Monthly Archives: July 2007

OpenStreetMap Cycle Map

So those of you who don’t attentively follow the OpenStreetMap mailing lists will have missed my announcement of a new cycle map that I’ve made! It uses the National Cycle Network and local cycle network information that we have gathered to show a map specifically tuned for cyclists.

As you can see, it’s not entirely complete, but we’re getting there. The data for Putney is unsurprisingly quite good! From the talk on the mailing lists the map has spurred a few people to go back over areas where they know where the routes are, and add the right tags to make it show up. Spotting new cycle routes has turned into a hobby of mine now – it’s amazing how many of them there are if you keep your eyes peeled for the little stickers on lampposts and the slightly more obvious street signs.

Even though we need to gather loads more routes, I already think this is one of the best cycle maps I’ve found online – much better than ones based on tracing over google maps. It’s especially disappointing how poor the data is from Sustrans and the London Cycle Campaign themselves. Sustrans maps, if you use Internet Explorer and if their webserver isn’t grindingly slow, can be found online, but it’s fairly poor and you can’t reuse it (or link to it). The London Cycle Network is ten times worse, with their online map requiring registration and their pdf maps are completely rubbish.

So not exactly competition for the end result, but they’ve got a head start on the data collection (well, they choose where the routes are, so that could be counted as cheating!). If anyone fancies inviting me to come for a cycle ride and map out a cycle route in their area, then let me know and I’ll come and help. Other than that, sit back, and watch the weekly progress as the OpenStreetMap pixies come and map a cycle route near you!

The Skye Guide

It’s probably about time I plugged a website that I like to keep an eye on – The Skye Guide. The eagle-eyed amongst you will notice what draws my interest… no, not specifically the creative commons license ( :-) ), but it’s a website that my Dad runs in his spare time.

I’ve only been to Skye once, and that was many years ago, but I have to agree with the comment on the Quiraing – one of the most awesome places I’ve ever been. Don’t miss it if you’re nearby. I can’t remember much else about my visit – other than a very, very talented busker in one village who we listened to ad-libbing about what was going on in the town in an amazing cross between folk guitar and observational comedy.

I’d love if he could link to openstreetmap instead of the ordance survey, but the coverage of Skye is somewhat lacking at the moment!

Alternatives to DRM nasties

So Nia buys some music, and gets bitten by DRM – but don’t worry, those big companies are digitally protecting your rights.

I gave up on commercial music years ago, and have stuck to Creative Commons music since then. Sure, you’re less likely to hear their jingles on adverts, and your friends might not have heard of them, but hey! There’s tons of it out there, and most of it is dross – but that’s no different from the stuff you have to pay for. My latest source of music is Jamendo, offering high quality .oggs and .mp3s for free download. I can heartily recommend tryad, especially their cracking album “Listen” (which I’m listening to at the moment – if you do nothing else, listen to “lovely” on the website). If you want something completely unusual, try “Fusion” from Cool Cavemen. Or my favourite from this week – “Drop” from Alexander Blu.

Has anyone else got any albums or songs they want to recommend in the comments?

Distinctly Unpleasant

So the weather has been pretty grotty recently. It’s not been long since we were all out getting sunburnt and looking forward to a long, hot summer – but it’s July and it feels like autumn is drawing in. The graph that the BBC recently put up showing the monthly rainfall as a percentage of normal certainly backs up the feeling that summer came early. (The eagle-eyed scientists amongst you will, of course, realise that extra rain in the summer, when it is normally dry, leads to a much higher bar on that chart than the equivalent extra rain during an already-rainy winter month, but nevermind).

What is has done is made cycling to and from work distinctly unpleasant, but thankfully this week it’s been mainly on the way home. On Monday after climbing it was dark and heavy rain, and I was completely soaked (and had a crick in my neck from trying to shy away) by the time I got home. Today was similar – lighter rain, but a strong headwind meant I had to pedal downhill coming over Wandsworth Bridge.

Tuesday was ten times worse. After waiting until a heavy downpour had passed at around 5pm, I went to the DramSoc first-Tuesday barnight. Cycling home at about 10pm, I decided to ride down the Kings Road, to avoid the underpass at Chelsea Harbour. Just after the turning off down Wandsworth Bridge Road there was an unexpected giant puddle across the road – the streets had been dry up to there. Cycling into it at speed, I simply lifted my feet up and coasted through about 3 inches of water down the middle of the road.

Moments later approaching Parson’s Green there was another giant puddle, but as I went in I quickly realised it was much, much deeper, and seconds later it was above my axles and my feet were hardly clearing the surface on the upswing. As an oncoming taxi passed in the middle, I tried duck the wall of water (a bit like this guy), but failed miserably. By the time I made it to dry tarmac, I felt like I’d been swimming in it. Which isn’t far off, come to think of it.

Pictures from the downpour made it to the BBC news, which went some way to explaining the size of the puddles!

Book Review: The Granta Book of Reportage

I’d never heard of the idea of “reportage” before, and I’m still none the wiser as to who or what “Granta” is. But with an interest in journalism, and a photo of the awe-inspiring “Tank Man” on the cover, it was a fairly easy sell.

The book contains a wonderful collection of journalist’s stories, rather than the reports that would find their way into a newspaper. Most of the reportage (which I like to think is pronounced as the French would – rhyming with montage, not cambridge) is regarding conflicts, and the stories of being a reporter trying to get close to the action – but not too close. One stand-out piece for me is the investigative journalism behind Operation Flavius, an IRA bomb plot foiled by the SAS controversially shooting the suspects. Compared with reading (not-so-)broad-sheet newspapers, I normally prefer to cut the waffle and read the Economist for getting the facts on what’s going on. However, I would love to have a source of journalism like this book – almost by necessity it would be non-timely, but nevertheless fascintating, almost behind-the-scenes reading, where the subject merely provides the context for the experiences of the journalist.

Recommended.

The Granta Book of Reportage (Classics of Reportage) on Amazon.