What is the cause for the degradation of environment?
Capitalism, corruption, consuming society? - OVERPOPULATION!
Please, save the Planet - kill yourself...

Monday, December 26, 2011

Rally against mr. Putin 24 Dec in St. Petersburg

Rally 24-th of December 2011 in St. Petersburg

The rally in St. Petersburg was far not as big as in Moscow unfortunately. There were about 3,000 of people but they came and leave constantly, so the actual number of participants might be 6,000 or so.

The problem is that there is no leader amongst the opposition and actually the only thing that they have in common is a wish to get rid of Putin and his gang. Also the opposition (al least that was presented in St. Petersburg) have no stomach. The shouted: "Put Churov on trial!" and only "Putin to resighn!" when it is obvious that Churov is a Putin's puppet! So Putin is the main criminal and he must be jailed! But I deed shouted: "Put Putin on trial!". I really hope that some day he will pay for all his crimes against Russian people.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Pulseaudio: 6 channels issue solved

I hate Pulseaudio! This piece of crap never worked ever out of the box as it should. Usually I just disable it or remove completely. But in openSUSE 12.1 disabling or removing pulseaudio didn't work.

The issue: my 5.1 system sounds crappy (and subwoofer doesn't work) when I use Amarok (or flash audio from the web) and pulseaudio is enabled; but VLC and other videoplayers are able to play nice 5.1 sound. If I disable pulseaudio Amarok sounds great (and subwoofer works), but videoplayers are unable to play 5.1 - only stereo (VLC claims that audio device is busy and no workaround form web were unable to fix it).

So I decided to stick with pulseaudio, and had to make all 6 channels to work for stereo files. I've made following changes in /etc/pulse/daemon.conf:
enable-lfe-remixing = yes
default-channel-map = front-left,front-right,rear-left,rear-right,front-center,lfe

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Interactive Round Table on Separate Waste Collection in St. Petersburg, Russia

The other day I took part in a very interesting event - an interactive round table on a separate waste collection in the city (En), that was organized by Musora.Bolshe.Net (Waste.No.More) NGO. There were representatives of the St. Petersburg city administration, waste treatment companies, hotel business, cleaning companies, NGOs, mass media and science (a humble me).

It was great that there were no presentations from the experts, etc. The main point was the direct and open discussions (of course it was moderated) about the existing issues and challenges in the field of separate waste collection and recycling and the ways to solve them.

The second part of event was a development of waste related projects in small groups. Every one took part in development 3 projects and the group members were different each time. Of course the plans itself are quite useless: what kind of plan can be developed in 15 minuets? But the shearing of knowledge and opinions with others and development of the common view at the issue helps to get new ideas. 

I was lucky to work in the same teams with representatives of the city committees. Unfortunately they are not open-minded enough and I think they do not fully understand the main economical and legislation obstacles that prevents separate waste collection or not motivated enough to overcome it. But seems that they are not hopeless.

It was very interesting to discover that many people are interested in (speaking professional language) GIS-portal dedicated to shearing information about locations of relatively small amount of recyclables, that will let waste producers and recyclers find each other for the common benefit. So if you were looking for ideas for a start-up or expanding of your GIS-business - here you are ;-) Seems that I should develop my web-GIS skills...

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

How to update BIOS for free if you don't have a CPU

In the situation when you need to update BIOS to let your new CPU work and you (and your friends) do not have another CPU that would be able to start the system, you have to pay for service to so called "experts". In my case prices varied from 20 to 50 Euro... for this 5-minuets work O_o. New CPUs have the same price...

Solution is quite simple actually. You just have to buy new suitable CPU ;-) I've purchased the cheapest model for 25 Euro, used it for a 5 minuets to update BIOS and then just returned it in the perfect condition to the warranty department of the shop where I've bought it. Now I have BIOS updated and my 25 Euro back. The only expenditures were for the public transportation - about 1 Euro.

Relation Between Fires and Distanse to the Nearest Road (Recalculated)

As you may already know, I'm a proud owner of AMD FX-8150 8-core CPU. And I've purchased it not for gaming reasons, but for science. My previous CPU was painfully slow with such calculations as determination of the relation between fires and distance to the nearest highway. I even didn't try to perform that calculations on the whole dataset of the roads mapped in OSM in Leningrad region. But now I can do this!

With the new CPU I've recalculated previous distribution (with the same data) in dependence only on highways and performed new calculation on the whole roads dataset. Some numbers first: 
  • 6,990 - number of fire points detected by FIRMS for the last 10 years in Leningrad region;
  • 10,966 - number of the highway features used as highways for calculations;
  • 87,422 -number of features from whole dataset of roads;
  • 2,3 Gb RAM and a single core were consumed by R during calculations for the whole dataset.
Results:
Recalculated fire distribution for the highways
Recalculated values for the highways are different to the acquired at the last time despite the data was the same. But there were hardware update and most important - software updates for R and its packages (OS was updated too). But this graph looks far more reasonable than the previous one.

Lets see what we've got for the whole roads dataset (I will compare it to the graph above).
Distribution calculated for the whole dataset of roads
The maximum distance from road decreased almost in to times: from 41 to 26 kilometres. The distance for the highest values decreased accordingly: a rapid decreasing stops at 7 kilometres and for only highways it was 18 kilometres.

So the first 5 kilometres from the road are the most probable zone fore the fire event. This distance is easily covered on foot in two hours. Another evidence of the massive anthropogenic impact on fire starting.

If I will ever lay hands on the road data from the topographic maps (here OSM data used) I will perform the calculation again to get the most precise data.

Conclusion: FX-8150 worth buying )))

Monday, November 28, 2011

Sverdlovskaya Region, Russia: a Field Survey in Autumn (Part 1)

While every normal environmental scientists perform their field surveys in Summer (unless there is a need to do this in a specific time of the year) I had to do mine when the weather was not that good. In a five days my colleague and I had to collect land monitoring archives of 3 districts of Sverdlovskaya region, soil samples for analysis for heavy metals concentrations and take pictures of the disturbed lands.


Hit the "read more" button to read the rest of the story...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

AMD 8-core processor: finally I can use it!

Over a month ago a motherboard of my 4 years old desktop died right in the middle of the important work. I had to make a decision whether I should repair it or buy a new PC. At that moment I've already faced a lack of performance and knew that a simple upgrade will not help much. But I had no intentions to spend money for purchasing completely new PC. So I decided to buy new powerful CPU, a corresponding motherboard, and a lot of fast RAM.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Wuala vs Dropbox: a decision making

After sudden death of my computer I've understood the necessary of the backup storage for the most important files. Of course I would like to store hundreds of Gbs of my GIS projects, but no such option is available for free. 

Actually there were no problem at all with retrieving data that I need for the current project. I just went to the friend of mine with my hard drive, connected it to his desktop and copied about 40 Gbs of crucial data to my laptop. Seems Ok, but there are some files that I would like to have now, but I need another 3 hours for traveling to get it or buy some SATA adapters (and I don't want to by something just to use it once).

The sizes of these files are actually small: my scientific library, my articles, my writings maybe some shp-files. So common free of charge 2 Gb of space that is provided by several companies would suit me well. There are a lot of options nowadays but I limited it to a Dropbox and a Wuala. I need to pick up one... Let's see...

Dropbox do not offer RPM for openSUSE, Wuala do. Dropbox requires Nautilus to be installed (when I prefer Dolphin and KDE), and Wuala don't. Conclusion: Dropbox sucks, Wuala.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

QGIS symbology set

It's been a while since I've updated the status of a notation conventions for QGIS project. Let's fix it! There is a beta-version of the symbology available. See the screen-shots below (all are clickable), and if you like it -  DOWNLOAD the set, use it and provide a feedback!

Fills

How to use:

1. Use QGIS 1.7 or higher.
2. Go to Settings->Style manager.
3. Hit "Import" button.
4. Provide path to the "symbology-ng-style-eng.xml" file in this archive.
5. Pick up needed symbols or choose all of them and hit "Import" button.

Note that there should not be any red circles in symbols after import is complete. If you will see red circles (or do not see some of the symbols despite their names present) it means that paths to some of the SVG icons are broken. You should fix them manually by editing "symbology-ng-style.xml" file LOCATED AT YOUR USRER'S QGIS FOLDER by copying according paths from "symbology-ng-style-eng.xml" file FROM THIS ARCHIVE.

Numbers in the end of the symbol's name is a scale it is designed for (it is for printing purposes). For example "...50_100k" means that this symbol is suitable for printing in 1:50 000 and 1:100 000 scale.

Lines

Lines continue

Points

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Study on Illegal Dumpimg Prediction

There is an interesting note about GIS model for illegal dumping occurrence prediction. Researches had an assumption that high accessibility of the site and its low visibility will determine the probability of illegal dumping occurrence. They reported that unfortunately this assumption was wrong and there are no significant influence of these factors on illegal dumping. 

Actually such result is not a surprise for me. Most of the huge dumping sites in St. Petersburg and Leningrad region I'm aware of do not have very high accessibility, I would say that their accessibility is somewhat moderate. Relatively low accessibility affects "visibility" of the dumping sites and I think that these two parameters are correlated. Also it isn't clear if researchers defined the amount of waste that separates illegal dump from just litter. It seems that they haven't used such parameter so their studies could be affected by litter, which can be found almost anywhere.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

No Place for Russia

There is no such country as "Russia" in the witpress registration form))) Romania is absent too... Still I'm happy that Rwanda is not forgotten ;-)


Friday, September 2, 2011

Responsibility of Scientists in Climate Change "Issue"

At the the last week I've spent 5 days amongst Baltic Sea related scientists (there were almost 600 of them) at 8-th Baltic Sea Scientific Congress. The congress was interesting indeed even if I'm not a marine or meteorological scientist. There were a plenty of presentations on climate, winds, curves, salinity modelling, environmental risk assessment and governance (a lot of scientists do have problems with risk assessment). And I had a poster about illegal dumping monitoring.

But I would like to show you the presentation of Hans von Storch about "Knowledge generation vs. decision processes - the issue of regional climate service" which I liked the most. It concerns responsibility of the scientists for the knowledge they provide.  Let me start from the end of the presentation and if you will find yourself interested in further reading - hit the "read more" button. All pictures are clickable.


Friday, August 26, 2011

Illegal Dumping and Cadastre

As a specialist in land monitoring and cadastre I always suspected that uncertainty in legal status of the land parcel may provoke illegal dumping at such parcel. One evidence I collected during the study on implementation of high resolution imagery for monitoring of illegal dumping - illegal landfill occurred on the land parcel with no particular legal status. Today I found another one - illegal dump existed for several years because the land parcel owner wasn't determined.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Relation Between Fires and Distanse to the Nearest Highway


Instead of introduction

Just for fun I decided to investigate relationship between fires intensity in Leningrad region (and St. Petersburg as well) and distance to the nearest road in order to gain the evidence of the major influence of the anthropogenic factor on fire starting.

Materials and methods

Data used:
Software used: QGIS; R.

OSM data about major roads of Leningrad region was used to create a distance map. Distance map and data about locations of the fires detected from 2001 to June 2011 were used as arguments for the R "rhohat" function of "spatstat" package in order to investigate dependence of fires intensity on distance to the nearest highway.
Results and discussion

Firstly lets look at the map of the fires intensity distribution in space below (this map is rough and was created just to demonstrate the situation in general and it wasn't used for the computations described below). Due to usage of the roads at this map will be a hinder for fire data I used railways instead.

Rough fires intensity distribution in Leningrad region


As you can see, fires intensity is [somewhat] related to the location of the railways: note that there are almost no fires at the east side of the map where railways net is sparse (north side of the map is similar, but there is Ladoga Lake located). Ofcourse railways are not the cause for the fires by themselves, but I suppose that in this particular case this can be evidence of the significant human influence on the fire events.

I believe you think that if we want to find clear evidence of the human influence on starting fire than we should investigate density of the population and compare it to the fires intensity. Fair enough, but you may do it by yourself using official data if you want. I will not do it because the results will be flawed. There is an issue with  population - there is no data for the actual population of Leningrad region in summer (late spring and early autumn as well) time - the time of fires. At this time a lot of people from St.Petersburg go to their summer houses in Leningrad region (take into account that the population of St. Petersburg is 5 times higher than a population of Leningrad region) and you have to estimate population of the region accordingly, and it is far not a trivial task.

So we have to investigate not the population density by itself, but the proximity of the areas that were on fire to the population. We will measure the proximity as a distance to the nearest highway. Ofcourse it is better to use all available roads for such research, but if we will do so, R will calculate it for a very long time (there are over 80 000 features in the shp-file) - I've stopped the process after 10 hours of waiting. So I've used only major highways (with "primary", "secondary", "trunk", "tertiary" and "motorway" attributes in OSM) - over 10 000 features.

rhohat{spatstat} function was used to create the following graph:

Dependence of the fires distribution on the distance to the nearest highway
The graph is somewhat weird (and we will talk about it) but it is obvious that intensity of fires have maximum at 2-3 kilometres from the highway and then goes down. So we have the piece of evidence that anthropogenic factor has a major influence on the fire events indeed.

There is an interesting "sinusoid" from 18th to 38th kilometre. Narrow gray stripe demonstrates possible error so I assume that this graph is reliable. I need to explain it somehow. My wife who is better mathematician than I tells that the best explanation is a shitty computation. Well, it is possible. But I have another opinion.

Possible explanations:
  1. Remember that we left more than 70 000 roads outside our calculations for this graph and there are a lot of roads which are not recorded in OSM. I suppose that if we would use almost complete dataset of roads in Leningrad region and more powerful computer than mine we would have more adequate graph where this sinusoid may disappear.
  2. Proximity, estimated here is not only a proximity for "occasional fire starters" but also a proximity for fire fighters. If a fire starts far away from the road it is more difficult to fight it. So this is about fire data and how we treat it for the computation: it is possible that fire events are continuously less frequent as we move away from the highway, but single event produce fire which covers larger area than average due to it is hard to fight it quickly, and this single event produce more "hotspots" (which were used for this mini-research) than average event.
Conclusions

We have got a strong evidence that anthropogenic factor plays a major role as cause for fire in Leningrad region: intensity of fires riches its maximum at distance of 2-3 km away from the road and then goes down.

"Sinusoid" between 18th and 38th kilometres may be caused by insufficiency of the road data used. Calculations should be repeated with more comprehensive data. Also it may be necessary to pre-process fire data in order to replace "hotspots" related to a single fire event with the single point i.e. to make it one point for one fire.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

R spgrass6 Library Installation in openSUSE: workaround

I've encountered a problem with connecting R and GRASS in openSUSE to multiply their power. "spgrass6" library was unwilling to install properly. Here is a workaround for this issue.

"spgrass6" needs libxml2-dev (can be found here) package for installation (actually this  package is required by "XML" library that needed for "spgrass6") so install it ;-)

If you will try to install "spgrass6" normally (as root), you may receive the message (first two lines of installation logs) that this library will be installed in '/root/R/x86_64-unknown-linux-gnu-library/2.13’ because 'lib' is not defined which means that this library will be available only for root. So you need to perform installation as user and everything will be fine.

Related post: R-commander installation in openSUSE

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Climate Change: Mass Killing - Simple And With Impunity

"I have severe doubts that we can support even two billion if they all live like citizens of the U.S. The world can support a lot more vegetarian saints than Hummer-driving idiots."
~ Paul Ehrlich

There is an interesting post about estimated amount of years for each country to cease their green house gases emission. Most of the countries have to do it in the following 10 years... And there are loud words about "climate racism" and "climate genocide" with reference to some Climate Genocide. They asseverate that
"Both Dr James Lovelock FRS (Gaia hypothesis) and Professor Kevin Anderson ( Director, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Manchester, UK) have recently estimated that only about 0.5 billion people will survive this century due to unaddressed, man-made global warming. Noting that the world population is expected to reach 9.5 billion by 2050, these estimates translate to a Climate Genocide involving deaths of about 10 billion people this century, mostly non-Europeans, this including about 6 billion under-5 year old infants, 3 billion Muslims in a terminal Muslim Holocaust, 2 billion Indians, 1.3 billion non-Arab Africans, 0.5 billion Bengalis, 0.3 billion Pakistanis and 0.3 billion Bangladeshis. Already 18 million people die avoidably every year in Developing countries (minus China) due to deprivation and deprivation-exacerbated disease and man-made global warming is already clearly worsening this global avoidable mortality holocaust. However 10 billion avoidable deaths due to global warming this century will yield an average global annual avoidable death rate of 100 million per year"
...errr... SO WHAT?!!!... Look around guys! There are more than 7 billions of us at this poor planet and we are consuming it. More people means need of more resources for food, more fields, more coffins. There is an OVERPOPULATION and you don't have to be genius to notice it! If so called Global Warming or Climate Change will lead to major human population decrease than it's a blessing, not a blight!

Again: "...Climate Genocide involving deaths of about 10 billion people this century, mostly non-Europeans...". Of course most of them won't be Europeans! Look at the map (taken form here):
Most Populous Countries

Then take a look at this graph (taken from here):
World Population Growth for Developing and Industrialised Regions
Who is responsible for overpopulation? - Developing countries... I assume that it would be not fare if "..the most of them would be Europeans..." If by the end of the century there will only 0.5 billion people remain, than we will just fit to our planet's capacity for the humans (taking into account that some of us consume more than others).

Back to the so called climate change. I'm environmentalist, so I'm pleased that there are a lot of activities about ceasing of the green house gases emission. But on the other hand I'm scientist, not a climate scientist, but environmental one (I'm ecologist and geographer), so I my opinion is that CO2 is not the threat we must fight with. I have some scientific subscriptions and it is always painful for me to see that the major part of the world's environment research are dedicated to this "problem" of climate change. People could do the real job, but it is easier to find founding for the "climate change" research... A fellow misanthrope wrote a nice post about this political game. And you should see the video on that page.

Finally here you are another site of an open-minded person about overpopulation (with some awesome quotes by the way).

P.S. Now I wonder whether I should turn off my computer at night or not... Seems that in the long term it will be better for environment to let it work ;-)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

About Risks

I'm looking for the approaches for the environmental risks estimation at the given area. I have my own ideas for the current task, but it is always interesting to know what other people do.

Today I acquainted myself with a master thesis on a subject of spatial analysis of epidemiology of some disease. I was curious because it was about risk mapping. But I was totally disappointed. The guy didn't mention the definition for the "risk" term he used and it is quite obvious why. Instead of the risk assessment (which implies monetary estimation of the probability of undesired event) he estimated the probability of contracting disease... The thesis is good actually, but the guy did much lesser job than one should when he studies risks.

The same shit exists in Russian legislation. It defines "environmental risk" only as s probability of event that harms environment. So for example if I'm studying risks of the fire at illegal dumps then I can assess just a probability of such events at the given region and don't bother myself with possible damage estimation...

Remember: [Risk] = [Probability] * [Damage]. If you do not estimate damage - you are calculating something else, so name it accordingly.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Edit QGIS symbols names in symbology-ng-style.xml

If you will ever edit names of your symbols directly in symbology-ng-style.xml do it via find and replace method, because if symbol has markers, its name will be repeated several times in different parts of the file: for every SVG marker which is used in symbol.

Monday, July 25, 2011

WorldView-2 Imagery for Illegal Dumping Monitoring

Digital Globe published all research papers that was submitted to 8-Brand Challenge. And you can find mine there ;-)

Yes, this research on Illegal Dumping Monitoring With Implementation of WorldView-2 Imagery isn't brilliant (my skills in remote sensing and English could be better), but if you are interested in illegal dumping monitoring it may provide you with some insights. And don't hesitate to contact me if you would like to cooperate in illegal dumping researches.

One of the most interesting finding of the research is that it is hard to distinguish illegal landfill from the construction site (which is crucial for St. Petersburg). So it is necessary to use cadastral data to determinate type of the land use of the land parcel (cadastre contains information if there are construction works at the given parcel).
Mean values of digital numbers for Illegal Landfill,Construction Site and Constructions (buildings) at WV-2 imagery.  

Also I wasn't able to test Change Detection method (using Non-Homogeneous Future Difference index calculation method developed for WV-2) properly, because I haven't ordered multi-temporal imagery in the first place... But seems that it can provide some advantages. See the paper for more information.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Militant Atheism in Action

The idea of the militant atheism inspired me.  If in the past religious fellows tried to tell me about some god I just turned away and ignored them. But I decided that these people deserve a chance to witness the power of an atheistic point of view. I think that it is not fare to leave these poor religious people remain in darkness of ignorance.

One of the gods brought two lost souls to me today. Poor fellows were jehovah's witnesses. They tried to tell me about the god, but instead they had to listen an inconvenient truth about religion... Unfortunately I told them about the evidences of the relation between low intellect quality, poor education and religiosity too early and they became very upset about that, obviously because they were not able to object. And I want to tell you that they were poorly educated indeed - they thought (despite they have to know a lot about the bible) that original bible's language was Latin... And I wish I knew that rate of mental illness amongst jehovah's witnesses is 4 times higher than amongst other population before I started to write this post, so I could share this knowledge with them and maybe save their health!
They understood that they won't be able to recruit me and tried to go away. But I thought to myself: "WTF? Me and other people are being bothered by these witnesses for so many years - no way I will give up so easily! They deserve enlightenment!!!" So I chased them and continued to tell them about Dawkins and about suffering which is caused by religion to believers and atheists, etc. I stopped only when they started to run ...

Hope that they were distracted enough and were unable to bother other people with their bullshit at least for today.

So guys, if you will encounter religious fanatics in future - don't ignore them, but try to convince them to became an atheists. And don't give up when they will start to run away - chase them! They deserve enlightenment!!!

UPD: the next day I had another conversation with jehovah's witnesses via entrance door intercom. Seems they have summer worsening or something... I was able to prove them that they are partially responsible for the deforestation (their useless literature need a lot of wood) and that they are actually bothering people. The most precious is that they agreed that god will punish people responsible for deforestation and those who bother other people))) Also they told me that there is an "unsubscribe" option from their sect option. Will see If they'll fuck around again.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Living in USA is Bad for Your Health Too

I posted about increase of the health risks in Russia recently, but the situation in rest of the world isn't much better and USA is an example. The richest country of the world actually is the least place I would like to live. The cause is that if you'll look deeper - it is the same as Russia (and I think in future Russia will be very much alike US), but corruption is legalised (through the lobby institution) and religion de-facto took the upper hand in the temporal power. 

Legalised corruption is worse than a regular because it is harder to fight it. If the mighty one do not like the law he pays for the authorities to close their eyes, but when corruption is legalised it is more efficient to pay for changing of the law. Such law changes were paid by oil and gas companies (and Bush administration got some nice revenue) and it is possible for them to avoid laws for air and water protection... And here the story of the "Gasland" documentary starts (cool thematic map on that site by the way).

Have you ever seen the water on fire? Of course you remember about the explosion and the oil spill on the BP's platform and burning oil on the surface of the sea. But what about the tap water? Scary?

I suggest you watch the "Gasland" documentary and not jus because it is about environmental issues, but because the film itself is great! Especially I loved the moments with cool maps and space imagery. There are plenty of them and they help to understand the scale of the disaster

For now here is the trailer:

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Two Fingers Scrolling Issue Turned to be an Awesome Feature (HP ProBook 4520s with openSUSE 11.4)

We've  bought HP ProBook 4520s for my wife recently. It came with SLED 11 SP1 preinstalled. The hardware and preinstalled software worked just fine, but due to the lack of the software in repositories designed for SLED, lack of information in web about it's several aspects it was decided that openSUSE 11.4 should be installed. So now it is much easier to get needed software, but on the other hand hardware issues appeared. Drivers from official HP site available only for SLED, so there are issues with WiFi button, "Unsupported hardware" watermark from AMD, and the most annoying - flawed two fingers scrolling. 

The issue is that two finger scrolling works ones in a 20 attempts or so, which means it is completely useless, and emulation of the right mouse button click (which requires two fingers as well) is challenging and you will need some training to perform it. "Psynaptics" installation brought no help, guess touch pad drivers settings need some customization... I was too bored to search for solution. But occasionally I was able to find a workaround for this issue: you just have to use your thumb (its outer side) instead! Seems the length of the continuous flesh  matters. This move is quite natural and actually is more convenient than two finger usage because you don't have to change position of your hand, and wrist stays where it lies! The same benefit is for the right mouse button click emulation - you just tap with the outer side of your thumb - this shit was never easier before! The minor bug became an awesome feature!

There is no way I would want to fix initial issue from this moment! :-)

That's how it looks like:
Right mouse button emulation (click to view animation)
Scrolling (click to view animation)


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Living in Russia is Bad for Your Health

There was a link to the interesting research in one of my e-mail subscriptions today. The book "The New Profile of Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis in Russia: A Global and Local Perspective: Summary of a Joint Workshop" brought my attention because of my nationality. I decided to check it out. Of course I had no intentions to read the whole research, but I was curious about graphs and pictures. Here you are one the scary one:
HEALTHCARE MINISTRY WARNS: LIVING IN RUSSIA IS BAD FOR YOUR HEALTH!

Friday, July 8, 2011

FIRMS for Detection of Fires at Illegal Dumps

Today I've acquired another evidence that FIRMS data can be used for monitoring of fires at illegal dumps. Of course I was sure it is possible and I was able to detect fires occurred at one of the landfills in St. Petersburg, but I had no evidences that fires occurred next to illegal dumps with known [to me] location were indeed fires at illegal dumps, because I do not have an information about dumps age and FIRMS accuracy about 1 km and exceeds common size of dump, which is about couple of dozens or hundreds of meters, so there is no way I could insist that fire points next to illegal dumps were actually fires at illegal dumps.

But I've found some good (actually - bad) news today. There is a note about fires at two illegal dumps in Leningrad region. Look what we've got:



Despite no points located at the illegal dumps directly they lie within 1 km zone from the borders of dumps and the news show that these fires are actually dump fires. The bad thing is that these fires lasts for a several days, but were detected just one and two times.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Fire at the "Krasny Bor" (a lanfill for hazardous waste)

There was a fire at the landfill for hazardous waste "Krasny Bor". First of all it is not a big secret that hazardous waste is being "incinerated" (of course it isn't proper incineration, it is just an activity to free some space for a new waste) there, so specialists were not surprised that a fire occurred.

It is interesting and revealing that
"specialists of Rosprirodnadzor became aware about the fire at the "Krasny Bor" landfiil via mass-media"
LOL... but actually it isn't fun at all...

Sunday, June 19, 2011

3 cool events of the week

There were 3 very interesting events on this week (during my official vacation):
  • a Russian - Finnish workshop dedicated to our project related to management of hazardous part of household waste.
  • An "International" conference named "An Environmental Equilibrium"; and...
  • OSM mapping party in Volhov town.
A workshop passed as always: Russians posed themselves as know-all persons (despite no one was prepared because all the materials were in English...), talked a lot but ineffective; and Finnish did the real job. For the first time in my life I had to be a parallel Russian-Finnish and a Finnish-Russian translator. A hard job, I have to admit...

"An Environmental Equilibrium" conference (which first day I missed because of the workshop) exceeded my expectations... a little, actually, but nevertheless. The funniest thing was that the first face I saw when entered the lecture hall was the face of my scientific adviser, who new that I will participate but didn't tell me that he will be a participant too O_o. He leaved quickly so we were unable to talk.

There were not as many people as expected (because of the summer time and a poor feedback from organisers, who didn't provided participants with the time table in advance, I suppose the main part of scientists who sanded papers preferred to be somewhere else) - organisers even had to merge together all the sections because of the lack of speakers. The good thing was that the publications were ready and I was able to enjoy my article on the subject of illegal dumping monitoring at St. Petersburg with implementation of high-resolution satellite imagery. The bad thing was that my scientific adviser had already left the conference when I demonstrated my presentation.

An unexpected finding was that the map in my Garmin, which expected to be fresh, had a poor an outdated information about location of the conference and OSM was also poor, but up to date.

OSM mapping party in Volhov was my first mapping party. Despite there were few  participants (actually if there were more of them I wouldn't be able to participate at all because in that case party would took place a week earlier, when I was on vacation in Narva... and mapped it; collected data became more important due to imagery for Narva won't be available soon) and heavy rain (from time to time) we were able to survey western part of town.

After 2 hours of mapping we gathered at the cafe to discuss our survey. I've made an attempt to find an answer for the the question about mapping managed green areas, but it seems that I'm the only one who care.

The most unpleasant part was an attention from drunken ex-prisoner in cafe, who started to ask questions about our activities and then begged for money for beer. In Narva my wife and I brought attention of the local drunkards while survey too...

In the end we had a nice attraction on board of Zverik's jeep - a survey of the Russian roads ;-)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

OSM, GIS-LAB.info and QGIS for EDUCATION

Current situation map (click to enlarge)
I decided to acquire a diploma of The Baltic University in Sustainable Town Planning (master course). We had a practical task to study a district of St. Petersburg of our choice. Spatial planning is inconceivable without maps. But for every map you need a source and if the information in this source is incomplete you have to add it yourself.

A noise pollution map (click to enlarge)
The plan was borne quickly. I already had a GPS (because if you are a geographer it isn't cool not to have one); I was aware of the OpenStreetMap existence and already used its data provided by GIS-LAB.info as a complete project for QGIS. All I needed is to take look at the district at OSM, add needed information to OSM and simply download ready to use base map from GIS-LAB.info.

Of course it wasn't that simple (there were tagging issues in OSM, missing objects in ready to use projects, and the project had to be significantly customised), but in the end chosen district became one of the most detailed in St. Petersburg and I was able to create cool maps ;-)

As a conclusion I would suggest for the spatial planning lecturers to use this practice of OSM utilisation through contribution for the student's practical tasks: they will improve their GPS skills, their work will be useful for other people (OSM will became more comlete), also students will learn something about Creative Commons licenses and will learn how to attribute their maps properly. 



Map for development (click to enlarge)

Friday, June 3, 2011

"Environment" TV-broadcast: a garden on the roof

Excursion on the roof (prof. Berg is in the centre)
This time broadcast was mainly about the possibilities of the gardening on roofs of the city.  There were an excursion for Russian and Swedish students to the unique roof garden in St. Petersburg situated at Pulkovskaya st., 9 k.2, near Zvezdnaya metro station. Swedish students were led by prof. Berg from University Uppsala, who is the founder of Sustainable Town Planning master course for The Baltic University A Regional Network

a green house
I supposed to take an interview with prof. Berg, but due to issues with TV-team and professor's hour late arrival the plan was ruined. But still we were able to visit this garden on the roof. By the way, the professor was in the cowboy hat - I've never seen any professor in a cowboy hat before)))

There are some clickable pictures here, they will demonstrate how this garden looks like.
a random view

another random view

a random view again ;-)

Back to the broadcast. The guest of the studio was an expert in land management related legislation and a director of something))) Unfortunately I don't remember his name, but I wish I wrote it down. This guy will be the head of the Committee for Environmental Safety and Natural Resources in two or three month (of course he will - he is a member of talent pool and has a sighed recommendation from Gryzlov himself).

The committee "suffer" a loss of its top management due to corruption scandals (one was caught by the hand violating the law and another wasn't able to explain how it is possible that his expenditures are far above his incomes). I'm glad that corruptionists were banished, because this committee was the worst place to visit. I know it for sure: they've emptied a shit tank on me... twice. The last time I was there, Delarov (the one who wasn't able to explain expenditures) tried to extort money from me for the information on illegal dumping in Leningrad region.

Hope the committee will have a brighter future now.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

"Environment" TV-broadcast: waste-treatment plant in St. Petersburg

I had another TV experience last Thursday (previous story here). This time we talked about waste-treatment plant which is going to be build near St. Petersbourg by some Greek company. The main issue is that contest for the project of the plant they won was closed to public review, so there is no information on technology or estimated costs for the waste treatment for the population. Also there is no information on the environmental impact assessment. The contest itself was announced in England O_o and main negotiations took part in Germany O_o... So obviously the whole project is the essence of the corruption in Russia. But really bad news is that this plant will incinerate waste...

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Responsibility in Spatial Planning

Currently I have a part-time job in a small "institute" for spatial planing (I highly doubt that I will keep working for them any longer) as an ecologist. It has several challenges such as unappreciated and low paid labour; low overall qualification in GIS (despite a great deal of work related to GIS); top management do not give a fuck about quality of project, workers, etc. and only cares about deadlines; master plan creation != scientific approach; most of the are relatively cheep nowadays because all the big territories have their master plans.
    Actually, the last point is a problem only in minds of top management and other workers - I have a different opinion. These small projects (for the smallest municipalities) are a great advantage to demonstrate an ultimate modern scientific, sustainable and open-minded approach to spatial planing and to develop skills of the young workers (more than 90% of employees are younger than 30). But the general approach for to this relatively cheap contracts is to do somewhat and somehow, they think that small municipalities (opposite to the entire regions) are not cool, that everything is the same there, they are not worthy efforts... And here the responsibility starts.

    A lot of people are not aware about sustainable development. And I believe that most of people in spatial planing industry in Russia do not know what these words mean. The key words to understand sustainable development are "responsibility" (to nature and people) and "quality of life": we are responsible for everything that happening around. We are  responsible for quality of our lives, quality of lives of people around, quality of lives of people we are working for (consumers of goods and services, provided by our labour)... And here responsibility starts.

    A role of spatial planing in sustainability must be recognised - that's where sustainable decisions should be implemented in the first place, because master plans are an official document and a basis for development of the region or municipality.

    Pride is the most serious of the 7 deadly sins and the source for others. I'm an atheist but I can't reject the wisdom. Isn't pride the root of the opinion that small municipalities are not worthy efforts in spatial planning? Or the maybe it is stupidity?

    Ok. Which of the following proud statements is more probable?
    1. We were able to create a solid, comprehensive land use plan for the entire region.
    2. We were able to create a solid, comprehensive land use plan for the local municipality.
    Of course it is #2! Larger area guarantees only greater amount of work and a greater butthurt - not the greater achievements. Only spatial planing for the local municipalities (which seems significant on the global scale) is able to make a difference. Just think about it: creation of the spatial planing documentation is very expensive for small municipalities, so it will be too difficult (because it is expensive) for them to make changes in this documentation. Documentation on spatial planing is very important, because will determine development of this communities for the next couple of decades so if there is no good strategy proposed, then municipalities will suffer. On the other hand no good strategy will be proposed in the situation when the job is treated as unworthy. That means that shitty documentation will guarantee shitty life for small municipalities for the next 20 years.

    It is another illustration of the principle that in the world driven by money reach will multiply their wealth and poor will grow poorer.
    Conclusions
    1. Do not treat your clients as unworthy just because they do not have enough money to feed your greed, or the project is much smaller than your egotism. 
    2. If you are unable to find a challenge in lesser project, it means you are not skilled or qualified enough for the job. 
    3. Be responsible, especially if well-being of thousands of people depends on you.

    Sunday, May 15, 2011

    QGIS for D&D part 2: picking up projection.

    As it was discussed earlier, it could be wise to create a GIS-support for D&D campaign.  Let's describe it further. I suggest you read the manual for QGIS if you are not familiar with this software. And for information about projection, please read section 6 of QGIS manual (at present time manual for 1.6.0 version is available)

    As we decided to use GIS, the first thing we have to take into account is projection(s) we will use. 

    QGIS (as other GIS software) is a scientific programme and was not meant to be used for imaginary word, which parameters are obviously different to Earth. But I believe it is not a problem. Firstly, in QGIS it is possible to determine your own parameters for the ellipsoid of imaginary planet. PROJ4 is used in QGIS so you can read documentation if you want to do it the hard way.

    To my mind it is Ok to use Earth parameters for your world - it will save a lot of time and our planet is actually big enough to place everything you need ;-) 

    Here is my approach:
    1. It is necessary to define projection for the entire map - it should represent adequate squares of the empires, mounts, oceans, etc.
    2. It is necessary to define projection for the layers of the map - it should be easily utilised in any projection of the map.
    3. Projections for the map and layer are not necessary to be the same.

    It is necessary to define projection for the whole project (section 2.5 of QGIS manual) and for the layers. Projection of the map should be equal area, because it will be handy to understand sizes of the Great Deserts and Dead Man's Lakes. To my mind Albers equal area conic projection is the best choice if only a part of the planet (world) is designed. You should decide where on the Earth globe your area is located ad define projection parameters accordingly. 

    For example I use these parameters for current campaign: +proj=aea +lat_1=40 +lat_2=55 +lat_0=0 +lon_0=-120 +x_0=0 +y_0=-4000000 +ellps=WGS84 +datum=WGS84 +units=m +no_defs

    You will need to adjust lat_1 and lat_2 parameters to frame latitudes for the desired location, and other parameters could be the same.

    NB: units for the given example are meters, but it is obvious that DM would prefer foots for the length measurement. This is not a problem due to it is possible to set up needed units in project properties.

    For layers it will be the best choice to use unprojected lat/long WGS84 reference system. It will allow its easy usage when you will decide to extend your world and evade a lot of re-projection issues.

    The next issue to be encountered is starting drowning in the right place: the map will be totally empty and it will be hard to understand where the borders of the area should be located. But there is nothing to worry about: just decide where your area would be located at the Earth globe (lat/lon frame), then open the layer (lat/lon) in totally new project and use "Numerical Vertex Edit" tool (you will have to install ot via "Fetch Python Plugins" menu) to place several points with needed coordinates that will be an orienter for the area borders.

    Monday, May 9, 2011

    About GDP flaws

    Here you can find some short and clear insights about GDP flaws in prosperity measuring and about The Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) implementation instead.

    • GDP TREATS CRIME, DIVORCE AND NATURAL DISASTERS AS ECONOMIC GAIN
    • GDP IGNORES THE NON-MARKET ECONOMY OF HOUSEHOLD AND COMMUNITY
    • GDP TREATS THE DEPLETION OF NATURAL CAPITAL AS INCOME
    • GDP INCREASES WITH POLLUTING ACTIVITIES AND THEN AGAIN WITH CLEAN-UPS
    • GDP TAKES NO ACCOUNT OF INCOME DISTRIBUTION
    • GDP IGNORES THE DRAWBACKS OF LIVING ON FOREIGN ASSETS

    Sunday, May 1, 2011

    Me in the TV


    Diploma for participating in live TV broadcast
    I was in the middle of cleaning my inline skates' bearings when my scientific adviser called me. I thought he finally found some time to check my thesis's plan, even if the probability of such event is even lower than the probability of the question he asked me: 

    - "Do you have a time to take part in the discussion on the TV today?" 
    - "Let me think about it..." - I said while was cleaning my fingers from the lubricant, - "OF COURSE I DO!... By the way, what is the subject of discussion?"

    Thursday, April 21, 2011

    Sunday, April 17, 2011

    Night and fog

    Yesterday I've send a great time with friends of mine in Solnechnoe (Eng). There were as always a disguise party and a "Shit Was Gushing" filming, but that's another story imprinted with a lot of cameras.

    Even I had my DSC-W310 (which has one of the best price to quality ratio) they've brought me back from a 1,5 month trip across the India. In the night on the way back to the electric train station the covered the landscape. I had to take some pictures despite I had no tripod, which would provide a great help in such conditions.

    For this picture I've used a parapet to replace a tripod. 

    Spring night's fog



    Unfortunately it was imposiible to replace tripod with something for other pictures. Nevertheless the fog's drops in the flash-light looks mysterious.

    Saturday, April 9, 2011

    Waste and culture

    Yesterday I saw something awful. I was finalising my paper for DigitalGlobe 8-Dand Chahallenge on a subject of illegal dumpind detection when behind the window a yard cleaner who was collecting waste accumulated in the snow (citizens find it acceptable to through waste on the ground) suddenly started to dig the ground. He was a guest worker from an Asian part of the former Soviet Union like the most of the yard cleaners in St. Petersburg nowadays, so I was extremely suspicious of his actions. 

    I'm not a xenophobe, but these foreign guys without education and a language knowledge are a patterns of the criminal activities of any sort initiated both by and against them. I would ban unqualified labour migration. There are plenty of hoi polloi in Russia already. And now the infrastructure of the whole city depends on them, cause it's being built and repaired by their unqualified hands!

    Back to the guest worker. The worst nightmare for the ecologist and the one who is involved in researches related to the waste management come true: a person who is responsible to treat waste properly was burying the waste into the ground!!! Immediately I took the camera and shoot him... O-o-o... I wish I could shoot him!

    Son of a bitch is burying collected waste into the ground!
    The next moment I've opened the window and shouted at him to stop this, collect the waste and put it to the trash bin. This fucking bustard just nodded to me. I doubt he was even able to understand what I was talking about. I was furious!

    The first phone call was to this bastard's employer. No response. I called to the company for 2 hours but there were no answer. The second call was to the public prosecutor's office for environmental issues. They respond, but the girl told me that they care only about industry (I highly doubt that they do officially have such limitations) and advised to call to the public prosecutor's office of my district. I did so, but my third call didn't succeed either: no one answered. By the way, you can appeal to the prosecutor via internet... e-e-h... it's a bullshit... "Sorry, your appeal wasn't submitted". Guess I have to appeal in person.

    In the evening my wife told me that her co-workers were the witnesses of such actions in other parts of the city. So it seems that guest workers were not the only one who is responsible for these crimes. Obviously their employers ordered them to do so. They are trying to save money on waste disposal regardless we (the citizens) pay for it! Remember what I wrote about guest workers as the patterns of the criminal activities - they can't resist criminal orders coming from their owners. But anyway there are no excuses: even if he was ordered to commit the crime, he was the one who actually did it. 

    Both the guest worker and his greedy employer must be punished. Hope I will be able to bring them to justice.

    P.S. The culture was mentioned in the title of this post. If you are not aware, St. Peterssburg has the title of the "cultural capital of the Russia". Yes, it is... Amen.

    Monday, March 28, 2011

    About communities

    There is an interesting post (google-English) about organisation of the community for the Open Source project. To my mind these thoughts are useful for every volunteer based project / community - not only to those dedicated to the software development.

    The main ideas (some are in my interpretation):
    • The most of the community participants are passive.
    • The most active participants have to be rewarded by increasing their control over the project.
    • Community have to be organised and organisation have to be transparent.
    • At the beginning community needs a "magnanimous dictator" to unite the community and make project attractive for participants, but for the community and project survival in the long term it is necessary to develop democracy and try to reach the state of anarchy.
    • Project become more attractive when those, who are capable and willing, receive more important tasks.
    • In the beginning it is hard but essential to organise a proper feedback.
    • When community and project are grown and mature it is necessary to prevent its division (fork for the software) because splitting exsanguinates community and the project.
    • Community have to survive its founder so it is necessary to develop the democracy and move towards to anarchy and make decisions via consensus.
    • At the first stage of the democracy the "silent consensus" will prevail, and the silence will mean the agreement. Vote system have to be developed.
    • With the procedures became more complicated the need in providing newbies with the rules of participation will rise.
    • "Formalisation of the agreements helps to ensure that the community lives its own life and does not depend on anyone individually".
    • "The community can survive and flourish for as long as there is demand for the product produced."

    Wednesday, March 23, 2011

    Rosatom maps: you dont need tsunami to waste a nuclear power plant ;-)

     ROSATOM has a web-site with the map of its objects (nuclear power plants) and the background radiation around them. I decided to check the nuclear power plant situated in the Leningrad region. Looks like the dump to me :-)

    Local dump marked as the nuclear power plant)))

    Sunday, March 20, 2011

    openSUSE 11.4 - now I have it!

    I've updated my openSUSE 11.3 to 11.4 version! It's awesome!!!

    The last time I've tried to update 11.2 to 11.3 I failed and had to perform a clean installation, but this time it was Ok. Maybe because this time I've added new repos for additional software before updating, not just basic official repos. This update saved a great deal of time - I don't need to set up the environment and install needed software.

    openSUSE 11.3 was more stable than 11.2 so I accepted it's performances issues (it worked little bit slower than Window7, which I have in dual boot, and some programs stuck from time to time). I don't know what was the reason for these minor issues. Now with 11.4 these issues are gone!

    Of course there are some minor problems after update. PulseAudio is a default audio driver and as always it's a crap -  I can't stand so terrible sound. Disabling it didn't help so I deleted PulseAudio completely. Sound is Ok now. The second problem is broken VLC-player. I've reinstalled it several times but still every time I'm trying to open something it crashes with the segmentation fault and telling something about my locale (which I decided to change from RU to US before updating). This is not a tragedy, because M-Player works just fine. G-mail plasmoid started to work properly only after it was deleted and reinstalled. Amarok's play-lists were broken. Other issues aren't noticed so far.


    One of the most delicious change in 11.4 version for me was clouds [updated everyday] added to the desktop map. [as a geographer] I've tuned one of the desktops (in KDE) which is used to work with GIS to show the world map with the night shadow, which shows where is night at this moment. It is interesting, that globe as desktop backgroundin KDE environment wasn't available for Fedora and Kubuntu when I used them last year. 


    One of the my desktops with the night shadow moving across the world map.

    Settings for the image above
    Also the world map is available as interactive globe, Open Street Map, and if you're tired of Mother Earth just chose Moon instead.