Folder and file synchronisation

Wednesday, 29 October, 2008

As I’ve mentioned before backup is the cornerstone to any serious use of IT and any good backup strategy will involve some form of file/folder synchronisation. My favourite in the past has been Second Copy which works very well and supports FTP sync as well. Microsoft has released the freely available SyncToy whilst here are also some notable releases of the open source (and originally UNIX based) rsync in the form of DeltaCopy and cwRsync. Rsync is particularly clever in that not only does it work out which files have change but has which parts of files have changed and only copying those sections. As a result it is very efficient.

However I recently came across another solution called MirrorFolder which implements a real-time software RAID. Which means changes to files are written as they happen. It actually installs itself at the I/O level and any outputs to files are duplicated and automatically written to a copy. Very nice.

Update: Enormous Google Earth images

Sunday, 26 October, 2008

And since my last post it would appear that whilst Google still use the same tile encoding system, they are also using a new one which means it isn’t compatible with Super Googer. The good people at Super Googer have updated their code so that you just have to put in the lat/long (in decimal degrees) of the top left corner. Combine that with Google Earth Mapper (which lets you grab the lat/long of the GE cursor) and you have an easy way of grabbing BIIIIIIG images.

Citations Alert!

Thursday, 23 October, 2008

Life as an academic is often described as “publish or perish.” And to a certain extent this is true, with the mantra that you are only as good as your last paper. And one of the measures as to the “quality” of a paper is how many times it has been cited by others (although clearly you could have a completely rubbish paper and it is cited for this reason!!). Working out who cites your paper is clearly a virtually impossible task given the vast quality of material that is published every year. hence Thomson Scientific, the people who have a stranglehold on the citation listing market and produce journal stats such as impact factors, archive all journal articles and their references (for the the “A-list” of journals they maintain). This then allows them to work out who cites whom. Couple this to a web interface, search for your own article and you then get a list of everyone that cites it. Whats even more useful is that, if you are registered, you can set up citation alerts which are emailed out to you, as well as RSS feeds to monitor if you so wish. Of course your university needs a subscription to Web of Knowledge to take advantage of this, but it really is a valuable service.

And my top article, with 13 citations, is:

Smith, M.J. and Clark, C.D. (2005) “Methods for the visualization of digital elevation models for landform mapping.” Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 30, 7, 885-900.

Not sure if that is good or bad, but at least its higher than zero which means someone must be reading it!!

Elvis has entered the building

Thursday, 16 October, 2008

Well as good as….. ArcGIS 9.3 is finally here. 14 years, 8 months, 27 days, 4 hours, 3 minutes and 32 seconds after the USA. I jest, and the good people at ESRI UK and CHEST have delivered the nice shiny DVDs ready for install. In fact this is a mission in itself. Its generally recommended that ERDAS Imagine is installed on top of ArcGIS. So, I had to very carefully uninstall in the following order:

Leica Photogrammetry Suite
ERDAS Imagine
ERDAS Licensing Tools
ArcGIS
ArcGIS License Manager

And then install the ARC/INFO version of ArcGIS which I managed to mistakenly forget to install the bundled extensions, wasting another 30 minutes of reinstall. And of course the new Acrobat GeoPDF add-on which is only 2 Mb but also took 15 mins.

Anyway, its there and working and, touch wood, no problems. I’ve only had a quick play, but the tools in ArcToolbox appear noticeably quicker which is nice. I did try my custom Python script mentioned in an earlier blog and it bombed on the “extent” bug noted last time. The fix in 9.2 was to add in the following line:

gp.extent = “N/A”

This didn’t work and it gave the same “no extent” error when the line was removed. However on this occasion setting the extent to the input file seems to have done the trick.

I ran the script and it didn’t appear any faster “in process” but the speed improvements are on start-up rather than elsewhere. Something to watch out for. There is also a new geoprocessor that you need to instantiate as a 9.3 version. Early days yet though.

O happy day….

Monday, 6 October, 2008

Yes, it’s finally happened, the student loan is fully and completely paid off. And they were so polite, thanking me for my custom. Only 18 years after I took it out. Now that was a worthwhile investment….

For my American audience. Read it and weep!

University initiations

Friday, 3 October, 2008

Following on from the previous post, the UK news has recently been covering university initiations, the so-called “coming of age” induction in to university clubs. And on the harmless end of the scale it generally involves extensive drinking but as the article points out, things can become more sinister. Indeed, this further article highlights some of the more unpalatable things that go on and how many still believe it is “good for team building”.

There is no way that anyone can condone this level of behaviour and watching the video in the previous post just highlights how seemingly ordinary people can cross the line to perform untenable acts. And again it is the person, the situation and the organisation. All 3 are often brought together during university initiations….