f-yeah GIS

A Fuck Yeah for GIS! Ask questions, get help, share your projects, and get involved!

Curated By Jonah


Things that are annoying: the USGS website won’t let me download elevation data for my GIS project (it keeps coming up with a stupid generic error) and I want to throw something before I’ve even opened ArcMap.



29 hours of map edits, HOT response to the current Ebola outbreak

via Mapbox


Nobody lives here: The nearly 5 million Census Blocks with zero population

A Block is the smallest area unit used by the U.S. Census Bureau for tabulating statistics. As of the 2010 census, the United States consists of 11,078,300 Census Blocks. Of them, 4,871,270 blocks totaling 4.61 million square kilometers were reported to have no population living inside them. Despite having a population of more than 310 million people, 47 percent of the USA remains unoccupied.

Green shading indicates unoccupied Census Blocks. A single inhabitant is enough to omit a block from shading

Quick update: If you’re the kind of map lover who cares about cartographic accuracy, check out the new version which fixes the Gulf of California. If you save this map for your own projects, please use this one instead.

Map observations

The map tends to highlight two types of areas:

  • places where human habitation is physically restrictive or impossible, and
  • places where human habitation is prohibited by social or legal convention.

Water features such lakes, rivers, swamps and floodplains are revealed as places where it is hard for people to live. In addition, the mountains and deserts of the West, with their hostility to human survival, remain largely void of permanent population.

Of the places where settlement is prohibited, the most apparent are wilderness protection and recreational areas (such as national and state parks) and military bases. At the national and regional scales, these places appear as large green tracts surrounded by otherwise populated countryside.

At the local level, city and county parks emerge in contrast to their developed urban and suburban surroundings. At this scale, even major roads such as highways and interstates stretch like ribbons across the landscape.

Commercial and industrial areas are also likely to be green on this map. The local shopping mall, an office park, a warehouse district or a factory may have their own Census Blocks. But if people don’t live there, they will be considered “uninhabited”. So it should be noted that just because a block is unoccupied, that does not mean it is undeveloped.

Perhaps the two most notable anomalies on the map occur in Maine and the Dakotas. Northern Maine is conspicuously uninhabited. Despite being one of the earliest regions in North America to be settled by Europeans, the population there remains so low that large portions of the state’s interior have yet to be politically organized.

In the Dakotas, the border between North and South appears to be unexpectedly stark. Geographic phenomena typically do not respect artificial human boundaries. Throughout the rest of the map, state lines are often difficult to distinguish. But in the Dakotas, northern South Dakota is quite distinct from southern North Dakota. This is especially surprising considering that the county-level population density on both sides of the border is about the same at less than 10 people per square mile.

Finally, the differences between the eastern and western halves of the contiguous 48 states are particularly stark to me. In the east, with its larger population, unpopulated places are more likely to stand out on the map. In the west, the opposite is true. There, population centers stand out against the wilderness.


Ultimately, I made this map to show a different side of the United States. Human geographers spend so much time thinking about where people are. I thought I might bring some new insight by showing where they are not, adding contrast and context to the typical displays of the country’s population geography.

I’m sure I’ve all but scratched the surface of insight available from examining this map. There’s a lot of data here. What trends and patterns do you see?


  • The Gulf of California is missing from this version. I guess it got filled in while doing touch ups. Oops. There’s a link to a corrected map at the top of the post.
  • Some islands may be missing if they were not a part of the waterbody data sets I used.


©mapsbynik 2014
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
Block geography and population data from U.S. Census Bureau
Water body geography from National Hydrology Dataset and Natural Earth
Made with Tilemill
USGS National Atlas Equal Area Projection

(via sandypoint)


At a community meeting at Bridging Communities in Northwest Southwest Detroit also known as Claytown or Lil-IB or Chadsey or Mcgraw Martin #raizup #maps #gis #organize I love maps


You’re onto something with your tumblr blog. It’s quirky and interesting, but you haven’t posted anything new in a bazillion years! Anti-geoawesomeness. :-(

Still, I want to help you and the cause. I’m going to reblog all your posts and pick up where you left off because well, I think it’s pretty cool and I need to amuse myself.

So yeah…um…YOINK!



Seeing as I like posting about GIS things that affect my life, one thing I’m planning to do soon is to take the ArcGIS Desktop Associate 10.1 exam. Even though I’ve been using GIS software for over six years now, I’ve only been working professionally for a few years. So, ESRI offers various exams to test your GIS/ArcGIS knowledge, and I’m taking the Associate 10.1 exam because I feel the most confident that it’s the one I’m most prepared for. While I am confident in my map skillz, I’d rather not chance the Professional exam just yet, and instead start somewhere I feel comfortable.

How do I actually feel about these ESRI exams though? I don’t think they really equate to a professional certification, the way undergraduate engineers take the FE exam before getting a job, but I do think it’s a nice benchmark certificate to add a little zing to a resume. It seems It’s not so much about GIS concepts as it’s about knowing ArcGIS really well, take that as you will. That can include knowing how various concepts and tools work, but sometimes it’s just about where to find some button. Whether you’re looking for a new job, or trying to show your current job how qualified you are, it can’t hurt if you pass and you’re ok with dropping a lil dough to take it. For someone like me who is considering a GISP potentially in the next few years, it’s worth a shot, right?

Anyway, for anyone looking to prep for one of these Desktop exams, the legit study guides are for sale (a ripoff? you tell me.) but there’s a few free sample question sites online, which I’ll bullet below:

Anyway, I’ll be studying! By the way, ESRI doesn’t specify a score you need to get in order to pass, but people speculate it’s around an 80%. I know this exam draws a lot of mixed opinions, but I’d rather take it myself before I draw any conclusions.

Happy Mapping!



I just applied for two different GIS Analyst/Developer jobs both located in San Francisco. I have no issue with my current job other than it’s too far of a commute. I hope I hear back soon from one or both of them. I’d love to work in the City. Plus I’d be able to take BART to and from work. It’d save me gas and milage on my car. Fingers crossed! 😃🌃🌇🚎🚈


Like what even in the good hell is this road insanity?


ArcSDE as a sandwich.  One or Ten layers its fine, Hit Spinal Tap’s coveted Eleven, and it shits the bed. 


ArcSDE as a sandwich.  One or Ten layers its fine, Hit Spinal Tap’s coveted Eleven, and it shits the bed. 


The Mercator Projection is the biggest myth about the Earth that we pass on (often unknowingly) to our children.  OK, I don’t know if it is the biggest but it certainly builds the wrong perception of the globe.

The Mercator projection was originally designed in the mid 1500’s.  A highly useful projection because it kept course lines constant.  A ship’s navigator could plot a course with a straight line from one port to another.  No map projection can keep all features accurate, so the Mercator projection distorts the size and shape of large objects.  Land masses at the Equator appear smaller and land masses at the poles are magnified significantly.


A few points lifted from Wikipedia:

  • Greenland takes as much space on the map as Africa, when in reality Africa’s area is 14 times greater and Greenland’s is comparable to Algeria’s alone.
  • Alaska takes as much area on the map as Brazil, when Brazil’s area is nearly five times that of Alaska.
  • Finland appears with a greater north-south extent than India, although India’s is greater.
  • Antarctica appears as the biggest continent, although it is actually the fifth in terms of area.

The Mercator projection is not suited for a general reference world map due to the distortion of the land areas.  However, if I were a certain Island known as the royal seat for a global empire based on exploration and sail, it would be a great projection as my Island would look bigger.


I like to stun people by showing them the true size of Africa.  Here’s a link to another article with some background on the image above: http://www.economist.com/blogs/dailychart/2010/11/cartography.  My young children have become so familiar with the Mercator projection that it took some explaining to get them to realize what happened.  It also mandated my buying a real globe for the house and tearing up an orange to show how real objects don’t flatten well.

From: From J B Krygier at  http://go.owu.edu/~jbkrygie/krygier_html/geog_222/geog_222_lo/geog_222_lo13.html

From: J B Krygier

The Gall-Peters is a better map to show relative sizes of land mass.  I’ll be looking at this makes you twitch somewhat; reminding yourself of the last time you looked into a fun house mirror that made your head shrink.

It also meets the unwritten rule that wall maps should be perfectly square.  If you don’t need a square map to represent a spherical world, you can use an equal-area map like the Mollweide projection.


No matter which map you choose. Understand what is was meant to show.  Help break the myths created by using the wrong map for the wrong purpose.