Flattening the Earth: Two Thousand Years of Map Projections

This book can be summarized by: Excellent text about projections, also a very dry read.

I understand the aim of it, more of a history on map projections, the importance of them on a given period of time, and what they brought to the table.

As a scholar text it is really complete and thorough (there’s up to 35 pages of referenced works). As something to read from beginning to end it is quite boring. It’s better to read bit by bit when you feel like it. And be ready to concentrate on the contents, otherwise most of what it tries to tell you will just go over your head.

The book contents are plain but beautiful, full renderings of different map projections help give you an overview on how older maps were built. But at the same time I miss some real scans of old maps where we can see those projections in use. Being a history book would be really nice to present both a rendering alongside a real scan. The few cases where a scan is next to the rendering provide a good context to the projection.

Can’t finish this without commenting about fun excerpts of old descriptions of the projections, for example Ptolemy‘s take on his favourite projection:

(…) Although for these reasons this method of drawing the map is the better one, yet it is less satisfactory in this respect, that it is not as simple as the other…. for me both here and everywhere the better and more difficult scheme is preferable to the one which is poorer and easier, yet both methods are to me retained for the sake of those who, through laziness, are drawn to that certain easier method (…)

— Translation From Stevension 1932,

Full projections are described using this really old language as an example on how the knowledge was passed along before modern mathematics. Luckily, alognside those there’s a description from the author (John P. Synder) which makes everything much clearer.

Not a book I would recommend to everyone, but a really cool book to have in your bookshelf for some short bursts of reading.

Note

I did not finish reading this book yet. I’ve read the renaissance projections chapter and skimmed the nineteenth century projections chapter. (2 of 4 total chapters). Missing chapters on 1670-1799 and the twentieth century.

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Barcelona mean rent price

A couple of Barcelona neighbourhood mean renting prices maps I’ve made today simply because…. no reason at all. I’m not performing any analysis of the provided data, just a picture 😛

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The DM16L (swiss micros or HP)

Almost half a decade ago (haha, fancy way to say 4 years) I purchased on a whim a beautiful calculator from swiss micros. I’ve been using the spartan dc in the command line since I discovered it and battled to understand what was going on. Quite similar to my first foray with vim almost 15 years go (oh well, getting old here). But since then, I got used to what’s called the Reverse Polish Notation, and swiss micros provides just that, RPN calculators.

This is a very niche post about a piece of hardware made out of love and nostalgia for the old HP calculators. I don’t even know why I write about it, more than it’s been my companion calculator for those 4 years, always in my backpack and I needed an excuse for a post.

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Geo Django Raster Metadata

I’ve been using GeoDjango for some time now, and found myself in a situation where I wanted to retrieve raster metadata using the ST_MetaData function on some datasets stored in PostGIS.

To do so, you can of course use the raw function from the db Manager, but for this I went the extra mile (although, it’s more like the extra half-mile, since it’s very easy)

the ST_Metadata in GeoDjango

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Children of Time

Another book post, how boring!

Children of Time is one of those presents that I knew was coming (Pestering for it for quite some time), and once it was in my hand it took me a couple of weeks to finish, it is one of the most exciting science fiction books I’ve read in a while.

The idea is an interesting one. Humanity has reached a point where it starts colonizing and terraforming other planets, but disaster ensues, and we’re brought back to less technological times, while some of the terraformed planets still inhabited start their own story.

Flash forward lots of years from the fall of that technologically advanced civilization, the earth is dying, and some groups start some sort of Noah’s ark spaceship only with people inside with the hope that they can reach one of those old fabled terraformed planets. But they will have to deal with whatever has evolved there (hint, it has 8 legs).

Interestingly, those inhabitants are not painted as horrible mutations that humanity has to fight, but a relatable nascent civilization that has its own fears and hopes. The book dabbles in both storylines, one of the humans travelling and their social problems inside the spaceship, and the spiders, how their society progresses in strange ways for us, and their own way of seeing the world. All of it coming altogether for the book finale.

This is an open ended book, and as far as I’ve checked online the second book should come soon enough (2019 according to wikipedia)

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Spon book & spoon carving

Continuing with the weirdness and going totally off-topic from the type of posts you usually find here, let’s talk about a book of spoons and what it meant to me!.

The book is a short one, split into three parts:

  • A story about the author, and how he got into spoon carving.
  • Instructions on spoon carving techniques and knife grips.
  • A beautiful collection of spoons, with some words about each one of them.

I’ve never heard of Barn The Spoon, he is a spoon artisan carving from green wood mostly using a knife and an axe. I actually got attracted to this book after seeing it while attending a workshop on wood carving, the idea of such a specific book and the hippie feel of everything related to carving without any advanced tools picked my interest, so immediately ordered it from Amazon.

I can’t recommend this book to everybody, but the vibe that it transmits it’s something felt close. The story of Barn is an interesting one, worth reading. And the included pictures are gorgeous (yes, those spoon photos are actually amazing, kudos to the photographer). The only point where it fails to me is trying to explain the knife grips using only prose, probably my engineer’s mind is tricking me here, but some drawings on what is trying to be conveyed would help.

After skimming it, and then thoroughly reading the book, Armed with a sharp knife, a hook knife and the explained techniques I started to carve my first spoon. Which was ok, chunky and nicer to look at than to use, but a second one followed, then a third… and after half a year spoons keep coming out of my hands!.

That’s the best compliment to give to the book, it made me want to carve and enjoy the carving process in itself. I feel that this was the point of all of it :-D.

some spoons after this

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