Sam Wilson's Website

November 2020

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    Why can't I add an index for a nullable Mysql POINT column?

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    There are currently 285 proposals in this year's Wishlist Survey: This is more than ever before! Which is great, but there's lots to get through (I'm reading all of them). Some are terrific, some are huge, some are simple, and they're all a fascinating insight into how people work with Wikimedia wikis and what difficulties they feel. I'm really happy to be working on this.

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    Taken from the train.

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    The eight log levels of RFC 5424 ( ):

    • 0 Emergency: system is unusable
    • 1 Alert: action must be taken immediately
    • 2 Critical: critical conditions
    • 3 Error: error conditions
    • 4 Warning: warning conditions
    • 5 Notice: normal but significant condition
    • 6 Informational: informational messages
    • 7 Debug: debug-level messages
  8. By J.D.B..

    Maps are wonderful - and I too learnt to read OS maps when at school and can spend hours looking at them and at my large atlas. Now, in Australia, there is nothing similar. But there is an alternative now, in particular to google maps in particular which of course are not designed for walkers - Open Street Maps. I've just attended a map making workshop/day out here in Perth, Western Australia and have learnt how to add landmarks of all kinds to the OSM map - where steps are, benches, names of buildings, ferry landings, even special trees - cafes and their opening hours, bus stops, and everything else that makes a walk interesting and manageable. It is a kind of citizen community service! Using OSM in other countries has been really useful too - for example it showed me a useful short cut that I could use in a small town in Bulgaria, a path leading up to the castle in Kars, Turkey that avoided a busy road, and so on. When i compare OSM maps with the google equivalent, there is a huge difference as the former do integrate up to date local knowledge. Like wikipedia, the maps are made by individuals but moderated and checked by editors. And constantly updated. You can download them, so there is no problem about being online to use them. It is great fun, being able to actually add things to a map for those of us who've always loved maps!

  9. By Nick Giles.

    One of my strongest childhood memories is of sitting in the back of the car with a map. On long journeys it was my job to trace our route with my finger and call out directions (even though my parents knew exactly where we were going). I can remember that almost magical feeling of power and responsibility, as if somehow I was the one in control, that we would go where my finger took us. That’s where my love of maps began.

    When I got older, I joined the Scouts and I remember proudly getting my navigation badge. With it came the realisation that everything you need to understand the landscape around you – mountains, forests, lakes and rivers – folds down into something you can fit into a rucksack.

    Understanding a map creates a new sort of relationship with the outdoors – if you can learn to do that at an early enough age, it will carry through the rest of your life. Studies have shown that if you can get someone interested in outdoor activity before the age of 14, it will stay with them. If you don’t, there is a danger they will always think of the outdoors as something to be driven past and through. For me, a map is a passport to getting outside.

    In my role at Ordnance Survey (OS), I want to help more people to get outside more often. The outdoors should be for everyone, and we know from our work with experts such as former Olympian and sports scientist Greg Whyte that outdoor physical activity during lockdown is more important than ever.

    The good news is that people do seem to be getting outside. Since February, use of our OS Maps Get Outside adventure planning app has increased by 78%, with around 3.5 million people using it now. There’s a function that lets you see local green space, and usage of it is up 3,000%. November is normally a more quiet time for the app – it’s darker, the weather is more inclement – but it’s clear that with restrictions on other sorts of activity, people are turning to walking in nature. My hope is that, even when the full list of competing pastimes comes back, many will have discovered a love for the outdoors and keep going.

    You don’t need a car, or to travel far, to find unexpected treasures – they can be right on your doorstep. In fact, my favourite map is for my local area in Bournemouth, which also covers the New Forest. Even the cover of this map is appealing – a Gruffalo-type woodland just waiting to be explored. You can be forgiven for thinking there’s nothing new to discover in your local area, but there will always be things you’ve never done before. For example, in the New Forest there’s something described as Portuguese Fireplace – I’ve often noticed it, but had no real idea what it could be. So we went on a walk to find it, and it really is a Portuguese fireplace – a war memorial to a Portuguese regiment who helped with timber production during the first world war.

    Running your finger along the placenames on a map is a journey through history as well as geography. It’s those little things you can uncover that makes maps so special.

    Map reading can also be a brilliant way to entertain children, and to build their confidence. When you can bring the landscape to life with a map – “We’re going to walk through an ancient woodland and over a Saxon burial mound” – all that rich history comes out and you start an adventure. Letting a child take on the navigation is also a great tool to give them. They are naturally fascinated by the relationship between the world and them. Advertisement

    While map sales are soaring, the process of imaging and mapping has seen new challenges. Ordnance Survey’s flying unit has spoken of the eerie experience of flying over the UK during lockdown. The work of the flying team underpins the accuracy of OS mapping and is essential for users such as the emergency services, so as soon as it was safe to fly, they got back out in the sky.

    During the first lockdown, OS pilots flew the only plane in the sky, documenting Britain’s changing landscape while the country below came to a halt. They witnessed a unique view from the cockpit: empty motorways, unpopulated beaches like desert islands, airport runways jammed with mothballed aircrafts, and skies reclaimed by birds and wildlife. Advertisement

    Camera operator Roger Nock takes the aerial images that keep OS maps up to date, and he told me: “We were, on occasion, the only people in the sky. That hasn’t happened since the dawn of aviation.”

    Cities like Nottingham and Birmingham were like ghost towns because of how many people obeyed the lockdown. There was no rush-hour traffic either, and a big difference from previous years was the lack of haze over cities because of less pollution.”

    We’re living through unprecedented times, but I hope that when we leave them behind, many of us will be taking with us a newfound love of getting out and about in the British countryside.

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  11. By John Bryant.

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  12. By Grant Boxer.

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    I seem to be building a blogging system here that's interspersing blog posts, status updates, photos, and files all together in one timeline. That was my intention of course, but at some point I'm going to have to figure out good ways to create separate streams of things. I'd been thinking that this could be done just with tags, and I think that's probably central to it, but there needs to be some better layouts for different tag results I think. I'm going to start, at least, with a timeline navigation sidebar (sort of akin to Flickr's 'camera roll' page, I guess).

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    Lovely morning for heading into Perth for FOSS4G SotM!

    I've not slept well, but my body thinks that that's perfectly normal for a conference because I'm usually completely jet-lagged. I hope they have some of those nice tanks of conference coffee!

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    The new version of Wikisource Export has been released. The main user-facing improvement is a wider selection of fonts, but there's been lots of work done on the back end (we migrated it to Symfony).

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    Maybe KDE isn't that great. I've swapped a bunch of non-working things for different non-working things. On balance, I think I prefer this set, but it's not all simple! Still, I've got the Wikimedia Commons picture of the day as my desktop, so that's nice.

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    I have returned to using KDE, and it's wonderful! I can't remember why I switched to Ubuntu, but this is reminding me of my first years with Linux and it's terrific. (I was prompted to switch today because I couldn't for the life of me figure out how to properly remap keys and have the config stick – this bug: – and everything is just so much more configurable in KDE.)

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    The rain continues, even back in Perth. It's good coding weather.

    I'm trying to upload photos from Yallingup, but predictably feel like fixing some of the metadata handling first, and so might not get anything uploaded today. I do like the new system though, and am looking forward to having a better way to copy select photos to Commons.

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    It's a rainy Monday morning in Yallingup, but not so rainy that it's not wonderful walking along the coastal paths. I've been here a few times before but there are still bits left to map in OSM (even some named paths that can end up on waymarkedtrails; those always feel worth capturing). There's also a boardwalk and steps that I'd not noticed before, so I'll try to get them done. Mostly it's just nice exploring in the wind and the rain. Supposedly it'll clear in a day or so, so I shall enjoy it till then.

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    I worked on all the above features and a lot more behind-the-scenes cleanups, fixes and performance improvements in the last months. Now its time to let things rest a while and work on other projects. Sorry if I didn’t get around to your favourite feature. Keep the suggestions, ideas, and bug reports coming. It might take a while, but I intend to keep improving taginfo for the next 10 years, too.

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    So Twyne now supports tags. That's good. Bit by bit this is is becoming enough indiewebish for me to actually be able to use it. Can't log in on the phone yet, nor upload photos and have their EXIF data read. But I think possibly I want to add a feed-reader before doing those things, and perhaps geotagging. I dare say it'd be easy to also now add some better POSH/microformats, but actually until I need to consume other sites' HTML I don't feel motivated to improve my own. Certainly higher on the todo list than that is a way to track old URLs (most of which currently lie broken, notably the feed ones which is pretty poor form on my part).

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    SAVE THE DATE >> Saturday, 7th November 2020 | Club Marine Fremantle Harbour Classic

    FREE SPECTATOR EVENT // All boats entry by invitation only.

    The Fremantle Harbour comes alive when some of the State’s biggest racing boats put on a display of skill and daring maneuvers in the annual Club Marine Fremantle Harbour Classic.

    This amazing spectacle is the only sailing event of its kind and this year marks a celebration of 100 years of Fremantle Sailing Club. It is Perth’s best of the best invitational races. A ‘Pursuit Race’ in the confined Fremantle Inner Harbour showcasing exceptional sailing and excitement at every turn.


    The event has great historical significance considering that the first yacht was introduced after World War II, back in 1946 – the first year of the traditional Challenge Race. The race was contested by entrants from both Fremantle Sailing Club and East Fremantle Yacht Club (formerly Melville Yacht Club). In December 1947, discussions took place between the two clubs and the Rockingham Progress Association which resulted in the birth of this fantastic event now known as the Fremantle Harbour Classic.

    A perpetual trophy made from the binnacle off the SS Sultan, the first steamship into Fremantle Harbour, was introduced and carries the names of the winners since 1991. The Port was the body of water Fremantle Sailing Club (FSC) called home previous to its current location. FSC is adjacent to the world famous Gage Roads where the 1987 America’s Cup was held. The race has both tradition and history.

    This dynamic event is free to the public. Spectators can take advantage of the bird’s eye views which are available from many quayside vantage points within the Fremantle Harbour. Come and see some of the greatest competitors this state has to offer.

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    It's the middle of the morning here, but that doesn't matter. I'm attempting to add tags to Twyne (I'd link that, but still haven't implemented hyperlinks in my Sam-flavoured Markdown). It's going fine, it's not a complicated thing to do really, but I'm bumping skulls with Doctrine ORM. I've used it before for a couple of projects, but not for a while, and I'd forgotten how frustrating it is to be poking at DQL or a query builder and trying to make it work --- when the equivalent SQL is simple and easy! I wouldn't mind if this was something complicated, but ordering by the count of a joined table shouldn't take an hour to figure out.

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    Geocities was an online collection of metropolises, each with their own neighborhoods built around shared interests. The city metaphor helped make a whole new group of users understand the world wide web for the first time. At its peak, it was the third most popular destination on the internet, but it quickly fell out of fashion as the web became more commodified and professional. Before it shuttered, a few digital archivists scooped up as much data as possible before all that early internet experimentation could be deleted.

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    WRITING FOR THE INTERNET ACROSS A HUMAN LIFETIME No more walled gardens, no more chains of complexity.

    Today I declare what once was, is again. Never again will I run another invocation of a static site generator or document renderer. 80 to 100 characters per line is and will continue to be maximum width of English documents. No longer do I pull from social networks, but they will pull from me.

    This is MY writing platform. Mine. Me. There is no way to censor or revoke my power. The Internet does not forget one byte, or one bit.

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    It's Monday arvo, the beer is good, and a general feeling prevails that the internet is what it was in 2002. At least so far as it's possible to write code that makes stuff from databases. It's the most fun.

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