I’m coming to a close on the Trail Amenities project — rather, I’m running out of things to do with it — and I’ve been feeling a bit tired of all things GIS lately, so I’ve been looking for a new project, something that will teach me some new software or skill.
My first thought was to get a better grasp of R, especially R graphics, and to do that I’d work with CDC COVID data. Early in the pandemic I was doing a lot of downloading, analyzing and graphing of case and death data, in a sort of “play along at home” mode. In a way it helped me get an emotional handle on things, in analyzing it myself I felt I regained a bit of control over the situation. At the time I was using the LibreOffice Calc spreadsheet.
Anyway, when things started getting bad again I returned to looking at the data, and I used it to explore R, but I found I didn’t have the motivation or focus, though I did manage to get more of a handle on graphics. Part of my loss of focus was that the data magic was gone — I had COVID fatigue — but part was also that I constantly bumped up against realizing that the data manipulation would have been easier for me in SQL.
I switched from the COVID data back to working with my trail amenities data, which gave me a chance to practice accessing my database from R, but in the end I realized I’d rather play with PostgreSQL than R so I decided that my new project would be to really learn how to work with PostgreSQL.
And that’s what I’m doing. I found a series of free online courses on databases and SQL, from Stanford via EdX, and I’m working my way through them — I’m currently on the second course. This should give me a good handle on using SQL; the other half of what I want is database administration, which so far I’ve just been able to pick up in pieces here and there.