Last Wednesday we had the first of the London summer mapping parties. Technically it was the second in the series but this time we actually did some mapping for at least some of the evening.
We were mapping Marylebone / Bond Street area (cake diagram), which is the North Westerly boundary of the big London building blob. I was hoping to extend this a little, plus the whole area is bristling with POIs. Some mapped. Some not.
I met with Kevin to give him a mapping demonstration, and as we walked around slice 7 we found that Great Portland Street was already well mapped, but Regent Street had plenty missing. I find myself keeping a keen eye out for cycle parking these days. I think Islington council have been adding a lot of new ones near where I live. We spotted a few unmapped ones around Cavendish Square too. We also happened across a shiny new burrito shop!
(photos to prove we actually did mapping this time)
Despite the good weather, the evening breeze is still a bit chilly while standing around writing things, so we headed for the Pontefract Castle pub to warm up.
Kevin was over from Winchester, and said he'd like to see some OSM events in the area.
It was a fairly quiet meet-up, due to being sandwiched between two bank holidays, but we did have an appearance from the mighty Blackadder. Down from Birmingham (mappa-mercia.org... by the way they're having a meet-up in Birmingham this Thursday). He's a OSM old-timer, so we talked about old times, and also about tunnel building technology.
There was also lots of techy server talk. We talked about SSD storage again. It's super-fast but has some interesting durability properties, wearing out over time, but only with write operations, so if you can store bits of data which need to be read quickly but which don't change too often, that works best. We talked about how that might be used for the main tile rendering server. But I mentioned previously that the SSD added to the database server, using its nifty built-in controller, turned out to be a disappointment.
Tile scraping continues to be a headache for the sysadmins. Software called "Mobile Atlas Creator" has been in breach of the Tile Usage Policy by performing bulk downloads, and more blatantly by using a faked user agent, although this may have been more to do with working around blocks already instigated by google and other map providers. They need to learn to be a little more considerate.
The API server has also been feeling the strain. We talked about how it has been getting slower over the years, particularly for large changesets. Many mappers have adopted an approach of uploading smaller changesets more frequently, which is always what I would recommend anyway. Kinder on the server, but it also prevents loss of massive amounts of work if an upload fails for some reason. If you're worried about generating a mess of lots of edits on your edit list, dont fret. It's a bit of an obsessive compulsive thing to concern yourself with. Just chill out and whack the upload button.
We talked about ideas for scaling. A master-slave database set-up is a common suggestion. The set-up is complicated by our use of temporary tables.
We talked about awards, and joked that we should have a "trollcat" award. There's also the idea of Badges popping up in discussion these days. The big challenge of devising that kind of system, would be rewarding quality mapping, not sheer quantity. We also pondered ways of rewarding friendly welcoming behaviour through the messaging system. Firefishy described his way of monitoring of drop-off users in South Africa, and said he had had some success enticing them back in by sending them encouraging messages.
We fiddled with our gadgets to test out some slippy map dragging and pinch zooming. I'm not sure if this is supposed to be working yet on the latest versions of OpenLayers, but there has been some development effort in that direction. The OpenStreetMap homepage doesn't follow the very latest releases of OpenLayers, in fact it's a slightly customised version which TomH has been syncing periodically.
A few weeks back I told Dan about a cheap android deal from T-Mobile. The "pulse mini" used to be available for £29.99. They seemed to withdraw it from their site apart from the pink coloured one, and now it seems to be withdrawn altogether. Dan snapped up a pink one, but he tells me it's a bit pants. It's a full-featured android phone, but I guess you get what you pay for when it comes to the quality of the touch screen and processing power. My workmates were testing it as a GPS logger, and that works reasonably well.
Dan was also talking about a nice "find my nearest" website he's working on. It does POI searches based on the new XAPI.
We talked about IP addresses and how they're running out. IPV6 is a solution as long as everyone adopts to it. Some OpenStreetMap servers are on IPV6, but not all, due to limitations of the hosting.
I've already set up a cake diagram for the next OpenStreetMap meet-up, which will be next Tuesday (10th) in Pimlico (the posh area South of Victoria). Should be good. The pub is on twitter. It must be cool! Don't forget, the mapping beforehand is optional. Just come to the pub if you prefer. Check out the details and sign-up here. mmmmm cake!