Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Still smiling

Some of the old coding jokes still make me smile. This http response code from 1998 for example... Error 418. Totally pointless, but we're so familiar with the 404 not found code when I stumbled across this one again, it made me smile.

On a similar note, I saw a totally different image of Simba in the Lion King the other day:

Looks normal. In fact it is. This is from https://uk.movieposter.com/poster/MPW-180/Lion_King.html and you can buy it. Now look at the image again, but this time notice that there is a woman facing away from you in just her pants. The pants are Simba's nose and her arms are stretched out with her hair being the central part of the mane. You'll never see anything else now.

I heard about these Disney jokes from my sister many years ago when she pointed out a penis in The Little Mermaid. That's to say a penis in the film, not actually in the Mermaid herself! That would be too rude. It was part of the castle.

What it reminded me of was that we can still have fun at work. In fact, when we do have fun we are often at our most productive. When we love our work it shows, and sometimes this requires a little cheek, or a little deviation to add a bit spice to the daily grind. If anyone sees any of my presentations, then be sure to look for something that has no right being there :)

If you don't love your work, then try some spice and if that doesn't work maybe you should think about a more drastic change... good luck.

Written and submitted from home

Saturday, 14 June 2014

I know I'm late...

I know I'm late on this particular bandwagon but I'm now on instagram. http://instagram.com/ianwrobinson.
I've not been on it because i like photography and didn't like the restrictions it placed on my photos, with a fixed ratio and standard filters. But it seams i just didn't get it. It looks to me like a great leveller, an insight into peoples lives without all the complication that modern photography brings.

I see lots of people use it for lots of different reasons, but im going to use it just to show pictures of my travels for now. I'm sure that will morph into something completely different as i grow with it.
Anyway, take a look and feel free to comment and give me pointers.

Written and submitted from home

Saturday, 14 September 2013

My taps make me laugh

Ever since seeing a photo post from TwistedSifter (http://twistedsifter.com/2013/05/50-faces-in-everyday-places/) I've been seeing faces all over the place. Here is a picture of my bath taps.

The GIF was created by Google automatically. It's a feature called "Auto Awesome". The daftest Americanism I've heard for a while, but that aside, is really good.

What happened was that I used my phone to take the picture, and unsure what level of water coming out of the mouth would look best (or nose, depending on your point of view), I took about 6 photo's at different levels of "on".

My phone automatically uploaded them to Google + as it does, and when I looked at it, this gif was also there. Good eh!

It also does other stuff, but I'm still smiling at my daft looking taps to look at these other features.

Written and submitted form home

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

What's going on at Google then?

Google maps is changing a lot. Normally I try to post on positive things, but to be frank I cant find many!
So lets have a look and see if we can work out what's going on...

Firstly, they release the Beta of the new maps and it looks great at first glance. Really clean and uncluttered. The main focus is on the map and everything is else is in small expandable windows.

Google Map Beta

All good so far. Maybe this is harking back to Google's routes and a clean uncluttered page.
Other good things are the explorer bar on the bottom which opens up when you select the little square thingy at the bottom left. In there are photos. When you hover them, an line pointing to where it was taken appears. Some of them are photo tours which very cleverly and seamlessly runs through the photos like a video. Difficult to describe, give it a go and you'll know what I mean.

But dig a little deeper and things start to go a bit wobbly. First thing I did was something I do all the time in GMaps, and that is a travel map. You can only do point to point. No ability to add a destination. That's no good at all! But, on the flip side its quite good at showing other modes of transport linking to the relevant public transport sites. The multi modal travel is there as promised  but we have no control over this. You can select your times based on the timetables of the travel companies. So all well and good, but if I cant add stops then it's a non starter for me now.

While I'm talking about it, there is no right click at all. Ok, it's simpler, but do we need it that simple?

The next thing is the 'show traffic' option. Now I always had a slight problem in that you could select the time and day to show the traffic, but on a 4 or 5 hour journey we need the traffic for the whole journey as I get there. If I set off at 9am from Leeds say, I need the traffic there at that time, but It's no good giving me traffic at 9am in London if I wont get there until 1pm. But that aside  the option has been removed totally. So it will only give traffic for now. How many of you use GMaps in that way? 

OK, so a little good, but quite a lot bad and a show stopper for me at this point. But, I accept not everyone. 

Next, lets have a look at the navigation. We have lost some of the control. When you put the map into earth mode, which is a combination of Google earth and imagery, you can only view at 90 degree angles. I've not tried it with a 3d mouse yet, just on the laptop, but thats how most of us roll these days, isn't it? Also, you only have 3 options on the tilt plane too. Overhead, slight angle and a bigger angle. Up close and personal you lose the vector mapping overlay and have no control over this.

Right, it's getting annoying now. Lets go to the actual mapping data. First thing of note, I cant find any 45 degree imagery (maybe its in with the earth mode) and we have lost the terrain mapping. But, just in case everyone in the UK wasn't hating the new format enough, Google then change the style of the Maps to the US map style. Now, I did put a feature request in to allow us to change the colour of the routes in travel maps from Blue so we can better distinguish from our motorway network, but this is not what I meant!

Apple broke a golden rule of cartography when they placed form over accuracy and I think they have paid for it. I suspect that will be short lived though, Apple lovers will forgive them for anything. Now Google have broken another golden rule of cartography. The map shows POI's based on what they know about the user. Surely maps are about discovery, not about what we already know? Again I see that this may be of use to some users, but for me, as a mapping geek, this is unforgivable. 

And now they have managed to lose a whole Island. How does that happen? People of Jura, it looks like Bing is the way forward.

So what's next? Well, my SatNav of choice at the moment is the brilliant Waze. A community based mapping application. I'll let you have a look at this and recommend you give it a go but this blog is not about that. My point is, Google have purchased Waze. Why is that then? They are obviously spending some time on their mapping product and have an awful lot of community based knowledge. So what do they want with Waze? Are they buying it to shelve it? Not sure that's the Google way. They buy most of their applications and usually do a good job with them. Google Earth being the biggest success that comes to mind at the moment. 

I am really flummoxed on this one. The only reason I can come up with is they paid $1 billion just to stop Facebook acquiring a mapping application and for the foreseeable future will let Waze continue. Whilst I'm sure the T&C's will update to allow Google access to the rich community created data, it could be that this brilliant app will not get lost in the truly awful new Google Maps. Lets hope so.

Written and submitted from Home

Friday, 15 March 2013

Happy Birthday John Snow

Today marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of John Snow.
And in honour of the great grandaddy  of GIS I took his original data, admittedly in a more up to date format than quill and ink, georeferenced his map, again in a more suitable format than paper and gave it the KDE treatment.

Written and submitted from home

Saturday, 22 September 2012


So.... ios6 hits the streets and the big hooha is the Apple Map. I've been looking at this and the complainers are quite right. It is poor. Here is the Satellite images for my village:

Other complaints are whole towns missing or misplaced. Quite unforgivable in this day and age of the single gazetteer and all the work done in that area. There is a whole area of expertise laughing at these maps and so they should. Or should they?

I see that apple are busy recruiting mapping experts and maybe this is a bit late, but lets first look at the source of this data. TomTom, who purchased TeleAtlas (I blogged about that here: tom-tom-buys-tele-atlas) were the supplier. The driver for the TomTom application has always been navigation. Basically a network topology with POI's. It a totally different product to Google Maps. It is derived from a different source, designed to be viewed by someone driving a car, so not pretty, but clear and uncluttered so that a casual glance will give you all the info you need. There is no real need for total accuracy in the position of the POI's (although they shouldn't be missing altogether!).

Now lets look at Google Maps. The driver for this has always been "organising the worlds information". It is about collecting all the mapping information in the world and delivering it in an organised way. Accuracy was never the highest priority but in order to organise, a natural order of accuracy was achieved. It's not survey accuracy, but it hits the mark for 90% of the population. It has a lot in it. 8 years after purchasing the original product and an investment in the $millions ($Billions?) Google has achieved something no one thought was possible 10 years ago. Their satnav is not fantastic however. It's ok, it does some quite nice stuff, but I have no control and the display isn't the easiest to read when driving.

With this in mind, lets go back to the Apple Map and have a look at its navigation:

Route options.

Clear Mapping that is easy to read while driving

Its very easy to criticise, but lets see. If the Apple offering forces Google to improve its navigation, and the Google offering forces Apple to improve it's mapping we are bound to end up with really good applications on both platforms.

Written and submitted from home

A thought on ios6 from TFL from @owencadams - (unverified but very funny)