Mon 17 May 2010
Well, this past week was supposed to be devoted to a new client iPhone app. “Unfortunately” I didn’t get sign-off for it but that did mean I could keep going with my chess app. With various other bits and pieces to cover I’ve managed to spend about a day, maybe two on that in the last week. Last Monday I also ended up finishing off the wordpress blog project for Clear Digital and then taking a trip over to Manchester. I had an interesting meeting with a potential client who want to do a really big iPad project. They initially wanted me for 12 weeks full time which actually spooked me a bit as I don’t usually do full time. I’ve yet to hear what’s happening with that but could be an interesting project to work on if they do want me to go ahead with it. After that meeting I met up with Dave Verwer and went to NSManchester in the evening. While at NSManchester I gave a very hastily put together presentation on the iPhone app store positions app that I worked on the previous week. Talk seemed to go well and I had time to chat with some interesting people in the pub afterwards too.
I got home from Manchester at about 11:30 and began my planned server migration. My current server is hosted by Hetzner and is a “DS3000”, AMD Athlon 64 3700+ with 2GB memory and 2x160GB drive (probably, I bought mine over a year ago so specs may have changed). They now have an “EQ4” which offers Intel i7-920 quadcore with 8GB memory and 2x750GB drive for exactly the same price, though with a setup fee. I’m currently hosting mapme.at on one of these and it’s running really well so I decided to upgrade my other server too. On the older server I’ve been using VMware to host most of my stuff in a virtual machine. The idea for this was that when it did come to moving servers in the future (i.e. now) I could do it by simply copying the VM across and starting it up. By about 3:30am on Tuesday morning after wrestling with VMware and networking for many hours I was getting pretty tired. I got a few hours sleep (as much as my cat would let me before she decided she needed feeding) and then tried again in the morning. After another few hours I decided that VMs were not the way to go :-/ Considering I host everything on ubuntu and that’s super easy to set up anyway the ease of setup isn’t really that big a deal, also having to copy massive virtual disk images wasn’t proving to be fun anyway. I’m going to host my services on the bare metal which means I can switch from one server to the other by doing a simple rsync to get up to date, re-syncing databases and then switching DNS. Unfortunately I haven’t yet had time to do this, ideally I’d do it overnight like I attempted last week but considering the app store positions app keeps filling up the disk and knocking out services I’m worrying less about the downtime, it should be minimal anyway now it’ll just take some resyncing.
I ended the week by attending the Liver & Mash event organised by Mandy Phillips. The event was in the spirit of previous “mashed libraries” events which have tried to introduce librarians to the concept of mashups and the many ways in which they can be useful. I wasn’t really sure what to expect from the event but had agreed to talk on “Maps” so prepared some slides and went along. In the end the event was really useful, it wasn’t really too dissimilar from other web/technology events I’ve been to. Everybody was really interested in mashups using various web APIs, hardware hacking with Arduino and other techologies, and pretty much anything that interests geeks. The libraries side of it gave it some focus but was easy to get to grips with for someone like me who has had minimal experience of libraries recently.
Most of the talks were given in three tracks and the rooms were assigned by order of popularity. As it happened my talk on maps was voted most popular and I was asked to give it in the main room to everybody! The talk seemed to be well received, looking at the twitter back channel, with most people finding the various examples I gave interesting. I only had 15 minutes so gave some basic background on maps in general and where my experience of online mapping started. I gave some examples of using mapping APIs and OpenStreetMap then finished off with a quick overview of mapme.at and my experiences of tracking my location. As usual slides can be found on slideshare (usual problems with videos, though these can be found on my user page on vimeo).
In the afternoon I also ran an hour and a half workshop on mapping. I’m not sure how well this went as we were in a fairly small room and I hadn’t particularly prepared any tasks for attendees to try out. I tried to go through some of the best ways to use mapping APIs (use mapstraction!) How to get involved with OpenStreetMap, how to edit the map using GPS, Aerial imagery or even the new Ordnance Survey data. I also covered the various ways to use OSM data including loading it into mapstraction or using the Cloudmade APIs to generate custom map styles and retrieve data through the web services. I got plenty of questions from my audience though and gave answers for all of them so hopefully they enjoyed it.
All-in-all I think the day went really well. Unfortunately when my talk finished at 3:30 I had to rush out straight away and didn’t get to enjoy the evening revelry. Instead I hopped into the car to rush to London for a leaving party!