Archive of posts with tag 'open source'

Waypoint — a Raspberry Pi GPS Tracker

January 13, 2021 • #

Weekend Reading: Software Builders, Scarcity, and Open Source Communities

September 19, 2020 • #

👨‍💻 We Need More Software Builders, Not Just Users

On the announcement of Airtable’s latest round and $2.5b valuation (!), founder Howie Liu puts out a great piece on the latest round of changes in pursuit of their vision.

No matter how much technology has shaped our lives, the skills it takes to build software are still only available to a tiny fraction of people. When most of us face a problem that software can answer, we have to work around someone else’s...

Weekend Reading: Beastie Boys, Links, and Screencasting

May 2, 2020 • #

🎥 Beastie Boys Story

We watched this a couple nights ago. It’s hard to tell how objectively good it was, but I loved the heck out of it as a decades-long fan.

🔗 Linkrot

I’ll have to try out this tool that Tom built for checking links. When I’ve run those SEM tools that check old links, I get sad seeing how many are redirected, 404’d, or dead.

📹 Screencasting Technical Guide

This is an excellent walkthrough on how to make screencasts. I’ve done my own tinkering...

Weekend Reading: Tagging with Turf, Mars Panorama, and Kinds of Easy

March 7, 2020 • #

🗺 turf-tagger

Bryan put together this neat little utility for merging point data with containing polygon attributes with spatial join queries. It uses Turf.js to do the geoprocess in the browser.

🚀 Mars Curiosity High-Res Panorama

Amazing photography of the Mars surface:

NASA’s Curiosity rover has captured its highest-resolution panorama yet of the Martian surface. Composed of more than 1,000 images taken during the 2019 Thanksgiving holiday and carefully assembled over the ensuing months, the composite contains 1.8 billion pixels of Martian landscape. The rover’s...

Weekend Reading: Blot, Hand-Drawn Visualizations, and Megafire Detection

November 9, 2019 • #


Blot is a super-minimal open source blogging system based on plain text files in a folder. It supports markdown, Word docs, images, and HTML — just drag the files into the folder and it generates web pages. I love simple tools like this.

🖋 Handcrafted Visualization: Precision

An interesting post from Robert Simmon from Planet. These examples of visualizations and graphics of physical phenomena (maps, cloud diagrams, drawings of insects, planetary motion charts) were all hand-drawn, in an era where specialized photography and sensing weren’t always options.


Search the Archives

September 5, 2019 • #

Since I’ve been posting here so frequently, it’s gotten challenging to scroll through the archive to find links to things I wrote about before. Last night I worked on implementing a simple site search page that searches the title, text, and tags of posts to find relevant content. This is a short post on how I put that together.

I use Jekyll to manage the site content and generation, with all of my posts written as markdown files with some custom front-matter to handle things like tagging, search-friendliness,...

Weekend Reading: tracejson, Euclid, and Designing at Scale

August 24, 2019 • #

🛰 tracejson

An extension to the GeoJSON format for storing GPS track data, including timestamps. GPX has been long in the tooth for a long time, but it works and is supported by everything. This approach could have some legs if application developers are interested in a new, more efficient, way of doing things. I know I’d like to explore it for Fulcrum’s GPS-based video capability. Right now we do GPX and our own basic JSON format for storing the geo and elapsed time data to match up video frames with location. This could...

Weekend Reading: Terrain Mesh, Designing on a Deadline, and Bookshelves

August 17, 2019 • #

🏔 MARTINI: Real-Time RTIN Terrain Mesh

Some cool work from Vladimir Agafonkin on a library for RTIN mesh generation, with an interactive notebook to experiment with it on Observable:

An RTIN mesh consists of only right-angle triangles, which makes it less precise than Delaunay-based TIN meshes, requiring more triangles to approximate the same surface. But RTIN has two significant advantages:

  1. The algorithm generates a hierarchy of all approximations of varying precisions — after running it once, you can quickly retrieve a mesh...

Discovering QGIS

May 29, 2019 • #

This week we’ve had Kurt Menke in the office (of Bird’s Eye View GIS) providing a guided training workshop for QGIS, the canonical open source GIS suite.

It’s been a great first two days covering a wide range of topics from his book titled Discovering QGIS 3.

The team attending the workshop is a diverse group...

FOSS4G North America 2019

April 11, 2019 • #

Next week Joe and I will be out in San Diego for FOSS4G-NA 2019. This’ll be my first one since I think 2012. There’s always an excellent turnout and strong base of good folks to catch up with. This year they’ve put together a B2B and Government Theme day to kick it off, which to my knowledge is a new thing for an event typically focused on the eponymous free, open source, and community-driven projects.

FOSS4G-NA 2019

I thumbed through the agenda to pick out some topics I’m interested in catching this year:


Weekend Reading: Calculator, SaaS Metrics, and System Shock

March 9, 2019 • #

💻 Open Sourcing Windows Calculator

Seems silly, but this kind of thing is great for the open source movement. There’s still an enormous amount of tech out there built at big companies that creates little competitive or legal risk by being open. Non-core tools and libraries (meaning not core to the business differentiation) are perfect candidates to be open to the community. Check it on GitHub.

📊 The Metrics Every SaaS Company Should Be Tracking

An Inside Intercom interview with investor...

Weekend Reading: Fulcrum in Santa Barbara, Point Clouds, Building Footprints

February 2, 2019 • #

👨🏽‍🚒 Santa Barbara County Evac with Fulcrum Community

Our friends over at the Santa Barbara County Sheriff have been using a deployment of Fulcrum Community over the last month to log and track evacuations for flooding and debris flow risk throughout the county. They’ve deployed over 100 volunteers so far to go door-to-door and help residents evacuate safely. In their initial pilot they visited 1,500 residents. With this platform the County can monitor progress in real-time and maximize their resources to the areas that need the most attention.


Weekend Reading: Shanghai, Basecamp, and DocuSaurus

January 26, 2019 • #

🇨🇳 195-Gigapixel Photo of Shanghai

Shot from the Oriental Pearl Tower, the picture shows enormous levels of detail composited from 8,700 source photos. Imagine this capability available commercially from microsatellite platforms. Seems like an inevitability.

🏕 How Basecamp Runs its Business

I, like many, have admired Basecamp for a long time in how they run things, particularly Ryan Singer’s work on product design. This talk largely talks about how they build product and work as an organized team.

📄 Docusaurus

This is an open source framework for building documentation sites, built with React. We’re...

Fulcrum Desktop

January 4, 2019 • #

A frequent desire for Fulcrum customers is to maintain locally a version of the data they collect with our platform, in their database system of choice. With our export tool, it’s simple to pull out extracts in formats like CSV, shapefile, SQLite, and even PostGIS or GeoPackage. What this doesn’t allow, though, is an automatable way to keep a local version of data on your own server. You’d have to extract data manually on some schedule and append new stuff to existing tables you’ve already got.

A while back we built and...

Kindle Highlights

December 14, 2018 • #

I started making this tool a long time back to extract highlighted excerpts from Kindle books. This predated the cool support for this that Goodreads has now, but I still would like to spend some time getting back to this little side project.

Eric Farkas has another tool that looks like it does this, as well, so that’s worth checking out as a possible replacement. What I really want is my own private archive of the data, not really my own custom extraction tool. The gem I was using for mine might’ve been the same one,...


October 24, 2018 • #

Since I got the Mavic last year, I haven’t had many opportunities to do mapping with it. I’ve put together a few experimental flights to play with DroneDeploy and our Fulcrum extension, but outside of that I’ve mostly done photography and video stuff.

OpenDroneMap came on a scene a couple years ago as a toolkit for processing drone imagery. I’ve been following it loosely through the Twittersphere since. Most of my image processing has been done with DroneDeploy, since we’d been working with them on some integration between...

Bringing Geographic Data Into the Open with OpenStreetMap

September 9, 2013 • #

This is an essay I wrote that was published in the OpenForum Academy’s “Thoughts on Open Innovation” book in early summer 2013. Shane Coughlan invited me to contribute on open innovation in geographic data, so I wrote this piece on OpenStreetMap and its implications for community-building, citizen engagement, and transparency in mapping. Enjoy.

OpenStreetMapWith the growth of the open data movement, governments and data publishers are looking to enhance citizen participation. OpenStreetMap, the wiki of world maps, is an exemplary model for how to build community and engagement...


September 7, 2013 • #

Inspired by a couple of others, I released a micro project of mine called Terra, to provide a fast way to run several geospatial tools on your computer.


Because I work with a variety of GIS datasets, I end up writing lots of scripts and small automation utilities to manipulate, convert, and merge data, in tons of different formats. Working with geo data at scale like this challenges the non-software developer to get comfortable with basic scripting and programming. I’ve learned a ton in the last couple years about Unix environments,...

Creating New Contributors to OpenStreetMap

January 15, 2013 • #

I wrote a blog post last week about the first few months of usage of Pushpin, the mobile app we built for editing OpenStreetMap data.

As I mentioned in the post, I’m fascinated and excited by how many brand new OpenStreetMap users we’re creating, and how many who never edited before are taking an interest in making contributions. This has been an historic problem for the OpenStreetMap project for years now: How do you convince a casually-interested person to invest the time to learn how to contribute themselves?

There are two...


July 13, 2012 • #

If you’ve ever done much involving symbol sets in mapping (especially web mapping), you know about the nightmare of managing 700 separate PNG files, with different, duplicate versions for slightly different size variations and colors. Even with a small set of a dozen symbols, if you want 3 sizes and 5 colors for each, you’re looking at 180 distinct PNG marker symbols to keep track of. Ugh. SVG format simplifies this in certain ways, but isn’t as universally supported or easy to work with as simple GIFs or PNGs.

With TileMill, I’ve wanted to use marker symbolizers frequently in...


February 22, 2012 • #

My talk from Ignite Spatial at WhereCampTB, talking about the OSM Tampa Bay meetup group. Check out the slides in better detail here.

It was a fun event a couple weeks ago — great participation from folks in all sorts of industries involved in mapping or using GIS tools.

OSM in Commercial Products

September 9, 2011 • #

OpenStreetMap has become an undeniably powerful open data resource for industry to start taking advantage of. I gave this talk at State of the Map 2011 in Denver to show some of the things our company is doing leveraging OSM data.


June 23, 2011 • #

We just returned from a fantastic weekend up in DC - first at the Ignite Spatial event on Friday night, then the WhereCampDC unconference on Saturday. Being the first event of it’s kind that I’ve attended (with the “barcamp” unconference session format), I thought I’d write up some thoughts and impressions from an amazing 2-day trip.

Ignite Spatial

This was also my first experience hearing talks in the ignite format—20 slides, 15 seconds each, 5 minutes. A fantastic format to break people out of the habit of simply reading their slides off a screen. Held at Grosvenor Auditorium...