Right Now

⏳ Waiting for the APIs in the Cloud for what's going on right now ...

Making PostgreSQL, PostGIS And A Mac Play Nicely Together

Most things in life are a journey and the destination of this particular journey was to try and create a custom map style that represented the unique features and challenges of Tandale.

Which meant I needed to download and install TileMill, an interactive map design tool.

Which meant I needed to learn Carto, the CSS-like language for map styling.

Which meant I looked for a template project so I didn't have to start from scratch.

Which meant I found OSM Bright.

Which meant I needed to start small and find a map extract of Tanzania to work with.

Which meant I needed to install and configure PostgreSQL and PostGIS on my Mac.

Which brings me to the starting point of the journey and the reason for this post in the first place.

Having My Eyes Opened, My Heart Broken And Finding The True Meaning Of Maps In Tandale

In a really perverse way, first impressions were not unlike the opening lines from Will Crowther's Colossal Cave Adventure game on the PDP-11. But rather than those impressions being this ...

You are standing at the end of a road before a small brick building. Around you is a forest. A small stream flows out of the building and down a gully.

.. my first impressions were this ...

You are standing in a gap between concrete buildings south of the equator. The sun beats down. Around you is a mass of similar buildings with corrugated iron roofs. A small stream flows in a gully between the buildings. The stream is made up of water and human waste. A river tries to flow nearby, but it's blocked by tons of rubbish and what water there is is black and bubbles noxiously. The smell is overpowering and overwhelming. People live here.

But this isn't a game and this place really exists. It's called Tandale and the polite way of referring to it is an unplanned development. Tandale is almost a city in its own right. It occupies a small area to the North West of Tanzania's largest city, Dar es Salaam. Tandale is an enclave, surrounded by the growing suburbs of Dar es Salaam. In 2002, a census showed there was a population of just over 45,000 people living here. Now, towards the end of 2012, the number must be much much higher.

Three Days. Three Cities. Three Continents

There's a saying that travel broadens the mind. It's a cliche but cliches generally come about because they're true. This week my mind has been considerably broadened, visting the Tandale slum on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam and attending and judging the Sanitation Hackathon, but more about that in a later post.

The week started in Chicago, the Windy City, which lived up to its name, being cold, windy and with crystal clear skies. It's a classic example of the American style of high rise architecture and the view from one of the meeting rooms in Nokia's offices were spectacular.