Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Macaroni Spotting

Now I like this story.

It involves tracking/positioning and my favourite animals. A match made in heaven eh?

Monday, 28 December 2009

Pink Parking

I can't quite believe this rolleyes Parking spaces for the spatially challenged. A shame they assume it's always women who need them.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Mappy Christmas

A totally unoriginal blog from me but, hey, it's Christmas and I'm feeling lazy wink

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Navigating the Ghanaian Way

A friend has pointed out this post so I shall steal his thunder (well, the BBC's) and blog it. As usual, it's not only the article which is interesting but the comments underneath. One particularly ill-formed Timi suggests that in the 21st century just use a GPS. Simple eh? Um, not if the mapping doesn't exist.

Navigation is people finding their way. And in Ghana it appears that people can do that, including the taxi drivers. Sure, a mapping system and GPS would aid immensely but it's chicken and egg really. Who would use a sat nav if there was no base mapping? And who wants to pay for the mapping to be created if people can navigate satisfactorily? OK, the landscape is broader than that, and mapping is for more than navigation, but it's an interesting question and one which should be looked at through Ghanaian and not western eyes.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Earth Art

I got quite excited recently (just humour me) when I saw posters for the Royal Academy of Arts 'Earth Art' exhibition.

Cool or what?

The exhibition runs until the end of Jan 10. I was scheming a visit to London to visit this until I read the reviews here and here. Perhaps I'll save my geo enthusiasm for something else.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Geo Seas

And for today's offering we have Geo Seas an European initiative on an e-portal for geophysical and geological data. Lots of info on infrastructure, metadata and standards. All sounds pretty good for sharing.

And of course, one link leads to another. Sea Data Net has "federated open digital repositories to manage, access and share data, information, products and knowledge originating from oceanographic fleets, new automatic observation systems and space sensors.

"By use of standards for communication and new developments in information technology, in-situ and satellite marine data platforms are providing metadata, data and products as a unique virtual data centre."

Ah, I see the catch now - free data sharing for use of research and education only. Well, not really a catch but it's a way to encourage data sharing without anyone worrying someone is going to make a quick buck out of it.

Monday, 7 December 2009

This One is for You John

My brother-in-law, John, is a geologist. The sort of guy that likes walking around with a wee hammer bashing things. Well this will certainly appeal to him. What a great idea - a subsurface picutre of your world. What a shame it doesn't extend offshore - what's all that about then? Or is it just the mash-up that's been presented by the BBC? Well, if the link worked I'd be able to answer my own question rolleyes but hey ho, tomorrow's another day...

Friday, 4 December 2009

A Mighty Book

How about this for a big book? Hand bound in leather, gilded edges, silver plated corners; 610 x 469 mm; 576 pages, 154 maps, 800 images; 18.1 kilos; 4 gatefolds extend out over 1.8 metres.

A bargain at £2,400.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

BA 2255

As per last year we had a craft fair at work and one of the categories was, again, creative cakes.

Dear audience, check out British Admiralty chart 2255 of Portland complete with flashing light (south of chart), chocolate break water, referred to WGS84 Datum, compass rose and smartie IALA buoys.

And the best bit? The warning 'not to be used for navigation'. rolleyes

Monday, 30 November 2009

Cassini Maps - A Century of Change on a Single Map Sheet

I recently bought a framed map from Cassini Maps and ended up (it's a long story) with a free copy of this map of Exeter and Exmouth. What a beauty.

You unfold it to find 4 maps on one sheet. It's incredibly straight-forward to track the changes over the decades when it's all laid in front of you.

Now all my parents will need is one of Basingstoke and we'll all be

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Latitude and Longitude, or was it Longitude and Latitude?

Somebody was relating a story to me recently about getting latitude and longitude muddled up. It made me remember times when I've easily swapped the two over as they were so similar - think of working in Egypt (30 deg north, 30 east), Russia (50/60/70 deg north/east), Senegal (15 deg south, 15 west)... I could go on but get the point?

I doubt if anyone working in Oceania has these issues. Think about it.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

There's Always Someone Smarter Than You Out There

Unfortunately I'm married to them... rolleyes

After my blog yesterday when I got very excited about pictures painting a thousand words he dropped into conversation this morning that he's been watching the Information is Beautiful blog for months. Well, I do try and keep up but... And then he mentioned another blog he monitors called Cartastrophe. Right up my street! This blog is written by a guy with a dry sense of humour - quote "I’m really nitpicky. My students love it. At least, that’s how I interpret their annoyed stares."

Now all I have to do is find a geeky geo blog before my husband does. wink What, me competitive?

PS. My daughter watched me type this post and stated incredulously "what, Dad's more clever than than you...REEEEAAALLY?" lol

Friday, 27 November 2009

Paint me a Picture

This article made a lot of sense. I love the creative ways we can display facts and figures using maps, charts, diagrams, pictures. It makes so much sense.

The comments beneath the article make interesting reading. Hey, nice to spot the geomatics surveyor cool but also interesting to read that some people really don't 'get' these. Let's never forget that we have different audiences and what works for some doesn't work for others. Creativity makes the world go round.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Ordnance Survey Maps For Free?

Now this is an annoucement and a half. Or as the Free Our Data blog puts it "do we smell victory? Hell yeah". Or you can take the rather more restrained announcement directory from the Ordnance Survey itself.

Nobody quite knows what this means yet. Is it access to OS maps, at 1:10,000 and smaller? Or is it access to data? Raster? Ed Parsons has some thoughts. As does the Guardian. Let's watch this space eh?

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Benchmarks 'R Us

A bit of a UK theme today but perhaps there are international analogies?

I am sorry (or relieved?) to say I have recently discovered there are more geeks out there than just me. More people who actually think staring at benchmarks or trig pillars is quite thrilling. OK, park us in the 'must get out more' club but humour us please.

You can check out the UK benchmark database. The OS is pretty hands-off with respect to benchmarks but, correctly, states that you can't rely on them for vertical positioning and should use GPS heighting instead. Or have a hunt around here. Or at Fayers.

And while I was hunting around looking for benchmarks I came across something even better. Check out the British Isles by geo location.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Surveying's Not for Softies

Attended a good marine RICS lecture on Thursday night. Glyn Hunt is a land surveyor who now works offshore; primarily in support of the Oil and Gas industry. His well illustrated talk was an insight into life away from the comfort of terra firma.

Life on an oil rig is full of surveying challenges and by the end of his talk I crowned him the Boy Scout of surveying. I don't think he knew how to take it confused but I was trying to encapsulate his job offshore. If anything breaks or goes wrong when you're on a rig/platform then you can hardly pop down to PC World and get a new one or find someone to fix it. You are on your own and if you can't fix it you hold up the job (and time = money). He has learnt, since moving offshore, how to work a myriad of various receivers, antenna, software packages etc. He's also discovered 1001 uses for packing tape.

Surveying offshore is not for softies. If you can't cope with the weather chucking anything at you, having poor comms at times, shifts, working remotely, not seeing your nearest and dearest for weeks/months at a time, having everything delivered by ship/helicopter (weather depending) and being ready for anything I suggest you stay land based.

Oh hark at me, this is from a woman who works from a desk at Taunton. rolleyes

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Old News - Same Old Problem

I've just come across these stories of GPS assisted groundings, or GAGs as we affectionately call them. The first GAG listed is an absolute classic with the understated lines...

[a colleague] ...took the Mayday call. He told me he was surprised that the guy knew what he'd hit.

Usually, boats hit reefs because they're lost.

Sadly these are probably repeated on an all too frequent basis. rolleyes

Friday, 6 November 2009

Hairy Northern Wood Ant

GPS is revolutionising nature conservation. Thank goodness for that.

Gone are the days when GPS was the preserve of geodetic geeks (and I raise my hand here). It didn't take us long to realise, back in the early 90s, that GPS was such a fantastic tool. It shouldn't just be kept in the world of surveyors but should be shared with anyone who wanted to position themselves. And, as you know data, makes so much more sense when it's related to a location.

I'm not downgrading the specialist profession of the geomatics surveyor, far from it - only a trained surveyor knows the details of accuracy, precision and repeatability of the data they have - but for locating ant hills, bring it on!

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Charlie and Me

As promised, the 2009 Michael Barrett Award winner and me.

OK, Own Up - Who Really Did Name America?

Well, one thing is for certain, nobody really knows. This BBC article got the dicussion going and if you weren't paying attention you'd think it all made sense. Well, it does but if you read on to the comments beneath it you realise that nothing is ever straight forward.

What about Richard ap Meryk? Ah, as ever there is a whole fan club associated with the naming of America - see here. I knew this was going to get complicated...

Mind you, if I'd known about the Waldseemullar map in July I would certainly have sought it out when we were in Washington. Never mind, it's always good to have something to look forward to for a return visit!

Sunday, 25 October 2009

The Highest Point on Earth

I don't think I've been paying much attention to this debate recently. It took my Dad to e-mail me the question about the highest point of earth to wake me up to this. Yes, Everest wins the prize for being the highest mountain above sea level but it's not necessarily the furthest point from the centre of the earth. That prize goes to Mount Chimorazo in Ecuador. But it's only down to a geoidal bulge and, as this article points out, it isn't even the highest mountain in the Andes.

At the end of the day, it's not how you measure something, but what you measure it against that matters. The highest point of the earth can vary depending on how you define 'height'. It's like someone asking where the coastline is. Well, it depends if you own the foreshore, want a picnic, are interested in coastal erosion, have fishing rights, want to dump and dredge or whatever - the person and the question are often inextricably linked.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Where Has That Meridian Gone?

Now this is what I call good reporting! Well not 'good' as in accurate, but 'good' as in geodesy hitting the news in a way that most non-geodesists can relate to it.

As you know, Greenwich is a lure for me. Of course I know that its placement is arbitrary; but there is still that historical buzz around the place that will never go away.

I was most interested to read that it was the prevalence of sea charts that swayed the vote towards Greenwich and, as many people know, the Admiralty (set up in 1795) had been producing them for a while.

It's funny to think what would have happened if, say, Turkey (random country here) won the meridian then we in the UK would all be used to being 2 hours behind Turkish time. If most of world's population can cope with not being on the meridian then it can't be that hard eh?

We have a forum at work and somebody put on a lovely geeky post today about BST going back an hour next Sunday. The post was along the lines of "this Sunday, 25 Nov, we move to Central Universal Time which is near enough identical to Greenwich Mean Time". I love geeks that stoop as low as explaining what it means for mere mortals!

Thursday, 15 October 2009


Spent some of yesterday at Defra talking to the MMO (Marine Management Organisation) implementation team. I really like Defra from their communications point of view. Their public downloads on subjects such 'Location Matters' and Inspire are actually a lot more readable than some of the stuff that passes by way.

I should have started this post with an apology for anyone living outside of England. I'm not even being UK-centric this time round. The MMO only covers England. So what to do in the Irish Sea when there is also Wales, Scotland, North Ireland, Ireland and Isle of Man to participate too? No different to any other marine area eh?

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Digital Atlanta en Masse

I have been sent this link by two people today so I've got the hint - I'll blog it! Check out Atlanta's giant mapathon. A most interesting concept but some very worrying comments such as "this will create the most accurate map" (depends on your QA and QC surely? - how can they prove that?) and the assumption that mapping is black and white - "it's either there or it's not". So when does the pavement stop and the grass verge start, esp if it's all muddy and the verge has spread? What if someone decides the edge of the road is the kerb edge whereas someone else, perhaps on the other side of the road, marks it as the back of the pavement? How can you know everything has been picked up; or can you only hope it has?

I hate to be a pessimist here but, although this will give very up-to-date information, I doubt if it will be the most accurate, however I don't know what the comparator is. Nudge me someone (US side is good) for the next installment please.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Michael Barrett Award 2009

The Geomatics Professional Group and the Boundaries and Party Walls Panel awarded the 2009 Michael Barrett award to Charlie Beedon on Thursday. We have awarded this award annually since 1994; I've attended the last 3 or 4 years' worth of lectures and can honestly say that those involved in boundaries disputes are the most entertaining surveyors out. I wonder if it's because they have to have infinite diplomacy with those parties they are trying to mediate with but their tales of who, what, where and when are engrossing.

Charlie's lecture, found here, was informative and interesting. It's no surprise that boundary disputes are as much about personalities as the physical features. Charlie deals with national/local disputes which sound a mare. Imagine the diplomacy needed by last year's award winner, Chris Carleton, who advises the UN on international maritime boundary disputes. I actually think it's of equal effort - Charlie's type of dispute is more 'hear and how' whereas Chris' drags on and on in the international courts of law. But, at the end of the day, if your neighbour is disputing your boundary that is the important boundary dispute in the world to you. National and international shenanigans are just a blot on the horizon.

Ps. There are some photos kicking around but I haven't had sight of them yet.

Friday, 2 October 2009

London Wanderings: East and West

Had a lovely week in London last week - lots of wandering in the sun by the Thames exploring paths and routes I'd never travelled before. When strolling the south bank came upon the Golden Hinde which was a bit of a suprise - a bit of 'in the middle of nowhere'. But I do like a bit of rigging every so often.

The lure of 0 deg longitude was too strong and I had to go and visit Greenwich.

I popped into the National Maritime Museum to see the North West Passage exhibition. I've read quite a bit about the search for the NW Passage but this display was a disappointment. I'd hoped for some creativity but it didn't inspire me as to the drama and intrigue of the story.

And then a lovely climb up to the Observatory for one of the best views in London. I was too late to go in and see Harrison's clocks but I stood astride the meridian (the OSGB36 ish one)

and watched the tourists measure their feet against the British Foot.

All the better for watching them topple over as they tried to do it.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Should it Stay or Should it Go?

There is outcry in London. The River Thames has disappeared. OK, not permanently, but from the Transport for London Tube maps. They decided that the Thames and the payment zones created too much clutter so they were taken off.

I can't quite understand how taking the payment zones off a map makes it more useful as many of us we don't know where they are without seeing the map. And losing the Thames? Daft if you ask me. Which scarily means I now agree with the Mayor of London. eek

Thursday, 10 September 2009

When is a City not a City?

When it's Cornwall.

Spot some pretty unusual entrants in the 'UK City of Culture' award...

From A to B - But Where is B?

A long-standing friend rang me up today with a geo connudrum. OK, it may be obvious to land lubbers but for us hydrographers puzzles like this confuse us...

When road signs say x miles (or km for my more enlightened readers) to a town/city, where is the the point to which they are measuring?

Ie, I know where A is but where's B? It's pretty straight-forward for a standard cute British village with the village green, church and pub (you can find the middle +/-100m easily) but where is the centre of London, Sydney, Paris? Or are road signs a bit of a hit and miss affair?

Answers on a blog please...

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Arty Map

Just found this picture on our camera. I think my husband took it. I like it - it's nice and arty farty in a blurred sort of way.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Ruth 1 - Trig Pillar 1

On holiday in Monmouthshire dragged the family off to find a local trig pillar, TP6137. This was an easy find with nice views.

Not so good was trying to find TP2148 which was hidden in brambles on the top of the wooded hill. Humph. I would have investigated further but (a) the kids weren't in suitable shoes and (b) I had left my machete at home. Next time eh?

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Washington DC

Sorry for airgap between posts (in case anyone noticed). Have just been to the US for a geeky-space holiday with my husband. Please note, in this context he is the geek, not me.

Enjoyed wandering up the Mall and spotted this wonderful plant.

We spent hours in the National Air and Space Museum (hours, hours and hours) but between the command modules and lunar artifacts I found an exhibition on 'Looking at Earth' once again marvelling at how far we've come from this

to this (realtime satellite images).

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Birthday Jigsaw

A little something my daughter made me at school.

I promise you this is the last birthday gift I will blog (this year anyway)...

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Birthday Mug

Not a bad gift eh?

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Birthday Bagging

It was my 40th on 25 June so as a special treat I took Friday off to bag some trig pillars. Some may see this as sad, some liberated. Let's not go there!

Anyway, I got Ingsdon Burn first which was a lovely hike up and spectacular views.

oh, and I had a funny minute or two with the camera to prove I was there...

Next then was Bowden which would have been OK if the local farmer(s) hadn't popped it in the middle of a built-up hedge and surrounded it with barbed wire

Never mind; I got close.

And then, lastly, one on the way home, Little Haldon.

Three in one day can't be bad can't it?

Friday, 19 June 2009

Live Long - Be a Land Surveyor

The world's oldest man died today - an ex land surveyor no less. I suspect his longevity is less to do with his occupation and more to do with his life style of not drinking, smoking, soup and sea food. Perhaps we surveyors have something to learn...? Not sure I have the stomach (or will power) for it wink

Talking of food, brussel sprout lovers look away...

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Roof Top RICS

Further to my post last month, the photo as proof!

Cool back-drop eh?

Friday, 12 June 2009

Trig in New South Wales

A mate of mine, who travels far more extensively than I do (which currently isn't hard), recently sent me some photos of a trig in Kiama, New South Wales, Australia. Nicely painted eh?

No, I'm not jealous. Not jealous at all. Of course not...

Thursday, 11 June 2009

You Know You Need a Surveyor

Excellent article in the Independent today on surveyors. And what's even better is that the key example they used was of a droggie; not a land surveyor. There's hope yet!

Monday, 8 June 2009

Mental Mapping

A great story. Do you think they'd lose their car in a multistory carpark too - or is it just me?

Sunday, 31 May 2009

"Women Have Never Had it so Good"

An interesting report on the M&S Chair, Sir Stuart Rose. I agree with some of what he says but his tone is provocative and argumentative.

His phrase "there are many girls in here who have kids and come to work" would be viewed as many as demeaning to woman (I, at the ripe old age of 39, am now at the stage when I don't bristle so much to be called a girl, but I used to find it very much a put down "there there, little girl" type of phrase). His old-fashioned forth-right views won't go down well with everyone. It's a shame he wasn't more thoughtful with his language.

I agree that women who want to get somewhere can, in the main, get there (Thatcher is a prime example) but it's still rare to find female role models at the top of businesses. And the support at the top of many organisations is biased towards what the classic testosterone-fueled guy needs. Like tends to breed like. But perhaps that's just my limited view on life.

But perhaps you don't get to be chair of M&S without being outspoken? Shame isn't it?

Saturday, 23 May 2009

So What's So Hard About Geodesy?

A Saturday night random googling on the net finds me this article from 2003 about a guy coming to terms that a geographical position lat/long is not unique.

Or how about a spot of survey mark spotting (US readers only).

Thursday, 14 May 2009

OGE in Town

A delegation from OGE (French surveyors) visited RICS Tues/Wed and I went up to London to meet them. We had a pleasant meal out and the following day continued our discussions on all things surveying and European (with a particular emphasis on FR/UK). CLGE Comite de Liason des Geometres Europeens, the Council of European Geodetic Surveyors, and GE Geometer Europas are merging and much of our talk centred around the politics of how the institutions were going to merge. I think I understood most of what was going on - language wasn't a problem as we had a translator and arm waving pigeon-French got us through - but it was more understanding the nature of the legal systems under which land surveyors work in France and the rest of Europe where surveying is licensed. Perhaps it's the UK which is weird - anybody in the UK can call themselves a geodetic surveyor (although not chartered of course) and gain work.

It was the first time I'd stepped inside RICS Great George Street since it had been refurbished. I'm not overly excited about the reception area. They've boxed it all in with what looks like white partitioning. I asked my colleague when it was going to be completed. "It is," he responded with a weary look. It has a Star Trek feel about which and it's lost its open/buzzy feeling which is a shame. Upstairs was 100x better with mosaic flooring and the coffee shop where it was all happening. It's a shame they've moved the coffee shop off the ground floor. Anyway, my one major shock was the meeting rooms which have all been redone. The wallpaper....absolutely gorgeous! I shocked my host who said I was the first to like it; perhaps I'm a blue stripey woman deep down inside...

PS. This is a bit sad. sad