ESRI class day 2 - boredom and web access

More live-blogging today. Unfortunately, it turns out that's the only kind I'll be doing until the class is over. I'm staying at the Crowne Plaza hotel, and while they offer WiFi service, they charge $10/day for it! That's actually worse than the $4/2-hour block that they charge for the AT&T WiFi at the Barnes & Noble back home. At that price, I could get 5 hours of service, and there's no way I'm going to be online that long here. Fortunately, the PCs in the training room for the class have web access, so I can at least check my e-mail.

Yesterday afternoon and this morning we got more into the details of managing ArcGIS geodatabases. Things like connection methods, authentication, data loading, management tools, "gotchas", and so forth. Basically, the stuff I will probably never need to know.

I'm actually a little ambivalent about this class so far. On the one hand, it's absolutely mind-numbing at times. It's not that the class is bad, it's just that it's getting into details that have absolutely no relevance for me.

On the other hand, it's actually very interesting in an academic sense. After all, we're talking about a system that scales up to clustered, multi-terabyte databases. The ArcGIS server runs under Windows, UNIX, and Linux and supports pretty much all the major DBMSs - Oracle, SQL Server, DB2, Informix, and there was even some talk of people using Postgress and Sybase. So we're really getting a closer look at the architecture of a very complex, high-end system. Plus our instructor has been around long enough that he can talk about how things have evolved over the years and the direction the architecture has taken. We're not just getting the tedious technical details, but some insight into the layers of the system, the APIs involved, and how everything interacts on various levels.

So as a case study of a major major information system, this class is actually quite interesting. However, it's really a class on managing geodatabases, not a case study on ArcGIS. So while the concrete details are putting me to sleep, the high-level stuff was definitely worth hearing. As a programmer, you tend to look at and read about things on more of a code-level. It's good to see how the "big boys" handle complicated design issues.

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