Higgy's diary

Recent diary entries

Too much global warming

Posted by Higgy on 22 February 2010 in English (English)

OSM says I've been registered over 3 years. Wow, hard to believe it's been that long! Number of users seems to be picking up, lots of work getting done.

I've probably done about quarter to a third of Shrewsbury, the town I'm living in. I've been slacking since winter 2008. Hoping to pick up again this year as the weather gets warmer. Unlikely to happen this week with cold and wet forecast.

OTOH, others have taken up the challenge and mapped all but a small part of the town, even some places nearby, so there won't be much for me to do. There's a few local villages nearby so I may end up planning a few days mapping these.

It looks, therefore, like the challenge for this year won't be mapping much new ground. Rather, it'll be getting people to use the maps and map data and also improving on the data we have available.

Anyway, enough said for now. Time to charge the GPS.

Location: Shrewsbury, West Midlands, England, United Kingdom

Addressing addresses

Posted by Higgy on 18 December 2009 in English (English)

Following a sharp decline in the amount of new stuff I've mapping this year I've noticed most of my edits are now adding postcodes and addresses to existing POIs.

I was wondering if there are any mobile apps that will let me do this 'in the field'? Currently using a S40 based phone but have a S60 available to me if needed.

Otherwise a mobile site may be on my list of future projects.

As one of my current projects is starting to use this data I'd like to encourage others to start collecting addresses and postcodes for places they visit... :)

Ta, all.

Lamp posts (tagging question)

Posted by Higgy on 30 July 2009 in English (English)

I got bored while walking home the other day and decided to map lamp posts on my street. Didn't know how to tag them as it's not in map features.

Some digging (grepping UK planet extract for 'lamp') exposed use of lamp=yes.

Has anyone else mapped any? What tags have you used?

Finally, is it worth doing?


Got a bike...

Posted by Higgy on 17 July 2009 in English (English)

Follow-up to my last entry, which was asking about bikes. I bought a Giant CRS 3.0 after a couple of recommendations.

It's a nice bike. Very easy to ride compared with my last one, Unfortunately I've only had to use it for commuting a total of 4 times as I've been laid-off from work (company was/is not making money, so basically cost cutting).

I do have a bit more time to go out mapping now so once the summer season starts to calm down I should be out finishing Shrewsbury coverage. It'll be nice to get out on the bike a bit.

In other news I've just passed my driving test but having no income means I'm not able to purchase a vehicle. Never mind, eh...

Bike recommendations

Posted by Higgy on 14 June 2009 in English (English)

I've had a bit of a break from any serious mapping but now hopefully going to start at it again. Looking at new bikes for the purpose.

I've around £400 to spend total, so about £350 for bike itself + various accessories. Want a hybrid, main purpose will be commuting (3.5 miles each way).

Local bike shop has Giant CRS range. Looking at CRS 3.0 City (basically CRS 3.0 with mud guards, rack and kick stand).

Any other makes/models I might consider?


New BGT-31 GPS

Posted by Higgy on 15 May 2008 in English (English)

My BGT-31 (new SIRF-III NaviGPS with Bluetooth) arrived yesterday from StorageDepot.

It look exactly like the BGT-11 but is far more able to get, on hold, signal. My tracks look pretty good and without, even when heading down narrow alleys and under dense tree cover.

Setting up was simply a case of inserting the SD card, turning it on and turning on logging (which I actually forgot to do).

Like the 'beta' firmware I have on my BGT-11, it is able to dump tracks from internal memory to SD card.

Thanks to 'pope' TomH the latest release of GPSBabel (1.3.5) includes support for the NaviGPS, both directly and from the dumped files. Simply use 'navilink' as the input format - but don't forget the -t flag to get the tracks off.

Getting the latest GPSBabel into Ubuntu Hardy was easy once I knew what I was doing; use 'alien' to convert the .rpm package to .deb. I also had to make a symbolic link in /usr/lib pointing to - presumably there's a better solution but it seems to work, which building from source didn't.

So my tracks were salvaged. Unfortunately my mapping was cut short when the point of a drawing pin (thumb tack for you Americans) pierced my front inner tube - the third puncture I've had to repair on that, second within a month.

Location: Heath Farm, Shrewsbury, Broad Oak, West Midlands, England, United Kingdom


Posted by Higgy on 8 May 2008 in English (English)

So, I finishes work and starts cycling home. I actually didn't intend to do a lot of mapping, but I saw one of the cul-de-sacs roads I know has some sort of foot/cycleway at the other end. I was only interested in it today as a potential shortcut, so didn't map the maze.

So I eventually finds me way out and heads on towards home. Then some girl I can't remember ever meeting says "Hi, Tom." Seriously, no clue.

Anyhow, then I decides to follow the road to the Shrewsbury School boathouse and path beyond intending to cross the Kingsland Toll bridge and head across town. On reaching the path up to the bridge I changed my mind, intending to take the English Bridge to get across the river and follow the NCN81, my usual route.

Reached the end of the path, here's some roads. I follow said roads in Belle Vue area doing ~3 miles up and down hills and various paths.

Now back home to tag it all up. Apparently I took the route as described until I reached the boathouse, where I flew across the river, over Frankwell and the town centre several times before heading over the houses towards home.

I can't wait for my BGT-31 to arrive...

Location: Shrewsbury, West Midlands, England, United Kingdom

Today: The Mount

Posted by Higgy on 15 April 2008 in English (English)

Decided I'd do stuff off The Mount on my way home today. It's pretty flat all the way with some gentle up and downs until it gets to about 200 yards from Frankwell where it's a good downhill. Leaving the road is a different story but it wasn't too bad.

I decided I'd take every road on the left, although I did a couple of cul-de-sacs anyway.

Once in town I headed up Claremont Bank, which was quite steep and recently made 2 way. Then a few little bits of that before I joined the Victoria Avenue (NCN81) in the Quarry Park.

Right, to tag up...

Location: Shrewsbury, West Midlands, England, United Kingdom

Oh what fun it is to ride...

Posted by Higgy on 14 April 2008 in English (English)

I've just got home from work, which has taken me about 2.5 hours. Considering I live about 3 miles away, that's a really long time. Actually, my average speed was about 6 miles per hour because in that time I covered about 16 miles, probably ~6-8 of that is previously unmapped roads, and ~1 mile currently unmapped by Google.

I've also worked how a few existing roads join up, with some of the roads in between being easily done on my journey to work. Basically, it cuts off a mile of main road before I get onto NCN81, which takes me about 1/4 mile from work.

The battered fish fillets I bought from local shop are ridiculously expensive! £4.99 for 4, which turn out to be really tiny! Not impressed.

Location: Shrewsbury, West Midlands, England, United Kingdom


Posted by Higgy on 20 March 2008 in English (English)

I've been working as a web developer in Shrewsbury for 2 weeks now. Just a couple of hours ago I agreed to the terms of a flatshare. So within the next week or two I'll be moving in to the Monkmoor area.

Currently I appear to be the only OSMer anywhere near Shrewsbury, something I hope to change.

If anyone wants to come up for any mapping, do let me know. I can't offer anywhere to stay but will be happy to meet up and provide any assistance required.

Location: Shrewsbury, West Midlands, England, United Kingdom

The things you find that you'd never have seen otherwise: Moor Pool

Posted by Higgy on 1 March 2008 in English (English)

One of the great things about mapping for OpenStreetMap is the things you find while out and about, heading down every street, path and passageway that will allow you through.

It was while surveying in an area I've been meaning to do for some time, but never quite found the motivation, just over the Hagley Road and down towards Harborne that I came across the Moor Pool estate.

The first indication that this was not just a typical set of streets was one called 'The Circle,' inside which is the Moorpool Hall and two tennis courts. Cycling around, it became obvious this was some community in itself, just a short distance from Harborne High Street and the A4040.

According to the website of the Moorpool Residents Association:

"The estate was established in 1907 by John Nettlefold, first chairman of Birmingham Housing Committee and member of the Guest Keen Nettlefold (GKN) family. It formed part of the Garden City concept shared by the Cadbury family in Bournville, to provide low density housing centred on a community hall and with many interspersed green spaces, at a time when the majority of inner city housing was of a crowded back-to-back design.

"The five hundred houses were built between 1908 and 1911 and shared a similar design, which can still be seen. The estate today boasts two tennis clubs, a bowling green, numerous allotments and, of course, the Moorpool itself with an active fishing club. In the Moorpool Hall there is a very active and acclaimed dramatic society, a unique skittle alley dating back to 1913 and snooker tables. Many other groups and societies also meet there."

The houses were built 9 to an acre, when typical building was 40 per acre.

Unfortunately my mapping of the area was interrupted by my sister, who has lost her key and wanted me to return home and let her in. Getting home took approximately 1 hour (I saw a path through a small area of woodland I'd missed). Sorry, sis!

Location: Bournbrook, Selly Oak, Birmingham, West Midlands, England, United Kingdom

Shrewsbury mapping postponed again (going Saturday)

Posted by Higgy on 28 February 2008 in English (English)

Such is my lack of motivation to get out of bed when I don't really need to...

I'm busy on Friday so going to Shrewsbury on Saturday instead.

For now I'll map the area around Harborne I intended to do yesterday but ended up going to Selly Oak instead (sister wanted to try cycling her journey to work, with the result that I bought a new bike pump and cycle lock while passing Halfords). Apparently it took forty minutes to cycle 3 miles...

So if anyone wants to join me in Shrewsbury on Saturday, you've got a little more notice. Leave a comment/message and I'll try and set out a timetable.

Shrewsbury mapping postponed...

Posted by Higgy on 27 February 2008 in English (English)

A little distracted by the earthquake last night so didn't get much sleep. Going tomorrow (Thursday) instead. Same plan.

Mapping out towards Harborne today instead. A few long residential streets I started to do on foot yesterday after getting locked out of the house. Gave up because I don't have the patience to walk long streets when I could cycle them in 1/4 of the time!

Location: Bournbrook, Selly Oak, Birmingham, West Midlands, England, United Kingdom

Shrewsbury mapping

Posted by Higgy on 26 February 2008 in English (English)

I've recently got a got in Shrewsbury (web developer at Mutiny Desgin) and am going to be commuting by train from Birmingham. Obviously this gives me the opportunity to map various bits of the town after work.

I'm heading up tomorrow (Wed 27th Feb) to try out the journey, taking the bike in order to complete some of NCN 81. I'm happy to meet anyone that wants to come and do a bit, whether they've ever done any mapping before (but I don't have a GPS so you'll have to supply one), although I realise it very short notice and most people have work.

I'll be doing the trip out towards the Oxon Business Park, towards Bicton Heath, (since this is where I'll be working). While there I'll map the business park itself, then head back towards town joining the NCN 81 at the first available opportunity, getting off it by the train station. Then heading back the other way I'll finish off inside the loop of the river before rejoining NCN 81 and following it as far as I can (hopefully as far as Telford.

Is the plan. Weather permitting.

Location: Shrewsbury, West Midlands, England, United Kingdom

A pleasent day

Posted by Higgy on 2 February 2008 in English (English)

Vaulting went well; no-one died. I got a little worried when cartwheels were mentioned but I actually managed to do one today. Hoorah!

Coverage of Shrewsbury is a little improved. I got done about half the area inside the loop of the river, for road coverage, at least. I've still got streetnames to do. Unfortunately my photos don't seem to be lining up with the GPS trace properly again. I could be here a while...

Location: Shrewsbury, West Midlands, England, United Kingdom

Shrewsbury, by the station

Posted by Higgy on 2 February 2008 in English (English)

I'm out vaulting again tomorrow. This time with my old team near Shrewsbury.

I've been making some effort to get something done each time I visit. Hopefully I'll have time to do some of the roads around the town centre. Just to join up a few things that are there already.

Just now I fixed up some roads by the railway station. It's a complicated junction made very difficult to work out from GPS because several railway tracks passing overhead. There's a tunnel right underneath one set, various other roads joining nearby. Only with my local knowledge was I able to get that in.

Next up is the railway lines themselves.

If anyone else could verify it looks reasonably correct, please do so and let me know your opinion.

Location: Shrewsbury, West Midlands, England, United Kingdom

A bit more of Bearwood

Posted by Higgy on 23 January 2008 in English (English)

I have finally been out on my bike for the first time in a couple of months. I'm slightly concerned about the gears and the tyre pressure was slightly lower than I might've hoped. I'll check it again later when I can borrow the pump.

Anyway, I've completed all the roads off Bearwood Road, except one or two at the top end that were under construction when I was there last. Stanhope Road has me a little confused. I'll have to go out again sometime with the objective of checking where it actually goes.

Some roads in that area I managed to get while out on my driving lessons but am missing names for. It's probably worth going out there in future and surveying the whole area again properly.

Location: Londonderry, Birchfield, Warley, Sandwell, West Midlands, England, B67, United Kingdom

Under construction

Posted by Higgy on 2 December 2007 in English (English)

Thanks Morwen, RichardB. I'm still seeing roads rendered without casings and on top of nearby primary roads, which isn't great. I guess the casings will be sorted once people update rendering clients.

I'm quite glad to have pretty much finished that section now (using main roads to split areas into manageable bits). I think I'll start heading West/South, where I don't have to cycle as far to find dragons.

Deer's Leap

Posted by Higgy on 30 November 2007 in English (English)

Yesterday I decided to brave the elements and unintentionally limited gearing on my bicycle and get some mapping done locally (I've been doing bits on various journeys and other places I've been - see Stalham, Norfolk and Mold/Wrexham and bits in between, Flintshire).

Persimmon Homes are building on the site of the former M&B owned, hence 'Deer's Leap,' Cape Hill Brewery. This has been the cause of quite some controversy as nearby is the Deer's Leap wood nature reserve, which the developers have not taken into consideration appropriately and have bulldozed sections of (for more information on this see

Anyhow, a very small stretch of road on the site was accessible when I was passing the area so I took to opportunity to survey that. Obviously I'll need to go back in the new year to record a bit more. Another one up on the competitors!

If anyone knows how to tag roads as being under construction so they get rendered, do let me know.

Location: Handsworth, Hockley Port, Birmingham, West Midlands, England, United Kingdom

Mapping Stalham (day 2)

Posted by Higgy on 22 October 2007 in English (English)

I was trying to think of a more original title but it didn't happen.

What did happen, however, is that I managed to fix my puncture. It's my first ever and with not having anyone around to help I'm worried it won't last. But I pumped it up to 45psi (markings say max 50) and it still seemed fine after cycling 7 miles over various surfaces (tarmac, gravel, mud, stones) so I'm happy enough. Just hope it still works when I want to use it tomorrow.

Overall while I've been here it's been fairly successful. I've mapped about 32km, about 12 of which was on the bike. The other 20 or so was visiting my aunty and taking her 3 dogs for a walk in nearby woods (the paths account for about 2km with my estimate of the area of the woods about 3km).

Unfortunately I can't upload the data as I do it since I can't actually get online. I've uploaded some using my grandmothers phone line but the rest may have to wait. I almost managed to get my laptop online using my mobile but prepay customers on O2 are very limited in what they can actually do. DNS lookups were about the extent of it.

Anyone know of a network that allows prepay customers to get their laptops online? It's only an occasional thing for me so a contract is hardly worth it, whereas carrying a spare sim is hardly a burden. Answers on a postcard please.

See my previous post for the location of Stalham (yesterdays data should have rendered by now on the tiles@home layer).

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