skquinn's diary

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Posted by skquinn on 8 February 2019 in English (English)

Please, review before adding the opening_hours=* tag. If you don’t follow the syntax on the wiki, the software that actually uses the data just sees gibberish.

True examples of bad data I’ve just cleaned up today, with my comments after:

  • opening_hours=Varies (use “unknown” instead of truly unknown, or open-end syntax if variable beyond a fixed known range)
  • opening_hours=MWF 08:00-17:00; TT 10:00-19:00 (this can’t be automatically fixed by JOSM’s validator and has to be fixed by hand)
  • opening_hours=Closed since 2008 (nope, this isn’t valid per the syntax either. “closed” by itself, maybe, but in that case the amenity/shop/office should probably just be untagged with a note in description=*).
  • opening_hours: 08:00-24:00 pharmacy Mo-Fr 10:00-18:00; Sa 12:00-18:00 (either tag the pharmacy itself on a separate node, or use something like opening_hours:pharmacy=*)

Note that iD will not warn you of opening_hours syntax violations (in fact, as best I remember it will not check anything), it will happily let you put any kind of garbage you want in there. Maybe it should, though? How should we raise awareness that one can’t just slop any old junk in opening_hours in order for it to remain useful?

The difference between a roundabout and "just a road that goes in a circle"

Posted by skquinn on 31 March 2017 in English (English)

I’ve seen a lot of mistagged roundabouts lately in Texas (with the help of Keep Right). Please review the definition on the wiki: junction=roundabout should have at least three roads coming from it (two directions of a through street and a side street). Not everything round is a roundabout, and routing tools will give incorrect and/or confusing directions if something is mistagged as a roundabout.

Location: Hawthorne Place, Houston, Harris County, Texas, 77076, USA

The past year and a half in review

Posted by skquinn on 16 December 2014 in English (English)

The vast majority of my changesets have still been in and around Houston. I’ve made various other fixes around the country, sometimes related to notes, sometimes at random, and in a few cases from a trip I made to/from greater Columbus, OH.

With the help of others, a sizable amount of the traffic signals are now mapped in and around Houston. I’ve also found a few roads that should be tertiary or better that had been left as residential or unclassified. My focus has shifted between road features themselves to building outlines, points of interest (POIs), address data, and occasionally land use if I can see a large parcel of land with e.g. nothing but trees on it. Occasionally I’ll map stop signs if I know the area well enough but it can be a considerable pain due to the direction tag required.

I’m now serious enough about mapping that I’ve switched to JOSM for the vast majority of my editing. I still use iD for the occasional simple edits or when I’m on a computer without JOSM installed, or sometimes to edit turn restrictions. Dualizing roads in iD was a real chore. Actually, it’s extremely difficult with iD by itself; usually I would switch to Potlatch 2 at least to add the actual parallel way. The only reason I stuck with the online editors is that my first experience with JOSM was on a computer I had no business trying it on (an old PC with an 800MHz Celeron CPU and a whopping 256M (0.25G) of RAM) with predictable results. The nice things about JOSM that I consider most notable are:

  1. It’s Java, so it runs on just about any computer regardless of operating system (one less reason to dread ditching Windows).
  2. You can add plugins to make certain tasks easier (I have one specifically to speed drawing rectangular building outlines).
  3. JOSM has tons of additional features that wouldn’t be possible or practical in an online editor.
  4. The parallel ways tool is much easier to use than the one in Potlatch 2 and makes a more complete copy of the way (nodes with traffic signals, crosswalks, etc. are tagged on the new way). Note: this is mostly good but there are cases where it can be a problem as well.
  5. The response time of JOSM is much faster than iD ever will be on the same hardware. This is especially true when editing areas like downtown Houston.
  6. JOSM has search and replace functionality. If, for example, someone added a bunch of McDonald’s locations, and misspelled it MacDonnold’s or something equally hideous, it’s easier to fix and your chances of swearing while doing it are at least a factor of 10 less. Also good for finding and replacing non-conforming highway references (say, the lone SH 6 when everything around it for miles is TX 6) and for quickly de-abbreviating streets (search for “W 1st Street”, edit name tag to “West 1st Street” once even if split into 20+ ways aka “road chop suey”).

That said, iD and Potlatch 2 have specific roles that they are best at filling. There will always be people who don’t want to learn JOSM and are happy using iD (or even Potlatch 2). That’s fine, and I believe in having choices so that each mapper can decide for him/herself.

Location: Hawthorne Place, Houston, Harris County, Texas, 77076, USA

Houston (Texas, US) area: help requested

Posted by skquinn on 7 June 2013 in English (English)

I have begun working on the following:

  • Traffic signals, particularly near where I live or where I drive/ride frequently.
  • Re-mapping what is now Northline Shopping Center (formerly Northline Mall).
  • Various other road reclassifications (secondary to tertiary, secondary to primary, etc) using my best judgment.

The first task alone, I could easily spend a whole month on. I would really appreciate it if someone could help out. Downtown’s traffic signals are pretty much completely mapped, but not very many outside of there.

The second, I cleared out most of what was there and began mapping obvious parking areas. This was in good faith, in the hope of helping whoever wanted to map the area.

The main change on the third item is downgrading Fulton north of Tidwell to a tertiary route. This section is only two-lane undivided and I felt leaving it secondary was a mistake. I may be making some other changes in the area, and I usually explain my rationale in the change comments. If you feel I’ve made a mistake, do let me know.

Location: Hawthorne Place, Houston, Harris County, Texas, 77076, USA