Objective aka "What am I trying to do here"

  • My personal objective
    • I have resolved that I will install GRASS GIS on my WinXP Pro (SP2) computer and I will learn to use it.
    • I will add to this site each new lock that I pick in the process.
    • Eventually, it should serve as a how-to for "getting up and running" for others with similar goals experiencing similar difficulties.
    • It should also be of use to anyone kind enough to offer me assistance.

  • Objectives for this website
    • The intent here is to build this site very slowly.

    • It is my perception that some with considerable relevant experience find it quite difficult to "break into" GRASS, perhaps especially WinGRASS. In a bit of frustration, I wrote the following in an email recently:
      I have worked with pc's since 1982.
      -some assembly language
      -extensive Basic programming with compiler, including direct hardware control
      -programmed Condor, dBase (and Lotus 123, for that matter)
      -dabbled in AutoCad and DesignCad
      -worked with MiniTab statistical s/w
      -invented machine control program utilizing all the 64,000 increments available for (for the early pc's), using random numbers to avoid undesirable patterning in fabric.
      -wrote a program in 1990 simultaneously showing day and time of day in all 32 timezones in the world (it worked flawlessly on 1 Jan 2000!)
      -wrote a Basic program capable of producing a formula (suitable for use in programs) fitting a curve (.9999 corellation) from *any* set of x,y data.
      -programmed a TI-59 calculator to convert from decimal to hexidecimal using a numbers only display
      -was adroit with command lines beginning with msdos ver. 1.25
      -certified quality engineer
      -worked extensively with GPS and OziExplorer for about 7 years (can go moving map with 1820 maps)
      -work with over 3 gb of raster maps, including every 1:250k including a Rev War battle/skirmish site in the US (and I've plotted 90% of the some 3000 known in the world, and have found them in all but one of the modern states east of the Mississippi and 2 west of it, and on all continents except Antarctica and Australia).
      -created over 60 maps for publication since 2001 (300dpi .tip, about 10mb each), mostly using the location data in OziExplorer, above.
      -work extensively in PhotoShop Elements and Acrobat
      -extensive programming of websites "by hand" using simple programmers editor. I could do it in Notepad.
      -plotted Rev War era property sites from period survey records, using DeedMapper s/w.
      -recently created (in OziExplorer) a track showing all 300 miles of the Overmountain Victory Nat. Historic Trail, yards at a time, then created images of the trail on the 50-odd 1:24k topo drgs, and produced a .pdf that allows one to follow the trail with great topo detail.
      In short, I am a knowledgeable computer user, and no dummy about projections, map datums, layers, coordinate conversions, graphics, drg's, datasets, etc. And I am bouncing off GRASS like a rubber ball!
      and I believe that others are having similar difficulty.

    • I realize that I am dealing with open source, and that it is not, nor can it be expected to be, anybody's job to make it "turkey-proof" for me.

    • It is my perception (rightly or wrongly) that those knowledgeable in GRASS have learned from others knowledgeable in GRASS, and that leaves it very difficult to be self-taught in operating GRASS.

    • It is also my perception that while GRASS has been ported to Windows, the relevant tutorials remain rooted in a Linux/UNIX environment. They contain "getting started" commands which will not work in WinGRASS. These tutorials need to be revised so that the instructions, if followed by a WinGRASS newbie, will result in the software performing as promised.

    • The typical experienced Windows user will likely have some or considerable experience with MSDOS command lines which were based on UNIX, so that will not be as big a difficulty as most would imagine.

    • Otherwise experienced Windows users also experienced in programming in the UNIX environment (or in any environment) will be the exception rather than the rule. He or she will likely be rooted in the pre-compiled version of the program for a considerable period, if not indefinitely. Tutorials need to be based upon that expectation.

    • What I hope to achieve here is to provide some virtually failure-proof procedures that will allow someone with more than average computer experience to get WinGRASS up and running and doing some useful work. If this is provided, those with above average computer experience, will quickly gain the self-confidence to move forward on their own.

    • Having worked as a training consultant, I know that instructions of this type must be written from the viewpoint NOT of someone who knows, but that of someone who does NOT know. Keypoints must be identified where a newbie is apt to make an error rendering all his effort useless. The more experienced one is with GRASS, the more difficult it is to retain the viewpoint of a newbie. I can already perceive in myself, that as I gain the ability to make some things work, it is already becoming more difficult for me to keep any instructions where they need to be, at the level of the absolute newbie.

    • I have (reluctantly!) obtained other GIS s/w that meets my current needs and removes any pressure to move too quickly in this effort.

    • If you would like to contribute to this effort by writing instructions for doing very basic things in WinGRASS, written to explain things to someone who does not yet know about these things, feel free to pass them along. For now, I am not going the Wiki route, but would only include such procedures after I have tried them, made them work, and have added any keypoints that I feel would "make or break" their success when attempted by a very green newbie. If you see this, as I do, an opportunity for a rank newcomer to make a real contribution to the GRASS effort, your help is earnestly solicited.


Comments or suggestions?