Working with MongoDB and UK postcodes part 1: UK Post Codes

An important part of my next project involves letting people indicate whereabouts they are, but without disclosing detailed location information until later. In the UK, we have Post codes which are alphanumeric codes between five and eight characters long which broadly identify roughly where a building is. They are composed of two parts, the outward code and the inward code separated by a single space.Examples: IV51 9XB or SE22 8BS.

There are about 3000 outward codes, and while many cover a fairly small area especially in cities, others like IV51 cover several hundred square miles. Generally they are good enough for my purpose, and where the outward code isn’t specific enough I will use the first part of the inward code as well.

My plan is to use the postcode information here http://www.freemaptools.com/download-uk-postcode-lat-lng.htm to identify the centre of each outward code and use that as a proxy for wherever the user is located. From that I can calculate a rough distance to other users. Where two users share an outward code, I can identify that fact and report it to the user doing the search.

Next time: Importing the data into MongoDB.


Bloody Traffic!

I guess writing a blog post about traffic or planning, (or traffic and planning even!), could mark the descent into middle-aged senescence, but the state of planning by North Yorkshire County Council’s roads department is deserving of a blog rant.

Here in Harrogate, they have been responsible for the design of a new road junction, here: https://goo.gl/maps/KrJqn.

The two lane turn right at Hookstone Rd onto the A61 Northbound is a prime example of a bad and probably dangerous junction. Turning south from Leadhall Lane feels scary even in large car as it is impossible to determine if it is safe to make the turn, so instead you hold back which results in all the traffic leaving Leadhall Lane being blocked. Why NYCC decided to deviate from the usual pattern of having a right-turn lane and a straight-on-or-left lane is not something I can determine. I suspect that the first serious accident at this junction will result in NYCC being on the receiving end of a court case when the defence argues that it is the junction at fault rather than a driver.

In the past couple of weeks I have twice seen people heading north on the A61 stopping because they are confused by the red light that controls the turn-right traffic. Most days there is one car stranded ahead of the stop line in the turn-right lane. Once, there were two, preventing east-west traffic.

The left turn into Leadhall Lane is difficult for the school buses going to Rossett and Asheville – I’ve seen one have to reverse back, blocking both lanes as it attempts the corner. This is lamentably bad and even a few brief consultation with bus companies would have shown how poorly laid out the entire thing is.

Update: Car drivers coming from Hookstone Road are starting to use the turn-left only lane as a straight-ahead lane. Illegal but predicable.

 


New job, new directions, again.

Yet again, I find myself resuming blogging at the temporal boundary between jobs. I’m happy and proud to say I’m now working for Financial Force as a Lead Developer. This means I will need to be conversant with the Force.com platform, rather than .Net and Sql Server which have been my main tools for the past decade. To that end, having absorbed the truism that the best way of learning about something is to write about it, I intend to write up my Force.com development experiences on this blog. This might cover some stuff that relates to some of the other tools I will be using – Eclipse, ExtJs and my transition from Windows to OSX, at work.

I might occasionally throw in some music.


Many changes

In no particular order

* I’m not maintaining a web site on http://www.hyperoceanic.com at the moment.
* All the Groove related stuff should be considered to be of historical value only
* I got a new job at the British Library, leading an Agile team that builds the systems that import the digital media (eJournals, eBooks, web archives etc) into the Digital Library System. C#, SQL Server, MSMQ being the chief skills.


Scratch Day at Rossett School

Son #1 and I went to this event a couple of weeks ago.


Shut down or restart?

Just found this report from The Royal Society: Shut down or restart? The way forward for computing in UK schools. Looks relevant.


Getting to know the Raspberry Pi

While I appreciate the elegance of good hardware design, I’m a software guy at heart, a programmer. Programming is a way of thinking that combines tinkering with a problem and exploring its constraints to arrive at a solution that meets those constraints as best you can.

Nevertheless, I’ve just ordered the device from Farnell, showing 54 days for delivery.

So meanwhile, software. Programs. Algorithms even. I installed installed the Rapsberry PI emulator from here and have a working image. It’s a nice, minimal Linux but it it is clear that there would be a lot to do before it could be considered a suitable working environment for kids like the Xadros Linux on the Asus eeePc I bought a few years ago.


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