I work with computer junk to make my living. I’ve learned and forgotten hundreds of software programs in the last 25 years. Sometimes I have to install, learn and test ten programs looking for just the right solution to a problem. I’ll keep the one that solves the business task at hand and delete the other nine. And then shit gets updated, bought out by someone or just plain won’t work on the new operating system. So it all starts again. GIS involves a lot of hardware and software with constant moving targets and shifting benchmarks. The worst part is that all this crap costs a lot of money. The bundle of software programs I use to make 3D mapping for infrastructure planning costs many thousands of dollars. The data costs are quite high as well. I can make some pretty cool maps and digital models, but it is very expensive to do.
Until now. There is now a lot of very powerful, very cool software and data available for FREE. If you have ever spent hundreds of dollars to buy Micro$haft Office only to be forced to spend more on an upgrade so you can read a docx file from someone who got sucked into upgrading before you, there is an alternative. A program called Open Office works great, is easy to install, works on PC or Mac, has ALL the features, and is FREE.
GIS geeks will find that QGIS is quite powerful, easily competes with E$RI’s overpriced stuff on many levels and of course is free (there are others as well). And why pay Micro$haft lots of money for their SQL offering? MySQL is just as good and unless you plan on replicating across many servers, it is completely free for full functionality (other options here as well).
Whatever you use computers for, check online to see if there are free solutions that work for you before you give the the bloated corporations you hard earned cash.
A quick sample of a portion of a relief map using free software and free data. It can even be published to a mapping web page in the cloud for free if I wanted.
Of course, I’d rather be chopping wood or building with mud and straw, but it’s good to be involved in a variety of activities.