Monday, March 28, 2005

Python for GIS Experts

I've been cramming for days to lead this 3 hour training for GIS professionals at an annual conference. As it turns out, you can't really cover Python in all its glory in 3 hours, i.e. when 5 o'clock rolled around, I still hadn't spent much time discussing how to open and read files. We covered some more advanced topics instead: generators and decorators. Going by partial feedback, at least some in the audience had fun, found me dynamic enough as a speaker. I'm pretty good with quips and asides, keeping things fairly light and moving.

But really, today was more an education for me. I soaked up a lot of info about the state of the art when it comes to geoprocessing and geographic information systems (GIS) -- good stuff for a Global Data CEO to know about. ESRI is the 800 pound gorilla in this knowledge domain. They're moving to Python for a scripting language in their flagship product (ArcGIS) which is how come I was a speaker at the Doubletree Hotel, Lloyd Center, Portland.

The lunch time talk was excellent. The speaker, Doug Divine, played a major role digitally surveying both submarines of Civil War vintage (talking USA history here). The Hunley, a confederate vessel, is the one most people know about, but the Yankees had their own sub, which was repurposed to pearl diving duty after the war and ended up all washed up on some island near Panama City. Doug's talk featured a lot of excellent DVD clips, including a dramatization of the Hunley's last mission, funded by Ted Turner.