Tag Archives: Mapping


I’m very interested in Geowiki, where you can add your own points and comments.

From a usability perspective… it only lets me enter points by clicking… a very inaccurate way of adding them… especially when I know the exact point… the points aren’t draggable either… It’d be nice to have allsorts of tools, like postcode-to-lat/long to make “getting stuff into” the wiki easier.

Interesting though…

GPS on MacOS X (or Why Blogs are Rubbish)


I’ve started a blog about GPS on MacOS X, not to teach or share expertise or show off or anything. This blog is to share my confusion and ignorance.

There are a few blogs out there about mapping but I realized that blogs are very bad at taking a novice on a learning journey.

I literally have no clue about mapping but like lots of people I’m drawn to maps, I’ve always loved them. And I love notions like grassroots mapping, taking control as a people of useful data (like maps).

But blogs throw you in at the deep end, mid conversation really… listing them chronologically wouldn’t really help either because there’d be so much guff and fluff. To be a useful guide a blog would need a lot of editing… I guess they call well edited blogs “books” don’t they? Or they would need for you and a cohort of bloggers to start with similar interests and goals in mind and to share questions and things you find out with each other.

I hope my blog serves to share (at least one) customers confusion. The world of GPS/GIS seems geeky in the extreme and yet it holds treasures of interest to everyone. Ever met anyone (nice) who didn’t like maps? Maybe by sharing my ignorance some people will help me by commenting. Maybe someone will make a Skiddoo thing to “Get Me Started”… maybe the people who make the tools will read it and have insights on how better to communicate the concepts and functionality in software.

Maybe it’ll be be another blog nobody reads… you never know do you?

Tube Time Travel Map


A great tube map that shows how long it should take to get from A to B.

Except for one thing, it’d be so much better if the stations were listed textually as well as geographically and temporally. Why oh why do people always seem to remove simple stuff when making something cool. I

For example, I wanted to select “London Bridge” but because it near so many others I had to take pot luck. Having clicked London Bridge I could see a circle line station outside the 10 minute line but couldn’t tell what it was…

And what if I wanted to know where I could get to in 30 minutes… it’d be nice to be able to set the time chunks wouldn’t it?

The Devil’s Arrows

This weekend I discovered that a few miles from where I lived as a child there are some standing stones. I never knew. And in fact all around North Yorkshire there are barrows and henges and stones and a whole collection of ancient bits and bobs lying around.

I took a coat hanger that I’d cut in two and dowsed a bit to see if I could detect anything. I met an interesting woman who had a flask of coffee and a GPS gadget and was mapping all these things herself.

The stones were very impressive, just lying around in a field. Take a look at my photos

The York Ley Google Map


York Ley Line

If you’re not sure what a “ley line” is, join the club, nobody is that sure, except that, in pre-christian times people put down mark stones or menhirs(big standing stones) all over the country and they seem to line up with each other. These points where leys crossed often had churches buildt on them.

The lines are reputed to be “old paths” or energy lines or something. I’m a dyed in the wool sceptic in general but there’s something about maps isn’t there?

I recently googled for “ley lines york” and found this one, The York Ley which runs from Clifford’s Tower to beyond the Minster. The map was terrible though, so I thought I’d have a go at drawing it on a Google map.

All sorts of things jumped out from this excercise, such as, as soon as I’d connected the two points I noticed all sorts of personal connections to the line (I think I live on it right now and also think I was born on it too….).

I then went out and bought an OS Explorer map to see if there were any other topological features I’d missed on the ley. I found a Roman Camp on the line near the Bumper Castle (a pub), maybe that’s too modern though.

The I realized, although I’d managed to draw a line using google maps, I’d need to brush up my geometry to extend the line hundreds of miles to see if it connected with any other features. I bought THE book on ley lines by Alfred Watkins and he mentions how difficult it is to spot ley lines because you need a large scale map to see the mounds (they are often only small and you need the detail) but then they are so far apart that you’d need an airplane hanger to lay out all the maps together.

It then occurred to me that the ley line community, if there is one, need a collaborative google map, on which they enter possible items of note. Whether or not these items line up can be worked out or discovered by a computer rather than an individual.

To make it easier to add items on my map, you just click it (you do have to add a URL though, thanks to my current ropey code).

It really annoys me that Google maps doesn’t have features like pubs, churches etc on it. And I really hate the fact that Ordanance Survey own the data on maps and love the idea that grassroots GPSers may, street by street, pub by pub, piecemeal-style, start adding data into a shared map that we can all use.

It seems there are also people trying to put pressure on the uk government to open up geo data collected by the government (there’s heaps of it apparently). It’s our data, we paid for it, we want it back please.

One problem with many grassroots attempts is that they expect that your collaboration should involve you going to their site to upload your data. This hardly ever works (friends reunited worked, but not for long). Why can’t they adopt the Google model, which says, you create your map data and we will come and find it? It’s the only way that might work because it removes the main barrier to it not working (time, effort and just remembering to do it).

Now, can anyone tell what GPS gadget I should buy (I use MacOS X)?

p.s I’m gonna have to buy this book … Mapping Hacks and start hacking.