Margaret Thatcher

The Iron lady is dead.

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ll be the first to admit I know very little of her seeing as she ruled before my time. What I can glean from the media though gives me a good idea about what she was all about. She seems like Martha Karua on steroids without the affectionate dancing side.

She called Nelson Mandela a terrorist for crying out loud and thought the Apartheid regime was pretty rad. Now this was the 80’s so such sentiments were rather archaic & jarring even in her time.

English: Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, Gaute...
English: Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, Gauteng, on 13 May 1998 (Photo credit: Wikipedia). The backdrop many british lovers like to use is that she was protecting british interests and it is quite possible that she decided to be the fall guy(or girl in this case) to absorb all the bad press.

But years, nay, Decades later it is especially her countrymen that despise her. I gather that she devastated the mining communities and by extension the working class and precipitated lts of suffering for them. A documentary I watched a while ago insinuated that the whole global warming fiasco was started by her and others to popularize use of nuclear energy for power generation so as to reduce the influence of coal workers unions. This would make her a highly intelligent leader if true and the effects of her decisions are reverberating to this day. Now that is influence.

The reaction to those that are happy to see her go is however what is most amusing to me. We generally(Africans) avoid speaking ill of the dead but a line can be drawn somewhere right? I mean the Americans nearly called a national holiday when Obama murdered Osama and dumped him in the sea. This was blatant happiness over an individual’s death. Why should this be any different for those who suffered under the iron lady’s rule?

I am personally indifferent to her death or influence if it still exists seeing as she is no longer a shot caller and I doubt whether her policies to Kenya were to Kenya’s benefit. The right for people to be glad she is dead should be protected though same as an entire country can be proud of itself for murdering a supposed terrorist and celebrating it.

 

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Geospatial Engineering > Surveying

Back when I was trying to decide what to do with the rest of my life just after my KCSE results aere announced, I had no idea that I would be pulling my hair out 5 years later.

Dont get me wrong, I am not saying I regret my decision then. Far from it infact it may just be the best one I made.(These Sentiments are shared by one of my affable professors who in retrospect is happy he did not pursue Civil engineering in favour of the then Surveying degree.)

At the time I had never seen or heard the word Geospatial and it sounded sexy as hell.  A little digging revealed that it was good old surveying that was trying to get its sexy back. It was explained that calling the training or rather qualification surveying though correct was inaccurate due to the advancements in technology and broad areas that geospatial people find themselves working in.

US Navy Surveyor at work with a leveling instr...
US Navy Surveyor at work with a leveling instrument. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I bet you imagine I spend all day looking through some thing balanced on tripod legs in the middle of nowhere or on the shamba the neighbours have been squabbling about. These are still done geospatial engineers but thats just the opening of the rabbit hole. Its like assuming all people who go through med school wind up asking wheezing kids to cough as they listen through a stethoscope. Correct but inaccurate.

The best resource that I have found that attempts to do proper marketing justice to the profession comes from the Australians with their Life Without Limits Campaign . Our institutions as usual do very little . . ok they do nothing to promote surveying to the up-comers and explain why the name was changed in the first place to Geospatial Engineering.

Truth is I know of few other engineering careers that are as exciting, challenging and diverse as Geospatial engineering. sure coding a kernel for an OS is not a walk in the park and neither is designing and building a bridge that should last upwards of 30 years. Geospatial engineering will allow you to sit in the office if thats what you fancy or visit the remotest and most diverse locations mostly working on the same project.

Let me not even get started on the tech you get to work with. Recently I got to work with a pair of differential GPS units. These are basically GPS recievers like the ones in your phone only on several tonnes of crack and Nitrous. Your phone can at best in the best conditions imaginable get your position to within a 3 meter radius. These units after post processing the data can fix your position to within 3mm. Thats right 3 millimeters.

Accuracy achieved in ost processing
Accuracy achieved in post processing

I achieved an average 0.079m accuracy on all points. This is in a survey that was done in merely 6 hrs. Using conventional methods this could take you all day and brain numbing computations to get similar results.

There are many other examples of possibilities that and efficiencies that have been afforded with advances in technology and maturing of methodologies and science.

English: Differential GPS scheme
English: Differential GPS scheme (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My Final year project is concerned with using satellite images to generate geographic data that is used by telecom companies to plan and predict their terrestrial radio networks. I hope to show that the siting of the base transceiver stations can be planned mostly in a digital virtual environment and minimize the field work aspect(though unavoidable) of the RF planning bit.

Let me be the first to state that my methods are already outdated. LiDAR tech can do this at a much higher accuracy than with using the satellite images and with far less acrobatics such as the control point collection with the GPS for corrections. Using the satellite images could however be cheaper for institutions or individuals who find the accuracy levels satisfactory or simply dont have the money to commission a flight to cover their area of interest.

Its actually possible to generate nice looking and informative 3d models of an area by manipulating a stereo pair of photographs of the same area. The conditions in which the images are collected have to be super accurate though inorder to extract info from them.

All in all I hope to employ some of the knowledge bashed into my brain by well meaning lecturers to solve a real world problem. Gathering, manipulting and interpreting spatial info. Here is to not wasting 5 years!

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