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Map data glue

I’m at the sixth codethecity, on day two of the History Jam. We’re working on creating a walk through 3D version of 1930’s Aberdeen using open data, Unity, and a lot of transcribing and cross referencing.

I’m working on pairing historic company data with the OSM (Open Street Map) building outlines that we’re using to create our 3D environment. This pairing is harder than it sounds. I’m starting with something relatively simple. Identify the occupants at ground level, using a combination of OSM data, feet and eyes, and Google Streetview.

Starting with RBOS outside M&S and working along to the St Nicholas graveyard should be easy. Shouldn’t it?.

Looking at Open Street Maps there there are six distinct buildings in this stretch.

Looking at Google Maps it looks like we have five distinct buildings.

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One Pixel Three

Let’s see how this one shapes up. This should show a whole day. Eventually. Same principle as the other hdmy stuff. Each pixel represents a minute. Each row represents an hour.

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One Pixel Two

I’ve been paying with visualisations using p5.js for the one pixel camera project.

With the data streaming from processing to the phant setup, we can easily pull various sets of data as json to feed into p5.js sketches. This makes the visualisation easy enough to be fun, because it removes a lot of the faff associated with moving data around. The docs on phant.io give a decent overview of the different cuts of the data you can pull directly.

This is a really simple visualisation – it just pulls a recent data set and plots a pixel for each second – seconds on columns, minutes on rows – in whichever order they arrive.

I like how it goes a bit glitchy when the pixel capture fails for a few seconds, or when the data set spans more than a single hour and it overwrites itself.

Next up – getting the pixel stream to come from this little monkey instead of the Mac. RPi + Lego = Huzzah.

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One Pixel

So I’m working on a one pixel camera project with the wee lads. A ‘photo’ from a one pixel camera looks odd. It makes images of time, rather than space. Here is a ‘photo’ of an hour I spent working on some arduino stuff just now.

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Each pixel represents one second. Each row represents one minute. The 60 x 60 block represents an hour. What can you tell from this photo? Well, you can tell that I probably wasn’t outside from the lack of blues or greens. Something orange turned up late in the hour. Probably a wee lad in an orange fleece. Something red popped up from time to time. Probably my notebook.

The camera for this little test was just the camera on my mac. I used Processing to grab a pixel from the centre of the frame once a second and plot it to a grid.

The next version uses Python, Raspberry Pi, the RPi Camera, a custom Lego Pi case for directing the camera. It’s using phant for data logging so that I can throw the pixels at a server, and then process them into images or animations elsewhere. I’m mainly experimenting with exposure settings to get a balance of pleasing / accurate brightness through a 24 hour cycle.

Testing takes time when you’re taking photos of time.

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Book a week – February

Okay so January was non-fiction heavy. Let’s make February a bit more fictiony. Picking books to read is hard when you’re out of the habit. I realised that in addition to being non-fiction heavy, January had been a month of books written by chaps. So I decided to fix that. I just bought a bunch of prize-winners making sure a decent number were written by ladies.


7 Station Eleven (384 pages) Rattled through this one. Fun to read after Sapiens. Sapiens covered the end of some humans, and the rise of some others. This covers the near death of those heroes of Sapiens, and presents further evidence that religion is largely a negative force in the world. More imagined futures. I should really read King Lear.

8 The Narrow Road to the Deep North (464 pages) A Booker winner. Fancy! I haven’t knowingly read a Booker winner before. I read Life of pi, but didn’t realise it was a booker winner when I read it. I just thought it was a book. I got entirely overwhelmed by something in the first quarter hinting at things to come – felt like the book had eight endings in succession. Which is a good thing. You should read this. It’s early, but this might be the best one on this list. I need to grab some more bookers.

9 The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August (448 pages) I do enjoy a bit of time travel paradox. I also enjoy a bit of science and a bit of soviet otherness. Enjoyable. Better than back to the future.

10 This Changes Everything (575 pages) Ouch. Hard read. Sorry kids. We ruined it and we knew, but we didn’t bother to fix it. Found this hard – and took breaks to read other books along the way. Not because it’s a hard read as such – I mean it’s LONG, but it’s fascinating throughout. Hard because I read all about Rio in the Guardian way back in the day and assumed that paying my green party subs, turning off lights, and not using standby on the telly would be enough to fix things. I was an idiot, and so was everyone else.

11 Reasons to Stay Alive (272 pages) Everyone should read this. It’s a tiny book. Go on. You’ll maybe cut a few people a little more slack from time to time. Which might help them. Why wouldn’t you want to help people?

12 Slaughterhouse 5 (192 pages) Back to fiction. I’m not entirely sure why – but I loved this. To bits.

February
6 books ( 4 fiction, 2 non-fiction )
2335 pages

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Book a week – January

I always start the year with some free time, and I always get some books at Christmas. So I always read a couple, go back to work, and then read the rest in summer. Not this year! This year I decided to actually read with some effort. Dedicate train time to reading. Find some more interesting books. Actually read some fiction. A book a week.

1 Norwegian Wood Cutting etc… (192 pages) Much better than it looks – and it looks lovely. It will make you want to buy a little woodland though – so be warned. Slight cheat as read between giftmas and new year but hey. It’s on the list.

2 Moriarty (400 pages) I loved Sherlock Holmes books when I was younger, only grabbed this as part of a 3 for a tenner offer – didn’t expect much – but it was good. I guessed the plot on page 40ish but hey. It was fun. Read like a Sherlock Holmes book that I hadn’t read. Did what it said on the tin.

3 I Am Pilgrim (912 pages) Awesome. Haven’t read a proper thriller in years. Page turner etc… Eyeballs though. Grim. Was worried getting through almost 1000 pages would take months. Took a week.

4 The Man Who Made Things etc…  (100/240 pages) Read 100 pages of the 240 and got a little bored. Partly because I’ve read a lot about wood already. Partly because it should really be titled “the self congratulatory man who watched other far more interesting people make things out of trees but casts himself as hero for finding them and giving them a part of the very special tree that he was also very clever to find” – I’d have loved to read “the man who largely kept quiet while allowing the interesting craftspeople speak about what they do”.

5 So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed (320 pages) I always read Jon Ronson books in a terrible Jon Ronson impersonation voice in my head. This slows you down. Still enjoyed it though. Especially worth reading if you’re a judgemental twitterer. Change your ways!

6 Sapiens (512 pages) Tremendous book. Lovely stuff about pre-history, and a straight(ish) line through to the future. Plenty stuff I didn’t know. Less preachy than a lot of pop-sci. The importance of stories in the development of people is utterly convincing and quite pleasing. Certainly contextualises … well… almost everything. From Polar Bears to the indyref vote to buying shoes. Left me similarly enthused about humans as I was after reading Ug – Boy Genius of the Stoneage. Both books are pretty much about how important it is to imagine the future.

January
5.5 books ( 2 fiction, 3.5 non-fiction )
2468 pages

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