Editorial: More Various & Sundry

A 227Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine—complete with images—is available by clicking HERE

Responding to reader requests for more articles on boundary surveying and legal aspects, this issue has plenty. In addition to a great case review from Landon Blake and another "voice from the past" installment from Curt Brown, Wendy Lathrop details a recent Supreme Court case regarding private constitutional Fifth Amendment rights against the powers of the government to flood. Rounding out the legal aspects arena is an article from Mike Pallamary about how us surveyors have dealt with continuing education. Granted, Mike lives in California, and California–not requiring continuing education–has its own unique circumstances, but much of what Mike says is applicable nationwide. The fact is, the average licensed surveyor is nearly 60 years old, and learned his or her craft in a time when technology didn’t allow non-surveyors to do things that always required a surveyor.

Our lead cover feature is about how the PGA is using laser rangefinders and GNSS to locate golf balls during a tournament, and exploit this info for all kinds of statistics. We ran another golf article in our October 2009 issue and received critical reader feedback because it wasn’t readily apparent that a licensed surveyor was involved in the project. One was, but to me, the connection between that story and the golf story in this issue is the last part of the last sentence in the paragraph above.

Elsewhere in this issue is a great Jerry Penry story about a massive 1800s horizontal and vertical control campaign that was instituted to support mapping of the Missouri River, and an Idaho student project that used laser scanning and extensive boundary surveying. What impressed me about the story is that the student had to sit before an eight-member board to explain and defend his boundary decisions. Reminded me of the old days when an oral interview was part of the licensing exam in many states. Continuing with our quest to encourage surveyors to take the ball and run with it regarding elevation certificates, Terri Turner weighs in with an installment that explains flood vent openings. The community that consumes elevation certificates is looking to us to be the experts, so I’m hoping we won’t turn our back the way we did with GIS. Finally, and again speaking of technology reshaping our industry, we have an article about the use of unmanned aerial sensors to replace traditional plane-in-the-air photogrammetry. True, UASs can’t even be flown in the U.S. yet, but they will be.

Something I’ve Learned
When people ask me what I do as an editor, I generally say that I read. A lot. Many press releases and articles cross my desk, and I’ve discovered that I can tell the age of the person writing the text by one simple thing: whether they put two spaces after a period (or a colon). You see, these people learned how to keyboard on a typewriter, and for readability, we were taught to do this. This was because each letter took up the same amount of width on the page–a "w" is the same width as an "i." With the advent of computers and the ability to display and print with proportional spacing, the need for double spaces disappeared. Credit for the invention of proportional spacing seems to go to Xerox, but the person who brought it to the masses was Steve Jobs with the Mac computer. So ingrained in how we learned to type, this is one of the hardest habits to break. Of course, young people, many of whom have never laid a finger on a typewriter, will have no idea what I’m talking about. Why is this important? Because double spaces mess with the look of the printed text and cause awkward line breaks. Luckily for me as an editor, a simple search and replace of two spaces with one space makes this an easy fix.

Marc Cheves is editor of the magazine.

A 227Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine—complete with images—is available by clicking HERE