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Alex Mahrou
Alex Mahrou is a weblog covering hot topics, trends, product reviews, and lifestyle in the Geospatial industry written from the viewpoint of a working Geospatial Professional, Alex Mahrou.

Lightsquared & GPS- A Balanced View

May 25th, 2011 by Alex Mahrou
Just last Monday, I published an article in Directions Magazine entitled “Whats’ the deal with the Lightsquared/GPS clash?“. Within an hour of publishing, I get an email from someone I don’t know, and they tell me that I should have told a different story. How polite of them (see below).

GeoExplorer 6000 Review (Part 1 – Canopy Challenge)

April 7th, 2011 by Alex Mahrou


The internet tends to be a place of ‘ADD’ and short-lived attention spans when it comes to readers looking at content (trust me, I’m guilty).  That’s why I’m deciding to publish my review of the new GeoExplorer® 6000 into four parts.  Tiny bite size pieces are the way to go, given today’s hustle and bustle.

Welcome to part 1.  On a cold snowy morning some few weeks ago, I took my GeoExplorer® 6000 loaner (from Seiler Instruments) out to meet Tim Smith, the National Park Service’s GPS Program Coordinator.  If anyone knows about GPS under canopy, it’s this guy.  Around a foot of snow had fallen overnight in beautiful Conifer, Colorado helping to load up the evergreen trees around our GPS test course.  The loaded canopy can be a  GPS unit’s worst nightmare.  I thought to myself, “This was exactly how I’d like to put this unit through it’s paces”.

We occupied a total of three monuments.  All of them were shot in with a survey-grade total station.  The horizontal and vertical coordinates were of very high accuracy. Besides the GeoExplorer®, we hooked up a Zephyr antenna, and dialed in to the Trimble® VRSNow™ service.
VRSNow™ Coverage USA

Trimble GeoExplorer Review Preview

March 22nd, 2011 by Alex Mahrou

I just wanted to post a preview for my upcoming review of the GeoExplorer 6000 series.  I’ve been a little busy lately with other work (go figure.)  In my previous post, I outlined the history of the GeoExplorer Series, and promised an in-depth review.

I received my GeoExplorer last week from Seiler Instruments (Thanks Jay and Lanny!) and just finished my final test last Sunday 3/20/11.  Here is what I’ve performed for my testing….

  1. Canopy Testing: Tim Smith at the NPS loaned me his Saturday and his GPS Test course at his house in Conifer, CO for this test.
  2. Urban Canyon:  I drove around the streets of downtown Denver streaming a Polyline feature in TerraSync.  This was probably the hardest test.
  3. Quick static occupations of NGS Control around the Greater Denver Area.  Just to see how accurate this receiver would be against known control that a surveyor would reference.
  4. Relative Precision: I set out some measuring tape in Washington Park in Denver and measured set lengths of 10 feet.  I tested the VRSNow network as well as the beta test the new little known about NGS CORS NTRIP streaming service.
For all of my tests, I used VRSNow or the NGS Streaming Service.  There is so much more to share.  However I’ll just post a preview below of my Downtown Streaming test.  Trimble had a dataset that they used in their GeoExplorer 6000 series webinar for downtown.  I wanted to see just how repeatable this sort of data was.  I used an external Zephyr Antenna (Provided by Frontier Precision) and VRS.  Note: You will need the Google Earth Plugin to view the frame below.  What you are seeing below has not been edited!  Trying to pull off a polyline like this in the first pass can be a pain; that’s no longer the case with this reciever.

Trimble GeoExplorer Timeline

February 20th, 2011 by Alex Mahrou
GeoExplorer 6000 Series

GeoExplorer 6000 Series

The new GeoExplorer® 6000 Series was just released on February 17th, 2011. We are now coming close to 15 years of the GeoExplorer® series. I thought it prudent to create a timeline for this product’s history and notable specification changes. Take heed, as this timeline might make some feel like old-timers to the game of Mobile GIS. It is amazing how far the hardware has come. The original GeoExplorer® I/II (circa 1996) boasted 250Kb of storage, a 6 Channel GPS Receiver, and AA Batteries (not included). Fast forward to 2011 and the New GeoExplorer® 6000 Series is boasting 2Gb of Storage and a 220 Channel GPS Receiver…. Read More at

How I’m preparing for the ArcGIS Desktop Associate Exam

January 27th, 2011 by Alex Mahrou

I plan on taking the ArcGIS Desktop Associate Exam in early February 2011.  Until then, I’ve devised a plan to prepare for it.  I’m sticking to this strict schedule.  If everything works out according to plan and I pass, I’ll change the title to this post “How to pass the ArcGIS Desktop Associate Exam” :-).

First things first, I examined the “Training Resources” tab on the ESRI Technical Certification | ArcGIS Desktop Associate webpage.

Under the “Web Training” and “Training Seminars” sections, ‘Editing in ArcGIS Desktop 10‘ and ‘Using ArcMap in ArcGIS 10‘, ‘Geocoding in ArcGIS 10‘, and ‘Introduction to ArcGIS Explorer Online‘ are all FREE of CHARGE.  Then, upon some more digging I found some more free seminars and virtual campus courses. Now take heed here, there are 100’s of hours of free training online, so try to prioritize your selection.

My next step was to download a 60 day evaluation copy of ArcGIS along with the tutorial data DVD.  The install includes an ArcEditor license, as well as an evaluation to 10 popular extensions.

Third, my ultimate insurance policy, take an online training.  I looked around for anyone offering an online training on ArcGIS desktop exam preparation, and I found the Keck & Wood ArcGIS Desktop Exam Prep class.

Why do I call this an insurance policy?  Well if you read my blog post comparing GIS certifications, you would learn that if you fail an ESRI Certification Course, you can take it up to three times.  However, you will be charged for each subsequent test.

The Keck & Wood class is led by Trip Corbin, who is a certified ArcGIS Desktop Associate, GISP, and an award-winning ESRI instructor.  The cost of signing up for the online training is worth the extra confidence that I will have to pass the test the first time, and get this sought after cert as soon as possible.


  1. Scour the ESRI website for free virtual campus courses and seminars
  2. Download a 60 Day evaluation of ArcGIS desktop
  3. Sign up for some online training
Please leave comments on how you are preparing or how you have passed any of the ESRI certification tests.  Check back with me mid February, and I’ll let you know how my plan went!
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