Thursday, December 16, 2010

Automatically Import XML data into excel at a fixed time interval

'Function: Automatically Import online XML data into excel at a fixed time interval'
'Language: VBA'
'Author: Vivian N. Yang'
'Date: Dec. 12, 2010'

'Define Global Variables'
Dim TotalCount As Integer 'Total Number of Data Collections (#)'
Dim TimeInterval As String 'Time Interval to collect data (text format, e.g."00:01:00" means 1 minute)'
Dim Links() As String 'Web Links to collect data'
Dim NumofLinks As Integer 'Number of Links (dimension of the array Links())'
Dim Outputs() As String 'Names of the worksheets to store the outputs'
Dim CurrentCount As Integer
Dim SelRange As Range
Dim Actsheet As Worksheet

Sub Main()
' Clear Outputs'
Call Clear_Output
' Get Inputs'
Call Get_Inputs

' Start the data collection'
CurrentCount = 1
Dim XmlMap As XmlMap
For Each XmlMap In ActiveWorkbook.XmlMaps
' Write Outputs'
Dim i As Integer
For i = 1 To NumofLinks
Sheets(Outputs(i)).Cells(1, 1).NumberFormat = "h:mm:ss AM/PM"
Sheets(Outputs(i)).Cells(1, 1).Value = Format(Now(), "hh:mm:ss")
ActiveWorkbook.XmlImport URL:=Links(i), ImportMap:=Nothing, Overwrite:=True, Destination:=Sheets(Outputs(i)).Cells(2, 1)
Next i

'Start the OnTimeMacro'
Call OnTimeMacro

End Sub

Sub Get_Inputs()
Dim Row As Integer
Dim Col As Integer
Dim i As Integer
Row = 2
Col = 2
NumofLinks = Sheets("Input").Cells(Row, Col).Value
ReDim Links(1 To NumofLinks)
ReDim Outputs(1 To NumofLinks)

For i = 1 To NumofLinks
Row = Row + 1
Links(i) = Sheets("Input").Cells(Row, Col).Value
Outputs(i) = Sheets("Input").Cells(Row, Col + 1).Value
Sheets(Outputs(i)).Cells(1, 1).Value = i
Debug.Print Outputs(i)
Next i
Row = 8
TimeInterval = Sheets("Input").Cells(Row, Col).Value
Row = 9
TotalCount = Sheets("Input").Cells(Row, Col).Value
End Sub

'The time interval can be changed in this subroutine OnTimeMacro()'
'Example: 5 seconds -TimeValue("00:00:05")'
'Example: 1 minute -TimeValue("00:01:00")'

Sub OnTimeMacro()
' Run the RunEvery1Min macro TotalCount times.'
If CurrentCount < TotalCount Then
' Run the RunEvery1Min macro in 1 minute'
'Application.OnTime Now + TimeValue("00:00:10"), "RunEveryTimeInterval"'
Application.OnTime Now + TimeValue(TimeInterval), "RunEveryTimeInterval"
' Increment icount by 1.'
CurrentCount = CurrentCount + 1
' CurrentCount is greater than TotalCount, so exit the macro.'
Exit Sub
End If
End Sub

Sub RunEveryTimeInterval()
Dim Row As Integer
Row = CurrentCount * 7
' Write Outputs'
'Delete all existing XmlMaps'
Dim XmlMap As XmlMap
For Each XmlMap In ActiveWorkbook.XmlMaps
'Import data'
Dim i As Integer
For i = 1 To NumofLinks
Sheets(Outputs(i)).Cells(Row, 1).NumberFormat = "h:mm:ss AM/PM"
Sheets(Outputs(i)).Cells(Row, 1).Value = Format(Now(), "hh:mm:ss")
ActiveWorkbook.XmlImport URL:=Links(i), ImportMap:=Nothing, Overwrite:=True, Destination:=Sheets(Outputs(i)).Cells(Row + 1, 1)
Next i
' Runs the OnTimeMacro again.'
Call OnTimeMacro

End Sub

A free tool to split audio file

I needed to divide a 2-hour .WAV file into smaller files. It didn't take me very long to find this free software online: Audacity.
Step 1: File-Open-Select the WAX file
Step 2: Place labels where I want to split the file
Place the cursor, press Ctrl+b, optionally type a name for the label
Step 3: File-Export multiple
In the dialog, set
Split files based on: "labels", check "Include audio before first label"
Name files: Numbering consecutively
Step 4: Press Export.

Thank vanadium for recommending this tool. (

Monday, October 18, 2010

Farewell, Harry Potter!

By Vivian
Feb. 2008

*****SPOILER ALERT******
If you haven't completed reading Harry Potter Series and still want to keep the ending a secret for you, please skip this article.
*****SPOILER ALERT******

I met Mr. Harry Potter at the age of 21. I had no special feeling about this little shabby kid at the first sight. However, after I spent several days in Hogwarts with him, I decided to be his friend (despite that I am a little bit older as a friend of a eleven years old boy). And till now I have been a loyal friend for seven years.
In this seven years, we grew up together although we are in different places. He and his friends were learning to be a witch and wizard in Hogwarts while I and my other friends were struggling against different kinds of mechanics in TJ. I always burst into gales of laughter when I found an exact duplicate in reality for the professors in magic world. It's my dream to own an invisibility cloak so that I can sleep or read novels in class without fear of being caught, haha. His days in Hogwarts are so amazing that I always hoped there was a 9-3/4 platform in SH Train Station.
The first three years in Hogwarts were the most precious time for Harry and all of his friends including me. The bizarre classes and teachers, the exciting adventures, and the breath-taking fighting with Voldemort are attractive. At that time, I didn't have any worry. I believed that the dark side can never win the bright side and my friends would take risks but they would be safe eventually. No matter how evil and strong Voldemort is, all good guys can survive and smile in the end, like in any other children literature, right?
But it turned out I was wrong. Harry was in real danger later on. One by one, his friends lost their lives for him. Life became cruel. My young friends had to face various bothers and pains coming from adult magic world. Some from evil death eaters and stupid politicians, some from the double sides of Order members and even someone who he respects so much, some from himself as an arrogant and angry teenager in adolescence. To be honest, I really didn't enjoy two miserable years in "The Order of the Phenix" and "The half-blooded prince" . It was sort of messy. The love story of Harry and Cho was cheesy like QiongYao's novel. Don't even mention Dumbledore's fatal mistake! How can I imagine the death of our sagacious headmaster!!!!
True friends never give up. I can understand Harry's feeling. There are too many things to bear for a boy at his age. I kept my loyalty and followed him on his long way to destroy all Horcruxes. I would say this time Harry didn't disappoint me. After experiencing terror and heartbreak, making fool and mistake, he got matured. He learned how to control his mind and resist irrational instincts. He got courage to sacrifice himself and strong heart to be a true leader. The bright side finally won, with the cost of so many heroes' sacrifices.
I like the happy ending. Harry got married and became a father. He has a good family and a bright career. And his children will begin their new adventures in Hogwarts, but, in a much safer mode. In a new world, everybody is happy ever after.
Everybody is a Harry Potter in his/her heart, I believe. We suffered from our plain life when we were so young. Each of us wanted to be a special one, The One-who-lived, the One who is destined to be a hero. However, the reality always tough us lessons which may cause us to question ourselves "Am I really the One? Can I succeed?" There would be a tough time, a really tough time. After that, we grew up. We understand something about life, about love, about pain, about the true meaning of "the One". Everybody can be his own hero, as long as he finds his goal to fight. Being a special one for ourselves, we form a family, got a job, live a normal but happy life, just like my friend, Harry Potter.

Eric Schmidt: An Idealistic Pragmatist

By Vivian

Oct. 2010

As the world’s most innovative company, Google is unique in many ways including its management structure, a triumvirate leadership of founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page and CEO Eric Schmidt. Schmidt shares responsibility for Google’s daily operation with Brin and Page, and focuses on the company’s management and administration. He is one of the most influential leaders in the technology and economic world.


Eric Schmidt was born in 1955 in Washington, D.C. He spent most of his childhood in Blacksburg, Virginia, where his father served as the chairman of the Department of Economics in Virginia Tech. He started using computers at the age of fifteen and was soon drawn to that wonder land. In 1972, He entered Princeton University and earned a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering four years later. In 1976, Schmidt went to the graduate school in Computer Science at the University of California, Berkeley. He earned an MS in 1979 for designing and implementing a network linking the campus computer center, and a PhD in 1982 with a dissertation about the problems of managing distributed software development and tools for solving these problems.

Early in his career, Schmidt held a series of technical positions with IT companies. He was hired by Bell Lab and Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) as a student and joined the latter as a junior researcher after graduation from Berkeley. In 1983, he went off to Sun Microsystems, back then a startup founded in 1982, and obtained a position as a manager leading a team of 12 engineers. Over a period of 14 years at Sun, he was gradually promoted to Chief Technology Officer and earned international recognition as the mastermind behind Java, a popular platform-independent programming language.

In 1997 Schmidt made a significant career move by accepting the CEO position in Novell, a company which used to dominate the market for local area network but was betting hard against its competitor Microsoft at that time. As chairman and CEO, his was not only responsible for technology development, but also for the company’s strategic planning and management. Although joining Novell in a tough time, Schmidt turned Novell around with a deft combination of cost reductions, divestitures, and new product rollouts, and by 1998, it was back in the black. However, the internet bust of 2000 resulted in a great slowdown in demand. In 2001, Novell acquired the consulting company, Cambridge Technology Partners, to expand its business into services. Schmidt relinquished Novell’s CEO position and assumed the role of chief strategist.

Recommended by Google’s venture capitalists John Doerr and Michael Mortiz, Schmidt joined Google's board of directors as chairman in March 2001 and became the company's CEO in August 2001. Under his leadership, Google has dramatically scaled its infrastructure from a 200-employee Silicon Valley startup to a powerful corporate with 10,000 employees worldwide with steady revenue.

Role as a Leader

Schmidt is internationally famous as a role model who successfully completed the transition from a computer geek to a capable executive. However, his step-by-step career path, undramatic personal life, and low-key personality make his success story less attractive than those of other top CEOs, such as Apple’s Steve Jobs and Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer. When answering questions in interviews or giving a speech in public, Schmidt always keeps a slow, logic and mild tone of voice, which easily gives the audience the impression that he is not a charismatic leader. This might be a reason why some people question his real contribution and argue that he is just a lucky man being in the right place at the right time.

Nevertheless, I believe Schmidt does play a significant role in the rise of Google. There are three core elements that make him uniquely suited for the role of leader in Google. With strong technical background as well as extensive management and marketing experiences in IT world, Schmidt is ideally suited for the new digital economy. His endorsement of Google’s core values and great collaboration skills ensure the effectiveness of the triumvirate structure and maximize the efficiency of employees. As a visionary pragmatist, Schmidt helps Google move forward by broadening its offerings into new areas while still maintaining a culture of strong innovation.

Extensive Marketing and Management Experience

As a seasoned veteran in IT industry, Schmidt was widely seen as the pair's “adult supervision”. His vast experiences in technology development, management and marketing have been an effective complement to the weakness of impetuous young Google founders, who were tough sells and lack of experience managing big companies.

In his years at Google, Schmidt has helped strengthen the company's business and bring in financial oversight. Three years after he joined Google, a formal management system was formed in the company and Google filed for its initial public offering (IPO) of stock, which brought a $23 billion market capitalization.

To cope with the impact of globalization on economic operations, Schmidt has made decisions to make Google better at international business. In addition to build an international sales force, Google also employs a small army of lawyers with different expertise to avoid costly run-ins with local laws. As a sober businessman, Schmidt clearly sees the necessarily of this expense. From 2008, Google international revenues have surpassed domestic revenues.

Through years, Google’s revenues and net earnings steadily increase. Till now Google, as a stock, still remains one of investors’ favorites. This financial success demonstrates Schmidt’s managing and deal-making skills.

Endorsement of Core Value and Great Collaboration Skills

In spite of a big age different, Schmidt and Google founders actually have a lot in common. They all grew up in liberal academic environment where their fathers served as university professors. All of them are computer geniuses and engineers by training. Graduated from top universities in California, they have common interests on open-source products and computer network. Most of all, they share the same view of money “You can make money without doing evil”, which, I believe, provides a solid base of the triumvirate structure. In 2010, they reached agreement to pull Google out of China, the biggest internet market in the world. For fighting censorship and promoting freedom of information, Google lost up to $600 million in sales.

Schmidt collaborates with his colleagues based on trust and respect since he believes that Google guys, as highly motivated and eminently capable people, don’t like micromanagement, bureaucracy, command, and control.

As a CEO, Schmidt is more inclined to provoke than proclaim. “Google is run by its culture and not by me”, said Schmidt in 2009. In Google, when a key executive decision is reached, all interested parties are invited to the decision making process and are encouraged to share their opinions. Schmidt’s job is to oversee the whole procedure and make timely decisions. This bottoms-up way of decision making usually leads to a better buy in and a better decision.

Google allows employees to spend 20% of time on self-directed projects. To closely connect to Google’s frontline innovators, each week Schmidt and his senior associates spend up to six hours in dialogue with team members from across Google, who believe their projects have great potential. This unique management style has hatched a series of great products like Gmail and Google News.

Forward-looking vision

With huge amounts of ideas and new startups coming out every day, Schmidt is credited for making the right decision to keep Google moving forward.

Schmidt keeps looking for new ways to organize and search for information and tries to gain revenue on most of them. Google has introduced many new and powerful products, such as Google Maps, Google Calendar and Gmail. As part of its expansion, Google has acquired other businesses, including YouTube, Blogger, and AdMob. Google has become from a search engine to an on-line services innovator.

In addition, he looks beyond simple acquisitions to global partnerships to buoy the company’s success; such as the partnership between NASA and Google to incorporate surface photos of Mars and the Moon into Google Earth and the partnership with university libraries, like at University of Michigan, to create a card catalog of every book known to exist available through Google Books.

Schmidt imagines personal devices such as mobile phones will act as true personal assistants. In 2008, Google officially entered mobile phone market by introducing Android, a free, open-source mobile operating system. As of August 4, 2010 Google is activating 200,000 new phones to the Android platform per day. Android has already surpassed Apple to become the biggest handset platform in the United States, the third-biggest worldwide, and by far the fastest growing, bringing revenues to Google


In my opinion, Schmidt has dual personalities: an idealist who believes in concepts like “don’t be evil”, and a pragmatist who cares about financial reports. On the one hand in his whole career life he is trying to maintain a Garden of Eden where seeds of great innovations can grow up. On the other hand, he is working hard to provide continuous supply and resources to those seeds and make sure they can be well taken care of in a fertile environment. His role is more like a protector than a supervisor, a teacher than a manager. Together with the founders of Google, he is seeking to form a unique and idealistic business model which can integrate company revenue and public benefit into one goal. However, this is a challenging task. I am actually quite disappointed to see Google stepping into internet telephone service. Once Google starts to get payments from its users directly, its freedom fighter image will collapse and there will be no difference between Google and its long-term enemy Microsoft. The questions are: will Eric Schmidt eventually abandon his idealist personality when the amount of money reaches an “evil-not evil” threshold? Will Google turn from the light side of the Force to the dark side once it beat all its competitors? Let’s see.


Many thanks to Ms. Julie Anne McNary for her valuable comments and suggestions on this article.

Source Cited:

  1. Eric E. Schmidt-Wikipedia.
  2. Eric Schmidt.
  3. Eric Schmidt Oral History.
  4. Eric E. Schmidt: Legendary Business Leader.
  5. Eric Schmidt: Interview transcript.
  6. Google CEO Eric Schmidt: Good Or Just Lucky?
  7. Google CEO Eric Schmidt: "We Don't Really Have A Five-Year Plan".
  8. Google CEO Eric Schmidt: Android OS Is Profitable, Might Generate $10b Per Year.
  9. Google's Chief Looks Ahead,8599,1541446,00.html
  10. Google China: Hacking bid that quickly grew into a clash of titans.
  11. Google's Management Style Grows Up.
  12. How I Did It: Google’s CEO on the Enduring Lessons of a Quirky IPO.
  13. Janet Lowe. Google Speaks: Secrets of the World's Greatest Billionaire Entrepreneurs, Sergey Brin and Larry Page. Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated, 2009
  14. In Search Of The Real Google.,9171,1158961-1,00.html
  15. Inside Google: Eric Schmidt, the man with all the answers.
  16. Leadership Style Of Google CEO Eric Schmidt.
  17. Meet The Google Guys,9171,1158956,00.html
  18. Sanity check: Has Eric Schmidt finally outmaneuvered Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer?
  19. The Google Management Style.
  20. Who's Really Running Google?

Using Online Poll to Schedule Events

Here is the website where I create an online poll to schedule events:


  1. The available time of the first person to participate in the poll is quite important because the others would just narrow down the time windows.
  2. Set up narrow time slots if possible.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Things to remember when doing business

Once starting to work as a full time employee, I realize how well I was protected by my advisor in school. Now it's time for me to fight on my own.
I hope I can go through the hard time and gradually grow up. So that, one day I can provide protections to others.
My first supervisor is very nice. He taught me several things:
  1. Don't be afraid of making decisions and taking responsibilities.
  2. Let each figure tells its story. If the figure couldn't deliver enough information, edit it or delete it.
  3. Put yourself in clients' shoes.
  4. Treat your email communication as equally important as your oral communication. The customers appreciate a reply from their email messages - it's good business protocol.
  5. Don't neglect details.
  6. Technique writing skill is one of the most important skills in work.
  7. COMMUNICATION! COMMUNICATION!!! COMMUNICATION!!! fully understand and keep tracking
    • your and the other parties' responsibilities
    • customers' needs/expectations
    • any problems/issues that need actions
  8. Always remember your goals. Communication, negotiation, .... everything is for reaching your goals. Being nice, being tough, .... any attitude is for reaching your goals!!
  9. Don't be afraid for facing the aggressive people. They need to reach their goals but so as you. Don't be distracted by their personality or attitude. Focus on your goals. 
  10. Don't cry on split milk. clean up the mess and move on. Keep looking to the future.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Words, phrases, sentences

** is a field that undergoes constant change.
Great progress has been made in the use of technology in**.
A key challenge going forward is **.

Dealing with the nuts and bolts of the project.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Requirements to take P.E. Exam

To take P.E. Exam, one has to meet requirements on
  • Education Background
  • Engineering Experience
  • F.E. Exam
  • (Residency)
Each state acts independently to set its own requirements. States can have widely different requirements in these areas.
Many engineers, who works in U.S. with a H-1B visa, have a M.S. and/or Ph.D. degree from an ABET-accredited university but a B.S. degree from universities outside U.S. They have to contact the state board in order to know how many years of engineering experience they need and what kind of experience qualifies.

The answers to the above two questions vary with personal background and state requirements.

Qualifying Experiences:
  • The state bases its decision on the descriptions of your work experience that you and your references provide. Only experience wherein you have made use of your engineering knowledge will count.
  • Research in graduate school can be qualifying experience. But it depends on what you did.
Years of Qualifying Experiences:
  • In California it is possible to take a Principles and Practice in Engineering examination with only two years of experience after a bachelor's degree, or one year of experience after graduate school. where there is a state-specific structural engineering exam and two additional exams in land surveying and earthquake engineering for civil engineering candidates.
  • In Nevada, college graduates are eligible to take the Principles and Practice exam immediately after graduation and passing the EIT, before acquiring the required experience.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

10 Excuses Your Boss Doesn't Want to Hear

  • Date: July 2nd, 2010
  • Author: Justin James

Ducking responsibility or shifting blame when a project goes wrong is unprofessional — and it won’t win you any points with your boss either. Justin James explains some ways to circumvent the need for excuse making.

There are lots of reasons why a project might not be going well or may even fail. When your boss wants to know why, there is a world of difference between offering an excuse and providing a legitimate reason. In truth, most excuses only make your manager more upset and put the blame on you. Here are 10 common excuses that employees give their managers — and how you can turn them from weak excuses into a way of getting your supervisor to help you resolve the problems before your project is jeopardized.

1: I didn’t understand the assignment

Not every boss has great communication skills. And yes, having a manager who is not good at explaining what needs to be done makes life difficult. At the same time, using your boss’ inability to explain things as an excuse for not doing them just does not fly. If an assignment does not make sense, it’s your responsibility to find out what really has to happen. And if you find yourself in this situation more than once, it is a sign that you need to be extra careful when working with this particular person to get things fully understood.

2: The deadline was impossible

We all know this situation: A manager hands you an assignment with a deadline attached to it. You tell the manager that the deadline can’t be met and you’re told, “I don’t care; make it happen.” When the deadline is missed, you say, “But I told you the deadline was impossible!” and the boss is still angry. The disconnect here is that simply saying that the deadline is not possible is not good enough. As soon as the boss tells you to do it and you passively accept the ridiculous deadline, you make it your responsibility to meet it.

Your best defense is to negotiate a better deadline, and to do that, you need a project plan. The fact is, you always should be able to paint a picture of what a project will entail with some broad strokes anyway, and it is fairly easy to assign some rough estimates of the time to make each step happen. When you show your supervisor that even the most optimistic rough draft of a plan that omits a million minor details shows that it will take three months and they are demanding three weeks, guess what? It is now your manager’s responsibility to deal with the deadline issue. You have turned an opponent into an ally, and no sane boss can hold you accountable for the bad deadline anymore.

3: A valuable resource was not available

A good part of a manager’s job is to ensure that the team has adequate resources in the form of time, money, and equipment. If you are missing a critical resource, your manager needs to know now — not when the project is late or has failed — so that he or she can fix the problem immediately. When you tell your boss ahead of time, it’s not an excuse — it’s asking for help to solve a problem. When you tell your boss after it’s too late, it becomes an excuse and the failure is on you.

4: The requirements shifted

We all know that requirements get changed constantly. All too often, projects undergo the “gold plating” process long after deadlines and success conditions are determined. That being said, it is really bad form to use this as an excuse for failure. It’s up to you to nip these changes in the bud as they come up. With each new requirement, you need to show how it will affect the possibility of meeting deadlines and the defined success conditions and either move the goalposts as the requirements change or don’t allow the change. If you allow new requirements to be added without changing deadlines, you have effectively made it your responsibility to meet the new targets.

5: I have personal issues

We all have personal issues that come up from time to time. But if your personal issues are affecting your projects’ success, you need to either deal with them or get some help with your work. If things have gotten to the point where your boss is asking you, “What is going on here?” it’s too late. Explaining your non-work issues at this point is just going to make your boss even more upset. But if you explain that you are having some troubles as soon as you see they are affecting your work, your boss will be able to make the needed adjustments. Most supervisors would rather shift resources or expectations than try to force someone with an outside issue to be 100 percent.

6: I don’t have enough time

If you do not have the time to do something, no amount of money, motivation, or resources can make it happen. If there is too much on your plate, you need to get rid of some of it or let your manager know you are overwhelmed. If you don’t get any relief, it’s your manager’s problem, not yours if deadlines can’t be met. But like so many of the other situations listed here, it is your responsibility to make it clear that there is a problem as soon as you can, so that adjustments can be made.

7: I don’t know what went wrong

Some projects just fall into a rut and never get out. When you’re doing the project post-mortem, there is no single thing anyone can point to and say, “This is what messed the project up.” All the same, when a project is off the rails, everyone is usually aware of it, even if they don’t know why. This kind of situation can be embarrassing. After all, how can you know that the project is blowing up but not know why? Usually, it’s a case of “death by 1,000 paper cuts.” The project lead had a bad illness and lost a week of time, the servers were down for a day due to hardware failure, the QA person had a death in the family, and so on. All of these reasonable issues can add up to a critical amount of lost work. All too often, we think that if you just keep pushing, maybe the mystery problems will go away and the project will get back on track. But it never actually works out this way. If a project is going south, you have to let people know, even if you don’t know exactly why, so they can adjust expectations.

8: We ran into blockages

Workplaces are filled with people who have different, sometimes contradictory, goals. For example, you might need the QA team to test your application but another team’s project has priority, so your application does not get tested until long after your deadline is missed. These kinds of work blockages happen all the time. If you can’t get the situation sorted out yourself, determine how much delay you will suffer and what your options are and present them to your manager. Armed with that information, your manager will be able to make a decision from there or possibly get priorities straightened out.

9: The only copy of the work got destroyed

If your work is stored on a computer, you have no reason in the world to have only one copy of it. Not only should you be making regular backups, but they should be on different devices in different locations. Back up local files to the network server or work on the network and allow the IT department to handle things. If you think your boss will give you a free pass because the only copy of a critical file was on your laptop, which no longer works after you dropped it, you are dead wrong. In reality, using the “no backups” excuse will have your boss wondering whether you can be trusted with any more projects at all. Back up your work, and you will never have to tell your boss that the dead thumb drive has your only copy of the project.

10: The dog ate my homework

Sometimes, inexplicable events come up that keep you from getting things done. These things happen. Does your boss want to know that your project is late or won’t be done satisfactorily because of these kinds of random issues? Of course not. But sometimes, there simply is nothing that can be done about it, especially when it comes up at the last possible moment. Just roll with the punches on this one.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A kml to shapefile converter

Tool: FWTools
Download link:

At the command line prompt, use the following syntax
Ogr2ogr -f “ESRI Shapefile”

Example 1:
To convert sample.kml located in C:\Test and save the converted shapefile in the same folder,
C:\>Ogr2ogr -f “ESRI Shapefile” C:\Test\sample.shp C:\Test\sample.kml

Things to remember:
1. Only KML files can be converted to *.shp. If the file is in KMZ format, save as “KML” before conversion.
2. The KML file name should not contain white spaces. The best practice is to use “_” or “-“ as separators instead of a space.
3. The coordination system of the shapefiles may need to be changed because Google Earth's native coordination system is
• Geographic Coordinates (latitude/longitude) GCS_WGS_1984
• Datum: D_WGS_1984

Free GIS application

MapWindow GIS Application


MapWindow GIS desktop application is a free, open source, standards-based standalone software package that you can use to view and edit GIS data in many file formats.

The software includes plug-ins for various geoprocessing tasks (e.g. buffer, merge, etc.), watershed delineation, accessing online data sources, and an experimental geodatabase plug-in. The attribute table editor can be used to write simple queries, and there is a complete scripting editor that allows you to write and run scripts in VB.NET and C# directly in the MapWindow program.

Download MapWindow GIS if you need a simple map viewer, or if you want to write your own custom plug-ins to distribute to other users.

The installer includes sample data and is compatible with Windows 98 and up. Source code can be downloaded using SVN code repository.

My Comment:

I really like those plug-in tools.
For example, the coordination system converter is really convenient!
From that GIS Tools menu, select Vector => Reproject a Shapefile.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Text Box tool in Acrobat PDF

Yesterday, I added a comment in a pdf file and tried to changed the font type and color of my comments in the Text Box. I supposed that this can be easily done from the text box properties. Guess what?! There is no such options! (Figure 1)
Thanks to Internet, I found the solution provided by someone who met the same problem. The tips is -------------
Use the hot key "Ctrl+e"!
The Ctrl e function can bring up the Text Box Text Properties, where font type color and other properties can be changed. (Figure 2).
I just don't understand the User Interface developers' design concept. Why not make everybody's life easier?

Figure 1: Text Box Properties (Right Mouse Click)

Figure 2: Text Box Text Properties (Ctrl+e)

Sunday, January 31, 2010

How to make animated gifs?

I just learned an easy way to create animated gif pictures:
Tool: GIMP ( GNU Image Manipulation Program)
Prepare several pictures as the frames, e.g. p1.png, p2,png.
Step 2:
Step 3:
File->Open as Layers->"p2.png"
Step 4:
Step 5:
Save as->"test.gif"->Save as Animation->Export->
Adjust the parameters, for example
"loop forever"
"Frame disposal where unspecifed: One frame per layer (replace)"

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Upcoming Conferences in Transportation Field

  1. the Hong Kong Society for Transportation Studies:
  2. Conference List in Kevin's website:

Monday, January 25, 2010

GIS Data




Other regions:

Scripts for ESRI software:

Freeware (Forestry GIS)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Where to find traffic data in Maryland

1. CATT Lab
Traffic Data Extraction Software (Web Based)

Internet Traffic Monitoring System (I-TMS)

GIS File Download Center