Dear Reader… it’s Halloween!
And so today on the blog, we bring you an extra-special-spooky-scary edition, with much-appreciated story inspiration from Michael Fitzpatrick of 1Spatial Australia.
There are zombies, and some slightly gory bits, because it’s hard to have zombies without the gory bits. So if that’s not your cup of tea, skip this one and rest assured that we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled blog programming next week.
If it is your cup of tea, Dear Reader, sit back and get ready for a really, really scary time.
Welcome to Monster Spatial Horror Theatre with Count Dale – and press PLAY… if you dare.
FME Cloud vs. the Zombie Horde
Shaun Ofded’s life was pretty ordinary right up until autocorrect interfered on that Monday morning.
Shaun’s job was social media analysis. And since the death of prominent and controversial Senator Walken over the weekend was sparking a deluge of public response (some on the rather lunatic side), the first political sentiment search he entered that morning was “walken dead”. Which autocorrect chose to “fix” for him.
From his office at Integrated Emergency Services in Manhattan, the unintentionally revised search – “walking dead” – made its way into a slick, FME Cloud-supercharged Redbooth task collaboration platform that coordinated the efforts of first responders – everyone from fire and police to military.
And that was when things started to get a bit, shall we say, weird.
FME Cloud took those keywords, hit Twitter for geotagged tweets and comments, grabbed an HTML template from an FME workspace, tossed the works up onto Amazon S3, linked it to Google Maps, and the unintended results showed up on his screen just seconds later. Shaun had only one thought.
He rubbed his eyes and double-checked the input. Pockets of people in the northeastern US were tweeting about what appeared to be actual ambulating cadavers and not a TV program. Ridiculous as it seemed, this might actually be a zombie outbreak.
He was going to need more coffee.
And a cronut.
Sugar-fuelled and amply caffeinated, Shaun brushed the crumbs off of his keyboard and got down to business.
IT had built an FME custom transformer (supposedly for testing) called ZombieSigns that searched social media for keywords like biting, undead, looting –the usual zombie stuff. Shaun pulled up the workspace and started checking the results.
Sure enough, something was definitely going on. And if it hit New York, he really didn’t want to be stuck at the office. So with a few keystrokes and a click, he sent his results under the subject “Potential Zombie Outbreak (Seriously)” up to the cloud-based iPaaS system, FME Cloud handed it off to Redbooth, the message was immediately delivered to all the emergency services under IES’ mantle, and Shaun skedaddled for home.
As he raced for his apartment, the streets seemed normal, but the 911 call center was bedlam. Panicked reports were pouring in – and as they were logged, FME was mapping them and updating the central PostGIS database. The analysts peered in disbelief at the hotspot maps it produced using Google Maps Engine.
“I think it’s time to call Bob,” said one of them.
Bob was the Chief Inspector. Bob was not the least bit happy about having his smartphone updated with a set of locations to go and site-check for bleeding zombies, of all things.
His attitude was radically adjusted in very short order.
The first location was a roiling mass of screaming, flailing humanity. There were hundreds of them. Those who were still human were falling under the weight of mindless, gibbering hordes of zombies with slobbering jaws gnashing and tearing, only to rise moments later and join in the carnage. It was a scene straight out of a B-movie, but with better effects.
What appeared to be a former businessman, missing a shoe, clothing in tatters, and putrid flesh rapidly decomposing, bounced off of the windshield of his truck and carried on as if nothing had happened.
That was the moment in which Bob decided it was high time to quit his day job. He slammed the truck into reverse, backed over a former Elvis impersonator, winged an arm-chewing ex-bike courier with the side view mirror, and with a squeal of rubber on asphalt he peeled out and headed for anywhere but there.
He did, however, feel obligated to at least confirm the zombie situation before sending in his resignation. He grabbed his smartphone, keyed in “OMG URGENT STAGE 2 Z CRISIS CONFIRMED”. With no idea who to send it to, he just sent it to FME Cloud, which parsed out the keywords, assigned topics, and sent the message to just about everyone back at headquarters.
He sent one more message: “PS I QUIT. GOOD LUCK”.
Then a drooling, grunting, chartreuse-tinted grandmother landed on the roof, smashed through the windshield, and sank her teeth into his arm.
“Her pearls are awfully nice,” he thought, just before the truck smashed into a light standard.
A few minutes later, the only thing on his mind was brains.
Shaun was holed up in his apartment, eyes glued to his laptop screen. The gravity of the situation was undeniable, and he needed a plan. He had to get out of New York. The maps he was monitoring on the collaboration platform were showing the spread in real-time, and new incidents were popping up way too close for comfort. When the crisis alert was raised to stage 3, he knew he didn’t have long to act.
There were some new data layers available on the FME Cloud data download service – someone had been building predictive models of the spread. A quick glance showed the entire Eastern Seaboard overrun within 48 hours. He backed up the model to the next couple of hours, and added a point layer of convenience stores.
The media were still downplaying the crisis, so he should have a short window of opportunity to stock up on essentials while he figured out his next step. Three lower-risk options popped up, and with a click he sent them to the map app on his phone, grabbed his knapsack, and headed out the door for the nearest one.
A quick check on the collaboration platform showed that the airport hadn’t yet shut down, which seemed like the best bet for the quickest way to get as far away as possible. As he filled his bag with water and snacks with one hand, the other was madly thumbing his phone, as he keyed in “to JFK” to another FME Cloud tool – this time to scrape ride-sharing websites.
Sure enough, a fancy town car was waiting at the curb when he ran out the door. Apparently the news that zombies were chomping their way towards Manhattan hadn’t sunk in yet – but he wasn’t about to belabor the point. They headed full tilt boogie for JFK, as Shaun, still connected to the office system on his phone, watched the flight paths of plane after plane heading for safety – while the clusters of 911 calls and tweets crept closer and closer to the airport.
The terminal was chaos. Shaun elbowed his way through the crowd, waving his smartphone boarding pass purchased enroute, and raced for his gate. It wasn’t until he was safely settled in his seat that he started thinking about what to do when he arrived. This flight would take him to Hong Kong, and with any luck, he’d connect to Australia from there. A nice, big, isolated island – that was the safest destination he could think of.
He was checking the iPaaS portal to Salesforce for FME users to connect with when he glanced out the window and went cold. The zombies had reached the airport – and they were massing against the chain link fence like fans at a Justin Bieber concert. The fence was bulging dangerously, and as the plane turned onto the runway, engines spinning up, the fence gave way and hordes of the undead spilled onto the tarmac.
The pilots reacted instantly – full throttle and the jet leapt down the runway, smashing and squashing, leaving a long, wet smear of flattened zombie goo in its wake.
The most persistent one, clinging to the nose wheel, met a most unfortunate end when the gear was retracted several hundred feet in the air.
48 hours later, Shaun breathed a sigh of relief. Cold Foster’s in hand, he watched the news coverage of the spread throughout North America, and thanked his lucky stars he’d made it safely to Cairns.
It wasn’t until much, much later that he realized it should have occurred to him that they could walk underwater.
“Crikey,” he thought, “that looks like Bob.”
“If you prepare for the zombie apocalypse, you’ll be prepared for all hazards.” – David Daigle, CDC Spokesman.
…and now we rejoin our broadcast in progress:
Our thanks to Michael Fitzpatrick of 1Spatial Australia, one of the featured speakers at the 2014 FME International User Conference, who presented what may be one of the most imaginative use cases for FME Cloud (and iPaaS in general) we’ve seen. In additional to showing how a wide range of web services can seamlessly work together while navigating a critical situation, the story was too good not to borrow! His presentation, and all presentations from the UC, are available on our website.
The post Monster Spatial Horror Theatre Presents: FME Cloud vs. the Zombie Horde appeared first on Safe Software Blog.