slashme's diary

Recent diary entries

Haifa mapping party

Posted by slashme on 5 August 2011 in English (English)

Thanks to User:Aude for organising a mapping party as part of Wikimania in Haifa! Good to meet some like-minded individuals and test-drive Vespucci. I think I cleaned up any brokenness that I caused afterwards in JOSM.

Location: Merkaz HaCarmel, Haifa, Haifa District, 31***, Israel

Printing map books

Posted by slashme on 16 October 2010 in English (English)

I made 5 25-page mapbooks of the Alexandra Township (poor area in Johannesburg) from Walking-papers and gave them to the geography teacher of a local school. This morning at 10:00 SAST (08:00 UTC) I'll be talking to some of his pupils and helping them get going with adding information.

I want to give them a nice-looking map book when we're done. What's the most professional-looking, readable way to render OSM data for printing?

Location: Johannesburg Ward 105, Alexandra, City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality, Gauteng, RSA

Botswana again...

Posted by slashme on 16 September 2010 in English (English)

I'm going to Botswana tomorrow for a work thing, and this time I'll
have my own rental car. My plan so far: Print out a good number of
walkingpapers and mark all roads I see; drive as far as possible off
roads that have already been traced, get a video log and as many
photos as possible.


Posted by slashme on 12 September 2010 in English (English)

Went to the Soweto Open Go tournament today: got some good traces where we don't yet have GPS data, and added some POIs and street names from driving around and local knowledge.

Location: Johannesburg Ward 47, Soweto, City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality, Gauteng, RSA

The biggest hospital in the world!

Posted by slashme on 17 May 2010 in English (English)

I just added the biggest hospital in the world to OpenStreetMap: Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital. I went there today and was amazed, shocked and stunned that it wasn't yet on.

Location: Johannesburg Ward 24, Soweto, City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality, Gauteng, RSA

JOSM and Chinese wholesalers

Posted by slashme on 2 May 2010 in English (English)

I've been doing some live mapping with JOSM today, mapping the Chinese wholesalers South of Joburg while my wife did the driving. We have a few wholesale malls in the area (catering to businesses as well as individual customers), and I'm not quite sure how to tag them. Any advice would be much appreciated.

Location: Johannesburg Ward 124, Johannesburg, City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality, Gauteng, RSA

Nkulumane's grave

Posted by slashme on 8 April 2010 in English (English)

Interesting find while mapping the area around the Rustenburg soccer stadium ( ) with nroets: Signs advertising Mzilikazi's grave. We couldn't pass this up, so went to take pictures and tag the site: ( ). While checking out the photos, I realized that the date on the grave marker was a bit late for Mzilikazi - Turns out it is the supposed grave site of his son, Nkulumane! ( ) Can't always trust those signs. I'll have to speak to the department of public works ;-)

Location: Rustenburg Ward 6, Rustenburg Local Municipality, Bojanala Platinum District Municipality, North West, RSA

Laptop logging

Posted by slashme on 6 March 2010 in English (English)

Does anyone here use a Linux laptop to record and use gps data? What software do you use and how? Any tips and tricks?

Laptop, Ubuntu and Nokia LD-4W

Posted by slashme on 6 March 2010 in English (English)

So I finally bought myself a laptop which came with Ubuntu Karmic Koala, and I've got the Nokia bluetooth gps unit working properly with it. I've managed to get JOSM's LiveGPS module reading data, recording traces and saving gpx files, but it gives some nasty errors at startup - I just tell JOSM to ignore them. I can get gpsdrive and Merkaartor reading GPS data, but I haven't yet managed to get any useful maps working for them. I'll play around some more later.

My basic learnings so far:
* You need to use the "-b" option to gpsd or else you confuse the Nokia LD-4W.
* You can't un-confuse an LD-4W by holding in the off-switch for 10 seconds; that just removes all bluetooth bindings.
* As per the manual, you un-confuse an LD-4W by holding in the off-switch while plugging in the charger.
* I didn't get the dongle reading gps data by using Ubuntu's Gnome Bluetooth Preferences - I had to edit /etc/bluetooth/rfcomm.conf (instructions are available online), then add the line

DAEMON_OPTS="-b -F /var/run/gpsd.sock"

to /etc/default/gpsd . I start my gps by doing "sudo rfcomm bind rfcomm0" and "sudo service gpsd start", and then it's sending gps data to whichever program requests it, so you can have many programs reading gps data together (at the moment I'm running gpxlogger and LiveGPS at the same time).


Posted by slashme on 2 January 2010 in English (English)

I've just added the Buffelspoort resort ( but I don't know how to tag it properly.

Location: -25,764, 27,488

What on earth is this?

Posted by slashme on 17 December 2009 in English (English)

I can't figure out what this structure is!

Location: KCar, Pershing County, Nevada, United States of America

My first international edits

Posted by slashme on 20 November 2009 in English (English)

I am now an international man of mapmaking! I've uploaded the data from my business trip to Gaborone. Fixed some roads, added a road name or two, added a number of buildings and actually added new roads that weren't on the map at all! There are lots more that need to be added.

I took a lot of pictures of street names that just weren't readable. Unfortunately, when you're only there for a day and have to work, there's only so much time to write down street names.

Location: Airport Road, Gaborone, South-East District, Botswana

Good news bad news

Posted by slashme on 17 November 2009 in English (English)

Good news: Got sent for 1 day to Gabarone on business.

Bad news: OSM coverage is patchy at best, and one rushed day didn't allow me to get that much.

Good news: OSM coverage is patchy at best, so even one rushed day allowed me to add new roads (coming soon. Need sleep first!)

Bad news: Lost my Nokia GPS unit.

Good news: Only lost it at the airport on the way out.

Bad news: Lost property can't find it.

Good news: At least the traces were safely on my phone.

Bad news: Have to buy a new GPS unit.

Good news: At least this time I remembered to use the OSM merchandise link!

Location: Airport Road, Gaborone, South-East District, Botswana

if-modified-since for tiles

Posted by slashme on 5 November 2009 in English (English)

1) Why do the OSM mapnik tiles not have timestamps via the if-modified-since HTML header?

2) I saw the question on as well. Is that the right place to discuss the topic, and if not, where should I ask?

Car mapping

Posted by slashme on 4 November 2009 in English (English)

I had such fun doing bike mapping over the weekend, that I figured I'd go a bit further out this afternoon in the car. Eish.

1) Mapping alone in a car is silly. Dangerous and inefficient.
2) Mapping by bike is more fun. Easy to stop and take photos
3) Geotagged photos absolutely rock for remembering what goes where on the map. Faster than voice or typing, and easy to interpret afterwards.

I'm quite happy with TrekBuddy as a track and waypoint recorder for my phone. It seems to be relatively stable and it has the features I need. I especially like the snapshot waypoint feature. The brilliant part is that it's written in proper gpx which is understandable to JOSM: if I just dump the waypoints directory onto my computer, and then import the waypoints file into JOSM, it puts clickable photo icons on the right places on the map.

Location: Johannesburg Ward 106, Randburg, City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality, Gauteng, RSA


Posted by slashme on 1 November 2009 in English (English)

I just saw that if I'd bought my gps unit using the OSM link, I'd have donated!!! D'oh!

MTE losing data?

Posted by slashme on 1 November 2009 in English (English)

I changed from Mobile Trail Explorer to TrekBuddy, mainly because TrekBuddy comes with a certificate, so the phone isn't constantly asking for permission for everything. Before making the switch, I noticed that all of my MTE trails only kept the end of the trail: it seemed to start losing the early data points starting about 10 minutes in. Has anyone else experienced this?

Getting into it

Posted by slashme on 31 October 2009 in English (English)

My dear wife is on a business trip, so I decided this weekend was OSM weekend. I'm still very much in the realm of testing systems, but I've made some useful contributions along the way.

My setup today:
* Nokia 6600 slide (work phone) + Nokia LD-4W (bluetooth GPS bought from Amazon) = GPS + music!
* Nokia 3110c (private phone) = camera
* Mountain Bike = transport + exercise (I commute to work on rollerblades, but I like my bike for mapmaking)
* TrekBuddy

My discoveries:
* Taking photos for street names is all very well, but if you don't make waypoints, it's near impossible to line up the photos with the track.
* The Nokia 3110C doesn't put timestamps on its photos, making it even harder to correlate photos with places.
* TrekBuddy can make my work phone take photos and associate them with waypoints. Duh. If I'd done that, I'd have had usable photographic evidence of where what street was.
* If you wear a cycle helmet and pretend you belong, security guards at business parks and gated settlements usually let you slip past boom gates without protest.
* Security guards get quite nervous of people taking photos, though.

Location: Johannesburg Ward 106, Randburg, City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality, Gauteng, RSA

Street number help required

Posted by slashme on 29 October 2009 in English (English)


I just wanted to figure out whether I could record street numbers on a stroll through my neighbourhood. I got the data just fine, but JOSM won't run on my system (JWS says I need a higher version of Java) and Potlatch won't take waypoints. I can do this one by hand, but what do you wise owls suggest?


10b Gilford


8 Gilford
Orlin Manor


Location: Johannesburg Ward 106, Randburg, City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality, Gauteng, RSA

Alex township

Posted by slashme on 29 October 2009 in English (English)

We went on our Corporate Social Responsibility effort to Alexandra Township in Gauteng, South Africa today. I took along a photocopied street map and verified street names from street signs. Some were right, some have since changed. I've added some street names, and I've offered to help out for a day to get a ride-along again this weekend with the same NGO to do some more hardcore mapping.

I took notes on waypoints as well, so I'll see if I can correlate that properly.

Not all the streets are well marked there, and some of them change their names confusingly! I'll try to get some good solid waypoint info on the name changes etc.

Location: Johannesburg Ward 91, Alexandra, City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality, Gauteng, RSA
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