Diary Entries in English

Recent diary entries

False labling of addresses

Posted by Elbert Leon Thompson on 9 October 2016 in English (English)

I live in Tarrant, Alabama, not Birmingham. Fix your errors or be sued!!!

Location: Tarrant City, Tarrant, Jefferson County, Alabama, United States of America

Why map universities?

Posted by Johnny Mapperseed on 9 October 2016 in English (English)

Since I do a bit of university mapping, I thought I might note a few reasons why you should map your local university, especially since universities provide their own maps.

Support disabled students.

OSM includes tags that help blind and wheelchair bound students get around. Most proprietary maps ignore these users. Institutions that ignore OSM disabled tags or fail to help disabled users through another mapping solution are effectively discriminating against their disabled students through inaction.

Synergize with the community.

Often Universities and the town or cities that surround them have completely different cultures. By improving OSM on campus, outsiders not using a university's official app can still navigate effectively.

Encourage Student Creativity

Unlike proprietary maps, OpenStreetMap is free for anyone to use. Students may use OpenStreetMap data legally in their projects through the ODbL. Encouraging the use of proprietary maps on campus locks students out of that data, stunting their creativity.

Commitment to Transparency

Any university that wants to commit to open technologies should at least have a well mapped campus on OSM. Having a well mapped campus in Openstreetmap is like having a well written Wikipedia article. An easily accessible and honest source of information for the community can boost a university's reputation in the free and open source software communities, and elsewhere.

OpenStreetMap community in Albania

Posted by nshehu on 9 October 2016 in English (English)

At Open Labs Hackerspace ( ) we want to have a more active community for OSM so we will have an activity ( ) and event in facebook ( ). Join us.

Unmapped tertiary roads

Posted by Ganesh Dhamodkar on 9 October 2016 in English (English)

My job requires me to travel a lot in villages around my place of posting. I have added many GPS traces of tertiary roads that are unmapped on OSM. I have some internet access issues and time restraints. If there are any good people wanting to contribute, please check my traces around the location given below and map the roads.

(The traces are almost always travelled by a car).

Location: SH269, Udapur, Chandrapur, Maharashtra, 441206, India

The Great Canadian Mailbox Heist

Posted by scruss on 7 October 2016 in English (English)

Dropping off a letter in the mailbox at the end of the street, I noticed this sticker was attached: Mailbox, aka node 551077710 So that means by the middle of the month my leisurely 400 metre round trip to post letters is going to be over a kilometre, either to Mailbox: Node 705233932 or to the suggested Mailbox: Node 4433576259.

I looked around on the map for more amenity=post_box nodes around me, and found coverage was patchy. Local mapper andrewpmk has done some sterling work adding mailboxes, but there are some neighbourhoods even he can't find time to go into. But there has to be a definitive list of mailbox locations in Canada, somewhere, right?

Wrong: Canada Post does not publish mailbox locations. There's no way of finding a list or map on their website, and Canada Post confirmed to me that “we do not have a map for street letter boxes”. So it looks like we're the only people mapping them, unless there's a list I can get via a Freedom of Information request.

Location: Kennedy Park, Scarborough, Toronto, Ontario, M1P3J3, Canada

Latest Spam

Posted by alexkemp on 7 October 2016 in English (English)

Most spam gets quickly dealt with, but these three got through:
(later spam added Saturday + Sunday 8,9 Oct):

Some comments about the OpenStreetMap Awards

Posted by imagico on 7 October 2016 in English (English)

Recently the OpenStreetMap Foundation issued the OpenStreetMap Awards.

The whole thing was primarily organized by Ilya Zverev who deserves thanks for doing this and for the courage to try something new.

When this was first suggested it seemed like a good idea to me but during the process i already had some critical thoughts on the way it turned out. I did not want to speak up while the votes were still running not to influence the procedure but now i think it is time to bring this up.

First of all the whole process was quite biased towards English language activities. There were non-native English speakers among nominees and winners but almost everyone on the list was nominated for activities in English language. Since the whole process was done in English only it was not possible for someone who does not understand English to competently participate in nomination and voting and assessing someone nominated for activities in a language you don't understand is not really possible either - the few suggestions in the first nomination round that were formulated in languages other than English never stood a chance. This is a hard problem. But still i think this can be done better with not too much additional effort.

The three stage process - open nomination, preselection by committee and final open vote again - does not really work in reality. It gives an impression of manipulation since it appears the preselection is used to eliminate undesirable nominees and the final vote therefore appears staged. In the future i would probably either skip the committee selection (making it a fully open process) or eliminate the final open vote making the final choice by the committee - which would of course require this committee to be selected in an open process somehow.

Somewhat related to this the award categories do not really work either. The initial nomination round showed that people often simply wanted to nominate someone and put them into a category that seemed to fit best. As a result in many categories nominees were not really comparable because they were nominated for very different things which kind of defeats the purpose of having categories. The categories should either be more strictly defined or nomination should be across categories and votes decide on which category they are awarded for.

All of this of course does not mean the winners do not deserve their awards - all winners and nominees should be commended for their work. I have slight misgivings only about Frederik - who specifically said before he did not want the award and about Manuel Roth and Lukas Martinelli who certainly deserve an award although IMO not in the category 'Innovation'. The technology they thankfully make more accessible to a broad range of users is for the largest part the innovative work of others. Now i don't say that Mapbox employees should have been awarded here instead because awards like this should primarily be given to those who volunteer their free time and not to professionals who get paid for their work. However if you strictly evaluate the innovative merit of the nominees' work this seems a somewhat odd choice to me. But of course voters will usually consider who of the candidates they think deserves an award most and don't care what particular award this is.

I hope these comments will help improving future award processes and maybe start some further discussion on how the OSM community wants to reward and acknowledge contributions.

Tools I wish I had: smarter paved vs unpaved road defaults.

Posted by CloCkWeRX on 7 October 2016 in English (English)

OpenStreetMap has a few assumptions about road surfaces, based on the fact most western cities have paved roads.


For roads for motor vehicles there there is normally an assumption that the surface is surface=paved unless otherwise stated. Paved in OpenStreetMap is non-specific and may cover sealed, tarmac, asphalt, bitumen. surface=unpaved is treated as the opposite of paved. More specific tags can used used for surfaces which are normally classified into paved or unpaved for routing purposes. Navigation software should assume that roads-that-are-not-paved will have slower driving speed (and therefore longer driving time) and may be impassable in some weather conditions.

In South America (Rural), Rural Australia, Africa, Haiti and more this is not the default. During activities like a HOT activation, quite a lot of road data gets added without specific surface tags.

In places like South America, Strava route building a big thing - but knowing if you can go on a road bike or a mountain bike is not something routing engines can answer with much certainty.

Alternatively, knowing if you are likely to need a 4WD vehicle in disaster relief is another use case which can't be easily answered by a routing engine.

In an idea world, it'd be great if:

  • ID had some notion of 'rural' vs 'metropolitan' mapping profiles; and allowed you to create a number of roads with the same surface properties as the last few you've traced.
  • QA tools (maproulette? similar?) existed that looked at specific countries, finding highway=unclassified and highway=residential without explicit surface tags; plus a relationship to any bounding residential landuse to suggest a value (Big city? Its more likely to be paved residential roads)
  • Something like DeepOSM that could guess the difference between "light, sandy coloured road" and "Dark, asphalt road" to suggest an appropriate classification.

Even if these tools weren't used to write out lots of surface data back into OSM, it would be interesting to see if they could be used to generate a likely profile of an area for routing engines - ie; better answering if a certain section of the planet is likely to be unpaved roads.

The Last Garden in Porchester Gardens, Nottingham

Posted by alexkemp on 7 October 2016 in English (English)

the last garden

(strictly, this is the last Allotment, but that did not scan so well)

All the houses on that side of the street are even-numbers, but Number 45, Moore Road is different from the others in more than one way. The most obvious thing is that, apart from a garden shed, there arn't any buildings on the plot at all. The space bounded by hedges is identical to all neighbouring plots (check the map). The photograph above lets you see in a glance all that was at one time available to the folks of Nottingham town:— a plot of land for them to grow stuff on.

Nottingham was a highly dangerous town on 26 March 1887 when Porchester Gardens began. The reason that the town was dangerous was because of water-born disease (dysentry, etc.). Far too many folks were crammed into far too small a space, whilst their medical men were ignorant of the basic facts of their own trade. A garden like the one above was an opportunity to grow fresh food & enjoy fresh air & water. [I published a more complete story of Porchester Gardens here in June]

The whole of Porchester Gardens was divided into lots like the one above, and anyone with the necessary funds could purchase or rent a little patch for themselves. The first houses were built two years later. Soon, roads began to be metalled and services laid in. Building work became extensive between the first & second world wars, and eventually all gardening plots were converted to building plots. Except the one above.

I learnt about this plot just a couple of days ago whilst mapping, and photographed it very shortly after. I haven't been able to talk to anyone locally about it. I've only mapped that side of Moore Road & will be mapping the other side soonish, so will have another go to find out more. One obvious fact is that it is significantly below the level of the road, and that is the same for all it's fellow plots locally, although the buildings are raised above the plot that they stand on.

Location: 45 Allotment Plot, Arnold and Carlton, Gedling, Nottinghamshire, East Midlands, England, United Kingdom

This one has got Castellations!

Posted by alexkemp on 6 October 2016 in English (English)

It's a house at the Porchester Road end of Moore Road in Porchester Gardens, Nottingham. Now, I have to warn you in advance: Moore Road is a rich vein for English oddness. My last post was based on the smallest road in Porchester Gardens and, naturally enough, it is also off Moore Road (although at the other end, near Westdale Road West).

Anyway, you have your warning. I've just started putting Moore Road houses up on the map, and there are lots of odd things that I can choose to show. The first (strictly the second) is the very first house on the corner of Porchester Road and Moore Road. It looks fairly normal from Porchester Road, but round the corner on Moore Road it has an abutment and the abutment is castellated (for lovers of brick porn notice the Tamworth Blue Brick used both as a damp-proof course and also as decoration; very nice - the road is falling away from Porchester Road down the hill, so that damp-proof level is rather high at this point):—

castellations on 274 Porchester Road


Location: Porchester Gardens, Arnold and Carlton, Gedling, Nottinghamshire, East Midlands, England, United Kingdom

Rules for Robot/A.I. Mappers

Posted by ImreSamu on 6 October 2016 in English (English)


Robot Mappers , machine-learning and artificial intelligence (“robot”) techniques ;

Maybe, in the future we need some ethical suggestions, like

  • "Robot mappers must be designed to assist humanity" meaning human autonomy needs to be respected.
  • "Robot mappers must be transparent" meaning that humans should know and be able to understand how they work.
  • "Robot mappers must maximize efficiencies without destroying the dignity of people".
  • "Robot mappers must be designed for intelligent privacy" meaning that it earns trust through guarding their information.
  • "Robot mappers must have algorithmic accountability so that humans can undo unintended harm".
  • "Robot mappers must guard against bias" so that they must not discriminate people.

based on Satya Nadella's A.I. laws

ps. I added this to the OSM Wiki:Talk:Automated Edits code of conduct

Robot mappers?

Road Segments, naming streets and Town-land boundries

Posted by OscarBrownbread on 6 October 2016 in English (English)

I wanted to name a road. At one place, the road was split into 3 small straight segments and I was annoyed because I didn't want to name each one and there would be a small tag for each segment. "Ahhhh, I wiill just combine them" I said to myself! "Some idiot has left these segments alone" I thought again. Will ID let me combine these segments?..... yes! good. I was happy and my road was named.

I had a bad feeling, there was just this instant feeling of ohh, something is not right. Then it hit me boundaries, ..... you know those annoying blue lines that are everywhere in Ireland..... the ones that I have turned off under Map Data-> Map Features-> Others. The ones I try to forget about. I turned them on and yea, I had combined the boundary relations when I had combined my road. Damn, what a mess. It was too late to fix late at night so I waited until morning. So after a bit of local history in town-land names, I undid my mistake.

My message is to be careful when combining ways and naming roads. On one hand, I want to name every segment so every house has a matching street name, on the other hand, i wish i didn't have to name every little segment (this is especially true in housing estates with their little branch roads, all with the same street name).

I dunno, naming roads is funny, there are old road names, and official road names and there are the proper postal address names for the streets. Then there are the locals that have their own names for that part of town and if they are giving you directions, you better know them!! I prefer to keep the local names as long if they are well established. OSM is all about what is there right now, it can track the dynamic changing of a street name over time.... in theory....i think. What do you think local street names or strictly official street names??

I should probably go read the wiki and find out that it is all ruled out for me somewhere. I just started and I'm learning as I go and I am enjoying it, :)

Location: R310, Castlebar, County Mayo, Connacht, Ireland

The Smallest Street in Porchester Gardens, Nottingham

Posted by alexkemp on 5 October 2016 in English (English) called Ward Avenue and it is now back on the map. Here is the view from Moore Road, looking up the Avenue:

Ward Avenue

Those gates on the right are for a house on Moore Road and the fence straight ahead is the end of the road, which may help to show just how short this road is (there is only one house on the road; you can just see the left-hand front of the house tucked around the end on the right). On the other side of the fence on the left is Westmoore Close, and the reason that Ward Avenue has only just been re-instated onto the map is that a couple of years ago the straight bit of Westmoore was mistakenly renamed to Ward Avenue. Whoops.

I've talked to a few hundred people whilst mapping across the last 6 months. In all that time just two people had already heard of OpenStreetMap. The second one was Martin Dale, and I met him yesterday working outside his house on Ward Avenue. Martin was concerned because his house had been placed onto OpenStreetMap, then removed, reappeared & currently did not appear on either OpenStreetMap nor on Google maps. He was worried that there was some individual that was conducting a campaign against him. I was able to discover who had removed it (you know who you are!) and was able to send Martin an email reassuring him that no, it was an honest mistake & there is no such campaign.

Martin informed me that Ward Avenue used to be much longer, and was the service & access road for a set of Nurseries that were set up at the same time as the instigation of Porchester Gardens (approx 1880) (his own house has start_date=1929). He also knows the chap in the local history society that holds a map of all the allotments (with numbers) established in the Gardens (I think that OSM-Nottingham would like to use that).

Ward Avenue is yet another Unadopted Road (there are pots & pots of these within Porchester Gardens, and pots & pots of those are off Moore Road).

Location: Porchester Gardens, Arnold and Carlton, Gedling, Nottinghamshire, East Midlands, England, United Kingdom

Trails vs. social paths

Posted by Inkyatari on 5 October 2016 in English (English)

I worked for a year as a volunteer at Goose Lake Prairie State Park near Morris, IL. I also live nearby, and am intimately familiar with the state parks up and down the Illinois River.

I notice that on OSM, especially at Goose Lake Prairie State Park that many paths are listed on the map, yet these are not shown as official trails on the park maps available at the visitor center. Since these are not trails that the park wants people hiking on is it proper to delete these from the map?


Posted by monisha adithan on 4 October 2016 in English (English)


One Does Not Simply Walk into Mordor...

Posted by kocio on 4 October 2016 in English (English)

CJK fonts missing in standard layer (follow-up)

Posted by Littlebtc on 4 October 2016 in English (English)

Noto CJK is still missing in Standard Layer for now (#2391), to help people understand what is missing, this is how the font should like after the pull request: Imgur

This is what is rendered in Standard layer now, as Unifont rather then Noto CJK is used: Imgur

The reason that the font is missing may be the server configuration. Following discussions in pull requests #2396, #2397 and #2398, in Ubuntu 16.04 the fonts-noto only recommends fonts-noto-cjk and other variants. However, in previous version of Ubuntu, fonts-noto acted as a metapackage to install all Noto Fonts. This confusing changes may be the reason. Some server configuration will disable install-recommends which is true by default, causing Noto CJK not installed in Ubuntu 16.04.

A proper fix may be Chaning the chef recipe to match the new dependency in #2398.

I am sill looking forward to a better font in Asia. :)

# Use raster image in JOSM

Posted by Saikat Maiti on 4 October 2016 in English (English)

I got a task to collect sample for my ongoing project (Cartago, Colombia) and I found that it might be helpful for OSM mapper. In JOSM we can get many TMS, WMS service, also we can use very high resolution satellite image after processing. But here I'm mentioning about the very useful plugin for JOSM called PicLayer. Using this plugin we can import simple jpeg image and we can calibrate. After doing few adjustment of the image it is working superb and solve my problem. Any one can try this!

Location: New Panvel, Panvel, Greater Bombay, Maharashtra, 410206, India

Gnome Heaven

Posted by alexkemp on 3 October 2016 in English (English)

A chap on Porchester Road has had quite some fun with his garden:—

gnome 1

(love the Meercats) (again!)

gnome 2

gnome 3

Although I have seen a garden where the householders have put more effort into it — mainly due to size & thus opportunity — this is one of the best pocket gardens that I've seen, with a lovely feeling within it, and I thought that you might like to see it as well.

Location: Thorneywood, Sneinton, Nottingham, East Midlands, England, United Kingdom

Resistance is Futile 2

Posted by alexkemp on 3 October 2016 in English (English)

Resistance is Futile 1

More tales from the slopes of the Earl of Carnarvon's old stomping ground, formerly known as Marshall Hill and now known as Porchester Gardens.

What we are going to see here is the tale of a householder on Ethel Avenue that wanted to demolish his old cottage, which sits on a 0.16 hectare site, and replace it with 3 new 4-bedroom houses. In pursuit of that he has uprooted almost every green thing on the site (making it a wasteland), blocked access to a green way and received written objections from (almost) every neighbour. The application has been turned down, a judge has told him to restore the Public right-of-way & in response he is throwing a major-league strop, shrouding all his boundary with black plastic. Quite a tale. But first, some brief history of the area.

Marshall Hill was part of land enclosed by the Earl of Kingston (1672), sold in entirety by Kingston's heirs to Carnarvon (1912), and sold in lots to Nottingham citizens that wanted allotments for gardens (1887). Messrs Samuel Robinson, Charles Bennett and David Whittingham acted as guarantors for the latter action (the names of these three are known by householders throughout this 130 acre (52.6 hectares) neighbourhood). Only 2 years later roads began to be laid out & houses built on the plots; that really began to take off in the period following the Great War (1920s & 1930s).

Two things that, in my experience, feature a lot in Porchester Gardens are unadopted roads and Public rights of way; this little tale has both:

The unadopted roads are Emmanuel Avenue and Ethel Avenue. Both are single-track width private roads; Emmanuel Avenue in particular drops like a stone down the side of the hill from Porchester Road, and connects at right-angles to Ethel Avenue at it's bottom. Ethel Avenue looks like your classic private road (badly maintained with lots of potholes) whilst Emmanuel Avenue's tarmac is in superb condition. Here's the view from near the top (this and the photo in part 1 are essentially looking at each other from opposite sides of the valley between them):

view from top of Emmanuel Avenue

Probably the best known local Public right of way is Donkey Steps (photo here). As the ecumenical Porchester Parish boundary runs up Donkey Steps it is likely that humans have been making use of that track for hundreds, and possibly even thousands, of years. It is this tread of history that is the backdrop to the importance of Public rights of way, and how easily they can be lost. To illustrate the latter we have an example close to both the main protagonist (on Kenrick Road) and to Donkey Steps:

Donkey Steps opens at the top onto Hillview Road close to where it meets Standhill Road (and I was told most forcefully “there is no space in ‘Hillview’!”). Opposite the Porchester Junior School, where Standhill makes a bend to the left, is the beginnings of a public footpath that runs first through to Florence Road, then to Daisy Road then Kenrick Road. It should continue next in a dead-straight line alongside 1 Kenrick Road (and the Ordnance Survey map still shows it travelling that way, then emerging onto Porchester Road between numbers 224 & 226, but today it is blocked at either end). A neighbour told me conspiratorially about the Kenrick Road householder that “the judge said that no-one had objected, so he got away with it”. I've been unable to find any report about that loss of rights, so cannot speak with any authority on the matter.

Now on to the heart of this Diary report, which is into the Green Lane which runs from Kenrick Road to the junction of Emmanuel & Ethel Avenue. Or rather, used to run to those two avenues, since Mr Lee Freeley, the owner of 21 Ethel Avenue, has completely prevented any connection between those roads along the green lane. This is a recent view of the way from Kenrick Road (there are also views from Ethel Avenue in a 2015 Nottm Evening Post story and Google Streetview (October 2014)):

view from top of Emmanuel Avenue

Mr Freeley proposed to use this green way as a driveway for one of his new houses. The whole story is perhaps a bit too long, so here are some highlights:—

  1. There have been applications for redevelopment of 21 Ethel Avenue prior to that from Mr Freeley (pdf) (24 October 2014). All have been declined by the local residents and the local authorities, including this latest.
  2. A March 2011 Tree Preservation Order was made upon a Larch, a Yew & a Maple tree. The Maple tree had to be felled anyway. Bing map tiles show a capture date of 10/1/2011-3/26/2012 and a vast proliferation of mature trees on the site, all of which have now been cleared (the site is a wasteland). I also noticed Yew trees at 10 Ethel Avenue (the house opposite); Yew trees in medieval settings are often symptomatic of Religious activity on the site.
  3. There is the curiosity of “a strip of land running along the backs of the properties fronting Kenrick Road. The ownership of this strip of land is unknown”. Cross-referencing this strip of land with the streetregister map suggests that it may have been yet another right-of-way running parallel to Kenrick Road as it seems to join with the other right-of-way running beside 1 Kenrick Road (although some other houses have added it to their own property, and the streetregister map wrongly shows it as part of 21's property).
  4. The Green lane is owned by Gedling Borough Council. Local residents keep it in immaculate condition. A 163-signature petition was presented to the Council in April 2015 to make it into a public Bridleway, and an order issued the following week (see NEP story). Essentially this is the issue that has stopped the development. The PDF states:

Nottinghamshire County Council as Rights of Way Authority are currently dealing with a claim to make the Avenue from the junction of Ethel Avenue and Emmanuel Avenue to Kenrick Road a bridleway (Carlton Parish Public Bridleway) and have advised that the Avenue should be treated as a substantive right of way. I note the applicant has a personal right of way over the potential bridleway, as do the owners of the land on the Carnarvon Allotments and their successors in title. There is therefore a substantive number of people who potentially have the right to use the Avenue.

What a tortuous tale!

Location: Thorneywood, Sneinton, Nottingham, East Midlands, England, United Kingdom
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