Tuesday, December 9, 2008

An inclinometer for 99¢!

Technology is amazing. The new iPhone G3 contains three built-in accelerometers, accurate to 0.1ยบ. For only 99¢ you can buy an app from the AppStore that will transform your iPhone into both a level bubble and an inclinometer. For those of you who aren't a surveyor or someone who needs to determine tilt (such as a geologist), once installed you can use it for hanging pictures or anywhere you'd need to level something. You can control the background color and even calibrate the device. The company's website is HERE. Here's what it looks like:

December articles posted

Editorial: Tumultuous Times
If you've reached the end of 2008 feeling just a bit worn out, you're not alone. From the adrenaline highs of Michael Phelps winning eight gold medals in the Beijing Olympics to the depressing lows of an economy in crisis, and from the euphoria surrounding Obama's November election to the sobering realities of the ....Read the Article
Point to Point: The Digital Surveys Archive
A show of hands now: How many of you produced a hand-drawn plat or map within the last month? Within the last year? Undoubtedly there are surveyors still drawing by hand, but their numbers get smaller and smaller as the years pass. For the rest of us, the digital age means not only that computations and ....Read the Article
A New Star Over Milan
Innovation and precise surveying bring complex architecture to life. They are meant to impress. Designed by cutting-edge architects, today's office buildings, commercial complexes and public buildings are taking on new and exciting forms. With glittering facades and ...Read the Article
A Visit to MicroSurvey
In my forty-some years in the survey industry I've crossed paths with lots of interesting people, each with a story to tell. The roads that led many to successful careers were a `straight shot' for some, with a specific goal in mind and clear-cut steps to get there. But for many others the stories include tales of ...Read the Article
The WowFactor: Topcon ImageMaster
Surveyors traditionally have welcomed emerging technology when it offers an improvement in the accuracy and integrity of measurement and mapping. One of the most revolutionary tools of late for the surveyor has been the emergence of Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS). The term encompasses ....Read the Article
ProFile: Sam Diaz - Chief Surveyor of Bechtel Corporation
One of eight brothers and sisters, 54-year-old Sam Diaz grew accustomed to changing locations and making cross-country moves early in life. Today, having changed world time-zones as easily as some people change radio stations, we are pleased to have this veteran surveyor and world traveler share ....Read the Article
Scanning In The Streets
Anyone who's visited Fenway Park to see the Boston Red Sox knows that current principal owner John Henry is among the world's best in sports event marketing. The Red Sox Nation experience spans generations and economic strata and reaches from eastern Maine to ...Read the Article
Surv-Fi, Part 3: Defending The Future
There had been so much interest in the case, that the venue had been changed to a hearing room at the state capitol. The notices and press releases included an invitation for attendees who wished to arrive early and use their own instruments to observe three test marks set up in ...Read the Article
Product Review: The Topcon IS Imaging Station
The Topcon IS (Imaging Station) is the latest offering from Topcon Positioning Systems' optical equipment lineup. It is built on the 900 series robotic chassis, however its expanded capabilities go well beyond a typical servo-driven total station. True to Topcon's philosophy of reaching the masses, they have managed to ...Read the Article
Vantage Point: Fiddling with Floods
My brother and I recently spent several days in New Orleans working with Habitat for Humanity on new, elevated homes in the Upper 9th Ward. On our way to the job site each day, we passed businesses and houses that, three years and a month after Katrina's tumultuous visit, look like ...Read the Article

Monday, November 10, 2008

November Articles Posted

Editorial: CGSIC in Savannah
The 48th meeting of the Civil GPS Service Interface Committee (CGSIC) was held September 15-16, 2008 in Savannah, Georgia. Of particular note was the announcement that NDGPS will continue. Funding is still a challenge, but the powers that be have decided that NDGPS, like GPS, is ....Read the Article
Point to Point: Relatively Speaking
Sooner or later it happens: one of your friends or relatives asks you to survey their property, or otherwise act professionally on their behalf. Is that all right or do we have a higher obligation to the public concerning impartiality? Although I have not conducted an exhaustive examination of the ....Read the Article
More Than a Simulation
When work such as land surveying requires precision and gets impacted by changing technology, it makes sense to be introduced to high-tech equipment on an actual project rather than on a simulation exercise or in a classroom setting. That runs counter to ... Read the Article
Optech Incorporated: The Lidar Company
In the early 70s, Dr. Allan Carswell, a physics professor at York University in Toronto, developed a pulsed laser system used in the world's first lidar bathymetric mapping system. Based on his research, Carswell founded Optech Incorporated in ...Read the Article
The Wow Factor: SmartWorx from Leica Geosystems
Every version of Leica Geosystems software contains user requested features. The latest product request that made the final cut was a "Field to Office" application. This full-featured FTP and transfer software is now built into the operating system of all System 1200 sensors, making it possible for ....Read the Article
Visualizing N G S Control Stations in Google Earth
Google Earth is rapidly becoming the land surveyor's tool-of-choice for preliminary job site reconnaissance and survey planning (see "Topography is Dead," by Joel Leininger, March 2007). Survey projects often begin with the investigation and ....Read the Article
Surv-Fi, Part 2: Boomer's Hearing
Stand back from the cradle Hector!" Vel warned her colleague. "You could receive a rather nasty static shock as it spins up!" Hector Fontecilla stood shivering in the still Chilean Patagonia morning awaiting instructions from Vel Kawashima. Ten thousand ...Read the Article
Tips & Tricks: Hidden Point Offset
Let's say it's 5:30 Friday afternoon and you're past ready to call it a week. You've just calculated the angle and distance to look for one of the last monuments you need to tie in. You turn the instrument to the angle and shoot a distance that measures just behind a tall tree. After a few minutes' search ...Read the Article
Wendy, quite possibly the best article ever written in a surveyor's journal ["If Not Now, When? Sept. 2008]. It matters not how technically proficient we are, how much money we make or how well "esteemed" we seem to be in our profession when we face serious illness or death. What do our friends and ...Read the Article
Vantage Point: Diversions in the Park
There is not a lot of unused land in our urban and increasingly suburban areas. It disappears under shopping centers and houses and roadways at a rate unimaginable a century ago. So it may not be unusual to start eyeing land that was set aside for parks and open space at ...Read the Article

Thursday, October 9, 2008

October articles posted

Editorial: Setting Our Sights
Years of planning and construction went into Beijing's iconic bird's nest stadium that is now synonymous with 2008 games. With Vancouver slated to host the Winter Games in 2010, surveyors have been hard at work helping to ready the infrastructure. Diversifying: For those of you looking for ....Read the Article
Point to Point: Boundaries by Acquiescence
We retracement surveyors, for the most part, labor within a stable and consistent part of the law. By this, I mean that from place to place, and over time, there is little variation in the doctrines defining correct practice. Monuments, everywhere, trump courses and distances, in the event of ....Read the Article
WowFactor: The Trimble VX Spatial Station
It's not unusual to find a digital camera as standard equipment for a survey crew. Providing photos of monuments, project sites and other evidence is a routine part of the surveyor's work. Now­instead of a flat drawing and some simple snapshots­imagine giving your client a 3D walkthrough tour of ... Read the Article
Vancouver Trains For Olympic Games
More than one million athletes, judges, volunteers and visitors are expected to converge on Vancouver, Canada, and surrounding areas during the 2010 Olympics. Yet many of these visitors won't realize the Olympic-sized engineering and ...Read the Article
Tips & Tricks: Getting More from Your Handheld GPS Unit
Are you getting all that you can from your handheld unit? Are you able to directly observe State Plane coordinates with your handheld? Although inexpensive units may not have a selection for the State Plane coordinate grid that you use in your state, if your State Plane Coordinate Zone uses the ....Read the Article
Survey Reports: Preparing a Survey Report—Part 5
This is the fifth and last article in a series of articles suggesting formats and contents of a survey report. Previous articles dealt with opinions on the location of corners and boundaries [Feb. 2008]; encroachments, gaps and overlaps [Mar. 2008]; limitations of the surveying services [June 2008]; and....Read the Article
RTN­101: Monitoring with RTN (Part 15)
Monitoring is essentially tracking movement over time and is often part of a surveyor's regular line of business. Such tasks are known by many names: subsidence monitoring, deflection monitoring, deformation monitoring, structural integrity monitoring, compliance monitoring, and ...Read the Article
Product Review: Spectra Precision FOCUS 10
The Spectra Precision's FOCUS 10 brings back a lot of memories from an instrument I reviewed several years ago. Without a doubt, the FOCUS 10 has benefited from the former, but is updated and less expensive even in terms of 2002 dollars. And that's a good thing, since ...Read the Article
ProFile: Marshall Robinson
We allow little time in our day-to-day schedules to get to know people much beyond their shells. It was therefore a pleasant change of pace when I received a phone call awhile back from Marshall Robinson, who was calling to order a map from our website ...Read the Article
Vantage Point: Tough Times
The construction slowdown has hit different parts of the country with varying ferocity. The latest jolt to "life as we know it" is a uniform blow to businesses of all sorts, and has the potential to change the financial plans of a number of surveying firms. Within a week, three U.S. motor vehicle ...Read the Article
Surveyors Report: Mimi the Elephant
Years ago I worked for a medium-sized private engineering firm in Denver. We negotiated a continuing services contract with the City and County of Denver for surveying services, and my crew was elected to conduct this work. The City was understaffed by one crew for ...Read the Article

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

September articles posted

Editorial: Surveyors Get the Point
For me, the 6th annual ESRI Surveying and Engineering Summit represented a sea-change. While earli
er meetings I attended were designed to attract surveyors into the world of GIS, the trend has taken hold and surveyors everywhere are busy incorporating GIS into their work flows. I like the way ....Read the Article
Point to Point: Can Retracements Be Confidential?
Do your clients have a right to expect that the survey you conduct for them will be confidential? Let's assume for a moment that mandatory survey recording laws did not exist (and indeed, they do not exist in most areas) and that no other obligation to divulge the results of the ....Read the Article
WowFactor: TPC Desktop 2008 Global Background Clearing
TPC Desktop 2008 is all about making it easier to work with your survey data and drawings. It's about doing less work and getting more done. Their new Global Background Clearing is a good example. We put a lot of information on drawings. Take a typical ALTA or site survey-- they can ... Read the Article
Wildfire Maps Keep Agency Missions Blazing Forward
Blazing out of control wildfires have been sweeping across northern California this summer just as they did last fall in the southern region of the state and many times previously, leaving in their path death and destruction. These fires are ...Read the Article
Applanix: Solutions for Mobile Mapping and Positioning
It's a given that Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) don't work everywhere, for example if the signals are sufficiently blocked by such things as tree canopy, or urban canyons. Because of the need to locate things everywhere, a great deal of ....Read the Article
RTN-101: Mapping (Part 14)
Much of what surveyors do is essentially mapping, and much of mapping is/could/ would/should be characterized as surveying. But what certainly raises the blood pressure of many surveyors is when one puts the two terms in the same sentence, as I have just done. The debate over....Read the Article
The Marriage of GIS and Land Surveying (No Shotgun Needed)
Too often the GIS professional and the surveyor are at odds; a hoity-toity GIS guy looks askance at a muddy-booted surveyor who wants to pin him down on accuracy and ...Read the Article
Software Review: I-Site Studio 3.0 and 4400 Laser Scanner
It seems that every surveying magazine now overflows with stunning 3D images of everything from people, to cars, to historic landmarks, to infrastructure. Point clouds of intricate structures and shapes naturally captivate the geometrically adept mind. But what about the ...Read the Article
Product Review: SECO Poles and Prisms
Tired of prism pole slippage and non-adjustable prism pole bubble levels? Tired of tilting prism target assemblies that slip as you are walking back to the instrument or having to lift the prism pole out of the bipod ring, or not being able to adjust the "spring" out of ...Read the Article
Vantage Point: If Not Now, When?
June was a difficult month. A friend less than a year older than I am quickly succumbed to a resurgence of breast cancer. A colleague three years younger suddenly died of complications related to diabetes, although he had looked fine just a few months ago when I last saw him. Such events make ...Read the Article
Surveying `Da Situation: The Last Straw
It is bad enough that we've already had to endure months of election campaign rhetoric, but I read an article awhile back that was the last straw. I happened to be scanning the newspaper when I came across a piece reporting that the rock star Bruce Springsteen had ...Read the Article

Thursday, August 14, 2008

August articles posted

Editorial: Machine Control Redux
I have received a fair amount of response to my July editorial about machine control. Responses included those who agree with me as to the inevitable impact it will have on the future of surveying and those who accuse me of selling out. Notwithstanding those states such as California that require a ....Read the Article

Point to Point: The Pincushion Dilemma
Pincushion corners result when two or more markers exist identifying the same property corner. If set by surveyors, they are invariably the result of different interpretations of evidence, whether justified or not. The measurati have almost universally denounced them as further evidence of rank-and....Read the Article

The WowFactor: OfficeSync
Drastic changes in the U.S. economy, including the recent runup in the price of gasoline, have had a direct effect on how firms use technology to remain competitive. Civil engineering and land surveying firms have had to make serious decisions, and time management is ... Read the Article

In Search of Monhegan's Letters
Monhegan Plantation is an island ten miles off the coast in the Gulf of Maine. An artists' haven with a rich history in fishing, the island's average population of 75 residents explodes each summer with the opening of ...Read the Article

Towers of Power - Surveyors Locate Next Generation Transmission Lines
As originally planned, the Eastern Plains Transmission Project, one of the country's largest power expansion projects in progress, is expected to ultimately deliver about 1,000 miles of ....Read the Article

A Visit to the South Carolina Geodetic Survey
One of the hold-ups in the implementation of Real Time Networks (RTNs) for machine control has been the vertical accuracies. That being the case, when one of our writers, Joe Betit, told me that he had heard that the South Carolina ....Read the Article

In Memoriam: John E. Chance, 1924-2008
A legend within surveying circles along the Gulf of Mexico and in the petroleum and pipeline industries worldwide, John Chance died May 1, 2008 at his home in Lafayette, Louisiana. "Mr. John," as he was affectionately known by his friends, was born John Edward Chance on ...Read the Article

More on the Schuylkill Center Wendy Lathrop's valuable article "Where There's a Will... " [Sept. 2007] couples the Orphans' Court activities of the Barnes Foundation and the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education (SCEE). From a legal point of view the breaking of ...Read the Article

Software Review: General CADD
Backward compatibility has always been one of the things that make a good solid product. General CADD started out as an inexpensive CADD program working in DOS. Generic CADD was the name and it made it possible for surveyors who could not afford the very...Read the Article

Survey Reports: Preparing a Survey Report - Part 4: FAQ
This is the fourth article in a series of articles suggesting formats and contents of a survey report. Previous articles dealt with opinions on the location of corners and boundaries [Feb. 2008]; encroachments, gaps and overlaps [Mar. 2008]; and limitations of of the surveying ...Read the Article

Vantage Point: Water Over the Dam and Down the River
What's old is new, and it's all wet. It may seem to be a "modern" approach to look beyond our own municipal boundaries to see what is happening on the other side of an invisible jurisdictional line that will affect flooding and stormwater on our side of that line. But awareness of ...Read the Article