Monday, October 4, 2010

Obligatory Elections Post

This Sunday, the Kyrgyz interim government holds its parliamentary elections. Between accounts from excitable western media and the cynical remarks from my local colleagues, I couldn't predict if these will be the start of more turmoil or the start of anything at all, but even the most passive (and language-impaired) observer can see evidence of the political scrambling going on among the (thirty or so?) parties, new and old.

Not long ago, I was eating yogurt for breakfast and found this on top:

CNK - yogurt ad

So began my collection of political fliers and billboards. Most of the ones you'll find on my flickr account are from a 20 minute walk down my street. One of the things I personally find interesting is how many campaigns spend a lot of extra money making monolingual billboards (eg, CDPK's "Give him/you/us a voice" billboards in either Russian or Kyrgyz) and how many (with varying levels of info design success) go bilingual.

And now a flurry of excuses:
I have a bunch more photos, but I haven't been able to force myself to bite the bullet and get a pay flickr account. Lower rez would be an option, but I'm afraid legibility may become an issue. Even trimmed down, I missed so many because of Bishkek's terrifying traffic and too many darn trees. Also, there are a few doubles and sideways shots, but due to the slow internet and my full time job, I may not finish cleaning the set up in time for elections, sorry.

That said,
CDPK - Almazbek Atambaev Omurbek Cuvanaliev

Do these two not remind you of a certain US election from 2008?

Hmm, just sayin'.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Summary II

• Full time job at a software company
• Got into bicycles (ie, learned to ride one)
• Malaise
• Quit job, got certified to teach ESL instead
• Leaving apartment
• Moving to Kyrygzstan in August

...and we're back!

But for real this time, I swear

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


• Car accident
• Moved back with parents
• Two surgeries
• Two part time jobs, one bad, one good. (Technical Assistant in a community college library & Academic Technologist at a private college)
• New apartment
• Full time job at a software company

...and we're back!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

John Henry

So far it has been customary to start out each post with an apology, so I see no reason not to continue the tradition. It has been far too long since the last post. I'm sorry. I get home and my brain feels like cottage cheese. Excuses, excuses.
Moving on, a few words on what I do:

For those of you outside of the tech industry, I should mention that "Software Engineer" is a much vaguer job description than many might realize. Often, it is code for "low level programmer." I mention this because I don't want to falsely come off as a big cs kind of gal, and I am frustrated about how no one questions me when I say software engineer, but I have to justify my position when I describe myself as a cartographer (which, provided you know what it is, a relatively specific calling). Anyway, in quality assurance, I am in better straits than some programmer-monkey, but to be honest, most of the time a monkey could do my job.

Before a software program goes out, it has to be tested. Not in a fun Grandma's Boy sort of way, but rather an excruciatingly regimented process. It involves going through every possible action, methodically, to make sure that there isn't a single bug in the software. Of course, every time new code is added, more testing has to be done. This happens a lot, be it by adding new features to the new version or trying to make a relatively young (think less than five years) program more stable. The world of software is held together by a fragile web of interlocking code, so a solution to one problem can easily become the root of another. I don't do code (too stupid and lazy).

No, I am not a developer, but a tester, the grinding force wearing down the ground behind their heels, pointing out their mistakes. It's really an unpleasant concept. The specifics of that though, I'll save for another day.
What I wanted to talk about this evening was the other task with which I occupy myself.

When testing, you have to not only test what has already been written, but create materials against which the machine can be tested. QA is about adding the human element into the mechanical process, finding the errors that the machine could never find. The company I work for makes photogrammetry software, tools for analyzing aerial images. A lot of this stuff is still more accurate when done by hand, but since it takes hours, the move to automation in the industry has been fast and hard. Right now, one of the developers I work with is trying to write a program that will make a lot higher quality terrain models. To measure quality though, it is necessary have baseline data against which to compare the results.

For the past week, I've spent every day staring at stereo imagery, putting points on the ground of a simulated 3D picture. Beyond it feeling like my eyes are crossing a little more permanently every day, it's actually pretty interesting. The setup I have uses quad-buffered stereo viewing, where the left and right images are put on top of each other and blink really quickly, while I wear shutter glasses (also blinky), the combination of which (in theory) leads to a crisp looking 3D image on the screen. Then, by adjusting the parallax (distance between the two images), you can move your cursor above, below, or, preferably, on the ground. This method replaces the old way, involving two projectors in a machine, from what I hear, the size of an old Volkswagen. Nevertheless it takes hours and hours to do. Amazing when you think that within my tenure there I could get comparable results from just pushing a few buttons.

Also, you should all probably read this:

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Day Two


First, some business to take care of:

1) I started this blog before I started my job and had a very different idea of how the first chapter would go. Originally I thought I would spend time talking about what neat stuff I learned about photogrammetry and software quality assurance in my travels, but I am now doubtful how well that will work out. I apologize for my false promises. I mean not to be a miserable pit of lies. I haven't done anything but go through software tutorials yet, and I do assume it will get more interesting, but to whom is the question.

2) My new plan involves talking about the urban geography of Atlanta metro. Part of this may be my burning desire to rant about the layout of the city and its environs. I live (poor luck, not solely frivolous choice in housing) 20 miles from work, and it took 2 hours to get there my first day. No one loves public transit like I do, but this is ridiculous. I am holding off just spouting off nonsense though; my hope is to get a book or two on the history of Atlanta and share, book report style. Perhaps a little lame, but beats the hell out of an existence as an uninformed carpetbagger with a soapbox. We'll see.

3) Right before I moved to Atlanta (having just moved to Massachusetts) I fell off the stoop at my parents' house and got a concussion. I can't wash my hair this week because I convinced the doctor to take the stitches on my head wound out early and have to be super careful. I don't have towels anyway, so showering hasn't been a big thing for me. This is how I make friends.

This is a picture of what it looked like 8 days later:

4) I have begun to doubt my non-driving status. Here is the break down:
-two hour public transit commute to work
-even if I lived next door to the office, I would be stranded in Norcross on the weekends (no bus)
-looming specter of dependence that offends my independent character
-the lack of a license gives the impression of a child/prude/felon depending on where you are and who you tell
medical evidence of a sleeping disorder that would require stimulant medication to drive around with any sort of conscience
-the environment or something?
-never have to be DD (actually, that's everyone else's loss as I feel I could be great at that)

This is all. The lure of vain personal posting is just too much for me. Again, I offer apologies.

be well

Sunday, August 19, 2007


I recently got a job at Leica Geosystems in Norcross, Georgia. It should be pretty sweet. It's a co-op (read: short term, no benefits) position, evidently designed for people still in school. So it goes. My title will be Quality Assurance Software Engineer and I'll be working with the photogrammetry folks. I have yet to find a place to stay or a way to get to work. More on this story as it develops.

This is me with a beard