Icehack in Cambridge: report

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I was going to attend an Icehack in Cambridge.

This happened yesterday and I had good fun, learnt a few things (about British Antarctic Survey and about IPython-notebook), meet nice people, had enough food for dinner (and, OMG, even fresh fruit besides the mandatory hack-pizza).

Thanks very much for organizing it! I also found that BAS has many datasets (see BAS data) but was nice to focus on a few of them.

We did a quick show and tell (see it in a new page)

And the CartoDB result (see it in a new page)

As mentioned another times on this blog (here and here): I really enjoy using CartoDB CartoDB. It makes things that previously were complicated to do much simpler!

Icehack in Cambridge (14th March)

In 2 weeks, on 7th March 2016, the Cambridge Science Festival will start. It’s 2 weeks or science talks, workshops, activities… and hackathons! In Cambridge of course.

Many of the events are free to attend but require a ticket booking. Have a look at the webpage to see what’s available. There are talks about many things: physics, chocolate, astronomy, maths, etc.

One of the things that I’ll attend is the Icehack: discovering polar data. To signup use the Meetup page.. I think that the proposed framework will be quite Python based but it’s not needed to use Python for this.

I might try to use again CartoDB: I liked it and I haven’t used for a while. I’ll see what will happen. Join and do something ase well!

Slides benches at #geomob

Two weeks ago I mentioned that I was going to present the Benches app at #geomob London. Now I’m on the #geomob London wall of fame.

The presentation went well! The slides are available online. A few slides need some explanation but you can get the gist of the presentation.

FOSDEM 2016 in 4 days!

This coming weekend is FOSDEM 2016: the biggest conference (and it’s free) about Free and OpenSource in Europe (at least). It’s in Brussels and registration is not needed. Check the schedule and you might still be able to come.

#geomob London: benches

Some time ago I mentioned the Benches app iOS. See that blog post.

This Thursday I’ll speak about it on #geomob London. It’s free to attend.

Also, feel free to re-tweet it.

Spanish to Catalan: what if just dropping ‘n’?

Some people speak Spanish and they learn Catalan… and some vocabulary is the same.

Actually, I remember checking, in 2006, how many words are exactly the same in Spanish and Catalan compared with Catalan and French or Catalan and English. I was trying to explain “how different are these languages” to Estonians and I thought that some numbers might help. See that entry, in Catalan.

I asked to a super Catalan learner: “how is ‘camión’ in Catalan?” and she didn’t guess it. I said that in case of doubt just drop the ‘n’… seems to work (‘avión’, ‘camión’,…)

Of course, we had to check comparing words to know the hit/miss rate! Given a random word in Spanish ending with ‘n’: removing the ‘n’: how likely is that will appear a Catalan word?

The success is 45.57%! (this is ignoring accents and using wspanish and wcatalan Debian packages).

I might add some other variations like “universidad” -> “universitat”… stay tuned here for more results.

Where on Mars? and Mendeley documents

As I mentioned in the previous post on a Mendeley hackday we worked with Nicolas Manaud from the project “Where on Mars?” and used CartoDB (and I’ll say once more: CartoDB is very cool).

What did we do? We programmed a Python script (very badly programmed, I am looking at you… the line with an “insert” query without binding variables!) that searches the Mendeley catalogue and inserts documents geo-located into a table in CartoDB. Then using CartoDB we displayed this data. And to make it more fun we displayed the data on a map with The Martian’s book trip. You can see that the specific locations featured in the story have many documents, partially because Pathfinder and Mars Rover were nearby.

If you want the data on CartoDB or the map.

Where on Mars? CartoDB and Mendeley hackday

On the last Mendeley hackday we had an external guest (and Mendeley user): Nicolas Manaud from the project Where on Mars?.

ESA (European Space Agency) will send a rover to Mars. On the webpage “Where on Mars?” it is possible to see areas where the rover might land and visualise the constraints: elevation, latitude (to maximise the hours of the Sun), areas with geological interest, etc.

Where on Mars? website uses CartoDB extensively which has been a very good discovery for me! (and I plan to use it for some other projects soon). I’ve done or worked on a few projects with maps like Benches iOS app (based on OpenStreetMap , find Mendeley users web app, or the very simple “find the middle point” map. I’ve used Google Maps API to add markers and work with them and lastly I’ve been using OpenStreetMap (big fan!) and Leaflet to do similar things.

I know how difficult is to represent data on maps. Leaflet is a good piece of software and, very importantly, it’s easy to plug it with any other system and host yourself. But Leaflet has some limitations (adding too many points in a map will make it too slow, but clustering points sometimes is not what one would like to have).

Before CartoDB I used tools like PostgreSQL, Leaflet and Flask (a Python microframework) and I think “what to do” for someone who hasn’t done it before from getting a CSV file with positions and data until having a map with these positions and data there and a basic interactive system could take hours (of work, not of CPU time). Very likely I would get the CSV file, put into PostgresSQL, create a small API to get data from PostgreSQL, show it using Leaflet. Then add some user interface: what happens when a user clicks a point, how to change the information dialogue, etc.

Using CartoDB is possible to do all all the basic operations and much more using only the mouse! I uploaded a 150 MB CSV file which converted automatically into a database table. I only had to indicate the latitude and longitude columns and then I could very easily setup the representation of my data. And it uses OpenStreetMap.

CartoDB even has a Python module that allows editing and querying of data (even with the a browser or with a Python module). Data changing over time (like positions) is easy to represent and it’s possible to embed the map in other places, etc.

Also, CartoDB allows users to change the basemaps so “Where on Mars?” project can use their basemaps for Mars instead of the Earth maps. And it’s easy to publish maps and datasets, embed them on other websites, etc.

I had a very good hackday and one of the reasons was CartoDB and how easy was to work with it. Another reason was Nicolas Manaud who had some ideas about what to do and knew CartoDB so he did part of the CartoDB job and I did some Python scripts using the Mendeley API.

After the hackday I used a little bit CartoDB and had good fun as well.

It’s important to note that obviously CartoDB charges per data size and might change the terms and conditions at any moment, etc. An important advantage of Leaflet+PostgreSQL+Flask (or some other application server) is that could be hosted easily in any place and then we would have all the stack with open source tools (I really like it). But for quick hacks or some visualizations if we don’t mind using a third party service CartoDB really rocks.

Git git

Do you know what’s the name of this waterfall?


Its name is Git Git:


And do you know where is it?

In Indonesia (Bali island). It’s just a coincidence that it’s named like the “Git software“. But it seems that Indonesia has many names related to software, like Java.

Favourite Tweets in the last months

After fixing an interesting problem with Mendeley Desktop and Mac Word 2016 plugin I liked how someone said thanks:

And I really liked Ramon’s photo (thank you again for taking the photo!):