2005-07-29

No good deed . . .

Well, last night I spent 3-hours with my wife helping do research for her on a paper for school. The subject: Ethical Implications of the Sale of Free Drug Samples by Health Care Providers. With her paper nearly complete, we retired to bed late last night. Little did we know what would await us the next day...

Today we were taking the boys to Orlando for a weekend mini-vacation, celebrating my older son's 7th birthday. We brought the laptop along in the hopes of my wife being able to do some banking (pay bills) and complete her paper in the hopes of an early Sunday submission. Simple plan? Think again.

During the course of packing, I grabbed the laptop to shut it down and pack it away, but to my horror, I discoverd that it had been badly infected by spyware in the course of MY, yes, MY web-surfing the prior night! The hint was the 10-billion pop-ups on my screen and the fact that it took about 45-minutes to clear them and get the laptop turned off.

I spent the next hour and a half in the passenger seat of my SUV trying to get the nasties off my machine, all the way to the hotel. It eventually took every free moment in our hotel room during my 3-day weekend to clean it off. The Omni at Champion's Gate is a terrific place to vacation, by the way. Anyway, it took a combination of Spybot Search & Destroy, Adaware SE, and MS Anti-Spyware (beta) to clean it off with several reboots into safe-mode.

There are few fates worse for a SysAdmin than cleaning spywareware from your wife's computer. To quote Bill the Cat, "Aaack! Phhht!"

2005-07-28

Beware Graphics Design 'Professionals'

We just had our company logo redone and it is amazing to me that companies continue to stay in business out there that don't fully grasp basic tenants of their core business. The design firm that created our new "branding package" (i.e. a logo) created a nice enough looking logo, but there are a couple of problems that they apparently didn't anticipate:

  • The extremely horizontally-weighted aspect ratio make the logo unreadable when it has to be inserted into a narrow space.
  • The logo incorporates non-standard fonts, such that any documents marketing or otherwise which try to maintain a semblence of consistency must embed that commercial (i.e. license/royalty bound) font in the document. This also forces us to exclude the use of this font from our web site except in cases where the text is included as part of a raster image.
  • The logo makes use of three font sizes in which the largest font is roughly four times the size of the smallest font, which by the way is the font size in which the tag-line portion of the logo is rendered. This, in essence, limits us to 4-inches as a minimum width for the logo without having to exclude the tag line portion of the logo.

As if that wasn't enough the firm, when the logo was finalized was asked to send us the specifications for the logo, such as height, width, color specs., font names letter spacings etc. to enable our various department to accurately incorporate the logo into our various internal documents failed again. Aside from not actually knowing the name of the font they used, or being able to provide an original PSD or AI file with the original font, the gave us color information in three different color models (RGB, CMYK, and Pantone) which mathematically disagreed with each other and in fact looked quite different both on screen and in print.

Wow. We'd get fired by our clients if we did that type of shoddy work.

GIS Model

The Planning model for GIS has been completed. We can now select parcels and automatically generage aggregate acreages fo upland and wetland areas of the parcel selection group as a whole. This model will work with any of the county parcel datasets in the SWFWMD area, as it is their data set that we use primarily for wetland lines.

Working on this has proved what a valuable tool ESRI's ModelBuilder tool can be especially when coupled with the built-in Python gepreocessing API.

Our next step will be to calculate unit densities based on the upland vs. wetland ratios and the adopted future land use coverages. Because the various Florida counties use different density calc. rules, we will either have to make a new model for each county, or create a rule-library and have the end-user select the county for which they are seeking a density calc. Now that I come to think of it, the model should determine the county based on the parcel location and select the correct county and alert you if the parcel selection group crosses county lines. Incorporated area need to be entered into the mix too as they sometimes place more restrictive density rules than their respective counties. Hhmmm....

2005-07-24

Code by Design

I found a new web design firm, Code by Design that specializes in web application development using the LAMP architecture. They produce exceptionally clean sites that are truly CSS and XHTML 1.0 compliant. They are true hand-coders, no Dreamweaver jockey there. Their PHP/MySQL programming is second to none too.