So You Want To Draw a Cartogram

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Michael Cain

Michael is a systems analyst, with a taste for obscure applied math. He's interested in energy supplies, the urban/rural divide, regional political differences in the US, and map-like things. Bicycling, and fencing (with swords, that is) act as stress relief.

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12 Responses

  1. Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

    I read this twice, not so much because I understand much of it (way over my head) but because I am fascinated by the really cool hobbies people undertake, especially those that require some serious brainpower.

    I’m not really sure I could ever obsess over a hobby. My brain bounces around too much. But man, I wish I could. That’s how you really master a skill.Report

    • Avatar Michael Cain says:

      You don’t think hunting counts?Report

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

        I do obsess over hunting, but I don’t think it’s a hobby you can truly master because animals will always be the variable and you can’t defeat Nature.Report

        • Avatar Kim says:

          Depends on the nature of the hunt, really. Enough fences and cages let you defeat Nature handily. Of course, some might say that’s unsporting, though in that case they wouldn’t be ordinary gentlemen.Report

        • Avatar Michael Cain says:

          It’s not about the end (mastery), it’s about the process :^) My cartogram software will never be “finished” — there will always be another feature that could be added, or something that could be done better, or…Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

            I guess if I’m being truthful there are elements of hunting you can master. I have a couple of friends who could rightfully wear the title of ‘master’ when it comes to their wing-shooting skills. I am pretty good at predicting what a group of geese will do depending on weather conditions. It’s the act of putting it all together though that I think is so unattainable.

            I guess what this post makes me think about is exactly what you are suggesting Michael. The glory is in the struggle, as they say. I think ultimately, it’s what makes the pursuit of hobby so appealing in my opinion. It’s the pursuit of excellence with (usually) no reward other than the satisfaction of a job well done.Report

  2. Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

    Right now I’m using my spare time to run CFD simulations of Dave Ryan’s catamaran.Report

  3. Avatar Joe Sal says:

    Acoustic resonance heat engines in years past. Lately, I’ve caught the black powder bug, mostly pre-1861.Report

  4. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Dude, I hope you’re doing that on your home computer rather than your work computer because that schtuff is monetizable.Report

    • Avatar Michael Cain says:

      …because that schtuff is monetizable.

      @jaybird
      Dude, that’s what you always say. I think you underestimate all of the difficulties of making a product, the size of the market, and willingness to pay. There are big players (ArcGIS, MapInfo) with polished tools and substantial development staffs. There are professional cartographers. There are graphic design folks who will take the output of any of those and make it really slick with Illustrator. What I have here is the beginnings of a set of tools that let people who can’t afford all of that do “simple” things. I know what I would say to someone who showed up asking for an investment whose business plan was “We’re going to sell something of interest to a limited number of people who can’t afford to buy the bright, shiny products.”Report

  5. Avatar Aaron David says:

    Right now I’m restoring an outboard motor from the ’30’s, and I am hoping to start building a sailboat here in the spring.Report