May 21, 2009

Municipal Headache

For the past year I've been very peeved at my city. I got a letter last summer stating that I had "tall weeds/grass" and that if I didn't mow all weeds/grass on my property I would be fined. What's the problem? My property was mowed. Come to find out the unkempt property was an empty field directly north of the property of my neighbors and my property. Last year it took care of itself with little more than headache from me as the proper owners took care of the property the same day I got the letter from the city. Convenient I say.

This year is a bit different. The owners of the property owns the house that is at the far west end of that entire field. They also are in the process of selling their house and, if I'm informed correctly, leaving the country [military]. No one has been taking care of the field, I got another letter from the city.

Here's what happens. The city 'code officers' drive around and find a lot that breaks the 'code'. They pull up their computer and go to the GIS map provided by the county. They use the nifty little tool to click a spot on the map that corresponds to the property in question and then generate a letter to the address signified according the mapping data.

Here is my property according to that county map:

See anything wrong there? Well according to the data that comes off the official legal document (the deed) This is the info about my property:

Of note you see "# of Bldgs: 1" and "Acres: .3100"

Now lets use the GIS tools to map out the plot in the pretty picture:

Interesting... 1.5 acres. Now I do NOT pay property taxes on 1.5 acres or 3 homes, as the GIS data shows. After talking with the County (Oklahoma County) authority, I was informed that the municipal authority could not use that GIS map as a legal means since the data was not correct and there was no guarantee behind it. However, the city 'code officer' tells me that according to state statutes they are supposed to use what the county provides, which to them means this GIS map.

What's the worst part? Here is the disclaimer you see (even the city sees this), when accessing the Oklahoma County GIS mapping tools (found here):

What? I asked the 'code officer' about that. He called the county, he tells me that the county told him that that site is publicly available and that the disclaimer is there for the public. That even though there is a disclaimer that says 'does not constitute a legal survey' the city is supposed to use this map.

I'm confused and on a mission. This is NOT acceptable.

Until next time

May 11, 2009

a linux tip

If you're considering switching to Ubuntu, or any desktop flavor of linux, the first thing I would tell you to do is this:

Find out what hardware you are running. Especially for notebooks.

Having probably used Windows (or even MacOSX) for any period of time has probably shielded you from the pain of having to deal with hardware issues. That is unless you've done a clean install of your OS, or maybe you've seen a glimpse of this frustration by trying to connect a printer to Windows Vista. =]

At first you may be thinking something like this: Windows takes care of that for me so it must be better.

Wrong. When was the last time you installed Windows from scratch? Well I got news for you. Windows didn't take care of that hardware compatibility for you. Do a little research and find out what an OEM is. Yeah, the people that put the computer together for you, they're the one who resolved the hardware issues. Just think, if there were more OEM's that would sell a linux OS out of the box how little then would these hardware issues be?

So, dig in and find out what you are running. A few of the most common gotcha pieces of hardware is:
  • wireless adapter (whether built in or external)
  • video card
  • sound card
Find out what you have, write it down somewhere for safekeeping. When looking into linux do a bit of research. Google is your friend. Search for your hardware with words like 'linux compatible' or 'ubuntu'. If there are problems then I can almost guarantee you that someone has already ran into them and resolved them.

Ways to find out your hardware:
  • from the distributor (toshiba, hp, compaq, dell, lenovo... etc.)
  • in Windows look under the Device Manager
  • if you're already in linux then just google it for your distro, some have simple ways, just don't be afraid to use the command line
Take your time and have fun. If you don't like it then don't use it.