Always plaid

Posted Sat 05 Jul
7 comments so far

I am not posh. I (probably) amn’t better than you. I am certainly not your equal, nor you mine. But let us return to the posh bit.

There are some things I just see as common, always have, even when staring up from out of the gutter. A few things I just don’t get, wouldn’t engage myself in nor would encourage others to do so. Let us take just two.

(a) Leaving flowers by the roadside where someone died

Why? Why would you want to return to the place where a loved one died? As a warning to others that they might die too? Every Friday eve, second male child and I head down the A1307 to Haverhill, to be tortured for an hour and a half, then fight for half an hour. That road is a notorious (round our way, probably not round yours. You probably have never heard of that road. Unless you are one of my local readers, then you might have heard of it, but might never have driven along it, therefore not knowing its notoriousness) for accidents. And deaths. All long it, on both sides of the road, there are little (and not-so-little) memorials to fatalities. I wouldn’t do it. Doesn’t mean you wouldn’t, but if you would, why? Am I just heartless, cruel and some evil capitalist pig stomping on the feelings of the proles?

(b) Signs on lamp posts announcing Gaz is 40

This happens every so often, the whole look whose[0] 30 badly word-processed posters stuck on to telegraph poles, to flutter in the breeze and lower the whole tone. Small wooden efforts in roundabouts, even sheets with badly written sprayed-on letters draped over fences. I guess it is because Gaz or Millie are such wags, such gad-about-towns, such lifes-and-souls of parties that their mates think this appropriate. Cans of Stella all round! And these posters often have pictures of the protagonist as a child, so Mike is 50 today! has a picture of Mike in a nappy. I may be like those physicists in H2G2, who never get invited to those sorts of parties. Or maybe I just think it cheap, base and altogether crass.

To finish on a totally different note, my interest in mapping, and mapping applications, has taken a big upsurge. I have put in several FoI requests, but if the great unwashed interwebs can help me, then, great unwashed interwebs, answer me this. What I want is more data than I seem to be able to get from either Open Street Maps or the OS’ OpenSpace. If you have used those, you will know you can get map tiles back. What I want is more info on those tiles. The grid coordinates, the altitude data, contour line info, what points of interest there are in the tile (roads, pylons, rivers and what-not). All the stuff that is on those posh and expensive (as the two aren’t intrinsically linked) OS maps. Can I get that back in some nice data structure via some API? Or even is that a big mad terabyte file waiting to be downloaded somewhere? Well? Answers to the usual address.

[0]I thought I would point out that that isn’t my spelling mistake. I know it negates the joke if you have to explain it, but you never know. With me.

  1. OSM lets you get data in all manner of ways, not just as tiles. They’ve deliberately decoupled the collection of data from the presentation of it so that anyone can take the data and do all manner of interesting things with it. For maximal wrangling you can download the entire dataset (currently about 2.5 gig IIRC)


    Sat 05 Jul, 2:49PM

  2. Actually, the answer to your mapping question was on QI last night. Apparently the OS allow you to buy their data from them.

    Cost for the CD version of the mapping data is a bargaintaculous £4.99 (million) pounds, or £30k apiece for an average-sized town.

    Start searching the torrent sites, I reckon.

    Sat 05 Jul, 4:02PM

  3. Far better to give flowers to the living. The dead don’t care. Don’t start me on roadside litter…

    BTW - you are a snob. As am I.

    Sat 05 Jul, 6:23PM

  4. nothing wrong with being a snob, in addition to those two things being common and vulgar, one of my most hated things is men with their tops off the minute their is some sunshine. Now I am definately a fan of lovely looking guys shirtless, but out in public, especially in food stores, it’s common, vulgar and icky. Roadside flowers are part of this whole community greiving rubbish, if a little girl is murdered, it’s horrible, but unless you actually know her why do you need therapy, or to talk about how the whole community is devestated (ok i’m heartless and a snob). Stopping before the rant becomes as long as the post.

    Sun 06 Jul, 10:17AM

  5. Roadside flowers? The wifey’s grandmother has been getting flowers left on her actual driveway…

    the friends of the deceased are also starting to leave cans of lager and big bottles of cider at the scene too, you know, “for the dead homies”. It’s classy.

    Thu 10 Jul, 2:07PM

  6. shit, i mean who wants that really!

    Sat 12 Jul, 7:10PM

  7. The data you seek is not easy to find, but if you do some hunting on government sites you can find some of it. There’s currently a campaign in another place to free the data, which it really should be anyway.

    For example, there’s a dataset of all bus stops in the province, plus the routes, and all Metro buses transmit GPS. No-one has the imagination to free that data and see cool things happen. It irritates me.

    And then the planning data. I won’t tell you the stupid stupid argument I heard from planning man about why that data isn’t free. I won’t. Apparently people might make money out of it. There, I told you.

    Anyway, you usually get the data as well-known text, shapefiles, that sort of thing. PostGres is your friend, it has spatial queries; you can also add in PostGIS for a bit more spatial magic.

    We use Perl+GD+PostGres+PostGIS to build custom tiles, so you really don’t need to worry about tiles, you can build your own if you have the data.

    I’m not a fan of the roadside memorials either, but then my snobbery is well established.

    Thu 17 Jul, 11:13AM

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