Boom! summer has arrived!
Well spring time at least. And most importantly, daylight hours after work. This means it's mapping time again. We'll be heading out mapping TONIGHT in the Mayfair area
I'm falling behind with... well everything in my life right now, because I've had holiday sandwiched between lots of work. But I've cranked out a mapcraft cake diagram. I've also laid down an invite for any new folks to get in touch with me if they'd like a demonstration of the kind of mapping data I tend to collect while roaming the streets of London. We'll be doing this mapping from around 6pm until 7pm when we'll be meeting at the pub. From them onwards it will be... a good old casual social meet-up!
We haven't had one in a while, and yet I didn't get around to writing up my notes on things we chatted about at two previous pub meet-ups back in March:
Crosse Keyes pub near Bank 7th March
We talked about whether there would ever be an open version of google street view. There's openstreetview.org which isn't really it. Obviously stitched together photos of every street is a mammoth undertaking. With the prevalence of smartphones there is a increasing capacity for people to be able to swipe their phone across a panorama, and not only gather lots of pixels, but also use the phone's CPU power to do stitching/resizing and even image recognition e.g. gather the names of all the shops on this street in a single swipe. Boom. Mega-rapid mapping. That's still science fiction at the moment, but maybe things will go that way, and hopefully OpenStreetMap can steer this in an open data way.
That got us onto talking about UAVs and quadcopters. The technology's not there yet, but maybe one day we'll able to send out a mini quadcopter drone down every street at slightly above head-height to read all the shop signs. For now UAVs might start to be useful for getting aerial imagery, but even there, I haven't seen much success yet. We're interested in this for HOT disaster mapping. It seems like open hardware initiatives like [http://www.openrelief.org](openrelief.org) might come up with something cool (and cheaper) but compare with the niftiness of something like sensefly (commercial).
We got talking about cycling. Having been cycling in London for over two years now I can rant and rave with the rest of them, although I don't follow things like the announcement from Boris which everyone was excited about.
As well as a cycling, Andy was talking rendering again, and handling of coastlines. Jochen's coastline downloads offer an "inverted" approach, letting you assume a land background and then paint on polygon areas of water.
We talked about bug tracking within OSM. We have a lot of very old "wont fix" bugs. Design ideas which are sort of left dangling for possible future reference. We talked about the Trac versus github situation. It's unfortunate we've ended up with bugs in two different places (for the main website codebase) Can't quite remember the reasons and solutions for that.
Grant wanted to announce that OpenStreetMap's SVN will be shutdown and discontinued at the end of May, because most developers (and more importantly the repo maintainers) are preferring git over SVN, and most sub-projects have been migrated onto git already. Don't know if Grant has announced that yet. Maybe I just did :-/
We got talking about OSM data archaeology. Grant had been delving around seeing who had copies of really old database backups, from the very early days of the project before the planet files and planet file archiving was regularised. The records are patchy back then.
Finally we were talking about recruitment into the OpenStreetMap Foundation working groups. We urgently need to do some of this (not least into CWG). We need some new folks to help us make things happen within the foundation. This means attracting the right kind of talent, but also as Andy was saying, we need to stop "fishing from a small pond" of people we know, who are already busy with OpenStreetMap stuff. I would say that this is one of the key challenges for the foundation right now.
And we ate "dragon" curries!
Monkey puzzle in Paddington 21st March
I brought along an old map poster which Matt had created back in 2009(?). This is fun because we can play "spot the rendering configuration mistake". It's difficult enough to spot, while at the same time quite glaringly obvious. It made it even more fun when Matt showed up at the pub. He's never going to hear the end of it.
Grant was stressed out after a couple of difficult sessions doing hardware upgrades/alterations on the main OpenStreetMap servers. Some issue almost meant he was not being able to the main database sever back up again. But it's OK. phew! We're going to be needing some new hardware again to keep things running smoothly.
We talked about road classification tagging. The old physical properties versus grid significance debate. We get this with African roads, but I always remember the road round Iceland as the best example. It's a dirt track in places, and yet it's the one and only road looping around the island, so in that sense it's a very significant road and deserves its primary/trunk tag. Paul was giving the example of Brick Lane as an unusual classification quirk here in London. By our rules we follow the government classification. It's a B road. It's a highway=secondary, and yet Brick Lane is actually a pedestrian clogged pokey little alleyway compared to what drivers might expect of a B road.
We talked about "facebook search", and some of the weird privacy issues hitting the tech news as result of that.
We talked about Nokia's funky 3D view... which isn't working for me just at the moment.
We talked about interactions in the community over IRC and wiki edits, sometimes somebody who is quite sensible/intelligent on IRC can be a nutter when editing wiki pages ...or vice versa. But often moving from slower channels onto IRC is a good way of turning a big flaming tit-for-tat debate into a reasonable discussion. (if you've never tried IRC, it's not really as geeky and mysterious as it sounds) ...of course, if you can, the best thing is a face-to-face pub meet-up!
And that's a wrap on the winter pub meet-ups of 2012-2013. Since then I've been mega-busy and on holiday in Brazil (did a little bit of mapping there). The weather is amazingly different on return to London. Before I was cycling to work in my wind-proof cycle jacket, with my face hurting in the cold. Now I can cycle in just a T-shirt and OSM hi-vis jacket. And the daylight... So much daylight after work.
Time to kick off the mapping! I didn't sketch my buildings yet but I plan to fill some annoying building gaps in this Mayfair area. In fact I'll be very disappointed if we can't nail that this summer. If you're in London, and you fancy a bit of that, or a bit of chit-chat on techy or less techy topics... come join in with the first London summer mapping (and pub) event 2013!