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GIS of Wales – Contours, rainfall, soils

Many years ago I worked as GIS Officer at Bangor University and made these maps as part of a GIS teaching package for the students there.

Ancient Landsat imagery of the Arabian Gulf

I spent months playing some politics to get hold of these images. Hard to believe how paranoid all were back in the pre-Google Earth days about seeing “stuff” on images with this kind of pixel accuracy. I originally had eight old ten inch tapes which I imported into an IBM drive – this is how old the tech was then – just above punched cards!

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Take care capturing from Bing!

Right then,

Here is a snippet of advice from one who has just learned his mistake. I am presently digitizing our town for Openstreetmap as I believe in the community effort to build a map of where we live. 

I’ve been entering JOSM then using Nominatim to select the town in which I live – “Holzkirchen” in southern Germany. Unnoticed by me, there are two “definitions” of the place. The first is a relatively narrow small area defines as a “town” which I’d been clicking on often. The second is as (I think) a region. I’d been clicking on the former and downloading OSM data for that alone.

Now I didn’t realise my error till I received a rightly disgruntled message from one who had been far more hard working than I in the same area. Upon checking the data in JOSM I saw that he was absolutely right. My error was to capture over an area Nominatim had selected which was too narrow.

I thus duly deleted all my bad capturing, which was doubly captured house outlines and apologised to him! 

I hope that makes sense. 

Well it growed, and it growed!

(yes I know that is awful English! I heard it once at a playgroup during story telling!)

I continue digitising houses the best I can in OSM, yet it is now obvious I need to understand the finer points of JOSM. Thus a perusal of Steve Coast’s video explaining how stuff is captured:


I think we need to check the road and street naming also in our database. It does seem to already be in excellent shape though.

The greatest discovery I made is the building plugin in JOSM! I can now input buildings very quickly!

Armchair Open Street Mapping

A few days ago I checked over our small town for its OSM data and discovered that there were vast areas unmapped at house level. So I decided to correct this with JOSM.

It took a while for my edits to appear in the main database but here they are! I am so excited to see this and very motivated now!


Learning Mapnik

As part of my efforts towards a quality bike map of my region i am learning Mapnik. Installing under Windoze was a pain but I managed it, and got my very first output from the test script:

My first import of a GPS trace into Google Earth

After many attempts to understand this Nokia 5230 i succeeded in importing and plotting three GPX traces into Google Earth. it has been an uphill learning curve, but then in GIS what isn’t?

The re-emergence of GIS as neogeography

I’ve been involved in geographic information systems since about 1988, when I first saw the Edinburgh University GIMMS package drawing maps on a huge Tektronix monitor plotting on a n equally large Calcomp plotter.

For me personally, over the years the promise of the early GIS seemed to wane as these systems were undeniably expensive, and became the subject of bitter turf wars as people fought over possession of data, software and hardware to prove their virtuosity in GI.

All that has thankfully come of age with the advent of cheap GPS, Web 2.0 technologies and the rise since 2004 of VGI or Openstreetmap. It is with great excitement that my new mobile phone which has GPS, that I return to the subject which I learned all those years ago, but with new eyes. I just managed to find a classic paper by “God” in GIS, Professor Goodchild. It’s his endorsement which is prompting me to return to this nascent field. Here is his classic paper:


Are we at Peak Oil?

Discovered a newsite The Oil Drum last night. Anyone who is interested in Peak Oil must know that there are two biggie oil fields, one on land and one in the sea. The first is Ghawar and I’ve driven all over it. The Shedgum escarpment used to be an old camping area for us. How naive I was not to know of the strategic importance of what lay beneath the wheels of my Lada as I drove over it!

This is one of the most ineteresting GIS/RS links I have come across in ages. Using Google Earth to estimate the wells in Ghawar.

Viva Where the Hell!

This blog returned to life with interest in a Europe wide solar power project DESERTEC

Sounds ambitious and exciting. I think it is related to the MARE Initiative which I think is more American in scope.

Then I got to ask myself: how might I be of service to such an initiative? After all I had many skills which might be applied: predominantly GIS development skills, language translation of technical German to English as I do that quite often for people I know already. I was also intrigued by the suggestion that desal water in the Sahara might enable the growing of crops. My horticultural knowledge might also be handy after all!

A quick surfabout for any stuff which has been done regarding GIS for solar insolation found this and this

This is what excited my interest.


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