Injuries in the line of duty

Posted by Ed Avis on 7 December 2008 in English (English).

So a few weeks back I had laser eye surgery at the London Vision Clinic. This is great, because it means I can read street signs from a distance and I don't have to wear glasses. I do have to avoid contact to the eyes for a few weeks, so no swimming, boxing and so on.

I've been walking the streets near my home in Leyton, London, adding street names and the occasional missing road. When I find an unnamed road I like to walk all the way along it looking for features like pubs and footways not on the map. Often there are whole side streets to add, which you wouldn't spot if you didn't walk the whole length of a street before naming it.

Sometimes this means following a maze of footways round a council estate. Yesterday I turned a corner and came across a group of teenagers. I walked past them and one jostled me as I passed; then they started hassling me. I didn't speak, which seemed to annoy them more. One of them punched me in the eye, which was a bit worrying, but I don't think it tore open the flap cut for the laser surgery. I would have liked to hit back, but they were eight, and I really didn't feel in the mood. I walked away while they tried to find some weapon in people's front gardens. In the end one of them followed me as I walked away and threw a traffic cone! (It missed.)

Fortunately I caught the eye of two blokes driving past in a car as this happened. They jumped out and chased off the gang ('YOU LITTLE ****!'). Perhaps it is not a great idea to go off down the side streets, even in bright daylight. Somehow, I seem to attract this kind of trouble.

(this was in the middle of Farmer Road here: )

Anyway, to get back on topic, there are a few questions I have:

- How do I get Merkaator to show the satellite imagery as background?

- I am playing with an Acer Aspire One netbook. It's great, but I wonder if there is one with built-in GPS? Or a suitable combination of netbook plus GPS receiver plus software to record traces under Linux?

Comment from LivingWithDragons on 7 December 2008 at 16:01

Sounds terrible, but glad your not getting put off. There are places I decide to walk past when mappping and leave the roads for when I can come back on a bicycle. I feel much safer not risking it and being able to quickly cycle away from trouble. Not to say I don't get kids talking to me on my bike.

I don't think laptops/netbooks come with built in GPS receivers, but you could get one with bluetooth and use a bluetooth 'GPS mouse'. They don't have a screen, you just turn them on and the location they get is sent over bluetooth to the computer which then does the displaying/recording. I used to use one with a program on my phone instead of carrying round a laptop. It's nice and cheap too, about £20 on ebay (just search for 'bluetooth gps').
Nowadays I use a standalone garmin GPSr which shows me loads of information and saves to a miniSD card, I have an SD slot in my netbook to upload the data when I get home (or to anywhere I can sit down).

Comment from es_ka on 7 December 2008 at 19:38

If you want a cheap solution, just get a USB GPS mouse. I use a Navilock NL-302U (with SirfStar III chipset and built in PL2303 USB-to-Serial converter) and it works like a charm under Linux.

Logging is quite easy with the command line tool 'cgpxlogger' from 'gpsd' package ( It connects to the gpsd daemon and writes track points with configurable interval to GPX files, which is very useful for contributing data to OSM.

Comment from daveemtb on 8 December 2008 at 16:53

Sorry to hear about your bad experience. It's sad that there are kids like that around, but like you said, some places are pretty much "no go areas" even in daylight. A bike is certainly a better plan as you can turn around and cycle out of trouble more easily than on foot, but it isn't foolproof.

Maybe we should think up a tag for roads like this, to warn anyone else who might be adding POIs etc at a later date?

locals=unfriendly ??? :) Probably goes for farmers with shotguns too!

Comment from JennyH on 27 December 2008 at 00:39

Just by view, but seeing the sort of neighbourhoods your wandering though - I'd be careful waving a nice shiny netbook about. I've been wandering around the same streets and I keep my GPS concealed.

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