Technology is crippling usPosted by holy-cow on November 17, 2022 at 4:02 pm
We have become so dependent on technology that simple solutions have largely disappeared, either through lack of availability or lack of people thinking that way.
In a thread today about attaching pictures to FEMA forms a very simple solution was provided. Print out the picture, cut it out with scissors and then tape it to the form. You can then print however many copies are needed.
A similar but non-survey situation happened to me last night at a Board Meeting. We were to have two Zoom presentations and both were to use information that could shown to us from their computers. We were in a meeting room which is the smallest of three such rooms that can be opened up to form one large room. The technology used to allow different the large screens in each room to show the same or as many as three different presentations at the same time is wonderful and expensive. The system is used almost every day, Yet, last night it was contrary. We probably spent 15 minutes waiting for everything to get synchronized correctly. During that lull I turned to the Board Member on my right and commented that my teacher in the two-room school where I started my education never had such a problem. That got a conversation going around the room. I followed up by saying that Monica, the primary presenter, probably couldn’t even find a chalkboard and piece of chalk so she could illustrate the message for us. The Executive Director assured me that I was correct about that.
- 68 Replies
- MemberNovember 17, 2022 at 4:36 pm
If I’m presenting or instructing digitally, nobody better get in my way when I arrive 15-20 minutes early to sort out connection issues and ensure I’m able to do my thing.
I wouldn’t say technology is necessarily “crippling” us, but like anything else there has to be a backup, and a backup plan. Overall, the time lost when tech does fail is small compared to the time saved when it does work.
It’s strange that there was no blackboard/whiteboard. All our conference rooms have a whiteboard in addition to the fancy TV or screen. They still get used. (As a side note, I love the whiteboard feature in Teams/Zoom and use that a lot too.)
On Monday/Tuesday I was out on a high-precision survey and we made use of a total station, a high-density scanner, a scanning total station, a level, and plumb bob & tape for swing/cross ties. We had to get some very tricky shots with the total station, so we observed a combination of high-precision traverse kits, active-tracking 360s, passive 360s, checkerboard targets, plumb bob/gammon reel string and, in one case, a sticky target cut down to size, placed on a pocketknife and held over a point of interest that had very little clearance.
The “old” tools are still valid, the trick is knowing when to switch to them, or how to use them to supplement the fancy new tech.“…people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.” -Neil Postman
- MemberNovember 17, 2022 at 7:12 pm
Not so much “crippling” as enabling, I think
We can do amazing things our Grand-parents could only dream of.
But it also enables laziness, of both mind and body.
A double edged sword…
- MemberNovember 17, 2022 at 7:18 pm
The required Corner Record form is a fillable PDF. You are supposed to make a JPG or BNP out of CAD and insert it in Acrobat (which is terrible software but I digress). I have never been able to get an image out of CAD which scales correctly or even works. So I gave up and PDFATTACHed the second page of the form into CAD then put a viewport over it then printed to PDF. Probably a violation but the only way I can get the stupid thing to work. The first page works fine, it’s just the second page with the sketch that is difficult.
- MemberNovember 17, 2022 at 7:41 pm
So true. I comped points the other day on a line every 25ft because all i had was a starting coordinate and a bearing. Then about half way through the internet started working again and a cad guru spit out the file and emailed it to the field crew. I had about 15 points done by hand and a note pad but he beat me lol. But i did ck my work and we agreed. Sometimes people need to pause and say ok this doesn??t work how can I still do the work. My first go to still in a hurry up situation is grabbing my hp and a note book. But i am sure as I learn the software i will dumb myself down.
- MemberNovember 17, 2022 at 10:00 pm
And, then the last battery dies………………………..ARGH!!!
- MemberNovember 18, 2022 at 12:06 amI hope everyone has a great day; I know I will!
- MemberNovember 18, 2022 at 2:54 pm
It is common to watch tech slaves burn hours where a T1 and tape would suffice. Simple triangle solitions are ignored in favor of bloated cogo and data collection software.
I love technology, but it’s not always the best choice…
- MemberNovember 18, 2022 at 4:28 pm
I’ve been around long enough to remember seeing a planimeter used on a scaled drawing of the survey to arrive at the area for a complex tract. Dividing it up into rectangles, triangles and calculating (inside or behind curve) areas could take forever even with a calculator. The opportunity for an error was great.
- MemberNovember 18, 2022 at 4:32 pm
Perhaps we should keep these in the truck…
- MemberNovember 18, 2022 at 4:50 pm
I feel old but I’m not THAT old.
- MemberNovember 19, 2022 at 4:04 am
Technology allows me to do more with less and makes me less reliant on others. I love technology.
- MemberNovember 19, 2022 at 5:04 am
You bet. Until it’s not there for some reason. Then most everyone panics because they can’t even think of a way to get by without it. The reason they can’t think of anything else is because they have never had to do without it. Ever.
It doesn’t have to be complex technology at all.
A chiropractor in this area sent his brilliant son off to college. But, dear old Dad had always taken care of all vehicle-related issues. One day Dad gets a call from the son telling him that when he turns the key all he hears are a few clicking noise. Dad tells son that the battery must be dead. Son says, “I might have forgot to shut off the lights last night. What do I do now.” Dad says, “Remember that battery charger I got you for times like this?. Use it.” A few minutes later Dad’s phone rings again. Son says, “I found the battery charger but it doesn’t do anything.” Dad asks a bunch of questions until finally, “Did you plug it in?” Son says he can’t because the cord is only about four feet long and it’s much further than that from the street curb to any outlet. Dad mutters, “Get the 100 foot extension cord I got you and put in your trunk.” Son says, “Oh. Never thought of that.” The son never thought of contacting any of his buddies to jump start it for him. He was in a city with many steep hills. Bet, he could have got it going with a little shove and jump in all by himself.
Back in the day I would do a drag start with any standard transmission car, truck or tractor (and even a combine backwards a few times) as long as I had a means to do the tow and had enough uummph to pull it. Even learned how to get an automatic transmission to drag start, but, at a dangerously high speed.
Recently learned of a guy who has a small dozer and a really big dozer. The pony engine on the small dozer is shot. They drag start the little one with the big one and a really big chain.
- MemberNovember 19, 2022 at 12:54 pm
When I was still very new to this about 9 years ago our sokkia data collector died. We had like 5 property corners to tie in to finish the job. He had me turn and shoot everything manually with the robot without the data collector and write everything down. It was a great experience for a newbie like me.
Now that all of use Trimble except one crew we’re driving back to the office if that happened. Doesn’t matter if it’s a 2 hour drive like I had the last 2 days. Part of why I despise the Trimble hardware.
- MemberNovember 19, 2022 at 1:37 pm
@350rocketmike That is the one thing that drives me nuts. Every robot should at-least have some basic functions to read hz angle vertical/zenith angle slope distance. Doing a tope once with the 5600 they had removed the cpu face plate and the internal battery had died on it. The crew i was training said now what. It was a depressing of ground shots about a half acre that was still needed. I had a level and two steel tapes and some range poles. Luckily I set up a baseline with plumb bob and range poles between two control points. And used the level for vertical. Should have see. The office guy when i handed him the sketch and field book. The ls was an older man and looked at my sketch and notes. Thank goodness the two control points were only about 200 feet apart but we did not have to go back. After i had my line set up i was clapping Arkansas 90??s. This hour of work saved more than a half a day of drive time. I did use the level and set it up with plumb bob and the plate reading to turn a few angles to the 4 corners as a ck. Of course they are not very accurate. But it was a slight depression and all ground shots. At the corner of a corn field.
- MemberNovember 19, 2022 at 2:20 pm
@jitterboogie Thats right they keep both going. I don??t necessary need full data collection but a decent display and the ability to read and write down the required information in a field book would be nice. Of course I still miss being able to lock hz and vt knobs. Many times all you need is just an angle or two and distance. But everything has to recorded in a dead blasted data collector now days. I use to tell my Marines that if they ever decided to go into surveying after the USMC that they should never forget that most people in the future would not have the training on transits. At the school for basic geodetic surveying the first instrument was a T-3 and T-2. So when I was in beside the geodetic work we had to perform topo and such with those. So stadia. Now we don??t even have to look through a scope. Does anyone even teach the methods of how to accurately tell if one has focused the scope correctly. Cross hairs crisp and parallax removed. Moving your eye around and making sure everything stays where you think it is. I cannot remember maybe geodometer spectra had a robot with no scope at one time. It was demonstrated at Metro State in Colorado one year in the 90??s. Surveyors said that will never fly. How do you set up and wiggle in on a line of tumble weeds on a section line etc. with a robot it truly is not needed to measure angles and distance. Now they in the sx10 an 12 have replaced the scope with a camera. GNSS is getting so good who knows what the future will be. They have those robot dogs running around scanning and such. I want to see how they handle the briars and swamps. Can you imagine coming back and saying to the boss the dog went into the swamp and never returned. Lol.
- MemberNovember 19, 2022 at 2:37 pm
I’ve seen maybe one or two DCs truly, actually, completely fail in the field in my ~20 years, and both were back in the mid- to late-2000s. I’ve seen one instrument completely fail around 2009. Most of the time it’s a battery issue or the software needs a hard reset. Pretty good track record right there. The time saved by advancing technology vastly outweighs the time lost in the few instances where it does fail. Even though it may not seem like that at the time the gear craps out.
The contractors and builders we work with use technology too. They also employ backups as much as they can, but they are also forced to go back to the office for a replacement, or buy a completely new unit, from time to time. I’d say the gear most surveyors use, especially considering the precision and delicacy of the actual measurement hardware/software, is pretty rugged these days.
If it’s a high-dollar, high-stress job without an easy way to get back to the office or resupply, it’s a job that needs a contingency plan and the backup gear to carry out that plan. I did my share of remote Alaska surveys. You don’t leave without a spare (older but still working) DC, or possibly even an older manual total station for a backup.
If it’s an in-town job? Depending on the work to be done, it’s faster to drive back to the office and pick up the spare than to try and cobble together a solution. I’ve done what @olemanriver did with a level and stadia rod to get topo shots. But that ain’t happening for monumentation where you need to meet state or ALTA minimum standards for relative positional accuracy. So it goes.
It’s all about adaptation. Firms/leadership may elect to put controls/backups in place to minimize the pain when something actually does go wrong. If they’re smart, they’ll figure out estimated downtime from gear SNAFUs and weigh that against the cost of keeping spares on hand, then make a decision (and hopefully account for it in billing rates too).
If not, that’s how it goes. No use getting all bent out of shape about it unless it becomes a pattern with a specific piece of gear. I’ve gotten a lemon total station before. Replace it and move on.
Learning the old school ways is useful…until it’s not. It’s hard to know when a procedure or piece of gear’s time is up, and there are certainly some folks who can make (a little) money by avoiding new tech completely. Remote sensing (terrestrial and aerial LiDAR) has made inroads on what was exclusively the province of total stations.
We’re far from ditching total stations, but they might be obsolete in a century, or be relegated to backup/emergency gear, if we make it that far. Never say never.“…people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.” -Neil Postman
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