Lunch Today! + Monkey puzzle

Posted by Harry Wood on 19 January 2013 in English (English)

Two big events coming up in London:

TODAY (Saturday) we're having a big lunchtime pub meet up. hbogner is visiting with a whole team of Croatian OpenStreetMappers. Nine of them I think! They've been doing some kind of OSM workshop in rural Wales, the bit which just got the heaviest snow, but I'm sure that wont stop them getting back to London this morning, and we can meet with them to drink beer in the traditional english environment of Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese pub.

I'm sorry I've arranged this at rather short notice. I was umming and aahing because it clashes with something else I have this evening. This is the only reason it's a lunchtime event actually, so if people want to carry on the merriment into the evening, or arrange a follow-on session at a different pub, I'm sure the Croatian folks won't complain! I will be aiming to get there before 1pm though. Should be fun. For a while there I wasn't sure if the Croatians had managed to find out about the event I'd set up. But it's OK. They're good to go. But I seem to be the only Londoner signed up on lanyrd so far! Looking forward to it anyway.

The other big event is the next London OpenStreetMap Hack Weekend. Feb 2nd 3rd. This looks set to be an international gathering too, with Emacsen flying in from the States, Ben from Belgium, and Katie from Germany. Again we need more Londoners signing up, but I know you all don't like to commit until the last minute. The Open Data Institute are hosting and sponsoring! This will be a great venue for this I'm sure. It has "Open Data" in its name, and it's a nice space. Check it out (we can get set up in the 'boardroom' there). Please consider coming along even if you're a little bit scared by the word "hacking". It'll be fun I promise!

So those are some upcoming events.

We were in the pub not so long ago for our first London meet-up of 2013 at the Monkey Puzzle. The pub was unusually crowded. Clearly after their spectacular switch2osm on their website, more people are managing to navigate to this pub, or perhaps just attracted to the pub due to the sheer classiness of its website map. Anyway it was busy, but everyone who got there before me did a fine job of grabbing a good table, this time in the room with ye olde map on the wall.

on flickr

Ed Freyfogle from Nestoria was there, so we got talking about the property market, and the business of cleaning up data coming from estate agent listings, and the business of click-through money making with zoopla. I share an office with a startup called Locatable who do this too, and in a very map-based manner. Don't worry. They have promised me they will switch to OpenStreetMap :-)

Richard Fairhurst was in London for the day, so of course he should swing by the OSMLondon meet-up! He and Andy sounded like they were having an interesting chat about the future of OSM editor development. They worked together on some of the latest developments of Potlatch 2 in flex, and there's lots more that could be done there to bring some of the advanced features to their full potential, but it seems like iD is the future.

on flickr

I was showing off my new christmas pressie, a Kindle Fire. It's a very capable tablet device, somewhat hobbled by amazon's custom android O.S. The homescreen interfaces are nice to use, but it very cleverly directs you buy stuff from them. Mostly annoyingly though, you can't get on "google play" to download whichever apps you like. The amazon appstore has a much reduced subset. Searching for "OpenStreetMap" finds a handful including Skobbler's Forevermaps, and MapsWithMe.

Now Derick has been recommending MapsWithMe for a while, but I only just got around to trying it at Christmas time, and I have to say... it's awesome! My new favourite app. I only have the free 'lite' version, but it's a really nice fluid offline vector map browsing interface. Grant was noticing that they're doing very well on download stats, including doing really well at getting people to pay £3.09 for the pro version. Making money from OpenStreetMap? Whatever next!

We talked about the evils of imports, the France Cadastre debate again, and closer to home, the practice of copying in street names from Ordnance Survey open data. I'm a little suspicious of the progress we're seeing on ITO's street names comparison map now. Everything's turning blue, which is good news, but are people going out and surveying these streets? If we just copy in names from O.S. open data "we're in danger of doing ourselves down" was how RichardF puts it. We should aim to create a richer more exciting dataset with a community of local OpenStreetMap enthusiasts maintaining it.

I really like Pascal Neis' Overview of OpenStreetMap Contributors map, which adds the little user icons (they look like babies) based on the centre of their active areas. I was saying in the pub, that in a way this is more like what the users home location map should present. A view of who is nearby, and genuinely active there. The home locations map has a weird kind of clutter problem which means it doesn't really help connect new people to nearby mappers.

We talked about landuse mapping. The confusion created by TimSC's crude mapping approach of blatting in areas of landuse based on looking at aerial imagery (and often getting classifications completely wrong). Also we discussed the general problems of landuse classification. Commercial vs Retail vs Industrial. Areas tend to be a bit of both. Edge cases are more common than not.

Speaking of landuse mapping "Rendering of Farmland not 'Light' enough?" Yes! Longtime bugbear of mine. We should make the big brown stains fade to the background a lot more in my opinion (on the 'standard' style)

Speaking of the 'standard' style, we had Steve Chilton in the pub with us. Lots of conversations about rendering including Andy Allan chatting to him about his carto port of the OSM stylesheets, and how Tilemill designing would work if we were to adopt this on the main tile servers.

Speaking of the main tile servers, we talked about the "operations" side of things, and the vision for scaling onto new servers for load balancing and/or failover. We've got quite a few tile caches now, and these are starting take the vast majority of the load, but they're pointing to one "parent" server doing actual rendering. Yevaud is churning out an average of 6 metatiles per second. OSM U.S. may be providing some servers which could be arranged to split the rendering load, but then the caching approach becomes more complex if we try to avoid two servers rendering the same meta-tile.

As well as my kindle, I also got a new bike for christmas, so I was showing that off too, but we didn't hang around too long outside the pub before heading home, because it's mighty cold this time of year.

Today we're having a spot of snow, but don't let that put you off. The Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese is a warm cosy pub. Just the place for an OpenStreetMap lunch! All the details on the wiki

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