Right Now

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

Vagamente Maleducato; The Vaguely Rude Places Map Goes International

When I first made the Vaguely Rude Places Map in February of 2013 I had no idea what was going to happen. Since then it's gone viral multiple times, been the subject of three conference talks, talked about on two radio stations, been covered in loads of newspapers and viewed millions of times. I still find it wryly amusing that the most successful map I've made to date has had nothing to do with my day job.

X-Clacks-Overhead and GNU Terry Pratchett

So farewell Sir Terry Pratchett. Since I first read The Colour Of Magic in 1983 you made me smile, you made me laugh out loud and above all, you always made me think.

In 2004's Going Postal, Terry wrote about the clacks, a series of semaphore towers that were the Discworld equivalent of the old telegraph system. There was a tradition that when a clacks worker dies in the line of duty, their name would be sent home by being transmitted up and down the line in the signalling layer of the clacks message protocol.

Hic Sunt Dracones; Why Your Map Will Never Be Finished

Somewhere around 1510 what is now known as the Lenox Globe was made. Apart from being either the second or third oldest globe in existence, the Lenox Globe is infamous for the first appearance of the Latin Phrase HIC SVNT DRACONES, which is today loosely translated as here be dragons. This is probably not a reference to the precise location of dragons, but is thought to be a reference to the Kingdom of Dragoian in Sumatra which was noted by Marco Polo during his travels. Nowadays the phrase is commonly taken to mean "here is stuff we don't know about or which hasn't happened yet".

All of which reminds me of a conversation I had with a member of the finance team in a previous job; the company name is redacted to prevent embarrassment. The conversation went something like this ... "So, when will this map of yours be finished?" "It won't; the world is always changing". "Well I need a date for reporting against, so can I say the map will be finished at the end of the financial year?"

Reinventing The Geocoder With Just Three Words

When I was a lot younger than I am now I learned the address of where I was growing up. More about that in a moment. First I want to mention what I didn't learn.

I didn't learn that I was at TQ 23210 65789. Nor did I learn that I lived at 51.377792, -0.23107184. In just the same way that you probably pointed your browser at www.vicchi.org rather than, because letters and words are easier to remember than numbers, I didn't learn the OS grid reference or the latitude and longitude of my home.

Instead I learned the address. I learned I lived at 45 Ebbisham Road in Worcester Park in London's suburbs. Later, when I learned a bit more about the place I lived in I used to say my full address was 45 Ebbisham Road, Worcester Park, Surrey, KT4 8ND, United Kingdom.

It puzzled me that I knew I lived in England and England was a country but not part of my address. It also puzzled me that I knew I lived in the London Borough of Kingston upon Thames but that also wasn't part of my address.

Little did I know that I was being puzzled by the vague and capricious nature of addressing rules and that years later I'd try to work around these rules as part of my job.