a more hopeful and even in some ways “better” year. We had both good and bad moments, but with the bad ones, we need to remember the good ones forever and that’s what Fame Park Studios is specialized in, to save and preserve those beautiful moments, either with your family, with your partner or even by yourself.

At any rate, this closes out 2006 for me in the blogosphere. I wish everyone a great Holiday season, and all the best for 2007!

Lack of Availability

Meal Gone WrongIf you think this post is about Web Services, then move along, nothing to see here.

Instead, this is about, truly, beyond the shadow of a doubt, my worst experience ever while grabbing a bite to eat. Let me explain.

I’m in Ottawa on business travel, and while mulling around town after the work day, I decided to grab a quick bite to eat at a fast food chain (yes, I know, junk food, but I couldn’t resist on this occasion).

The following is a detailed account of my experience (2052h EST):

Tom: Hi, may I have a #12 (bacon double cheeseburger meal)

BK: We’re out of bacon

Tom: Um, OK, in that case I’ll grab a #1 (different type of cheeseburger meal)


Tom: I see it is advertised that you can choose fries or onion rings. May I have onion rings?

BK: We’re out of onion rings

Tom: ??? Alrighty then. I’ll just take the fries

(Waited so long they may as well have played the Jeopardy! music in the background)

Instead of the cheeseburger, along comes a grilled chicken sandwich.

Tom: Pardon me, but I didn’t order a grilled chicken sandwich, I ordered a #1

BK: You asked for a #9

Tom: Really? I ordered a #1. Thank you

(employee slaps together burger like nobody’s business)

BK: Here

Tom: Thanks. May I have a lid for my drink cup?

BK: We’re out of medium size lids.

Ate, saved the receipt (to call and complain), then left.I’m not sure whether the store was closing down, or supplies were out, or what, but this was ridiculous. I have never, and I mean NEVER, seen anything like this. On a Tuesday night, at a relatively prime time. If you’re in business, carry what you so prominently advertise. I understand things happen from time to time, but this seemed a bit over the top.

Is it just me, or is this just weird? Serves me right for going for fast food. What a disaster.

Hello (GPS) World

My Brand New Magellan eXplorist 500 GPSUp until last week, I wasn’t much of a GPS guy. At last week’s OGC meetings, my rental car had an onboard navigation system. Add to that a colleague of mine introducing me to geocaching, and I was hooked.

So when I got home (and caught up on sleep), I started my research. The best deal I found was the Magellan eXplorist 500, for under $200 CAD. Since this was quite the deal, I picked one up for my brother as well.

So far, this looks like quite the GPS device. I like the colour display as well as the SD card capability. Plus the built-in geocaching application is useful.

Things that are kinda weird: the AC power adapter is not included. So, unless/until you buy it, you have no way to initially charge (and use) the Li-Ion rechargeable battery. Interesting. Fortunately, the package included a free AC adapter as a mail in offer (which takes 6-8 weeks). So, for now, I’m stuck with using 3 AAA batteries.

Other stuff:

  • I’ll most likely buy the cigarette lighter power adapter
  • I’m guessing a latest and greatest version of the device is coming out soon, hence the wicked deal
  • I can already envision the hacks I can come up with to whip up some cool GML output of Points of Interests, routes and the like
  • Maps: the device comes with basemaps of North America, so I’ll need some more detailed maps. I found MapSend Direct Route version 3.0. Which now becomes a question of capacity. Since I have a 512MB SD Card from my digital camera, I am using that as capacity for now. So I’ll initially load Ontario as my main area, and add areas as needed.

So it looks like I have a data management task at hand. Man, it would be nice if these were webmaps 🙂 If anyone out there has any experiences with these units, I’d be interested in learning, so feel free to comment.

Hola from Tijuana

Picture from Tijuana, MexicoSo I spent the day in Tijuana (the world’s most visited border city). Pretty easy to get there (drove I-15 South to I-805 South). Got off at the last US exit at the San Ysidro border and trekked across by foot. Seems like quite the border town with lots to do and see (did you know that Caesar salad was invented in Tijuana?).

There was some sort of biker parade today mixed in with a Christmas giveaway along Avenida Revolución.

I’m always fascinated by border cities and areas (hey, it’s the urban / social geography background in me), in terms of seeing a hybrid of socio-economic and cultural influences, and how things gradually change over distance.

It’s just beautiful in these parts. Maybe it’s the Mediterranean climate which is appealing to me most. And I still haven’t ventured into San Diego proper yet. Hopefully I’ll have some time later this week.

Anyways, it’s back to work for me now in preparation for this week’s meetings. The Context RWG runs tomorrow afternoon, so I’m just finishing up some last minute changes to my presentation.

Modified: 20 December 2006 23:17:33 EST