Wednesday, May 14, 2008


So you should have seen us before the G session. The atmosphere in the auditorium was electric (damn wifi frying my head) as we all panicked about whose business model Google was about to obliterate. At least three people told me the Navteq guys were in the Parsons VIP Bar downing daiquiris anticipating the imminent annihilation of the freetards in favour of a Navteq-derived world.

And it turns out that the big news is that ESRI is adding "Save as KML" to some future version of ArcGIS.

Colour me really unimpressed.

So I don't actually know anyone who uses ArcGIS so I asked around if we should be worried about this, because I don't see it, somehow. Turns out the only people in OSM who've ever used it are the cartographers and they say ArcGIS's export functions are laughably bad - apparently ESRI don't really understand the difference between pixels and vectors so you get an Illustrator file with every diagonal neatly converted to a series of 10m steps, of some data you don't have the rights to anyway. Congratulations Jack, you just became the first person in the world to successfully sell Google a pup.

Just ask yourself this - if it's so world-changing, how come it's only a point release?

Of course there was some collateral damage to neotards like Platial and Mapufacture in the new geosearch stuff but, sorry guys, I did warn you.

All of which means we have another year to reinforce our tank traps. It's going to be fun.

(Mad props to John for the live blog. Next Scoble. Definitely.)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Live from Where 2.0

Hey. So I'm in SF for the big Where 2.0 shindig. Actually Where's not as fun as it used to be - but then it never was - now that the corporate tards have discovered location (thanks Ed). But I figured I should keep coming if only for appearance sake, given that all this lovely VC cash sloshing around means I have to cloak my iconoclasm in a veneer of corporateness these days.

(memo to self - must ask Nick what iconoclasm means. is it something in Ukrainian?)

And there are still some great guys here, Mikel managed to persuade the UN it's a disaster zone (bit of an exaggeration, those are pretty gruesome jeans but I don't think they need international intervention quite yet) so they're paying for him, and of course John McK's a corporate drone at the Borg these days so he fits right in.

So you can read Brady Forrest if you just want point-by-point details of what's happening at Where and there's probably some freetard in the audience with an iPhone knockoff live-blogging it all. But that's not why you come here, you want insight and analysis and liberal use of the word "fuckwit", and, hey, who am I to disappoint?


Biggest news so far is that Y! have launched WOEID. Ok, I feel really guilty about this.

Basically the OSM deal with Y! is that we swap their imagery for our cred and expertise, you know that already. So every time Y! get some new hi-res imagery I do a day's consulting for them.

I was a bit busy last month setting up CloudMade's new NYC office so couldn't actually get to Sunnyvale, so I had to send this messenger guy from Brooklyn across with my advice. Unfortunately it kinda got lost in translation and when I said "you'll get geo cred if you have some more freetards" it actually came across as "free TOIDs", so Y! have ended up copying Ed's big crazy idea that no-one uses.

Anyway, let's see what the other goys come up with. Top topic of conversation is whose lawn Google are parking their tanks on this year and I have to say that the odds on OSM are pretty high. More later.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Real artists ship

I'm begging you. Please. Someone. Put these guys out of their misery.

On osgeo-discuss right now they're wanking about wanking, which is way too meta and kind of illustrates my original point that "Real artists ship. For everyone else there's standards wanking".

Unfortunately they're so far into their vinegar strokes that, not only are they discussing my aphorism earnestly with furrowed brows, they appear to think it's solely my coinage.

And - call me humble, but - I can't live with the thought that, in the Penguin Dictionary of Bon Mots Libres, I might deprive a little-known figure from the early 80s of his rightful credit for "real artists ship".

Please, someone tell them. It's breaking my heart.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Technical documentation for OSM API 0.6

We've got some stick for not documenting the hack weekend properly. Now feedback reaches me from the weekend that this blog is already considered the premier news channel for OSM, so I figured, where better to write it up than here?

So you can now do stuff with users, like associate the id with the username, but there's more. In particular we've added some social stuff
PUT /api/0.6/user/Sfan00/clue
helps you impart clue to mappers, it's much more efficient than the current messaging system.

Obviously this is fully RESTful so we'll also be supporting
GET /api/0.6/user/SteveC/clue
so my fans can benefit from my years of accumulated wisdom.

Don't ask what the DELETE method does, it's at the far reaches of ethics and we've got to get Jordan to look into the legal side before it goes live.

Also we're introducing changesets. Now we've written some stuff on the wiki about this being necessary for revert and integrity and all that.

Actually this is all a smokescreen and it's come out of my discussions with Mikel about the Cyprus problem. Basically we're using it to implement a bozo filter. When a bozo commits a changeset, it's automatically tagged with "bozo=yes" and no-one else can view it - only him. When he goes back into JOSM or Potlatch or that other one with the bolshie developer, it all shows up for him, so he doesn't suspect.

We've been testing this for a while, so if you ever wonder why your changes aren't showing up on the main map, it's probably because you're a bozo.

(The other good thing about this is it lets us support editing by horses in the future.)

Finally, by popular request we're also going to be supporting WMS, I've done most of the code for this already

def wms
sleep 15.0
puts "503 Service Unavailable"