Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Polmadie Footbridge Update 3

Since I was nearby, I took a small detour to see how the bridge was progressing, and it looks as if the light-hearted remark I made about not a lot happening (with the actual build itself) until all the parts had been lined up on the bank, and were ready to go, seems to be correct.

It looks as if the whole, substantial, supporting deck span has been laid over the piers since I last looked.

While this not much use as a crossing (unless you happen to work in a circus, or are working on this bridge), it does mean the two banks are now joined once again.

I’ll have to be careful not to forget to wander this way a little more frequently – at this rate it could all be done before I get back.

Click the pic for a little bigger.

Polmadie Footbridge Deck

Polmadie Footbridge Deck

Although this bridge is of no real use to me, I am looking forward to the day I can cross it.

I was really disappointed to come across the piers left after the old bridge was removed, having no idea it was there, or crossing over the Clyde by using it.


28/05/2018 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography, Transport | , | Leave a comment

Street View now covers more Scottish coastline (but where?)

Rocky coast

I don’t know where the email alert I should have received from Google about its most recent updates to Maps and Street View has been since March 7 (the date on the message) but it only arrived last night.

As I have lamented before, while Google used to have someone prepare an overlay that showed where on Google Earth the latest imagery updates were applied, this stopped a while ago, and has not returned, so I can’t point at specifics, which I like to do, both for my own information, and to make it easier for those who were interested to find their area if it was included.

So, all I can say is that the latest alert regarding updated Street View imagery (and this alert was about Street View, as opposed to the more general Aerial or Satellite View), is that it applied to some areas of Scottish coastline… and some UK cities, specifically:

In the UK we’re refreshing some imagery in major cities like London, Manchester, Glasgow and Cardiff, as well as filling in some of the gaps where we had no Street View coverage. For example, we’ve added brand new images to parts of the Scottish coastline, in pockets of East Anglia and parts of South Wales.

There’s also the mention in there of Glasgow having update imagery in Street View, and I think I actually saw this before reading the email.

For those who know the city, if you use Street View to head up York Street from the river, and cross Argyle Street, then you will see the wall on your right magically transformed from an abandoned piece of waste into a series of large artistic murals as caught in 2012. To see the old wall, just cross over to West Campbell Street, and look back to see 2008:

Google views abandoned Fukushima

I just happen to be looking at this exploration – Urban Exploration? – at the moment, so pass on the link since I am mentioning Street View.

Google Maps, working with Namie-machi mayor Tamotsu Baba, drove Google Street View cars through the abandoned town this month. In a blog post, Baba explained why: “Many of the displaced townspeople have asked to see the current state of their city, and there are surely many people around the world who want a better sense of how the nuclear incident affected surrounding communities.”

Click here to go to the scene

The are still boats lying inland, and the citizens are not allowed to return to their homes.

It’s hard to comment from a distance (and this is on the opposite side of the World) but I think I am reasonably safe in saying they could go home today were it not for the fear spread by radiophobia. As far as I know, there was no fallout from Fukushima, only the release of radioactive gasses at the time of the earthquake and tsunami that did the damage. More people were actually harmed and died from that than anything that happened at the nuclear power stations, but it is still the nuclear power station that are being pointed at as the villains of the story.

There were no casualties caused by radiation exposure, approximately 25,000 died due to the earthquake and tsunami, and more than 200,000 were evacuated.

By March 2013, reports indicated barely detectable effects on the population’s lifetime from the disaster at the power station.

Lest I get misquoted, I am not saying there are no effects to be found, and it should not be forgotten that the sea will be suffering contamination as heavy elements are washed out from the damaged plant, but this does not go to the town, it goes to the sea, to the fish for example, so these are probably not the best diet for locals. Actually they’re very good for anyone, as they seem to have well over 200 time the safe limit of radiation.

You might want to read this before thinking I am mad suggesting that the Fukushima residents might just be allowed back into their homes:

The Psychology of Cancer Clusters : Fire in the Mind

29/03/2013 Posted by | Maps | , , , | Leave a comment

Google Maps refined

In a classic example of Sod’s Law, no sooner do I air the thought that I seem to have missed any recent updates to the high resolution Google aerial view of my local area, than an update regarding Google Maps faithfully arrives on my desk moments after it has been announced.

This update relates to the appearance of detail in the various Google Map views, and how streets and similar details are shown. Much appears to have been done to refine how these appear on the maps and aerial views, with less obtrusive graphics being used, and finer detail being evident.

Google summarised the changes as follows:

Today’s changes are intended to keep the same information-rich map while making it easier to pick out the information that is most useful.  The changes affect both the ‘Map’ and ‘Hybrid’ styles, and include numerous refinements to color, density, typography, and road styling worldwide.  For example, in map view, local and arterial roads have been narrowed at medium zooms to improve legibility, and the overall colours have been optimized to be easier on the eye and conflict less with other things (such as traffic, transit lines and search results) that we overlay onto the map.  Hybrid roads have gained a crisp outline to make them easier to follow, and the overall look is now closer to an augmented satellite view instead of a simple overlay.

The old vs new view of the London area shown below gives a good idea of the subtle changes made, which work to give a clearer view of the desired area, and you can see more examples illustrating the old and new styles in Google’s more detailed account of the changes at Evolving the look of Google Maps

Google map style old and and new

24/10/2009 Posted by | Maps | , | Leave a comment

Relevant Google Earth/Maps high resolution update

Thanks to an observant member who happened to be looking in the right place, we’ve discovered that the city of Glasgow and its surrounding area has received a high resolution imagery update.

Although we should get a note of these things as we are subscribed to the relevant blog for updates, that last relevant one we were alerted to was some months ago. This was the one that added aerial imagery to much of Scotland which was not already covered.

This appears to be a much more selective upload, with highly detailed aerial imagery of Glasgow and the surrounding area, showing much more detail than was previously available.

We’ve no idea what other areas, if any, are included, but we have identified this newest upload to be from the period of May 2009, so the images are very recent, and this has also been confirmed by virtue of the content shown in some of the images we’ve checked – yes, the neighbours have been getting new conservatories and extensions added this year.

If there are any other areas that have had a similar update, we’d appreciate you taking a moment to let us know in a Comment below – thanks in advance.

We’d liked to have known sooner, so might be searching for an alternative, and less official, blog that reports on GE ad related updates.

The sample below shows one of our featured sites, the large drum blender on the former ROF Bishopton site. Coincidentally, this just happens to fall on the transition line between the old and the new imagery, and clearly illustrates the difference between the two:

23/10/2009 Posted by | Maps | , , | Leave a comment

Google Earth (and Maps) expands hi-res Scottish coverage

Rothesay in GE

Rothesay in Google Earth

A massive upload of new high resolution images was reported on May 9, 2009, for Google Earth, and described as including coverage of a large percentage of Scotland.

No further details or listings of the new areas covered were given, but it was noted that the data is yet to be pushed to Google Maps, so it is possible to compare the two (at the moment) to see if an area of interest has now been included in Google Earth.

As an example, compare the Google Earth view of Rothesay shown to the right to that of the same location as seen using the Satellite view option of Google Maps below.

If the view shown below is a cloudy, low resolution satellite image, then we’re still waiting for the high resolution GE images to be pushed to Google Maps, but if it’s clear of clouds, and in high resolution, then the job’s been done.

You can then use the + button to zoom in and tour the island from above.


Passing through on May 12, and I see the new imagery has been pushed through into Google Maps, so no need to wonder if/when it might arrive.

10/05/2009 Posted by | Maps | , , | 2 Comments

Google map images rationalised

After moving the server, I thought it might be time to revisit the Google map API group. Re-organising the server structure had messed with the code, necessitating some minor re-writes, and I reckoned they might be something new to be had. I did fiddle with about 6 months ago when some new features were introduced, but everything fell apart and I didn’t have time to play with it then. Working and plain is still better than fancy and broken.

One of the downsides is that there’s a layer of coding that interfaces the Google map to our pages, and while it may be hard to believe that I had a tiny, hand in its birth, when the chap that created it improved it with a rewrite, he also made it almost unintelligible, as the language used is not one I’m deeply literate in, and there are a lot of optimisations in it now. While they make the code slicker, they also make it like gobbledegook if you haven’t come across all the coding fiddles used. Maybe a project for the long winter nights if it’s to get anywhere. Unfortunately, he seems to have evaporated now, so there’s no oracle to consult.

I don’t know if there are any significant or relevant toys in the latest version of the map, I ahven’t been keeping track in the past months, the main thing we need here is the ability to get lat/lon/NGR for a desired point of interest, and the current page still does that reasonably well for now.

The most interesting thing I noted was the coincidental announcement today, the day I happened to look for anything interesting, that the views and imagery displayed on maps created using the Google map API (in other words, the maps seen on any SeSco page) will now show exactly the same presentation as a Google map pulled up from – previously different data sets were used, leading to various gripes and moans apparently.

There will be some losers and some winners where there is a change of view, as some areas were better served than others in each set.

All I’ll say is that there are some damned cloudy views over Scotland – maybe one day they’ll go away.

19/09/2008 Posted by | Maps, Site News | , | Leave a comment

Picture problems

Regular visitors to our Main Site will be aware that we like to have an illustrative picture accompany an article, since it can put the subject into context, or even show what something that has been lost or demolished used to look like when it still existed.

For the next few months, our images will not be completely dependable as they are re-organised, but this disruption is purely temporary, and will only affect small batches, not the whole library, at any given time.

Unfortunately, when we started to provide these images – and we didn’t want to become guilty of bandwidth-theft – we had to provide some method of hosting them, and since we don’t have infinite resources (or any at all for that matter) we had to find something suitable online, and which was priced accordingly. At the time, we’d no idea what format, or even how many pics were likely to be involved, so it wasn’t possible to have a reasonable stab at organising them – there was nothing to organise, and we’d no idea what we’d be organising anyway.

While the accumulation of almost 1,000 images has solved this problem, it also means that fixing it will take somewhat more than five minutes. Since the wiki structure is much more manually oriented than the usual databases we like to live in, there doesn’t seem to be any sort of quick fix we can implement, either to re-organise the image storage structure, or the markup or urls that access the pic and display them on one of our pages. This means just having to churn through everything, largely by hand, and organising things into batches so that the disruption is minimised to at least some degree.

Having done some of the work, it looks like this will take a couple of months to complete, and a small number of pics might not re-appear until the task is completed, since we’ve had to rollback the first attempt at re-organising, which was a dead-end and actually flagged up the impending problem.

Apologies if this happens to affect a page you might be looking at, but the old system had to go, as continuing to use it without the facilities of a database was akin to assigning a random name to all our images, throwing them into a box, shaking it, and then trying to locate an individual item from the box, while working in a dark room.

19/08/2008 Posted by | Site News | , , , | Leave a comment

Mapping union improves aerial imagery

One side effect of the link-up between Live Search (Virtual Earth) and Multimap that I mentioned recently is a new set of aerial images for Scotland.

I’m sure the details will be listed on a dedicated blog somewhere else in cyberspace, but I’ve long given up trawling them in the hope of spotting relevant updates as they happen. They’ll happen anyway, without me reading about them, and I’ll notice while I’m looking at a relevant view of the ground.

I’ve had a chance to look ate quite a few spots, where I can recall what the aerial used to show, and the new images provided by the service is much cleared and more detailed in many case – though there are, it must be said, still vast deserts with no detailed coverage at all… yet?

In terms of the age of images being presented by the revised system, I’m fortunate to live in a spot that has been updated, and from the houses shown can place the images to 2007, as we had (and are still having) a burst of frantic activity as surrounding houses and driveways are ripped apart and re-assembled. We also had some new road surfacing plus the installation of obligatory 20 mph zones (as opposed to the much more numerous, and strangely useless ‘advisory’ type) which have extended road marking and warning lights to show when they are in force. This compares with our incumbent of Google Maps, which has older imagery – I forget when we worked out the ones we looked at were taken – with our local version dating back to 2002 or so, and still the same today.

(I’ve just spotted the Google update, from the start of April, no joy for Scotland, with not a square inch mentioned in the listings. Maybe next time.)

I’m not criticising, far from it. One of the problems with the online mapping service is that there is a clamour for it to be up-to-date, so all the ‘kewl’ people can point out their abode (or advertisers show off their clients). However, for our purposes, while the updating process is welcome since it shows what we can find today, it is also a double-edged sword, as progress and development on the ground sweeps away many of the old and historic sites we are interested in. The older aerial view was actually a useful research tool. There is a method by which the old tiles (the maps and views are made by seamlessly tiling smaller images) can be called up, although I haven’t accessed it for ages, and it only works with Google Maps, so is only really of use to advanced users and programmers.

15/04/2008 Posted by | Maps, Site News | , , , , , | Leave a comment


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