Smathermather's Weblog

Remote Sensing, GIS, Ecology, and Oddball Techniques

Archive for the ‘Conferences’ Category

~~North Carolina GIS~~ rhymes with Lasagna

Posted by smathermather on April 12, 2016

FOSS4GNA 2016 Logo

Picture of Garfield the cat diving into a dish of lasagna

Last year I really enjoyed attending and presenting at North Carolina GIS in Raleigh. As many of you know, Free and Open Source Software for Geospatial North America (FOSS4GNA, alleged by some to rhyme with “lasagna”) will be in Raleigh this year, in a short few weeks.

I highly encourage you to go. First of all, it’s FOSS4GNA, so lots of free and open source geospatial goodness. But, Raleigh and NCGIS in general are a hot spot of open source geospatial stuff. Last years’ North Carolina GIS was a mini FOSS4G, mixed with the standard uhhhh, not so open source crowd. I came expecting (most respectfully) form of (name your favorite state GIS conference). What I saw was that but also more than 20 talks on FOSS Geo stuff. Don’t believe me? Here’s the list:


  • Open-ing the Future of NOAA GIS | Speaker Tony LaVoi
  • The Rise of 3D GIS on the Web | Speaker Patrick Cozzi
  • and Greyhound: Point Clouds in Your Browser | Speaker Howard Butler
  • Open Source, Open Discussion | Speakers: Ralph Dell GISP, Randal Hale, Jason Hibbets, Dr. Helena Mitasova GISP
  • How to Build Fat Polygons | Speaker Skip Daniels
  • How to Use GitHub to Hire Your Next Analyst | Speakers: Dave Michelson, Cameron Carlyle
  • QGIS for the Desktop | Speaker Randal Hale
  • GRASS7: New Features and Tools for Spatio-Temporal Analytics and Visualization | Speaker Dr. Helena Mitasova
  • MapLoom: A New Web-client With Versioned Editing (GeoGit) Integration | Speakers: Syrus Mesdaghi, Tyler Garner
  • Quality of Life Dashboard | Speaker Tobin Bradley
  • Defaulting to Open (at least trying to…) | Speaker Justin Greco
  • Using Geospatial Applications to Build ForWarn | Speaker Bill Hargrove
  • National Map Corps: Crowdsourcing Map Features for the USGS | Speaker Silvia Terziotti
  • Wake County Open Data: Where Will It Take You? | Speakers: Carter Vickery, Bill Scanlon
  • FOSS and Web Mapping | Speaker Ashley Hanes, A-B Tech CC
  • National Park Service GIS Data + OpenStreetMap = Places of Interest
  • Spatial Analysis of Wildfire Occurrences in North Carolina Using the R Project for Statistical Computing | Speaker David Jones
  • Point Cloud in Your Pocket | Speaker Stephen Mather
  • The Unknowns: An IT Professional’s Guide to Open Source | Speaker Paul Ramsey
  • Open Data? Show Me the Money! | Speaker Blake Esselstyn
  • Exploring Spatial Data Infrastructure in an Open Source World | Speaker Jacqueline Lowe, UNC-A
  • Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo) | Speaker Doug Newcomb
  • Open Data Kit (ODK) An Exciting, Free, and Open-Source Field Data Collection Alternative | Speaker Eric Wilson
  • But, lest you think this is a new thing, now that FOSS is up and coming in the geo world, in 2013, NCGIS played host to a dozen open source geospatial presentations, and has been on this trend since at least 2001.

    I recommend checking out some of the amazing FOSS Geo work endemic to NC State, while you are there. If you don’t know Helena Mitasova from the Open Source Geospatial Research and Education Laboratory, you should. I’m hoping she and her students have on display their Tangible Landscape which ties a sandbox in to real-time GRASS DEM processing (flow accumulation, viewsheds, fire modeling, etc.):

    Screen capture of tangible landscape video.

    Finally, I’d like to really briefly address what is in the minds of many as they think on North Carolina these days — North Carolina’s HB2 legislation. The FOSS4GNA organizers have addressed this bill, and communicated their position and their accommodations. The response, quoted in part below speaks for itself:

    As we shared shortly after HB2 was passed, it was too late to relocate and/or cancel the conference. We are very grateful to the good people who recognized that boycotting FOSS4G NA hurts a very inclusive conference and community. The fact you are coming means a great deal, and we do not take it for granted. Thank you!

    After talking with so many people in the last few weeks, it is very clear that our LGBT attendees, including myself, do not stand alone.

    Here are some of the things we have put in place to help ensure all of our attendees are safe & welcome:

  • There will be 4 gender neutral restrooms. And the venue is updating their signs to clearly state they are gender neutral restrooms.
  • For those interested, we will be encouraging people to make donations to the ACLU, who is suing the State of North Carolina because of HB2.
  • Our code of conduct is in place, and will be enforced by staff.
  • There is a map that lists trans friendly restrooms in the area. Huge thanks to Emily Waggoner for creating it!
  • Our sponsors have taken a stance against HB2.
  • I love this community, and I am so happy to see these responses. Please come and join us. It will be an amazing conference.
    Post script: Thanks to Doug Newcomb for the history lesson on NCGIS. I hope to share more of his info in future posts.

    Posted in FOSS4G-NA | Leave a Comment »

    Korean Drumming at FOSS4G Seoul

    Posted by smathermather on October 3, 2015

    Korean Drumming at FOSS4G Seoul:

    Posted in Conference, FOSS4G, FOSS4G, National Park, Other | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

    Pictures from my last few weeks.

    Posted by smathermather on October 3, 2015

    Posted in Conference, FOSS4G, FOSS4G, National Park, Other | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

    Mini-series on Korean words, part 4: Apologies

    Posted by smathermather on October 3, 2015

    In order to function at a most basic level in a given society (which I do not yet in the South Korean context), it is good to know the basic words of courtesy — the equivalents of “Excuse me”, “Pardon me”, “Nice to meet you”, “Hello”, “Goodbye”, etc..

    Today we’ll talk about how to say “I’m sorry.” Between talking across cultural / language / expectation differences, and just spending time with individuals you might not know well, being able to apologize is a very important tool in the toolkit.

    Hangul for "I'm sorry".

    Hangul for “I’m sorry”.

    Mian (mee ahn) is the root of one way of apologizing in Korean. Often you’ll be saying this formally, so Mianheyo (미안해요) would be what you would say to apologize. If you don’t need the formal, usually you’ll say “Mianhe” 미안해.

    For a more comprehensive coverage of apologies (plus pronunciation!), see Sweet and Tasty TV’s coverage of this:

    Posted in Conference, FOSS4G, FOSS4G, Other | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

    Uninformed botanical musings

    Posted by smathermather on September 28, 2015

    I had the good pleasure of attending FOSS4G Seoul. One of the organizers (Heegu Park) early on told me, in response to the workshop I planned, something to the effect of “Whatever you need, Steve, ask for it. Nothing is impossible.”  The organizers truly were capable of fulfilling any request.  More on that later.

    Last time I was in Seoul, I took lots of pictures. This time, so few, I’m afraid. But I took a few. I need some help with botanical sleuthing.

     Jewelweed, Impatiens capensis, Geauga County, Ohio

    Jewelweed, Impatiens capensis, Geauga County, Ohio


    There is a flower native to the Eastern United States called jewelweed. Jewelweed is no exciting flower, but common in moist places, useful for treating poison ivy and other skin ailments. It’s medicinal and is among the first plants that I learned in walking in the woods in Southeast Michigan and Northwest Ohio. In the floodplains of Halfway Creek near my childhood home, it was common to the point of being weedy. (The above photo is from Geauga County in Northeast Ohio).
    While hiking near Ongnyeobong Peak (옥녀봉 — the romanization is based on the sign at the peak, but I’m not sure it’s right) south of Seoul I saw this little impatiens in very similar habitat:

    Unknown impatiens, Gwacheon City, South Korea

    Unknown impatiens, Gwacheon City, South Korea

    Anyone know it’s common or botanical name?


    Location of unknown impatiens

    Location of unknown impatiens


    Posted in Conferences, Ecology, FOSS4G, FOSS4G2015 | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

    Time lapse

    Posted by smathermather on September 28, 2015

    I posted this on Twitter and Facebook, but I really like how this time lapse turned out. This is shot in a single take with a single video. Maybe wordpress won’t over-compress it like the others… .

    Posted in Conferences, FOSS4G, FOSS4G2015 | Leave a Comment »

    Mini-series on Korean words, part 3: Agglutinative language

    Posted by smathermather on August 31, 2015

    Short linguistics aside

    For me, understanding a language, beyond a memorization of terms, is predicated on the idea that I understand something of the underlying logic to the language. So today, instead of a Korean word, we’ll talk about the term agglutinative. (bless you)

    In short, what it means is that a language uses a lot of prefixes, stem words, and suffixes, and that these components of larger words don’t change their sound in order to be put together.

    Let’s take some English words as a counter example. When we look at English numbering, we have this weird thing that happens in the teens. The first thing we notice, is that for numbers between 10 and 20, we call them teens not tens. English is not agglutinative, it is fusional. When prefixes and suffixes come into play, often (but not always) the sounds change. Think of thirteen (not three-ten or three-teen) vs. Fourteen.  Fifteen is another departure — we might expect five-teen.

    And don’t even get me started on twenty (two tens), or thirty (three tens)… .

    Korean Numerals

    By contrast, Sino-Korean numerals are agglutinative.

    FYI, in the Korean Language, there are two numbering systems: the native Korean system, and the Sino-Korean system. More on that another time.

    So, if I say the number three (sam), the number ten (sheep), and the number three again (still sam), I get 33, or sam sheep sam: 삼십삼. If I want to say 13, that’s just sheep sam, or 십삼. You prefer the number 88? Well that’s 팔십팔, or pal sheep pal.

    FYI, the proper romanization of the word 10 (십) is “sip”, but as the s sound in front of the long e sound is pronounced sh, we’ll just consider the whole process an homage to counting sheep. Somehow apropos given the nation is 13 time zones away from me… .


    Posted in Conference, FOSS4G, FOSS4G, National Park, Other | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    Mini-series on Korean words, part 2: Land of Mountains and Sea

    Posted by smathermather on August 30, 2015

    A good logo is hard to come by. I love the logo of Korean National Park Service. It’s simple, beautiful, has elements of complexity to it, and makes a simple statement: land of mountains and sea. The mountains and the sea are sources of life in Korea, from the resources and farming found on the edge of the mountains, the peace found hiking and visiting temples in the mountains, to the resources and seafood found in the sea. More to the point with KNPS, many of the national parks lands are reserves of mountains or protected ocean.

    Today we will look at the second word in our mini-series on Korean words (see the first here): the Korean word for mountain: san.

    The Korean character 'san'

    Look to the individual characters that make up the syllable, and we see ㅅ(s),ㅏ(ah),ㄴ(n). This is a simple enough word.

    As Seoul is surrounded by mountains, you will encounter san as a syllable in many contexts. Take for example a mountain to the north of Seoul, Bukhan Mountain, or Bukhansan: 북한. This name mirrors one of the names of North Korea: Bukhan. Buk means north, Han is the river that flows through Seoul. So the full name is “Mountain north of the Han”.

    Buhkansan 북한산 is also the name of the national park that contains the mountain it is named for.

    If you visit Seoul for FOSS4G, I highly recommend a hike in the mountains. It’s a rare megacity and capital that contains a 30 square mile national park inside its boundary. If you do visit, I recommend doing so during the week — weekend visits are very busy.

    Posted in Conference, FOSS4G, FOSS4G, National Park, Other | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    Google Maps won’t help you much in Seoul…

    Posted by smathermather on August 29, 2015

    That could be my whole blog post. Just a PSA. Google Maps in Seoul is like Apple Maps was when they launched — dangerously inaccurate. *I don’t know what is helpful on iOS. I traveled last year with Android only, and my searches so far on iOS are coming up short.*

    So what should you use? Anything OSM-based isn’t too bad. I really like OSMAnd. I haven’t done any deep analyses in this space, but OSMAnd has served me well. Also, you can record tracks, so if you see something wrong or out of date, OSMAnd will help you fix it in OpenStreetMap.

    Icon for OSMAnd

    I adore Seoul’s subway system. It’s considered one of the largest in the world,  ranks among the best, cleanest, etc.. Many stations are like 5 story malls that happen to have trains at the bottom; it’s really surreal. Oh, and for an English speaker it is not hard at all to navigate. Almost everything is in romanized characters / English + Korean, and the trains play nice sounding music as they approach.

    It doesn’t hurt to have a good app, however. Subway Korea, though a little strange in interface is absolutely amazing once you use it. I say the interface is weird — it’s just transit graphic at a single static scale (it doesn’t change appearance as you zoom). But that graphic allows you to route between locations calculating train changes as necessary, let’s you optimize for time vs. number of train changes, and allows you to do routes by way of particular stops you may want to take on the way. It is great in large part because it’s designed with a deep understanding of how transit works and the kinds of questions people who don’t know the system need answers to. That’s a tall task. I can recall my first time navigating public transit in Boston, Cleveland, New York, DC, San Francisco, Portland, and Denver. Each of the above (even Portland!) was a little more difficult than Subway Korea and Seoul’s amazing wayfinding.

    Icon for Subway Korea

    Posted in Conference, Conferences, FOSS4G, FOSS4G Korea, Other | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    And I will fly ten thousand miles…

    Posted by smathermather on July 22, 2015

    Contemplating FOSS4G 2015, Seoul, South Korea | SEPTEMBER 14TH – 19TH, 2015, but don’t speak Korean? That’s ok. You will be treated oh so well even without Korean.

    But…  if you want to show your hosts and hostesses a little care in return, maybe learn a little basic Korean. I highly recommend the sweetandtasty channel on YouTube, starting with the word “Love” or “sarang”. You’ll love the place, the people, and the food.


    Posted in FOSS4G, FOSS4G2015 | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »