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Just A. Surveyor
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dgm-pls, I gotta chime in on this.

"At some places that I have worked, the staff couldn't get out the door fast enough at quitting time.  Not all but a large percentage".  Well they call it quitting time for a reason. 

The people that you see there later would nearly always be the people that were interested in promotions and raises (and know how to earn them). This is one of those topics that tends to get me in trouble but to suggest that a raise is determined by who is willing to work overtime for free is part and parcel with many of the problems we have as a profession.

The other factor that would help boost the mentoring side is to pay lower staff a wage higher than they can make at home depot.  Now you're talking. I see so many survey companies prostituting themselves and paying their workers cheaper than a street walking hooker. And they wonder why they can't find or keep employees.

No one forces us to pay people certain wages other than economic realities.  Today's economics should have all levels virtually swimming in cash.  Are they?Are you kidding me? Surveyors are the only group of people that will buy expensive equipment that allows them to do a job more efficiently and faster and charge less. It is the damndest thing I have ever seen in my life and they go through mental contortions justifying it. And because they habitually work for wages they rarely if ever make a profit, can't pay people good salaries with benefits, pay bonuses or buy new equipment. And I am probably describing half the posters here.

I see most early entries into the survey world as people that are making ok money but they have to live farther and farther away from their work area to keep up with the cost factors of living.  This reduces quality of life for a lot of people and also keeps people from thinking that this profession is worthy of advancement.  Part of that is a sales job on "our" part and part of that is being real about pay scales.  You get what you pay for in nearly all cases.

You will find most surveyors working well into their retirement years and it is typically in those retirement years that they finally realize they have been underpricing their work for decades but it is usually too late for them to make a correction as the damage is done and their fate is sealed and they will be swinging a bush axe in their twilight years instead of fishing or spending time with grandkids. Many (most) are good men and good surveyors but they are piss poor businessmen and the folks they have trained up and mentored learn those same poor business practices and the cycle repeats itself. Most surveyors could double or triple their fees before they get to where they actually need to be to pay decent wages, buy good equipment and offer decent benefits.

I love surveying but I would not recommend it for anyone.

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dgm-pls
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@just-a-surveyor

Just to politely counter, I never said the ones staying were working.  Many were there learning.  I never advocate working for free to anyone at any time.  My general recommendation to those getting started (and never directed at subordinates as a condition of either employment or other gains) is to spend between 15 and 30 minutes every day learning something that you didn't know at the start of the day.  It will be a pain in the rear end at the beginning but after 6 months to a year the difference can be staggering. 

On surveyors being bad with respect to business, here here.  Couldn't agree more.  And I agree on the retirement savings comment completely.  I have asked many people what they would have done differently to get ready for retirement and not one person said they saved to much.  This isn't just a survey problem but a nationwide problem.

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Jack Chiles
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@just-a-surveyor

The people that you see there later would nearly always be the people that were interested in promotions and raises (and know how to earn them). This is one of those topics that tends to get me in trouble but to suggest that a raise is determined by who is willing to work overtime for free is part and parcel with many of the problems we have as a profession.

Steven, I think that staying after work and learning about the profession is the equivalent to attending class. Last time I went to class, I had to pay the teachers. Most of the new guys I have observed today want me to pay them to go class. I want the ambitious guy who is determined to work hard, attend formal classes to learn theory and then listen to the veterans who will teach newcomers if they are willing to learn. Their goal is to become the best at whatever they try. There aren't too many of those around, though.

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Just A. Surveyor
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@jack-chiles

Oh.....I see how it is. You have to stay late on your own time to learn and be trained, mentored and taught.

That DOG DON'T HUNT!

This is not 1960 where people have a dutiful little wife at home caring for the kids with dinner waiting for when you come dragging in. People have long commutes and other things to do besides being an indentured servant reducing level notes or reviewing traverse data for free when they could be taking their kids fishing instead. I resent the suggestion that people should be expected to stay late for zero compensation to prove they are worthy because every single one of them have more important things to do than pad your bottom line. 

If they are worth training and show promise then they can be trained and paid. 

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Jack Chiles
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@just-a-surveyor

Steven, are you going to pay for all of their time learning this profession while not at work? You are going to pay for tuition, classes, and books? Really?

My firm will pay for SOME of the classwork, but nowhere near all of it. Name me just 1 profession that pays for all of your expenses while taking classes away from the office or the truck.

 

Sincerely,

Jack Chiles

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Just A. Surveyor
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@jack-chiles

It used to be when a young recruit was hired they were put with an experienced PC & I'M and heck maybe even a Rodman but anyway that boot recruit would learn the basics and if he showed promise he would be shown the ropes. He would be instructed on how to run the rod, instrument and so on. He would be eased into and trained and mentored on the job, the old OJT if you will. Apparently nobody trains anyone anymore and they are expected to stay after work or go to college just to get some doggone basic training.   

I always thought OJT was part of any entry level job and had no idea instant experts existed. 

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Jack Chiles
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@just-a-surveyor

In my opinion, only the PCs with several years of experience mentor. One of the problems is that the PCs were promoted after 1 or 2 years of working with little or no mentoring.  I think the best example of a well-rounded PC is one who has both field and class experience. But my question is who wants to learn theory? I bet that 8 out of the last 10 PCs with whom I have been working could not answer this question correctly:

"Given  2 set of coordinates (points), calculate the angle and bearing between them. Show your work. You may not use a calculator for anything but the trigonometric values of an angle."

I might be wrong, but not by much. Of course, all data collectors do that for you, so why would he (or she) need to?

What I'm getting at is that I agree with your original opinion. It irks me though, because I do not know where we will go from here.

I also believe a lot of of the problem is a product of the schools and the lifestyles of the current generation.

 

But I'm an old curmudgeon.

 

JRC

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Bill93
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@jack-chiles

Your point is valid but your example is poorly stated.  You need 3 pairs of coordinates to calculate an angle, and a given bearing to find the bearing for the other line.

Regarding answering a basic question, I have an elevation that I found written on a stake near my house, but have no idea how it was derived (and I'm not sure if our city public works ever converted).  I saw a solo field guy, probably 50 years old, from the company that did that work, so I asked him if it was NGVD29, NAVD88, and leveled or just GPS derived.

His answer was "we do everything in NAD83."

I didn't pursue the question any further.

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Dave Karoly
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@bill93

"Here" or whatever the local RTN is

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Jack Chiles
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@bill93

I shoulda left off the angle part, but I believe a bearing can stated with the info given. I meant  bearing and distance. Sigh.

 

Can't a bearing be derived using the coordinates given? 

 

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Bill93
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@jack-chiles

Yes, 2 points define a bearing in that coordinate system.  I guess I was thinking of the problem of rotating grid to geodetic, which wasn't part of your example.

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MathTeacher
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@jack-chiles

I'll have to make a mild protest about the schools' role. Note that I said "mild."

A student who has completed Algebra 1 and Geometry should know enough math to solve that problem, with a caveat or two. The student would use the two points to calculate the slope of the line between them. That slope is the tangent of the angle between the line and the x-axis, always between negative 90 degrees and positive 90 degrees, but you would want the angle between the line and the y-axis, counting clockwise from the positive end. The student would likely not know that, so he might be deemed dumb or uneducated, but he's likely neither.

If a new-hire answered your question as he had been taught in school, how would you teach him or her the surveying interpretation of the problem?

Now, the best math students take Algebra 1 in seventh grade and Geometry in eighth grade, except in North Carolina where the EdD's have worked their brand of magic, so nobody knows what they've studied, what they're currently studying, or what they need to study next. Comparatively few middle school teachers have math degrees, so many do not teach the subtleties of slopes and tangents, hence part of the "mild protest." But enough do so that there are a lot of very smart, well-schooled high school freshmen who, with minimal instruction, could grasp that problem in a heartbeat.

As to work ethic and attitudes, consider this. Schools get students 6 hours a day for 180 days each year. That's just over 12% of the total time contained in a year. Undoubtedly, schools could set better examples during their limited time, but their message is just one of thousands bombarding students, some for much more time than the 12% that schools get.

Forgive me, please, but schools bear only part of the blame.

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Duane Frymire
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@mathteacher

I know, not much of a profession without secret terminology.  I knew what a arm bone was as a freshman high school-er (and the neck bones connected to the head bone,etc.), but didn't find it Humerus until I broke it several years later and a doctor let me in on it.

When I was teaching surveying, one of the concepts some students had trouble with was the idea that a direction is an angle from some reference line.  When they start to get it the next question is always "why is it different in math (east), basic CAD (west), and now this (north)?" 

And students who didn't have much trouble with the concept with either from rural areas where map and compass were taught as part of hunting with family, or if from urban areas had been involved in Scouting. 

Schools used to enhance rather than take the place of parenting.  Seems to me it's the idea schools can do it all that is misguided; the evidence of the past 40 years shows not.

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MathTeacher
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@duane-frymir

One of my friends who was a far better teacher than I was asked a class which way North was. A fair number of them pointed up; that's what they saw on wall maps!

My dad was a terrible teacher. A furniture maker with a ton of experience, he expected every new hire to have all of his knowledge coming in. Lots of disappointment and turnover.

Teaching is hard, especially when there's work to be done. Patience wears thin, but creating good help is the first step toward keeping them, so training and mentoring is a must.

 

 

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Dave Karoly
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@mathteacher

Once upon a time I taught people how to fly airplanes.  When I passed the Flight Instructor practical test I thought I just needed an eloquent spiel for each operation, wow I was wrong, couldn't be more wrong.

Mostly it comes down to a little bit of talk which goes in one ear and out the other (if they understand 10% of what I just said that's good), then go out and coach coach coach, let them fly, let them make mistakes, try not to interfere too much unless danger requires it.  My flight instructor experience came in very handy teaching my children how to drive which is a lot scarier.

Most people have a pretty good sense of direction.  We would take off and go out to the practice area.  Most people in a lesson or two could get themselves back to the airport.  I had this one student, he had zero sense of direction.  That was a trip, could never figure out how to get back to the airport which is required.  Pilots have to be able to find their way around, very little of it is in a computer.

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BStrand
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Posted by: @dgm-pls

Today's economics should have all levels virtually swimming in cash.  Are they?  I see most early entries into the survey world as people that are making ok money but they have to live farther and farther away from their work area to keep up with the cost factors of living.

This is something I spend more time thinking about than I wish I did.  When I got out of school I doubled my pay overnight just from being a degree holder which was great.  But since then even though the economy has been on fire it seems like I can't afford to live any better.  I truly don't understand it.

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Just A. Surveyor
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@BStrand when it comes to money and the topic of this thread I am an outlier. I believe that most surveyors underprice their work product by a factor of 2 or 3, meaning they would have to raise their current fees 2 or 3 times to actually get to a point where they are making enough money to:

1) to hire competent people.

2) pay those competent people a decent wage higher than they can make working at a less demanding job. Let's face it most entry level survey help are paid less than Home Depot pays a shelf stocker.

3) you have to have the budget to train.

4) benefits. Few small companies pay benefits and there is no reason why they shouldn't other than the glaring reality that they are cheap a$$'es. They are the low price leaders.

5) modernize their equipment. I know of no less than 4 surveyors near me who are using DOS programs. 

 Look, I know I am an outlier and I realize most surveyors are going to deny what I'm writing about and loudly proclaim for the world to hear, "I am not a cheap a$$ surveyor, it's the other guy" . They are going to continue with their head in the sand.

Think about this; How many surveyors actually build profit into the jobs? 

How many charge full freight for travel?

How many charge for research or consultation?

How many actually treat their field crews and drafters as 100% efficient when they are usually closer to 65% efficient?

How many charge for go backs to set pins?

And on and on.

It is all those things combined that have the surveyors backed into a corner. They have painted themselves into a corner and can't get out. Oh, to be sure their billing rates might actually be reasonable but they do not use them and are just for show. They may have a $175 hr 2 man crew rate but will send them out to do a small job and spend 5 hours traveling and doing the job then take it back to the office for another couple of hours drafting at $85 hour and only charge $650.

More often than not their crew rates are just for show.

It only takes 1 or 2 surveyors in an area charging cut rate prices and it will be a race to the bottom but when you have double or triple that number offering up cut rate prices it will be incredibly tough.

I have been saying for a long time that most surveyors are good and decent men and most are good surveyors but they are pi$$ poor businessmen. They are good technicians but terrible businessmen who know nothing of economics. I am a huge advocate for the state societies to drop the slavish devotion of offering technical seminars with subject matter we are all familiar with and instead offer 2 day workshops on The Economics of Running a Small Business. This should be offered nationwide at every technical seminar and never end. We don't need to hear from Jeff Lucas preaching about deed interpretations or the latest geoid crap. We need business topics.  

Incidentally I just let my Idaho license lapse.

Now cue the wailing and gnashing of teeth, 3,2,1.

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Field Dog
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Posted by: @just-a-surveyor

5) modernize their equipment.

My wife, an accountant, once told me a certain percentage of profit should go towards capital expenditure. Are those DOS programs you describe used for COGO?

Posted by: @just-a-surveyor

How many charge for research or consultation?

If you were an attorney, the answer would be obvious.

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Just A. Surveyor
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@field-dog

COGO, drafting and database. Old obsolete programs on old obsolete computers.

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Loyal
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Posted by: @just-a-surveyor

@field-dog

COGO, drafting and database. Old obsolete programs on old obsolete computers.

I resemble that remark!

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Just A. Surveyor
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@loyal

Paraphrasing Admiral Perry, I have seen the problem and it is us.

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Dave Lindell
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@just-a-surveyor

I always heard it as "I have seen the enemy and it us" attributed to Pogo, the cartoon character.

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Just A. Surveyor
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@dave-lindell

It was from Commodore Perry during the 2nd American Revolution (War of 1812), and I took some major liberties with the paraphrase.

 

“We have met the enemy and they are ours. Two ships, two brigs, one schooner and one sloop.”

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RADAR
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@just-a-surveyor

13106f26eac7f4b155a87215cb8e792c

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Just A. Surveyor
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@dougie

Oh I just love witty posts like this.......it makes me just want to smash things.

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RADAR
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@just-a-surveyor

You're welcome...

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Just A. Surveyor
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@dougie

Alright, you made me smile with that, but I still want to smash things.

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aliquot
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@just-a-surveyor

Some DOS programs are more appropriate for a boundary surveyor than the latest version of civil3d. 

I agree with all your points except this one. Modernizing is only beneficial if it allows you to increase your efficiency more than enough to make up for the cost, including the learning curve, and reduced billable hours if you charge by the hour. 

The value of a land surveyor's services is in their expertise, not their labor. It still takes as much time to cut a mile of line as it did 40 years ago. There is still room on some crews for a low paid laborer to cut lines amd dig holes for monuments, but for the most part you are spot on about the wage problem. 

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Just A. Surveyor
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@aliquot

Not saying they are not capable. I will say that those surveyors have shot themselves in the foot and eliminated any possibility of hiring anyone by not modernizing their equipment and software.

Look, I get it, most of you guys are bloody Luddites but it is because of that refusal to charge a little more every quarter for your work and spend a little on equipment and personnel that nobody wants to do this work anymore.

And besides, you will never find a young person willing and able to do this kind of work that will use a old old obsolete DOS based program, I mean what would the point of learning it be because it is a dead end program. You certainly can't brush up your resume by pointing out that you are skilled in C&G DOS from 1994.

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aliquot
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@just-a-surveyor

I am not one of the luddites, and you have a point about hiring, but in at least one area that I have experience in the biggest luddite is the  go to guy for difficult boundaries and he has the highest rates. 

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thebionicman
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@just-a-surveyor

If you learn Starnet on a DOS machine, you can run it in windows. In fact, if you learn it in dos you actually learn statistics. The same is true of trimnet and skipro. For some jobs there is a near zero efficiency gain by modernizing. At this point that's pretty much moot, though true.

The software of today is full of proprietary and flat out incorrect terminology. You will not learn geodesy or statistics while learning the software and god help you if you have to communicate with an actual geodesist.

I am not resistant to change or modernization, but it sickens me to see vendors providing garbage software to people who should know better. 

And while I'm on a rant (not against you mind you), here we are back on measurement. How many firms have group discussions, deconstructing complex boundaries and evidence patterns? Mentoring is not teaching people to punch buttons or recognize icons. We better figure that out or somebody will find another solution that doesnt involve us.

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Williwaw
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I hear your frustration but your argument is seriously flawed. It's modern equipment and software that's eliminated many of the positions that would provide opportunities for mentoring. Gone is the instrument man, replaced by a robot. A third hand is not nearly as essential as when we were stretching chains. I'm not promoting the solo operator, but that's reality for many of us. I hire a university survey student for the summer, but opportunities to mentor are limited. Automation is a double edged sword. But a tool is a tool, and I still use DOS. Teqc is a DOS system with a Windows gui for ease of use. I see in a resume someone knows DOS as well as the latest C3D, I know this individual understands the concept of the right tool for the job. I have to. This problem as I see it has been going on since I first started out. I remember well one surveyor lamenting 20 years ago the profession was in his words, 'eating it's children'. We're unique in that we're required to be on the cutting edge of technology, but required to understand how that line was run a century ago. 

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Loyal
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Posted by: @just-a-surveyor

@aliquot

And besides, you will never find a young person willing and able to do this kind of work that will use a old old obsolete DOS based program, I mean what would the point of learning it be because it is a dead end program. You certainly can't brush up your resume by pointing out that you are skilled in C&G DOS from 1994.

I disagree (a LOT) with that statement.

Would a Title Attorney hire a paralegal (or rookie attorney) to review a title abstract, if he/she couldn't read "cursive?"

Would an airline hire a pilot who only knows how to "let the computer" take off, land, fly?

And so and so forth.

Updating for the sake of "updating," is a fools errand. Obviously there ARE things (equipment, software, etc.) that SHOULD be reasonably "up to date," but that doesn't mean that some of the "old" equipment/software isn't the BEST tool for the job at hand.

2 bits

Loyal

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Just A. Surveyor
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@loyal

I am not saying to update just for the sake of updating, for heavens sake I have not said that, and I am an advocate for getting the most out of your equipment but doggone it when the newest computer device or software in the office is older than the people you're likely to hire I would submit that you will probably not have much success and it can all be traced to falling behind in the pricing and technology.

Surveyor X buys the latest new fangled computer and software in 1993 and it costs a lot back then but soon thereafter Windows comes out but he is still paying for the stuff he bought in 93. So, he soldiers on as he should and forgoes updating, and the Windows 95 comes out and then XP comes out, and then Vista, and MX or something like that, well now we are in Windows 10 and by golly Surveyor X is still trying to use a 26 year old program and can't find anybody who knows how to use the old obsolete crap he has.

I truly do get it, and I am not suggesting that the old DOS programs were not (are not still capable) but there comes a time when you have to accept the reality and raise your bloody rates and charge more money and buy something built in this century. Go up on your prices quarterly, do not skip it, do not blow it off or think it is not needed.

Because Surveyor X fell asleep at the wheel and still uses the same pricing structure as he did 25 years ago NOW in order to make the necessary changes he would have to triple his prices (maybe more) and he cannot bring himself to do that so he soldiers on dragging the entire area down. 

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A Harris
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@just-a-surveyor

To burst a bubble

Today's Carlson Cad programs contain and are built around their original program written for Apple and converted into a DOS Cogo program that was called Surveyor1 COGO and it is still the best COGO surveying program on the market in MVHO. Bruce is the man. He allowed it to go public and it is included in SMI and TDS programming. All hail DOS, it is everlasting.

0.02

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Just A. Surveyor
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@a-harris

I knew that.

 

C:\

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Squirltech
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We are a large firm and see this "lack of mentoring" across all offices. To help curb some of the lack of knowledge, the department I'm in visits our satellite offices and we cover the basics. Everything from GPS theory and proper traverse geometry to processing field data.

We typically operate with two man crews these days.

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James Fleming
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I find the term "satellite office" offensive... we're on the front lines of the aggressive regional expansion out here while you all lounge in the rear area eating breakfast tacos.

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Dave Karoly
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@james-fleming

I'm from Headquarters and I'm here to HELP!

One time we drove into a Fire Station out in the boondocks, the first number on my truck indicates HQ, my partner jumps out and says, "we are here to make sure you have the regulation number of pencils."  You should've seen the deer in the headlights look on that Fire Captain's face.

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Just A. Surveyor
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@james-fleming

Better than fish tacos, those things are a foul and disgusting use for a piece of nasty imported Chinese tilapia fed and grown on waste products. A better use would be to throw them in the trash. 

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