Tag Archives: Software

#9 Closer Look: ArcheoLINK Information System

A word about software posts: On this blog, I want to provide review type information about the myriad archaeology software out there, but also want to be clear about what precisely the review represents. In order from least to most rigorous, the different levels of software posts are: Closer Look, Hands-On, and Field Test. In “Closer Look” posts, I write about an application’s features and hypothesize about how an archaeologist might benefit from them. In “Hands-On” posts I write about my experience actually installing an application and trying out some of its basic features. In “Field Test” posts, I write about collecting or processing real data using the application.

Post updated 10/31/13 to include comments and clarifications from QLC, Inc. archaeologist and developer Michiel Kappers [shown in bracketed italics].

ArcheoLINK Background

 ArcheoLINK is a piece of software developed by archaeologists that aims to provide a complete system for archaeology project management, data recording, inventory, and analysis; in short, an Archaeological Information System (AIS). Dutch archaeologists Michiel Kappers, Willem Schnitger, and Elsbeth Westerman originally designed ArcheoLINK to meet their research and project management needs as heritage management archaeologists as well as for academic research in the Caribbean. The company Kappers et al. founded, QLC, Inc. recently created a US version of their software, ArcheoLINK-Americas, that is customized for American academic and CRM archaeologists. Kappers recently visited the Diachronic Design office and gave me a demonstration of both the latest version of ArcheoLINK, as well as some of the features they are currently developing. This post describes each of ArcheoLINK’s feature categories, as well as my thoughts on how field archaeologists might use these features. [Paragraph updated to differentiate between QLC, Inc., the company, and ArcheoLINK-Americas, the US version of the ArcheoLINK software.] Continue reading #9 Closer Look: ArcheoLINK Information System

FAIMS GIS

#8 Hands-On: FAIMS Mobile Data Collector App

A word about software posts: On this blog, I want to provide review type information about the myriad archaeology software out there, but also want to be clear about what precisely the review represents. In order from least to most rigorous, the different levels of software posts are: Closer Look, Hands-On, and Field Test. In “Closer Look” posts, I write about an application’s features and hypothesize about how an archaeologist might benefit from them. In “Hands-On” posts I write about my experience actually installing an application and trying out some of its basic features. In “Field Test” posts, I write about collecting or processing real data using the application.

Background

The Federated Archaeological Information Management System (FAIMS) project is an open source software project by the University of New South Wales in Australia. The project is a subset of the National eResearch Collaboration Tools and Resources (NeCTAR) program, which aims to build new infrastructure for Australian researchers. The goal of FAIMS is to build a comprehensive information system for archaeology that allows archaeologists to collect digital data from sites using mobile devices, process them in local databases, archive data in digital repositories for long-term storage and future reanalysis, and easily exchange data with researchers across the world. The FAIMS mobile app runs on Android devices running version 4.0 or higher of the Android operating system.

 I recently worked on a project customizing the FAIMS data collector for a US CRM company  and creating data entry forms on the mobile application. I worked through the FAIMS cookbook, which explains how to create the different kinds of data entry fields, such as text boxes, calendars, dropdown menus, radio buttons, and even how to add in map layers and shapes using the FAIMS app’s internal vector GIS system (Figure 1).  Continue reading #8 Hands-On: FAIMS Mobile Data Collector App

My camera

#7 Supercharge your Field Camera with CHDK

Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) cameras have loads of features that make it easier to take great photographs like the ability to take RAW images, use intervalometers, or take bracketed shots. The price and size of DSLRs, however, make them somewhat impractable for every field crew to carry one on every project. Instead, companies often send crews out with cheap and easily replaceable point and shoot cameras. Point and shoot cameras with some DLSR features are available, but are more expensive. Few companies are probably willing to pony up for an expensive point and shoot when the dust, weather, and grimy/slippery fingers combo on survey and excavation projects tends to destroy a lot of field cameras. I usually discover this when I go to turn on the camera and find that the shutter refuses to open and the lens extends at a 30 degree angle.

 

Picture of a broken point and shoot camera.
Figure 1. A broken lens, a typical kind of field damage. Picture from flickr user tanakawho.

Do you ever wish that you could supercharge your field camera with some of these advanced features? It turns out that if your camera is a Canon, you can. Let me introduce you to the Canon Hack Development Kit (CHDK). CHDK is a custom firmware (software that runs embedded on a device, think of the software in a car GPS or in a WiFi router) that can unlock these kinds of advanced features, as well as give you a way to program your camera using scripts to add your own custom features.

Continue reading #7 Supercharge your Field Camera with CHDK

Digital and analog archaeology tools shown in the field.

#6 Archaeology Digital Data Tools

For today’s blog post, I wanted to share a table comparing some of the digital tools available to collect, organize, track, and begin analyzing archaeological data. This table is by no means complete, so please add comments of projects not yet listed! If you have personal experience working with one of these programs, feel free to also comment on your experience. I plan to update this table periodically as I get the chance to install and test each one.

(Click through to view the table)