Working with the Oculus

The past few months working as a SIF had a much different vibe. I’ve moved on to much more expansive projects, and to be honest, it has been overwhelming to an extent. Not really because of how much work there is, but just because of how different things are. Each project has a different pace, you work with different people, and you have different goals. It’s rewarding though, since you learn how to adjust to all these things.

A lot of my recent work has been with the Oculus Rift, which is a head mounted device designed for virtual reality. It sounds really cool when you describe it, and it is really cool. However it has been a pain to setup for me because of its specifications needed to run, some of which my laptop doesn’t have. But the times it worked has been very rewarding, and it makes me more excited for the integration of it into some of the projects.

Although there will hopefully be better integration of the Rift with the famous 3d Atlanta, I am specifically excited for a project that we are just now beginning to work on. I don’t believe it has an official name, but I’ll spend the rest of this post to describe it. We are working with an “artistorian” named Glenn who had a brilliant idea of using the Oculus Rift to create a game for those who are blind and eventually determine if they are able to create “mental maps.” The game will be simple: there will be a sound coming from a part of the room and the player will look in that direction in order to pinpoint it. This all may sound very vague, and in this stage it is, but hopefully in the coming weeks we’ll be able to show everyone something and further explore the capabilities of the Rift.

Thanks for reading,


Visualizing the Growth of GSU

I’m coming into my last year at GSU next semester, and it’s getting tougher by the day. This semester has been extremely busy, and I’m beginning to worry how I am going to manage my life after college. I haven’t been able to put as much effort as I wanted to in the SIF program this year, although I have worked on many things throughout the semester. One of these is the GSU Growth Map, and that is what I would like briefly present in this post.

My time as a SIF this semester has mainly been split into two. One half for 3d Atlanta, and the other half for this project. Now I have already talked about 3d Atlanta, and although I can continue talking about, I’ll continue discussing that in a later post. The issue with this other project was that once the idea was told to us in our initial meeting, we were told that the due date for this project was just about a month. Now, when first explained to us, this project seemed pretty large, and we didn’t really have that many people on our team. The project was at follows: create a StoryMap on ArcGIS that displays every single building that GSU has owned or has acquired since its inception, along with photographs that we have permission to use. To make a long story short, the next few weeks consisted of racing against deadlines and running across campus with a professional camera. Fortunately, we got it completed, and I’m proud of the result contributed by myself and the rest of the team.

I had a different feeling for this project. The reason we had such a short timeline was because the president of GSU had intended to use our StoryMap during his address to the university. Now this was a little intimidating, because although we had a short time, we couldn’t complete the project halfheartedly. Another reason it felt different was because this project would also be used for a campaign to raise money for Georgia State, and there was another group full of professionals they hired to complete a project to aid with this. So there was a small hint of competition in this project.

In the end, the other group’s project is really awesome and blows ours out the water, but as I mentioned before, I’m proud of the work my fellow SIFs and I accomplished in such a short amount of time. If you haven’t seen it, the incorporation of our projects can be viewed here.

Thanks for reading,



Progress in 3d Atlanta

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I only worked on a few projects all year from start to finish. However, I never really worked on more than one at a time. This year, I’ve found myself working on 3 projects at a time. It hasn’t been overwhelming; I enjoy all of the things I’ve been working on.

First, as I mentioned in the last post, I have started working on 3d

Second attempt

Second attempt

First attempt

First attempt

Atlanta. I assume most people know what this project is about, but if not, this large project includes creating a 3D world of Atlanta from the 1920s using old photographs. I am apart of the modeling team, and our responsibilities include modeling and texturing buildings for the environment which can be viewed using Oculus Rift. I’ve been learning how to use Blender, a program which is used to create and manipulate 3d models. Now I won’t say  I am an expert at Blender now, but I’ve become really familiar with it, even though my model is very underwhelming. This isn’t necessarily difficult, but unfortunately we’re moving on to more treacherous waters.

The process for the modeling portion is first, you create a 3d model of the building using Blender, and second, you texture the building and  place it in Unity. In other words, you make the building pretty.  As Wasfi, my mentor and guide through all of this, has described it, this part of the process is very tedious and even he doesn’t know that much about it yet. So that makes me just a little worried, but I’m sure I’ll be fine. I think it will be fun to learn just like how it was fun to learn Blender.

I’ll show a picture of my poorly done model of some building windows, but hopefully, the next time I post an update on 3d Atlanta, you’ll see a fully textured, rendered, and realistic building.

New Semester, New Projects

I have officially been in the SIF Program for more than a year, and it has been quite the experience. I am grateful for being given this opportunity. I’ve had many experiences I wouldn’t have been able to predict a couple of years ago. However, I’ll leave a full reflection over my first year as SIF to a future post, perhaps when I don’t have much else to talk about. In this post, I’ll dive into all the things I am working on this year (although I’m actually only talking about one thing).

The first big project I’ve been assigned to was 3D Atlanta. I knew of this project last year and it always intrigued me. The idea was interested and the implementation was amazing. At the SIF showcase last year, I used the Oculus Rift for the first time to look at what the 3D Atlanta team had succeeded in so far and it was astonishing. I wanted to be apart of that since it seemed fun, so I hopped on as soon as I got the chance. I still have a lot to learn however. I am on the development team for 3D Atlanta, which means I am spending most of my time in a 3D modeling program called Blender attempting to create a perfect building, so it wasn’t as fun as I thought it would be.

However, I’m excited to be on this team since this brings me lots and lots of new experiences. I am looking forward to mastering Blender and hopefully I will eventually create something like what I was amazed at a few months ago looking into those Virtual Reality goggles. In the meantime though, as I’m working on this project, this is what my tabs will look like on a normal day.


Finalizing the StoryMap of Atlanta’s Public Transit

In my last post, I gave an overview of the only project I have been working on the past semester (apart from the Tax Maps), and I am proud to say that it’s pretty much completed. So I’ll take the space in this post to talk about some things I learned and experienced during this project.

First off, I think it was actually enjoyable. My team consisted of Amber, Nicole, Alexandra, and Wasfi and it was very fun working with them. I was a sophomore coming into this project, so all the work I’ve done before this was pretty much just related to school, so after I got the grade, the project was pretty much forgotten about. That won’t be the case for this project. This StoryMap will be posted publicly to ArcGIS Online where people I don’t know will be able to see it. Of course it wasn’t all just fun and easiness during the project. There were so many problems and complications we had to go through, most of them not significant but still annoying to deal with. For example, in one meeting we spent 20 minutes figuring out the title of this project, as “Atlanta Mass Transit” didn’t accurately describe the project we created. There were also multiple examples of deciding between very small customization choices, such as what shows up in a popup, what happens when you click on the map, and other things. Usually I could just not worry about these too much, but these among other issues were actually important since this time the project isn’t for a grade but for the public. While we worked on the project, we constantly had to think from the view of our audience and how they will look at the project. Overall, I believe these small issues were worth dealing with because I’m satisfied with the (almost) final result.

Anyway, soon enough everyone will be able to go through the project themselves, but for the time being here’s a small teaser.

Atlanta's Public Transit

Mapping MARTA

Hello everyone,

So I decided to dedicate this month’s blog post to pretty much the only project I’ve been working on the past semester and a half. I feel a little inadequate sometimes when I’m talking to other SIFs and they talk about the many other projects they spend their time on and how they’ve been managing their time throughout all of them. And I’m just sitting there nodding my head, saying “Yeah, I totally relate to what you’re saying” when I don’t relate at all.

I figured since this is my main project, it would be more fitting if I started talking about it. And I guess also I’ll be able to give updates in the future. Getting started…

This project, led by Amber and Nicole, is basically mapping the history of MARTA. How it was originally planned, what we have today, and what never happened. We’re accomplishing this by going through old maps of MARTA, mainly from the Mapping Atlanta collection in the GSU online library. Once we find an old scan of a map showing MARTA lines all over the city, we take it to ArcGIS and essentially trace over the train lines and export a file that we can use on ArcGIS online. We also look into the contexts of these maps, and figure out all the information and history there’s to say about it. Our final goal is to create a StoryMap, an esri tool which is basically a fun way of showing information on a map. We want to make a slightly interactive historical tour of MARTA’s development. I obviously skipped out on a lot of the small details and issues we face, but that’s boring to read about.

We have come a long way, and although there’s a lot left to do, we are coming to the last stretch of this project. Maybe next time I’ll be able to include a teaser.

Thanks for reading,




Exploring ArcGIS

It’s  been a very long time since my last blog post, so I guess I can’t make the excuse that nothing exciting has happened to me so I have nothing to write about. However, after spending a whole semester working at CURVE and as a SIF, I’ve learned so many things and had experiences I never would have thought of just a year ago. Now, that may sound like I’ve been going on crazy adventures as a SIF, but no, it’s much more simpler and I guess boring from an outsider’s perspective. I just find myself constantly attending meetings, working with maps from the 60s, and using software I never knew existed until a few months ago. Either way, all of this IS pretty much an adventure to me in a way, as I’m gaining experiences I would never get if I were to just attend classes and go home just like so many other students.

Last semester, I pretty much worked on one project only, which was the Atlanta Mass Transit Project. Here’s a quick overview of the project: First we search for old, digitized maps of anything regarding the current Marta system, or a future development plan of the rail system. Then we pull up these maps on ArcGIS, and basically trace over the parts of the map that depict train lines. After lots of careful editing, we create a “shapefile” to be exported to ArcGIS online, where we could then upload on a different map which we could then publish for the world to see. Our final objective is to create something called a StoryMap, a feature from ArcGIS which basically contains many different ways to present mapping data. We want to show how MARTA has developed over the years, how it may develop further in the future, and how it may have never developed.

At this point, after the hard work of all the project members of mapping out these train lines, we’ve pretty much depleted all the usable maps from the GSU online collection, so now we’re just sifting through them once again for inaccuracies or maybe just laziness. It is time consuming, and also a strain on the eyes sometimes, but it is really cool when we look at our first draft of our project, in which we overlay the train lines from every single map we’ve used onto one map. There’s still work to be done, but I believe we’ve already passed the hard part. There were lots of other problems with this and with ArcGIS, but I’ll save those complaints for my next post.



This week’s blog post will be much shorter than usual, mainly because I don’t that many new things I can talk about, and partially because I’m extremely tired. I was pretty proud on Friday as a CURVE support specialist. There was an instructor teaching an anatomy class, and she needed some help setting up her tablet to display on the screen. I came to the rescue obviously. Other than that, I spent most of this week telling innocent students they couldn’t come into CURVE to just study and kicked them out. Hopefully this news will get spread around more quickly. Apart from that, I believe I’ll officially be working on the arcGIS project starting this week. I’m not completely sure what I’ll be asked to do, but I’m ready for anything, pretty much.

It’s a work in progress.

Compared to my last post, I’ve spent a great amount of time in CURVE, as expected. In terms of project work or anything really specific, nothing wasn’t really assigned so I haven’t done anything in regards to those. However I did choose a project I was sort of interested in. I chose the arcGIS Outreach project, mainly because in my first semester of college I was taught by Brennan in a seminar titled “Mapping Atlanta.” It was actually a fun class, and we had some interesting projects we had to work on. We gained experience with arcGIS and actually went out in the field and mapped points on the arcGIS application in parks and forests miles away from Georgia State. It was enjoyable for the most part, so I figured I would continue to work with this. I’ll see how that goes.

Like I just mentioned, I haven’t had many experiences dealing with the projects I’m working on, well because I’m not working on any projects. But I am spending all this time in CURVE each day, passing the time by messing with the interactWall and the other workstations. I’m a Computer Science major, so I have been thinking this past week on what were the possible uses for all this technology for those in my field. At the official opening ceremony, I was behind the support desk, supervising everything as usual. I’m not sure if it’s called the support desk, but it sounds like a good name to me. However, as I was there, multiple people, including both adults and students, came by and asked me questions about the space. What I wanted to mention specifically was a conversation I had with one of the students that came by. I believe his name was Jonathan, and he was a junior studying Computer Science as well, so off the bat, it was pretty easy to start talking for a bit. Throughout the few minutes he was there, we were brainstorming ideas on how to use the technology, and although we didn’t go very far, this made me a little excited. His first question when he approached me was how would a Computer Science student use this technology, and I didn’t really know. But that doesn’t discourage me, as now I’ve made it a small personal goal to do some research on software and ideas for this purpose. And considering programming has developed into a team-based effort for most cases, the collaborative work stations seem like a perfect fit. There’s a great solution somewhere, but I just have to find it.

I have to start somewhere, I guess.

Greetings to everyone. Since this is my first official blog post, I figure I’d first introduce myself again, as I’m guessing most of you won’t recall anything I mentioned at the SIF orientation a couple of weeks ago. My name is Rumman Ahmed, but I like to go by Shakib. I’m a sophomore here at Georgia State studying Computer Science. I spend my free time playing basketball, on Xbox, and watching Netflix. I also love cats. But enough with that, I believe I’m supposed to discuss CURVE here. This is also my first time writing any sort of blog or anything like it, so bear with me…

Honestly, I have not spent much time in CURVE as I should have in the past couple of weeks, but that is changing. However, this doesn’t give me a lot to talk about as I haven’t really done much. I asked for advice on what I should write in this blog post, and among other things, I was told to “daydream” about how I would use some of the technology, so I will do exactly that.

I love the InteractWall. I think that’s the official name for it. It just seems so innovative and futuristic to me, and the fact that I’m allowed to basically mess around and experiment with it is just great. When I saw this, along with the 4k screen and the other large computer screens in the space, one of the first things I imagined was playing video games on them. You can’t really blame me, can you? But obviously (and unfortunately), that probably won’t be allowed. But there’s an exception. I’m studying Computer Science, and with this very broad subject comes programming. Now I enjoy programming a lot. And there are many things you can program. I’d figure the most common use is for automating small processes, but then there are larger programs and software with many, many different possibilities, and then there are phone applications, and finally there are video games. Originally, I actually was planning to avoid video game programming because as I’ve heard, that involves learning more about shapes and object collision etc. physics, and I greatly dislike physics. But I have been thinking that I might even follow this pursuit once again if I have the chance to test it on these large screens. I’m telling you, playing a high definition game on something like the InteractWall or the 4k screen is any video gamer’s dream.