Tuesday, February 19, 2008

February Articles Posted

Editorial: Competence and the State of Education
Last year in my July/Aug editorial I included some text written by Dick Elgin about the state of education for young surveyors. Canadian surveyor and educator Barry Kavanagh responded with a letter to the editor and promised to follow up with an article. You'll find his article in this issue ....Read the Article

Point to Point: The HSA Advantage
There are few surveyors who are excited by the prospect of discussing insurance of any form, and health insurance in particular. I count myself among that group. Nevertheless, something has happened in the last few years of which you should be aware, but....Read the Article

A Private VRS Network Takes the Strain Out of Phoenix Surveying
"I used to figure one person in the office to keep up with one survey crew. But now it takes me, a receptionist and two draftsmen to keep up with one crew. If I added another ... "Read the Article

Laser Scanning: DARPA Urban Challenge
The final round of the DARPA Urban Challenge took place on Saturday, November 3, 2007 at the former George Air Force Base in Victorville, California, now used by the military to train for urban operations. On the high desert northeast of Los Angeles, 11 cars bristling with...Read the Article

Worried About The Future of Surveying? Not a problem in Florida!
In my July/August 2007 editorial I wrote about a challenge that continually lies before us: attracting young people into surveying. Shortly after the magazine came out, I received a call from Marilyn Evers, the executive director of the Florida Surveying and Mapping Society (FSMS). She ....Read the Article

Education in Crisis—The Elephant That No One Sees
With all due respect to Dr. Richard Elgin, who wrote the original piece ["The Demise of Basic Surveying Mathematics," May 2007], and editor Marc Cheves who commented on the same problem in his July/August 2007 editorial, I think their take on...Read the Article

Distance Learning: Something For Everybody
In surveying circles, it seems that when someone mentions continuing education (CE), somehow the word "mandatory" gets attached to it. Unfortunately, many surveyors tend to view mandatory continuing education as some sort of taboo. In some states CE is a ...Read the Article

Survey Reports: Preparing a Survey Report--The Focus - Part 1
Some states require survey reports. All surveyors should consider preparing survey reports at the culmination of a retracement survey. Unfortunately, the preparation of a survey report is not covered in most academic programs and is seldom adequately explained in ...Read the Article

Campus GIS Will Improve Public Safety at LSU
It's 0-dark 30. You need to find the underground gas valve that controls service to a burning building and the two closest fire hydrants ­right now. On some college campuses that would mean getting the facilities manager out of...Read the Article

Test Yourself #22
On an X, Y, Z orthogonal coordinate system, suppose an Archilochus colubris leaves coordinates 20, 5, 0 (X:Y:Z) moving in the plus Z direction at a speed of 4.628 feet per minute for 2.111 minutes. Then the Archilochus colubris changes...Read the Article

Vantage Point: Walking the Line
In the fall of my junior year of high school, unionized teachers in my school district went on strike to gain better health care benefits and an increase in the pay scale for those with advanced degrees and experience. Perhaps a hundred students at my high school sat out on...Read the Article

Monday, February 18, 2008

A Hilarious Case of GPS Being Used to Track a Stolen Truck

Theft victim uses GPS to nab suspect
By Kim Bell

The car thieves who took a tow truck from Hartmann Towing early Saturday picked on the wrong guy.

Michael Filius, the night manager at the University City business, was busy cleaning a vehicle inside the garage about 2:45 a.m. Saturday. A tow truck parked outside had been left idling, as is the custom.

Soon, he could no longer hear the noisy diesel truck's idle, so he looked out the window and saw it was missing.

Angry and a little embarrassed, Filius sprang into action. A former California corrections officer, Filius wanted to get the truck back before the thieves stripped it. So he activated the global-positioning system on board the truck to track its movement. The tow company handles calls for AAA, so Filius also got AAA to monitor the GPS and alert him on his cell phone of every location change.

Filius jumped in his Mercury Sable and started tracking the stolen truck. As he headed into north St. Louis, Filius noted that the truck has been motionless for about 3 1/2 minutes. He figured it was abandoned and went to the scene -- at Hamilton and Natural Bridge avenues.

He saw two men with the truck and was surprised they weren't kids. They looked to be in their 30s, he said.

What happened next is in dispute.

Filius said he forced the tow truck over using a "pit maneuver," something he learned attending a sheriff's academy in 1995 in California when he was learning to be a corrections officer. One of the truck's tires blew, and Filius pinned the truck in so it couldn't drive away. When the driver jumped out, Filius said, Filius accidentally drove over the man's shoe, which pinned him there until police arrived.

St. Louis police confirm Filius' account, to a point. They say Filius drove into an alley where a fleeing suspect was trying to climb a fence to escape. When the suspect slipped off the fence, Filius' car accidentally struck him. The suspect suffered bruising from being hit. A police district commander this morning said he wasn't aware the suspect's foot was pinned by Filius' tire.

Either way, police say, the 30-year-old suspect was arrested on suspicion of tampering and theft. St. Louis police say they're letting University City handle it from here; a captain with University City police said the case is under investigation but had no details on charges. A second car thief got away, apparently with Filius' wallet.

Filius said that, while he was waiting for city police to show up to arrest the car thief, the thief tried to negotiate -- saying he'd return the man's wallet if he'd let him go.

"He talked to me, then he threatened me," said Filius, 36. "He called me by my first name, because he'd seen my license."

Police in University City and St. Louis agree that Filius is lucky he wasn't hurt. They warn victims of car theft to call police, rather than try to find the car on their own.

Filius, meanwhile, said he was simply fed up with being a victim.

"I have to see these little hoodlums every day," he said. "There's a point I'm not going to take it anymore."