November 23rd, 2008


Online maps

I saw someone advocating OpenStreetMaps as a source of online mapping information, and thought I would try the various online mapping services with some of the more obscure places of interest to me. Wikipedia is a great starting point: you can click through to a pretty good selection of mapping services from its navigation pages.

1) Loughbrickland, Northern Ireland. Located at 54°19′N, 6°18′W. Good coverage from Google Maps, WikiMapia,,,, Windows Live, MapQuest,, Multimap. But OpenStreetMaps shows only the two main streets.

2) Pristina, Kosovo. Located at 42°40′N 21°10′E. None of the on-line sources I checked shows the current (post-1999) street names. and Windows Live both have all the streets but with the old Serbian names. OpenStreetMap shows all the streets but with no names at all. None of the others is any use. (If perchance you actually need a map of Pristina, I recommend this guidebook.)

3) Northern Nicosia, Cyprus. Location 35°10'42"N, 33°21'42"E. Oddly enough, neither side of Nicosia is especially well served by online maps.,,, and Windows Live do mark streets in the north, but grossly inaccurately! is very good for southern Nicosia, but doesn't mark many streets on the northern side; at least they are in the right place, if uinnamed. If you actually need a map of northern Nicosia, try this; for the southern side, try here.

4) Freetown, Sierra Leone. Location: 8°28′44.4″N, 13°16′6.24″W. Only OpenStreetMap has any level of detail for the streets at all, though no names for any of them. (Here's a 1985 CIA map of the city centre; this looks more up to date.)

Basically, online map services still have some way to go, even in some parts of Europe, never mind Africa.

Four More Blake's 7 Episodes

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My conclusion after all of this is that anyone who wants to appreciate Terry Nation's work in Blake's 7 also needs to see his early Doctor Who serial, The Keys of Marinus. The six 25-minute episodes are essentuially five distinct stories, the last being a two-parter, in which the regulars are sent to different environments for the adventure of the week. Several of them - the murder mystery, the chilly environment, the bottled brains - have fairly direct parallels in B7, but I'm more struck by the underlying concept of subjecting your team to different stresses and seeing what it brings out of them - Nation wasn't actually terribly good at this, but the thought was there. One thing he manages in B7 which he didn't do so often in Who was humour. Well, we'll see if the new Survivors is any cop.