Open Source Computing and GIS in the UK

Travels in a digital world

Blimey, a New Post

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So after months of silence, I’m finally putting virtual pen to virtual paper again- Archaeogeek is not dead after all!

I could have written any number of posts over the last few months, on the trials and tribulations of organising a major international conference for one thing- but I think I’ll save those for after the event…

Instead- a couple of things that have caught my eye recently: firstly a fantastic post on the problems of cartography on Pluto in the new Wired MapLab. I confess I’d never thought about the technicalities of defining a coordinate system on anything other than Earth, or even defining which of the two poles on a planet/asteroid is North and which is South. For asteroids, the problem is exacerbated by the fact that their orientation can change dramatically over a short period of time, so it’s impractical to define a coordinate system pegged at the poles- instead you define one based on the direction of spin. Cue the “right-hand-rule” that you probably learnt in Physics at school for defining directions of magnetic forces and such like. There’s lots more detail in the article, but it’s a great read, and it blew my mind (in a good way) thinking about the arbitrary nature of things we take for granted in mapping.

Secondly, a frankly bizarre set of posts from the UKGovOSS blog. This started up in 2009 and has seemingly returned after a long hiatus with a set of posts on (as you’d expect) using Open Source in UK Government. “Yay” I thought, how useful! But what I found was a set of badly written, often contradictory posts that could have been written 5 years ago in terms of what they have to say about open source. The more I read these posts, the more something seemed suspicious, and a whois search for the domain shows it has been recently registered in Indonesia! I find the idea of a bunch of bloggers in Indonesia writing blog-posts on the use of Open Source in UK Government almost as mind-blowing as the Pluto Coordinate System problem, but perhaps the guys behind the original website ought to try and claim their domain back…