Archive for the ‘openstreetmap’ Category

The neighborhood I live in is between 20 and 30 years old, other parts of Oakville are under constant growth. When a new sub-division is built the developer will put in sewers, roads and start building houses. Sometimes the street signs will look home-made other times proper street signs will already be up.

When I see a new subdivision going up near my I try drive (or walk) the roads with my GPS capturing the data for OpenStreetMap. Often my GPS traces in OpenStreetMap will be the first time these roads show up on a map outside of the towns GIS. It might take years before some of the commercial maps send trucks to map these roads.

On Sunday I was driving past a sub-division that was being built and decided to map some of the roads. I got about GPS traces and names for about half of the roads. I need to make a point of going back and finishing the soon. Sub-division construction sites usually have construction workers and heavy equipment moving about. It is important to pay close attention to your surroundings and the condition of the road your mapping often it is a work in progress.

I doubt anyone is going to be moving into these houses until the spring. In the spring when people move into their new houses they will be able to use OpenStreetMap to invite there friends to the house-warming party.


My talk on PostGIS replication at FOSS4G 2011 went well. It looked like there were about 150 people in the room. Most of them had not yet deployed a PostGIS replication solution.

My talk covered Slony and streaming replication. It gave an overview of different replication patterns that can crop on in the GIS space. I then gave an overview of the key features and limitation of Slony and streaming replication.

A video of the talk is available at FOSSLC

My slides are available here

This past week I attended FOSS4G in Denver, a conference run by the open-source geospatial foundation (OSGEO) that also happened to be the largest PostgreSQL conference in North America.

FOSS4G is a big tent conference that attracted about 900 attendees from all over the world with over 400 of them from the United States, over 50 from Canada.
A big tent conference is a conference is similar to a big-tent political party. The idea is appeal to a broad base of people by catering to as many groups as possible while keeping true to some key common themes. Out of the 900 people at the conference I’d say 75% raised their hands when asked if it was their first FOSS4G. Last years FOSS4G was held in Europe and also had over 800 attendees.

Denver Day 3, hiking

Posted: September 13, 2011 in openstreetmap
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Monday was an off day for me. FOSS4G has started but is running workshops on Monday and Tuesday. I decided not to signup for any workshops and instead played tourist. The plan for Monday had been to catch a lift to Rocky Mountain National park with a few OSM’ers who were going to be staying overnight near the park. I was going to get a ride back to Denver with another OSMer who had a car.

The thing about plans is that they rarely work as planned. My lift back to Denver had to cancel so I rented my own car intending to meet up with the other OSMers at the park. We never did get never sync’d up so instead I hiked on my own up to Emerald lake, about a 6km round trip hike. The landscape combined with smell of fresh pine was very nice. The terrain reminded me of Banff National park in Canada. The trail I choose is pretty popular (I don’t think I was ever out of eyesight of another hiker for more than a few minutes). The trail was also already well mapped.

After my hike I ventured into the town of Estes Park for lunch. Estes park is a tourist town with a main street that consists of t-shirt shops, candy stores and restaurants. I expected that other OSMers had been through the town mapping earlier in the week but some POI’s might have been missed. I collected a random sampling of tourist centric businesses in the town. Unfortunately my GPS wasn’t recording a GPX trace and I only have the waypoints I captured and my photos. To my surprise (well if I think about it then it makes sense) JOSM can’t sync photos up with GPX waypoints only a trace. This means I will need to come up with a way of converting my collection of waypoints into a track before I can add most of what I captured. It also appears that OSMers were less busy in Estes Park this past week than I was expecting.

Monday night grabbed a seat at the bar in Kattie Mullen’s, a pub attached to the conference hotel, and it didn’t take long for few of the FOSS4G folks at the bar to introduce ourselves and start up a conversation.

I am writing this on Tuesday afternoon sitting outside the conference rooms at the Sheraton surrounded by geo people working on laptops and talking about feature ideas to there respective open-source projects.

Saturday was my first full day in Denver for the OpenStreetMap State Of The Map conference. A few years ago I presented a talk at PGCon on OpenStreetMap. I have now returned the favour and presented a PostgreSQL talk (What’s new in PostgreSQL 9.1) at an OpenStreetMap conference.


Denver, Day 0

Posted: September 10, 2011 in openstreetmap
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Friday morning I woke up and got an early start to my workday so I could get a full days work in before leaving for Denver. I did not get a Slony release packaged on Friday but Chris might get to this early next week.

The cab ride, checkin, and US customs (you clear US customs in Toronto before departure) were mostly un-noteworthy. There were no big delays or holdsups at Airport security, I was directed into a line for a scanner that was shared with an Air Crew line and a large (5 people?) United crew skipped in ahead of me. One of them apologized (but didn’t offer to wait their turn in line) she said she was based out of Denver and that they were flying to Chicago. The weather was rainy when she left Denver. I also noticed that the million+ dollar full body airport scanners were sitting in the middle of the room unused (Sept 9, 2011).

The flight to Denver was pretty un-noteworthy, clear skies with some light chop at times. United Express is a bit behind the times and hasn’t upgraded their planes to include laptop power. On arrival at Denver we sat at the gate for about 5 minutes as they tried to get the gate to move (so it would line up with the airplane door). They almost resorted to having to push the airplane into position. It sounded like rebooting the gate helped, isn’t technology great.

In Denver I am staying at the Sheraton which is hosting FOSS4G. The hotel seems nice but the rooms don’t have a fridge. They have a box that looks like a fridge, enough so that I went out and bought a jug of orange juice for the week only to discover that the fridge looking box is am empty. Bye-bye warm Orange juice.

After checking in and getting a feel for the area it was a little after 10pm local (midnight eastern) and I noticed many restaurants were starting to close. I went on a hunt for a small dinner. I found Wild Bangkok a Thai place that was still open. When I walked in I was greeted by a guy who wasn’t really dressed like a waiter but he took me to a seat at the bar, handed me a menu, told me how this was really authentic thai and stood there talking to me as I looked through the menu. On each page of the menu he said that the restaraunts specialty was something else, first page seafood, second page curries, third page bowls. I finally ordered a Bangkok bowl with tofu, mostly because I didn’t want to examine the menu more closely with this guy staring at me. As far as Thai food goes it was okay but nothing special. Later I noticed the ‘waiter’ sitting at a table being served drinks. A bartender in a uniform served me my food and gave me my bill.

I am now (Saturday morning) going to try to find my way to the SOTM conference site.

Yesterday (It is still the 10’th in my timezone) was my 3rd OSM birthday. Pascal Neis has built a site that shows you your OSM signup is anniversary and how you rank (in terms of signup time) with respect to other OSM contributors that have made an edits.

I am contributor 17,540 (out of about 143,000 and growing).

In the summer of 2008 I bought an Openmoko Freerunner, an open cellphone running Linux (with xterms and vi). The phone includes a GPS, I needed a source of map data for it to be useful. The first GPS application that I installed (tangogps) used OpenStreetMap tiles. The OpenStreetMap was missing many streets in Oakville and it wasn’t long before I was taking summer walks with my Openmoko and notepad collecting data for OpenStreetMap.

A little over a month later on a friday night I drove to a cafe in Hamilton where I nervously climbed up a set of creeky old stairs. I walked into a dark room illuminated by an overhead project and laptop LCD backlight. The room was filled with a handful of people sitting around a table. Glancing at the people in the room I was pretty sure that I hadn’t just walked into a meeting of the local chamber of commerce, which was fine since I was attending my first OpenStreetMap mapping party and not my first chamber of commerce meeting.

During the evening and the mapping party the next day I met some interesting people, learned some new mapping techniques and made it out to do some mapping. The trend of meeting cool people and learning new things (and not just about OSM), has continued for the past three years.

During the past three years in addition making friends and attending mapping parties I have

  • Conducted an import of GeoBase roads in Alberta and Ontario. I am proud of and happy with both the process we used for the import and the results of it. The imported roads aren’t perfect ( no map is ever perfect) but resulting map is a lot more than the map we had before
  • Given presentations on OpenStreetMap at a number of conferences
  • Seen looks of delight on peoples faces when I’ve handed them a free ledger sized colour map of there local area made with OpenStreetMap data
  • Perhaps made a few enemies along the way

I’m looking forward to meeting more mappers next month in Denver at StateOfTheMap and many more years of mapping.