DC by Map.

Two weeks ago we loaded up the family truckster and headed out on a 10 day 9 night camping vacation. No worries: we're campers, it's not a big deal to myself, my wife or my four kids to plan and enjoy 7 days sleeping in a tent. 

What's different about this trip was the "urban-ness" of the campground. Greenbelt Park is a nice enough campground. The sites were fairly level, bathrooms tolerable, (see my Yelp review) water was cold and accessible. That's all an aside, what is important now is what I used to navigate from Greenbelt Park to downtown Washington DC and back and getting around while we were down there. Yes we planned on driving downtown, taking the Metro downtown from Greenbelt roundtrip for 6 people was $48.

For a few days I banged my head against the marble walls using Apple Maps and BestParking apps. too frustrating.

This was not a 'no tech' vacation. A flatlander in Washington DC trying to keep track of 4 younglings while searching for the best parking space or photogenic angle of any one of a dozen different memorials NEEDS a smartphone. 


My Daughter figured out the interactive map in about 4 seconds. (pretty sure it's operations dashboard)

My Daughter figured out the interactive map in about 4 seconds. (pretty sure it's operations dashboard)

My first premonition should have been the LTE. Verizon LTE was spotty, Oh I had coverage, it just seemed to be bogged down. Lots of apps wouldn't work without LTE. Apple maps was one of them. Google Maps? Flawless on 3G. I should have switched then. Also Apple maps insisted that I make a U-turn about every other block, (without missing a turn). Their options are so limited it make me wish for my Garmin eTrex. You don't notice it when you are cruising around highways of Illinois or I-80, but in downtown DC in the height of bumper-to-bumper rush hour traffic, I cannot make a u-turn. Eventually for general navigation I chose Google maps over Apple maps & Waze. The 3-D view of Washington in Apple Maps was cool, but I still say 3D is not practical. 


The BestParking app never actually pointed me in the right direction,  it puts a pin on the general side of the block. want directions? That's an in-app purchase. Also they seemed to advertise specials, or prices for hybrids or some such thing not daily or hourly prices. After a few stressful searches, I ended up using 'ParkMobile', an app advertised on DC's own parking meters. I could even "feed the meter" from the app*. Also just biting the bullet and paying for a parking garage helped too. To find the garage again, I usually marked the location with a star on my Google map app. Simplicity. Did I mention how bad traffic was? 

Overall Needed DC apps

The Metro transfer station under the Archives.  

The National Park Service has a GREAT app that's a simple map with pins on it It's called 'National Mall'. I used that map several times each day, it was a life saver and a must-have for tourists. It has locations of main attractions as well as public bathrooms. Note: the National Aquarium has not been around for several years, but it's still on the map. Also on the one day that we took the Metro downtown the best app was the simplest. 'Metro Map' showed your location and the locations of the trains. That's all it did. No planner, no purchase of tickets just a simple map. Done. After that use logic and common sense. Of course when we did splurge and eat out, I used Yelp to find appropriately priced eateries for a family of 6. I also purchased the National Zoo app for $1.99 but that was mostly for Family Share so that my daughters could see the webcam of the Giant Panda cubs. 


Lessons Learned. 

The simpler the app the better. The Time & Navigation Exhibit in the Air & Space Museum was the best, but the t-shirt is $38. Parking on the street changes at rush hour. It's 2 miles from Lincoln to the Capital. The Potomac is kinda smelly. You can get soft-serve ice cream and $1 bottle waters from street vendors. The Archives charges twice as much for their copies of the Constitution as the Smithsonians. Parking tickets in DC are $100. Security guards in the Capital do not smile. Aaron Shock's office is still red. View from the steps of Lincoln is awesome. Meet Larry the volunteer at the National Zoo. 

Panoramic view of the Capital under renovation for 2017 inauguration. 

Using ArcGIS Pro on a MacBook Pro

Pro on Pro (on Pro)

I've committed to learning Esri's ArcGIS Pro. Problem is, I use a Apple MacBook as my primary GIS machine and most software from Esri only runs on Windows. Up to this point, this is no big deal because ArcMap is 32-bit and not very memory intensive. It's been running on Parallels for Mac just fine for 2 1/2 years. Things change. 

ArcGIS Pro Running on Parallels for Mac in 3D

I had played with the Beta a while ago, and it didn't run too well on my current system. The display flickered & stuttered quite a lot and seemed to be constantly loading something. In anticipation for full release of ArcGIS Pro v1.0, I upgraded to the most current version of Parallels (10) and doubled my RAM to 16GB. Unfortunately, these easy answers didn't help with the display, I was still getting jumpy navigation and 3D felt like it was on Windows 2000. Great. Felt like i just blew $200 in upgrades. :-/

Last week during the Esri Business Partner Conference I spoke to a few virtualization experts who were demonstrating  ArcGIS Pro on a virtual machine. (it seemed like they were there waiting just for me!) We spoke about my set up, there was a bit of nose-wrinkling but I looked around and pointed out about a dozen or so Macs throughout the Expo center. You have to do this when you talk about Esri software running on a Mac. Do I even need top point out how Apple was the only PC maker to have double digit growth in the past year?  Point is there will be a lot of people trying to figure out how to run ArcGIS Pro on their MacBooks and the folks at the conference helped me out so I pass along that info to you: 

Very UnOfficial Benchmark Testing In ArcGIS Pro in Parallels and VMware Fusion
  • Don't use open source virtualization. Virtual Box is nice if you aren't doing anything serious but doesn't have the options or horsepower that a production machine requires. VM Ware Fusion and Parallels are virtually identical in benchmark testing with ArcGIS Pro. 
  • Do upgrade your RAM. I moved from 8 to 16 and dedicate a full 8 GB to my virtual machine. Parallels allows me do shave off another 2GB to the Video Memory still leaving 6 GB to run the MacBook. 
  • Do use DirectX9 instead of 10. I know this is counterintuitive but the virtualization experts told me that ArcGIS Pro uses DirectX11 by default if it's available then jumps down to DirectX9. There is some compatibility issue with DirectX10. Parallels has options for OpenGL, DirectX10 and DirectX9. My video stuttering problems STOPPED when I chose DirectX9. 
  • Do change ArcGIS Pro Display Options. Go ahead and monkey with the settings a little. Make sure your 3D accelerator matches your VM host. Enable Vertical Synchronization, and test the Speed --|-- Quality slider. I also set my system to delete the cache after I close the project. 
  • Do use a host machine with a Nvidia Graphics card. MacBooks with Retina displays usually have one of these but you can check to make sure. Unfortunately, I do not. Download the 'Clear Sailing' Nvidia demo to test your system. 


Final Notes:

Every system is a bit different. ArcGIS Pro is programmed to use a GPU if it's available. My Expert friends inform me that VMware Fusion leverages the GPU for 3D acceleration, but does not support GPU true pass-through. Parallels tries to create a virtual GPU by assigning RAM directly to 3D acceleration but it's not a direct GPU either. Look for this technology to keep advancing. I an a firm believer in SSD drives. I have two right now, one is completely for the Windows VM.