Open Street Map

I’ve been interested in this project for a while now, and today, after weeks of faffing about with USB to Serial connectors and drivers etc. I finally got my PC to talk to my GPS. Anyway, the point is I’ve finally added a few streets to the Open Street Map project. The idea is that there will be a free open access map of the whole country available, eventually. How this works is you take your GPS unit out, walk down some streets, and it logs a “trace” of where you’ve walked. You then download a bit of software which converts this trace to what’s called a GPX file, which you can then add to the map. (You can’t use existing maps because they’re all copyright.)

It’s not brilliant, because the GPS isn’t absolutely 100% accurate, and it’s quite hard to get all the twists and turns of a street absolutely right, because there a multiple waypoints recorded in the GPS trace and you’ve got to remember the exact configuration of the streets. The ones I walked down all had sort of a T configuration at the end, and even though I walked round this, it’s still quite hard to see the exact layout of the map. Still I think it’s a worthwhile little project, although given that its not all that easy for a novice computer user to get into, I think it might be some time before the whole country gets covered.

All the waypoints are superimposed on the map, and you then have to draw lines (which become the streets on the map) over your waypoints, classify the type of street it is, and then enter its name into the database. You can then add features like pubs and so on. (Which I did of course!). Anyway you can see my endeavours, (so far) by clicking on and searching for Skellingthorpe. Click on the village name in the list that appears and zoom in.

I’m afraid though I’ve quite a lot more streets to do! Gets me out of the house though, I suppose!

Books v E-books

Don’t get me wrong here. I am an enthusiast for all forms of technology, but as my colleague Sue Watling regularly blogs about, sometimes it does disadvantage certain groups of users. That’s not just a question of physical challenges, which is Sue’s primary concern. For example I sometimes wonder how much use e-learning is to a  parent who has to share one family computer.  With this in mind I was greatly amused by these videos produced by the Green Apple Book Store in San Francisco about the book v kindle controversy.

Part 1

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Part 2
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I still want a Kindle though!

(Thanks to Sue for giving me the bit of code that enabled me to embed these videos. It’s not as easy as it looks to embed a video into wordpress, and yes, I am aware of the dangers of webfat so I promise not to do it too often.)

A nice walk

I’ve just noticed that this is my 100th blog post (Do I get a WordPress hat or something?). So by way of celebration, I thought I’d blog about something other than educational technology, e-portfolios and all that malarkey. One of the things I’ve been very conscious of is that the job of an educational technologist tends to be rather sedentary, and I’ve got into the habit of trying to walk for at least an hour, usually at lunch time every day to try and relieve the pressure on my waistband. Unfortunately it’s not always possible, as work tends to intervene more often than I would like. But, what I have done is devise a number of routes around the city of Lincoln. Each of them takes about an hour, if you walk briskly, something you need to do, if walking is to have much health benefit. Most of them can easily be shortened if it gets to be too much though.

I have been meaning to share them so others can work a bit of exercise into their daily routine, which brings me to the point of this post. I’ve added a “Walks” page to the blog. Each walk will (eventually) contain a map, photographs, a brief description littered with all the irreverent commentary that I can muster, and where the walk isn’t actually located in the city, any transport information you might need.

As it happens, today is the first time I’ve had the time to write one up, and in fact the one I chose to do isn’t actually one of the city routes, but I’m including because it happens to be one of my favourite short walks in the area and there’s a very interesting stately home, with farm shop and cafe at the end of it. (Not that the health conscious will be indulging in cake, I trust!) Anyway – enjoy.