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Old 09-23-2007, 12:18 PM   #1
mountain eagle OP
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Arc GIS? Any users?

Ok, so I've wandered into this strange place full of things I don't understand.......

My wife however is working on a GIS certificate as part of her degree and I thought the geeks here might have some insight or something.....

So.... any of you folx know or work with GIS or is everything here Garmin, or other system overlayered from (presumably) GIS? Anyone have access to GIS software she could use before dropping the $750 for a student coppy? Hints or suggestions for easy projects for practice that have usable applications? She's new enough that when I asked what questions to ask ya'll that she doesn't quite know what the right questions are...... so if you know, speak up

Thanks!
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Old 09-23-2007, 01:26 PM   #2
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calling Phil........
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Old 09-24-2007, 03:08 PM   #3
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Old 09-24-2007, 04:21 PM   #4
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ArcGIS comes from a company called ESRI in Redlands CA. Mostly gov't type organizations use this for planning and many other uses etc. Lots of other professional groups from oil companies to large retailers and land developers use their software. They have a very large market share with high end GIS crowd.

Pretty expensive stuff and not really a consumer product. But it works!
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Old 09-24-2007, 04:30 PM   #5
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Arc GIS (or Arc anything) is basically a huge can of worms. Open at your own risk.

People get degrees trying to use it, if that is any indication...

We use it here at work in fisheries conservation, but I have avoided it like the plague. Too much startup self-education for me.
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Old 09-24-2007, 04:58 PM   #6
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I got it. I use it, I love it.

Ok, I don't love it, but I have been deemed pretty darn good at it now after a decade of using their stuff.


Garmin uses a fairly proprietary filetype for their basemaps. I recall somewhere, though, was a script to convert Arc language stuff into Garmin language stuff so you could publish your own basemaps. Lemme poke around for it.

Unless you wanted something else...



EDIT

ok, re-read your post. Folks don't generally "loan" copies of this stuff. Mine is licensed to the Govt, and I doubt you want that coming up on some report when your computer calls home to momma. You ought to be able to get a free evaluation copy (full function, but timebombed for a month or 3) before you lay down dough.
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Old 09-24-2007, 06:31 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smithy
I got it. I use it, I love it.

Ok, I don't love it, but I have been deemed pretty darn good at it now after a decade of using their stuff.


Garmin uses a fairly proprietary filetype for their basemaps. I recall somewhere, though, was a script to convert Arc language stuff into Garmin language stuff so you could publish your own basemaps. Lemme poke around for it.

Unless you wanted something else...



EDIT

ok, re-read your post. Folks don't generally "loan" copies of this stuff. Mine is licensed to the Govt, and I doubt you want that coming up on some report when your computer calls home to momma. You ought to be able to get a free evaluation copy (full function, but timebombed for a month or 3) before you lay down dough.
Hey Smithy, ya she gets the timebombed ones for classes but there's been a few glitches with them at times. Quite frustrating with moving from school to home desktop to laptop with the work. She's working on a GIS certificate as part of her geology/landuse type of degree. The impression is that a GIS cert makes anyone hireable as it's getting used for all sorts of stuff and skilled people are in short supply.

She's looking for easy project suggestions as well. She was hoping to somehow link usedfull info to topos or trail maps for us riders. Right now she's doing some stuff with the known problems building on expansive clays (bentonite) in colorado.

I guess she's also looking for a heads up on where to get data (opensource or cheap preferrably) and how to merge the various data. Or any good sources for self learning.....
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Old 09-24-2007, 08:12 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mountain eagle
Hey Smithy, ya she gets the timebombed ones for classes but there's been a few glitches with them at times. Quite frustrating with moving from school to home desktop to laptop with the work. She's working on a GIS certificate as part of her geology/landuse type of degree. The impression is that a GIS cert makes anyone hireable as it's getting used for all sorts of stuff and skilled people are in short supply.

She's looking for easy project suggestions as well. She was hoping to somehow link usedfull info to topos or trail maps for us riders. Right now she's doing some stuff with the known problems building on expansive clays (bentonite) in colorado.

I guess she's also looking for a heads up on where to get data (opensource or cheap preferrably) and how to merge the various data. Or any good sources for self learning.....
My recommendation is for you to contact ESRI office in Denver.....
One International Court
Broomfield, CO 80021-3200
Telephone: 303-449-7779

AND tell them you would like to work with them or help with the Homeland Security Conf in Denver in Nov 2007.

This company loves to show users what their products can do. Good chance to get some data and work up some scenarios/case studies in prep for the conference.

Hell they might even give some GD software.

What do you think?

Todd
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Old 09-24-2007, 08:15 PM   #9
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Clearly, there are as many facets to this work as there are people involved in it, but here are my impressions.

GIS used at the desktop to do one-off projects is cool, gets people's attention, and can serve many useful purposes. But it is hard to grow beyond hobby-shop problem solving. Greater utility is gained by integrating the power of GIS as a central repository of all mappable knowledge, and making it core to whatever mission/business goal/research directive she's working on. Just my professional 2 cents.

Example: Simply creating a GIS with topo as the basemap, roads/trails as the primary information layer, and maybe gas stations with average bike ranges expressed as buffers from those fuel stops, you can identify weak points in the infrastructure. Better if you do a density map of fuel stations as well, showing the relative closeness/distance of them as potential good/bad places to break down or run out of gas. A cost-surface of towing distance to each service station would be interesting too.

Now, if she were to do all that, but expand it to all vehicle classes, and start looking at back roads where ADVRiders may congregate off the beaten path, she can start layering in more difficult-to-get-to places such as dirt roads, forest roads, etc, where tow trucks might not be able to access. Layer on private land that borders public roads and you introduce potential conflict areas between landowners and the public. Layer on known criminal activity in the backwoods (mapped meth labs, for instance), commercial activity such as logging that might disrupt accessability, and distance calculations to emergency medical care, and finally a map of cellular network visibility, and you have a multi-use map suited for the ADV'er but usable by anyone interested in emergency services, rural crime, land use management, forestry, and infrastructure.

Now have her go sell some consulting hours to those industries, and buy a friggin ArcEditor license and get on with her career.

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Old 09-25-2007, 05:32 AM   #10
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What Smithy said, it ain't cheap and thow shalt not pirate, so there is also public domain GIS applications for the hard core that was originally developed by the Army Corps of Engineers that is pretty cool - free GNU license distribution - it's called GRASS (Geographic Resources Analysis Support System). It's good, but you gets what you pays for.

It's not for the the weak of heart, but it's free and it will run on both Windows and a MAC () as well as UNIX ala X-Windows.
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Old 09-25-2007, 06:50 AM   #11
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I was a GRASS user!

But I never inhaled. That was on a UNIX station. Full featured but difficult learning curve. Arcview after that on Windows and the Arcview copies had no timebombs in them and the ESRI company hadn't figured out how to capitalize on use of updates, etc. When they started the ARCGIS series it came with support and a contract licensing agreement that has to be renewed annually.

They give a lot of grants though and the USDA has lots of their stuff. The most recent interesting purchase of their software was made for ESDA personnel under the guise of Homeland Security.

Still doing GIS but the natural resources stuff has got it down to a pretty much canned setup and I am trying to get a local ESDA guy to that point with all the data they installed on his super high end laptop that came in a bomb proof case.
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Old 09-25-2007, 07:14 AM   #12
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I've been a GIS geek for 20+ yrs, and have been using Arc GIS since before they had Arc-GIS (I still dust off Arc-View 3.x once in awhile rather than rewrite all those old scripts for the new platform). After being self-taught in Arc-View, when they came out with ArcGIS I lobbied for, and got authorization to be sent for training at the local ESRI facility; have done about 7 or 8 courses there now, and it's made a huge difference. Allows me to almost keep up with the youngsters coming here straight out of grad school.

There is alot of data available for free out there, some of which may be of use. ESRI has a server for lots of stuff - political boundaries, road networks, etc. - sometimes it's not the greatest quality but it's a start. GLCF at UMD has tons of satellite imagery for free, as well as SRTM topo data. I have to admit I've never downloaded anything for the US, only S. America, but it is called the GLOBAL land cover facility after all, so assume the data are available. Anyway I think with a little searching she could put together a decent database to start with, then see what's missing and maybe think of alternative sources...

She's right about the job thing though - GIS capabilities linked with any other kind of resource management/planning/policy degree is a real good thing to have these days... and if you're gonna learn GIS, may as well do it in Arc.

good luck
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Old 09-29-2007, 07:57 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mountain eagle
Hey Smithy, ya she gets the timebombed ones for classes but there's been a few glitches with them at times. Quite frustrating with moving from school to home desktop to laptop with the work. She's working on a GIS certificate as part of her geology/landuse type of degree. The impression is that a GIS cert makes anyone hireable as it's getting used for all sorts of stuff and skilled people are in short supply.

She's looking for easy project suggestions as well. She was hoping to somehow link usedfull info to topos or trail maps for us riders. Right now she's doing some stuff with the known problems building on expansive clays (bentonite) in colorado.

I guess she's also looking for a heads up on where to get data (opensource or cheap preferrably) and how to merge the various data. Or any good sources for self learning.....
Well, A few places to start:

http://nationalmap.gov/
http://gos2.geodata.gov/wps/portal/gos
http://www.geographynetwork.com/
http://www.ncgia.ucsb.edu/giscc/

ESRI has a plethora of free and low-cost on-line training courses and seminars.

And welcome to GIS! I highly recommend this as a career!!
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Old 09-30-2007, 12:55 AM   #14
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Qgis is free

Quantum GIS is multi-platform (UNIX, Mac, Windows), does GRASS, is (by GIS standards) fairly easy to use, and it's free. Free is one freak of a lot less that ArcGIS.

You can download it from http://qgis.org/

it's not anything compared to ArcGIS, but is does let you view and edit map data, and it's getting better. I'm not saying that it's the best thing to invest in learning, but it can get you started. ArcGIS is the industry standard - if you can say you know that, then you are more hire-able. On the other hand, if you're working for some small-time company and see a problem that you could solve via Qgis, then saying "you know, we could just do this, and it would be free..." would go a long way to making you popular.

Someday, Qgis will be a serious alternative, but right now it's not even at version 1 (currently, it's at 0.8.1 - that means "under development"). But, it does work and can give you a feel for what GIS does. If all you're doing is playing with maps, track, and points, and not so much the data processing side, then Qgis is fine.

I wrote a little bit on digital mapping here, from a strictly amateur prospective. It's probably too basic for you wife, but it might help you understand what she's talking about.

Oh, as for data, there's tons of it out there for free. One trick is to search for "E00" and some place or thing. E00 is a file format for sharing mapping data and not much else. That helps narrow things down for Google. Also, hit the government sites. Canada, for example, pretty well has the whole country laid out in raster and vector data, all for free. It's here. And, yes, you can open this stuff up in Qgis.

David...
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Old 09-30-2007, 06:38 PM   #15
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Cool, never heard of it before. I'll have to look into that one. We have lots of situations crop up where the ESRI suite is just to complex for new users to apply to one-off projects, a lighter-weight solution seems ideal.
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