RIP Scott Carpenter – legend, hero and original geek (OG)

I was deeply saddened on October 10th when living legend and true hero Scott Carpenter passed away. Scott was an inspiration to me as one of the original Mercury Seven. The fact that he was a Colorado University alumni helped as well.

The Mercury Seven were the best-of-the-best chosen from a pool of 500 applicants. They were the original geeks who paved the way to placing human beings on the moon. Take a moment to consider that they truly made world history and inspired generations of young men and women to become pilots, astronauts and engineers. And, they helped inspire millions of others to dream about traveling to other planets, exploring solar systems and more. They did it for real.

There aren’t too many people these days that can set the standard as high as Scott and his fellow astronauts. There are few accomplishments these days that can galvanize the entire planet as the first attempts to leave earth.

Scott first flew into orbit on May 24, 1962. Can you believe that was 51 years ago?

Sure Scott and his fellow astronauts weren’t perfect and they have had their share of controversy. Some are trying to cast doubt on Scott’s accomplishments. We shouldn’t let perceived or even real mistakes overshadow that he passed some of the toughest training of our times, he took the risks, and he placed his life on the line to try push the technological envelope farther than it had been pushed before.  He lived the dream for the billions of us who will never get to see earth from space.

I can only hope that there are more people in our life time that can stand on the shoulders of the heros from Mercury Seven, the subsequent legendary missions of Gemini, Apollo and Space Shuttle missions and inspire future generations the way I’ve personally been inspired.

Hard drive failure doesn’t have to ruin your day

I’m amazed by how many developers don’t image or clone their machines. I can’t tell you how many times someone has said to me “oh man, I wasted almost an entire day rebuilding my system”. I’ve said it many times, and I’ll say it again: it doesn’t have to be that way!

Simply backing up the file system on your machine helps when you need to restore various files. But…if your hard drive fails you still have to reinstall all software and reconfigure everything. And, I mean e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g: IDE’s, browsers, fiddler, plugins, and any application or operating system updates. This can be very time consuming and a real time waster.

An image or clone is a complete snapshot of your entire system at a point in time. Here’s an online article that explains what this means. I recommend using a combination of daily file backups and system snapshots. Rebuilding your system is as simple as copying over the image/clone/snapshot onto a new hard drive, and then reloading the latest file system backup. On my current machine that takes about 45 minutes or so to completely restore my system. So, the last time my hard drive failed, I plugged in the new drive then went and got a cup of coffee. The imaging software does all the hard work of rebuilding my system back to nearly the exact state it was in peviously.

On my physical machines I typically use Acronis. But, there are other choices out there, such as Ghost. On my Virtual Machines I simply create a clone once every week or two, or more often if I load a major operating system update.

Hard drives do fail. So, don’t let a simple failure ruin your productivity.

Presenting at the Esri Developer Summit

I’ll be presenting at the Esri Developer Summit this week (March 7 – 9, 2011) . So, if you are at the conference in Palm Springs, California stop by and say “hi”. If you aren’t familiar with this conference, it is the largest geo-developer conference in North America with over 1200 geo-geeks basking in all manner of technical geographic goodness. There will be 63 technical sessions and around 29 sessions presented by non-Esri, ArcGIS developers. What better way to learn than to hear it straight from the developers on the front lines…right??!

I have three sessions: a pre-conference session on Getting Started with the ArcGIS API for Android (beta), Localizing the ArcGIS Viewer for Flex, and integrated Volunteered Geographic Information and Social Media into your GIS. A GIS, is a Geographic Information System, for all you non-geo-geeks. Hope to see you there!