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American Antiquarian Society Receives Save America’s Treasures Grant

February 26th, 2011 by Paul Hutchinson

The American Antiquarian Society located in Worcester Massachusetts has been awarded a $77,557 grant. From the announcement:

The American Antiquarian Society’s collection of early American imprints (pre-1876) is recognized as the most comprehensive for this period and includes the first books printed in the colonies. Funds would support conservation treatment with an emphasis on retaining the original character and physical appearance of the materials. Fragile volumes would also be housed in lignin-free clamshell boxes.

Congratulations!

Posted in Blackstone Valley, History | Comments Off

Antietam

September 17th, 2010 by Paul Hutchinson

One hundred and forty-eight years ago today the bloodiest battle in U.S. history took place.

More information on the battle:

Civil War Memorial photo details on its album page.

See more Whitinsville photos on the Whitinsville pages of my photo albums.

Posted in Favorite Photos, History | Comments Off

Google Earth News & Map Data Sources

September 7th, 2010 by Paul Hutchinson

I’ve been using Google Earth version 5.2.1.1329 (beta) for some time and I find the measurement tab of the path properties dialog very useful. Another very handy feature appears when you right click on a path, the Show Elevation Profile option creates a nice interactive elevation chart.


I stumbled upon a good resource for free online historical maps the other day, Maps ETC from the University of South Florida. In addition to the nice maps they also provide some good basic tutorial videos for Google Earth.


While I was updating some of my Blackstone Valley places files I discovered the Map of all coordinates from Google link on a Wikipedia National Register of Historic Places list article. Clicking the link plots all the sites in Google Maps, but if you click the show link over to the right you get more mapping options. One of the options, Export all coordinates as KML, lets you load the place locations directly into Google Earth.

I decided to load up all the Wikipedia data for Massachusetts and Rhode Island, wow, there are a lot of sites. So I made a version limiting the places to those that fall within the boundary of the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor.

Most of the sites are not positioned precisely so, I’m tweaking the positions as I work on exploring the BRVNHC. During a recent editing session I found that the National Register of Historic Places provides Google Earth files with some locations updated with more accurate TeleAtlas data. Loading these files along with my my custom file helps in locating the historic sites.

One feature I’m editing into the files I have not found a way to do through GE itself. This is setting the placemark style variations for normal versus highlighted. I’ve set the style so that normally there is no label but when you point to the placemark the label appears and the icon grows. You get this effect by setting up the style block like this:

<StyleMap id="msn_star">
    <Pair>
        <key>normal</key>
        <styleUrl>#sn_star</styleUrl>
    </Pair>
    <Pair>
        <key>highlight</key>
        <styleUrl>#sh_star</styleUrl>
    </Pair>
</StyleMap>
<Style id="sn_star">
    <IconStyle>
        <Icon>
            <href>http://maps.google.com/mapfiles/kml/shapes/star.png</href>
        </Icon>
    </IconStyle>
    <LabelStyle>
        <scale>0</scale>
    </LabelStyle>
</Style>
<Style id="sh_star">
    <IconStyle>
        <scale>1.2</scale>
        <Icon>
            <href>http://maps.google.com/mapfiles/kml/shapes/star.png</href>
        </Icon>
    </IconStyle>
</Style>

With no scale parameter specified for an IconStyle the default value is 1, and with no LabelStyle parameter the label scale defaults to 1.

Posted in Blackstone Valley, Cartography, History, Tech | Comments Off

Thank You Army Corp of Engineers

March 30th, 2010 by Paul Hutchinson

If you’ve been following the news from New England you are aware that a major flood event is in progress. This morning the NECN weatherman Matt Noyes said that this was the worst flooding we’ve had since the floods of August 1955. This got me thinking about the West Hill Dam in Uxbridge and how we southern New Englanders should all thank the Army Corps of Engineers. They built the dam specifically to prevent the devastation and loss of life that happened in 1955. Looking at the records since then I feel that this dam has been a resounding success. Since its completion in 1961 the floods on the Blackstone have been controlled to less than 16 feet at Woonsocket as opposed to the nearly 22 foot record from 1955. Predictions from the NWS are for 18 feet in Woonsocket for this current flood, well below the extremely dangerous 22 feet that caused so much loss of life. UPDATE 3/30 22:30 Forecast has been lowered to 14 feet @ Woonsocket

The main reason we are so much safer now is the Army CoE’s excellent design and operation of the West Hill Dam. As you can see in this graph, yesterday afternoon they closed the gates of the dam stopping the entire West River from adding to the Blackstone’s flood level.

USGS2010-03-30

This activation of the dam is going to change the look of the dam area from what we usually see in this Google Maps satellite view.


View Larger Map

To what is in this photo from the West Hill Dam web site.

WestHillDamPhoto

More information:

USGS WaterWatch — Maps and graphs of current water resources conditions

Worcester Telegram & Gazette’s Weather notebook – Rivers rise as rain falls

Posted in Blackstone Valley, Boston, History, Nature, Safety | Comments Off

Site Updates

December 21st, 2009 by Paul Hutchinson

I’ve posted some major updates to the Blackstone River section of my web site. On the Google Earth page I’ve updated the National Park Service tours file and added a file with the 1913 map of the Hopedale Parklands as an overlay in GE. The visitor tips page has a new section covering the few minor natural hazards in the valley (insects, plants, animals).

I wrote an extensive article on the George Washington Presidential Trail which runs through the center of the valley. The article describes the trail and also tries to sort the legends into facts and myths based on historical and geographic research.

The tours file mentioned above was updated based on completing seven of the walking tours this year. The seven tours I took were Arnold Mills, Blackstone Canal, Grafton, Hopedale, Mendon, Upton and Whitinsville. The tours page has been updated with links to the photos I took on these tours. I’ve completed writing reviews for the Mendon and Hopedale tours. In addition to reviewing the tours I also used my history and geography geek skills to research and correct misleading and questionable information from the tours. While taking these tours I shot some new good photos of plants and animals I encountered, they are in the plants and animal sections of my web photo album.

Posted in Blackstone Valley, Cartography, History, Nature | Comments Off

Interactive Time Lines

August 22nd, 2009 by Paul Hutchinson

I was trying to estimate the date/time for undated events in an 18th century travel diary. Realizing it would help to use OOCalc for date time math such as daily totals and speed estimates, I set up a spreadsheet for the purpose. As I worked on the spreadsheet I thought it would be great to see a time line graph to check my work for errors. Searching around it became clear that none of the built-in graphing functions in spreadsheets would work for creating a time line graphic. It appears that most people simply use drawing tools to make time lines.

Then I found the Simile Widgets Timeline component a versatile JavaScript based solution. Soon after I got a time line going it became clear that keeping the data file in sync with the changing spreadsheet data was cumbersome. With all the data already in OOCalc I decided it would be nice to output formatted data directly from the spreadsheet for use in the timeline.

With my success in creating a spreadsheet for this one project I decided to create a generic version of the spreadsheet that covers all time line attributes. The spreadsheet contains a final version of my custom Calc functions for time line JSON data creation that handles all time line data options (download the spreadsheet here). To test out my new OOCalc functions I created a time line of English and British Monarchs (also useful for my research) starting with my spreadsheet sample. I haven’t finished adding text excerpts to the monarchs time line but it does have pictures and Wikipedia links for all items.

Last month while organizing notes from a tour of historic sites I found I had not recorded the dates and times in the notes. As I was giving myself a dope slap for failing to record the times it dawned on me that the photos I took would give me the missing time information. While I was viewing the photos to get the times from the EXIF data it occurred to me that I could set up nearly automatic time line generation using my spreadsheet and the command line ExifTool.

To start you open a command prompt in the directory with your photos and then run the following command line.

"C:\Program Files\EXIFtool\exiftool.exe" -p "$filename, $createdate" -q -f -d "%Y/%m/%d %H:%M:%S" .\ >PhotoTimes.csv

This creates a CSV data file containing the image filename and creation date that can be opened by OOCalc. Using the spreadsheet you generate a JSON data file to give you a time line as shown in these screenshots.

TimelineScreenshot1

TimelineScreenshot2

I’ve put a zip archive with the files used to create the photo time line on my site. Download the archive from this link.

The archive contains these files for the Photographs Time Line:

PhotoTimes.csvoutput from the ExifTool run
PhotoTimeline.odsspreadsheet for creating the JSON data file
PhotoTimes.jsthe JSON data file
PhotoTimes.htmlHTML page for displaying the time line
PhotoTimes.cssCSS for better control of image size

See Also:

Simile Widgets Timeline documentation

Posted in History, OpenOffice, Photography, Tech | 2 Comments »

Day of Infamy

December 7th, 2008 by Paul Hutchinson

Sunday December Seventh, 67 years ago today.

Posted in History | Comments Off

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