Lost Connections

Sometimes connecting is hard.

Lost connection with license server for ArcGIS? Hello, rabbit hole, here we go again.

But before I could lean back into the blissful escape of my downward spiral, the humans called upon me with requests.

8:35am: Making a Fire Hydrant App for Co-Human

For about a week now I have been floating in the limbo between having awkwardly accepted a request by a coworker A to do work for (higher-up) coworker B that coworker A would later take credit for, and having to do work for my actual supervisor. Coworker A wants to “do the project with me,” but I am a bad team player and group work really salts my snail. I also realize that this is not really a group project, but I’m getting the feeling this is all an excuse for him to learn how these apps are made so he can more effectively take credit for my work. He was, after all, invited to attend a meeting about the app despite my clear agreement before both parties to make the damn thing. Or maybe I’m just a cynical curmudgeon and he just actually wants to learn. Who cares.


  1. Teamwork.
  2. Fire hydrant layer has too many features to load well (20,806). My GISITW comrade suggests splitting the hydrants into smaller groups. A neat idea.
  3. Not ENTIRELY clear on expectations/needs of client.
  4. This goddamn hydrant layer is agitating my trypophobia.
If you have trypophobia, do not Google trypophobia.

Annnd now I can no longer look at this page. Guess that means we’re done here… Oh wait, HEAT MAPS!



Who knew fire hydrants could be so hot.

Aaaahhhhhh that’s better.


Until The Mapping Improves, The Beatings Will Continue.

My most recent and classic arch-nemesis

What if I told you it was possible to both be a water hydrant and not a water hydrant at exactly the same time? would you believe in this magic?

In the world of GIS, not every day can be spent digitizing or some fancy scripts that turns water into wine.

Some days are spent trying to solve exactly why a problem exists in the first place and what’s the solution to that issue?

Today’s current issues

  • How can a Hydrant be real if no one’s ever seen it?
  • if something doesn’t have ten different ID’s isn’t even worth mapping?
  • How can we benefit from these mistakes?
  • Do you have a backup?
  • Does that have a back up?
  • If the Earth was really flat. I’d drive straight off the edge.

Today’s classic quest started early at 8am. A field crew member came into my office with a paper atlas that’s two years old, a spreadsheet that’s three years old and a heart that screams of apathy and exhaustion. I don’t blame them and they can’t find any of these so called hydrants.  It’s only 8am.

All three of the majors systems had different labels to the same hydrants, all of them reviewed by different people, one had retired, the other is on a long term leave, and another was a consultant who’s check was cashed long ago. The data itself sits on three different worlds, A SQL server, A FDGB and a web server.  These databases are not connected. Why would they? have you even been paying attention in school?

Help, It’s real


The very worst of all this? This was all QA/QC’ed six months earlier by myself and fixed. 6,000 records or so painfully checked to get as many errors corrected and systems as close as possible.  There are global ID’s that match the systems up.

So what’s the issues?

No one’s using the updated system and they are crying wolf.

There was no buy in six months ago and the issues are the same.  The maps still used by the field crew are still paper and still years old, those in charge of the data curating are busy filibustering about pay scales and haven’t any interested in moving forward.

My solution? My temporary plan?  Get the buy in by the ones using and trying to find these hydrants.

Turns old fiddling with old paper maps and broken spreadsheets to objects that exist spatially take more time.

I’ve trained both crew members on using the updated “Web GIS” ecosystem. This involved creating simple apps that have built in queries allowing them to find the exact matching asset. It also allows them to search previous iterations of data. Allowing us to spatially reflect on these systems.  They weren’t given a device to access this information and are using their own phones and data plans. They find it so much better they are willing to use these resources.

I just want to make their job as easy as possible. Florida is real hot and I know the struggle. They are the reason I keep battling against the “Things have always been this way” collect the pay check and slave away.

And they greatly enjoy not being tied to a static world that only changes when the print man comes to town.  They understand the importance of having updated information. It allows all of us to go home on time.

Now we wait and lurk, hopefully the value will trickle down to something they can no longer live without.

Waiting a year for changes, a month, a week, a decade and an election are over.

Time’s on my side in the long run.



Day 176: context

Goals for today:

  1. Figure out why excel is suddenly retarded.
  2. Geocode 2487502945879 meter addresses, many of which are just street names. They are split into 8 excel tabs, two excel workbooks, and are all to be geocoded separately.

At 830 I figured out what’s wrong with excel. In yesterday’s post, you notice the text is trying to eat itself:

That’s not a c next to the s, it’s part of the d.

Well, it turns out there’s a simple solution… And it’s not overwriting. If you right click and check the formatting, it appears to be related to the text direction. It was set to ‘context’ when it should be set to ‘left-to-right’.


Problem solved. Great way to mess with your pesky coworkers though.

But it wouldn’t be GIS if there weren’t a new problem to deal with every 5 minutes, sending you farther and farther backward in your attempt to find an answer.

Does anyone actually understand these errors?

But then I learned a new trick with Excel. Finding the cells guilty of emptiness is simple with the Go To Special feature under Find and Select. Choose blanks and you can fill those nihilistic values with your heart’s desires.

Give your cells meaning.

And now we wait…

Can I go home now



Day 175: Administrator Privileges

Today I was granted administrator privileges. Instead of continuing to develop my custom application, however, they asked me to use my newly gained powers to geocode 12087401928673 meter addresses. I told them I could already do that. So then I tried to edit the spreadsheet and broke excel.


what the hell is this crap? (Trying to type an s between the i and d…)

So basically a 5 minute data clean-up became a years-long holocaust for text. I am too exhausted by not finding a solution to go on.