Sunday Wanderings

A few photographs from a Sunday wandering around Stirling and Bonnybridge. Accompanied by @alycoste who managed to lose her phone in a nettle bush, while the phone was on silent. Our trips are never dull. On our last trip she lost her gloves at Stirling castle, in the pitch black; the gloves were also black. To be fair at least both items were found again :-)

You do the math

I was reminded about the closing scenes of the film "The Martian" today. 

"You just begin. You do the math. You solve one problem and you solve the next one, and then the next. And If you solve enough problems, you get to come home."

Today I was faced with something that I had never done before and it involved solving many problems, even though I knew what I wanted to achieve it, it seemed like an unsurmountable task to figure it all out. I have noticed that I often become extremely frustrated when I can't figure a task out, so much so that I can't think in a balanced way. 

You solve one problem, and you solve the next one and then the next.

I have been told that I am stubborn and I got to find out how stubborn today, as I would not leave the task until I was totally satisfied that the solution worked, and that I understood why. I also found a tremendous amount of joy in solving the last problem that allowed me to go home. Because hell was freezing over before I left without finishing the task.

I won't bore you with the details of what I was doing but it involved, Ordnance Survey data, GeoServer and a whole lot of data management. I had to "science the shit out of it".

I have taken this kind of approach to situations for a while now, it has taken me to new places and got me out of situations that I haven't wanted to be in. I think the hardest part is sometimes identifying what the problem is.

Dumfries House

I took the opportunity to have a quick visit to some of the gardens in the estate of Dumfries House. The house is of Palladian architecture, built in Ayrshire, Scotland. The large estate and house still contains much of its original 18th-century furniture, including specially commissioned Thomas Chippendale pieces. The house and gardens are listed as significant aspects of Scottish Heritage. I would encourage you to find out more at their website Dumfries House.

Unfortunately my visit coincided with rather unpleasant weather which made photography difficult, but it did whet my appetite for going back on a more pleasant day. I have posted some photographs below and one on instagram that I had a little fun with before posting.

Update: Click on the photo below to see more :-)

AGI Scotland Annual Event

I have just returned from what was a very interesting day at the annual meeting of the Association for Geographic Information, held at the Lighthouse in Glasgow. The AGI primary focus is to maximise the use of Geographic Information (GI) for the benefit of the citizen, good governance, and commerce. There was a whole host of talks surrounding two key themes:

- Data Security & Ethics
- Application of Geographic Information  

I attended the application of GI presentations and the two that I enjoyed most were:

Some Like it HOT, given by David Frankland from thinkWhere. The presentation surrounded the HOT tasking manager. The Tasking Manager is a mapping tool designed and built for the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team's collaborative mapping process. The purpose of the tool is to divide up a mapping project into smaller tasks that can be completed rapidly with many people working on the same overall area. It shows which areas need to be mapped and which areas need the mapping validated. Anybody can join this mapping effort and right now there is a particular need for mapping to be completed in Papua New Guinea after an earthquake set off mudslides. Helping mapping these areas will be vital for rescue and aid agencies. Anybody can help from novice to advanced mappers! 

Philip Taylor from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology provided a informative and humorous presentation on New Ways to Communicate GI data. The part that really caught my attention (apart from the Bloomin' Algae application) was the Edinburgh Tree Map (which is being expanded to other parts of the UK). Have a look at this wonderful map, the data was provided by Edinburgh Council which made all their Tree Data available for free and online! The map tree was inspired from these maps of LondonMelbourne and particularly New York, the question was asked: "Can we do that for Edinburgh?". A fantastic achievement for Edinburgh! Now I know where I can get all the good Cherry Blossom photographs in the spring!

St Andrews

As you may have read in my biography in the about page, I completed my Bachelor of Science by reading Geography at The University of St Andrews, Scotland's first University. I have only made a handful of visits since I completed this course. A few occasions to use their laser seive to analyse sediment from Greenland while researching my PhD, but since then I have only made two trips. Once in late December in 2005 with some friends and then again last Sunday.

The thought of returning to a place I became so familiar with after such a long absence has always made me feel a little uneasy. When I was there in 2005 I was horrified that Costa Coffee has opened up, the whole idea of 'chain' shops seemed to go against the idea of St Andrews and its 'lost in time feeling'.

Of course, finding Starbucks, Pizza Express and a whole host of other multinational shops in the city this time certainly shocked me, although if I had thought about it for more than a few minutes before I arrived I would have figured out that this was an obvious progression. 

It's hard going back, it's hard not looking for the familiar signs, the people and the feeling that doesn't seem to be there anymore. I think it was the excitement of being there as a student, not knowing what was going to happen each day. I think I could see it in the eyes of the students that I did see though, I did feel a pinch of jealousy.

Of course, some things never change, the red gowns were adorned by the students coming out from St Salvators Chapel heading towards the Pier Walk, possibly heading to the Hebdomadar's office for sherry, or perhaps a new tradition of heading to Starbucks for a Frappuccino. Trust me, the sherry was always better.

I didn't take many photographs as I was mainly walking around in my own thoughts of years gone by. Click the thumbnail for the large version.