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)

Thursday, 16 August 2012

New mobile google maps

Have you updated Google maps on your phone yet? I noticed indoor mapping in London.

I also noticed that the Latitude widget stopped working, then disappeared. The app is still there and functions OK. Well, as OK as it always did, which is not that great to be honest. But they have added your location history to the standard map app which is good... limited, but good nether the less.

Written and submitted on the mobile somewhere in North Yorkshire!

Friday, 20 July 2012

Does this go against current thinking?

Stats for this site

I thought the general thinking was that the traditional windows based pc was not the hardware of choice these days? I'm basing this on my experience, that of my friends and a Google talk i attended last night.

just saying!

written and submitted on the tablet (so excuse any format issues)


by the way, my twitter account has changed. It is now @_ianrobinson


here's one I haven't posted...

... from way back in June 2010. A simple live map of London Underground. 

It doesn't do much, just looks great, and as my phone doesn't work down there in the tube, its not much use. Come to think of it, even if my phone worked down there, it wouldn't be much use. But it shows what a couple of hours work can do with freely available transport data. There is a bucket load of data/feeds available right now, and people are doing great stuff with it. Here are the TFL feeds:

When people ask me what I do and I try to explain to them what GIS is, I find myself saying "maps and stuff". We all have to remember that GIS is not special. It's gone beyond that niche technology that only a certain type of geek did. The key word is "Information". Its just information about stuff. Stuff that has a Geographical element, which doesn't rule much out!

It's a kind of Toilet Technology. What I mean by that is that its the type of technology that does a lot, is useful and at the press of a button, without a thought for the "how?" the user gets what they want. The toilet technology is very sophisticated, does a lot if stuff and converts a load of crap into clean, useful water. All the user does is press a button and moves on to the rest of their lives. 

GIS is not maps, it's information about stuff. If we treat it as such the result will be far more useful.

Written and submitted from home

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Project "Find Ian a Better Hotel"

Facebook friends will be familiar with my "Find Ian a Better Hotel" project. Basically, when I'm in the office for more than a day I have been visiting the same hotel for the past 2 years. All well and good, but they used to charge for the internet. I reluctantly paid, but only occasionally when it was a necessity. They then decided to change the internet to free, as it should be. Ah! they listened to their customers. However, they must have had a rethink because they put the price up to a relatively reasonable £3. For that price, I just paid for it every time. I didn't like paying, it should be free... well, not free, just part of the service. Since then it has hardly ever worked.  As my pleas where all unheeded, it was time to up sticks and vote with my feet... and wallet. Well, the companies wallet.

So, it was time to visit all the hotels and B&B's in the area and see what the alternatives are. And it appears that there are a lot. All much better value than the big chain hotels. So far I have had the best breakfast in Britain, a la carte, unpronounceable dinner at £27 per head (turned down for the local pub). The worst rooms where I had to climb over the bed to reach the wardrobe. Smelly ones, dirty ones (not in that way!), small ones, big ones, clean ones, posh ones.... you name it, I've tried it, but the one common denominator was that they all included breakfast and they all included wifi.

I know the big chains have a network provider with support and all that goes with it, but do they really need it?  Do they really need to charge for it? If they are providing a room for the night, is internet now not more important than the telly? It is to me, and I'm sure a lot of other travellers. Maybe 4G will eventually stop the need for a wifi service. But as I write this, I'm thinking 3G didn't. I don't get a signal at many hotels. 

Well anyway, I haven't found my perfect haunt in Stevenage yet but will keep looking and maybe one day the a big chain hotel company will offer what we want. No.. what we need on our travels. It's not difficult, its not expensive.

Written and submitted from a B & B near Baldock

Monday, 16 July 2012

Well, its not interesting, but...

I've decided to revert back to my Civil Ian site. So, you can access it by or via Same stuff, just my own domain.

Written and submitted from home

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

I'm Back!

Goodness me, has it been that long? This new role is taking up so much of my time that I haven't had the brain space to post anything. there has been so much going on in the world and I will start to post again... just not today :)

So, the next post will be interesting, I promise.

Written and submitted from home