Patrick O'Brian Mapping Project Sponsorship

Written by on May 3, 2011, 1:18 pm

I am very happy to announce that Art Marine has decided to sponsor the Patrick O'Brian Mapping Project. I have spent the last five years working on my site and their help is very much appreciated.

If you are a fan of Patrick O'Brian or the Napoleonic age of sail, you should go and check out some of their amazing prints, Remarques and oil paintings.

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Mapping of the Surgeon's Mate Complete

Written by on July 21, 2010, 11:55 pm

The events of The Surgeons Mate, rescue by HMS Shannon, a long chase in The Packet Diligence and the final voyage of the HMS Ariel, is complete.

Over a year and a half ago, having taken an unprecedented eight months to map The Fortune of War, I had anticipated:

I hope my distracting forays into other projects will be less frequent for the next one.

Instead, I have managed to distract myself with more and more projects and found myself with less time to work on mapping the cannon than I would like. Despite the distractions, The Patrick O'Brian Mapping Project remains a priority and in the last few months I have managed to build some features that I am very happy with:

  • POB Quotes - A free iPhone application to view a selection of quotes and maps from the project.
  • Google Maps Version Three - In May, Google announced that the new version of the Google Maps API would replace version two as the production API. Ever since then I have been meaning to upgrade the rather archaic implementation of the project. I managed to do most of this at the recent Google DevFest in Sydney. As of today, that new version is live on the site and you will notice a new look and feel for the maps. I would love to hear your feedback on the new and (hopefully) improved Patrick O'Brian Mapping Project.
  • New backend architecture - Part of the work to move over to version three of the maps API involved changing the way the data is stored in the project. You will now find that links to individual map notes (from the title of the map popups) will be more reliable.

Once again I will optimistically declare that the next book will surely be quicker than the last. Time and Tide etc...

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Patrick O'Brian Mapping Project in Google Maps V3

Written by on July 2, 2010, 5:17 pm

I spent the workshop at todays DevFest porting the ancient version two javascript in the Patrick O'Brian Mapping Project over to version three:

The old implementation was accessing raw XML file via the old GXMLHttp object. This is an AJAX wrapper object that was in v2 because, at the time, there wasn't an alternative. In the modern world of javascript libraries, there are lots of good implementations of an AJAX request object, so v3 didn't need to include GXMLHttp anymore. The new implementation uses a Mootoos request object and grabs JSON from the database rather than raw XML files. This is something I have meant to fix for a long time.

The old Google Maps v2 GPoint object has an x and y property (longitude then latitude), so when I moved over to v3's LatLng object, all my coordinates were backwards, leading to amusing results:

Once I had the map working in v3, I was able to take advantage of the styled maps features in v3 and give it a slightly more old world feel:

Not quite ready to make the port live, the links between info windows aren't hooked up yet, but it is almost there.

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Jack Aubrey a sceptic?

Written by on February 4, 2010, 12:28 pm

I have had, for as long as I remember, a deeply rooted confidence in science and a corresponding lack of faith in religion. Recently I have found that there exists a like minded group of individuals whose world view very neatly fits my own.

The Skepticism movement is a somewhat eclectic group of people with a common belief in the importance of science and reason. I hadn't realized that there were people actively promoting this kind of thinking (and the importance of doing so) until I began listening to the popular Skeptics Guide to the Universe podcast:

My experience of The Skeptics' Guide has been a liberating one. It has led me to re-examine some of the irrational beliefs, which I had held quite strongly, and taken away much of the uncertainty that had plagued my perception of the world around us.

I feel like a Skeptical world view, rather having the negative connotations of cynicism, is a compassionate and hopeful one that is not driven by our very human ability to frighten ourselves with the unknown.

I was delighted to discover, while reading The Surgeon's Mate for my Mapping Project, Jack Aubrey having a moment of sceptical clarity in response to Mr Pellworm's lamentation of departing on Friday the thirteenth (and with a woman on board for all love):

'No, no: your omens keep threatening disaster - they did so before Grimsholm, and you see what happened: all cry with no wolf at the end of it. I have done with omens,' he said, grasping a belaying-pin. 'But your falling glass is another kettle of fish: your glass is scientific.'

Another kettle of fish indeed.

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Distraction, Procrastination and a fictional Island Fortress

Written by on December 17, 2009, 1:53 pm

Caught in a storm of distracting personal projects, I have been driven onto a lee shore mapping The Surgeon's Mate. A vague starting point, through a fictional Kraken Channel, onto a fictional sand bank and then a rendezvous at a fictional island fortress.

So, with few concrete reference points, I was left to my habit of obsessive guesswork to determine the course of the Ariel's chase of the Minnie, The Minnie's grounding and then the mock chase to Grimsholm.

After a number of alternative routes, painstakingly plotted and then discarded in disgust, I settled on a vague south easterly chase towards the fictional Grimsholm, on the Pomeranian shore west of Danzig. I used the following as my points of reference:

  • The rendezvous with the Minne occurs quite close to Carlscrona.
  • The Minne, carrying French officers for the fortress, runs south east. Presumably, she is heading directly towards Grimsholm
  • The sandbank needs to be close enough to the mainland to make the Frenchmen's escape by boat plausible.
  • Grimsholm itself must be somewhere near the shoreline, as the Frenchmen intended to reach shore and ride to the island.

With that particularly fiddly piece of mapping I am hoping that mapping the rest of the The Surgeon's Mate will follow more reliable and concrete locales.

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