(with apologies to Gabriel García Márquez) It’s weird posting to a mostly tech blog at the moment. The world is on fire, but life goes on, yet I’ve felt utterly paralysed and unable to write anything here. It feels strange and somehow wrong to write about tech stuff, which lets face it, is not that important in the grand scheme of things, when so much other stuff is going on. Yet here we are, blogging.
It has been a while since I posted, and while I’m probably the only person bothered by that, I thought I ought to put an update together! The blog has been going for over 5 years now, and in that time, in the UK, the attitude towards open source software has changed completely. There are now a lot of people who “get” open source, and are quite vocal in combating the FUD which we still unfortunately see from time to time.
Last weekend was the second Wherecamp EU Unconference, this time at the University of Nottingham. A mighty good time was had by all, I think! It attracted a different crowd to the previous event, back in February in London. There were less of the “big names” there, but a lot of new faces, which is encouraging. Again, the Unconference format worked well, with people doing talks on a range of subjects, some only after being persuaded to the night before!
… and… relax! We’ve just completed a really intense GIS project covering the entirety of the North-West of England- which we’ve been working on since Christmas. This week is the first time I have come up for air since before Christmas, and it’s been really great! I’ve been working on integrating the new free Ordnance Survey data into our nascent SDI, and updating our sites map with new features, and new data from some of our other offices.
On Friday and Saturday I attended the inaugural WhereCampEU “un-conference” in London. The short review: if one comes anywhere near you- go for it! It’s well worth it and I enjoyed every minute. The slightly longer review: since there were no themes or papers organised beforehand, I guess it was a good opportunity to take the temperature of a certain part of the UK/EU geospatial community. So we got lots and lots of OpenStreetMap papers and iPhone apps!
This week British Telecom ate our SDSL line, meaning we’ve been without phones, email or internet for 2.5 days. Thank goodness for Broadband dongles, though part of me feels uneasy at how impossible it was to do much work without being able to quickly check things on the internet or consult with colleagues. In the mean time though, there have been another set of interesting posts on my current topics of interest soap-boxes, namely file formats and the openness thereof, and open source business models.
All Points Blog pointed me at the direction of a piece on the mess of mapping and postcode data in Northern Ireland, which got me thinking a bit about this rush to rely on location-based services and always-on connections to “the cloud/interweb”. At first glance, the situation in Ireland (National Mapping agency has copyright on maps, Post Office has copyright on property location) sounds very familiar. However, Ireland doesn’t have postcodes yet, so things are a not so cut and dried- in this day and age, if you had to go to an awful lot of trouble to implement a system for locating properties, would you invent the postcode system or something else?