grand tour cooking

Posted by: Ian on 4 July 2015

Via Instagram

The TdF starts tonight and my @dailystews Grand Tour Cookbook arrived yesterday. These were all delicious!

Top – Pickled asparagus, soft-boiled eggs and caper vinaigrette
Bottom – Tomato, avocado, pine nuts and feta
Left – Chickpeas, fenel, pineapple and mint.

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two planets and a moon

Posted by: Ian on 20 June 2015

two planets and a moon

via Instagram

There was a nice celestial grouping over the city tonight and clear skies after the best part of a week of heavvy rain. All three are also fun objects with a small telescope; and you can even see the Jovian moons with 7×50 binoculars if you can keep them steady enough.

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beardy mcbeardsalot

Posted by: Ian on 6 June 2015

beardy mcbeardsalot

via Instagram

The Dunny ‘Art of War’ series features one character by one of my favourite artists – Huck Gee. Since I don’t have the space for his larger works like the stunning John Player Special and Gulf Racing OBP figures, I was really happy to get his ‘Beardy McBeardsalot’ in my blind box – at the odds of 1/20.

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open season

Posted by: Ian on 26 May 2015

Its finally time to admit it – it is open season on cyclists in Australia.

Early in the morning on January 5th 2014, Brendan Braid was riding alone along the Old Princes Highway. At approximately 6:20am a car driven by Talia Jade Van-Rysewyk hit Brendan, flinging him into the verge with multiple spinal injuries. Fortunately another group of cyclists riding the same route arrived a few minutes late and rendered appropriate aid.

At about the same time, Van-Rysewyk was busy posting an alibi on Facebook, and most certainly NOT reporting to the nearest police station (she was picked up a few days later1), administering first aid nor waiting for the emergency services.


After more than a year, she finally deciding that lying to the police was no longer an option, and pleaded guilty to negligent driving occasionally grievous bodily harm and failing to stop and assist following an accident.

Last Thursday, at Kiama Court, Magistrate Geraldine Beattie handed out the weak-sauce sentence of 18 months, which the defense lawyer immediately appealed ‘due to severity’. At worst, this disgusting waste of DNA will be out in 9 months, whereas her victim has to live the rest of his life with health problems.

This sentence goes completely against ‘Brendans Law’ which was introduced explicitly to tackle weak sentences handed down to hit and run drivers.

From Monday, 13 February 2006, the Crimes Amendment (Road Accidents) (Brendan’s Law) Act 2005 increased the maximum penalty for drivers who fail to stop after a vehicle impact to 10 years imprisonment where a person has been killed and up to seven years in the case of grievous bodily harm. Lengthy periods of licence disqualification also apply.

The legislation requires a driver to stop and give any assistance that may be necessary and that is in their power to give if the driver knows, or ought reasonably to know, that the vehicle impact has resulted in death or grievous bodily harm to a person. [Australasian Legal Information Institute]

“Up to seven years” – I cannot understand, in anyway whatsoever how the sentence handed down was less than this. Brendan was left with two fractured vertebrae, a broken femur, a cracked pelvis, fractured ankle and WAS LEFT FOR DEAD. The collision itself may well have been unintended, but to not stop and assist following that, shows a disgusting lack of humanity.

Coupled with the denial for more than a year, and the faked Facebook status (which one may view as an attempt to fabricate evidence, also known as attempting to pervert the cause of justice), the sentence of 18 months once again shows that the Australian Judiciary have no interest in the protection of cyclists.

The only way this sort of incident will ever been taken seriously in this country is if a well loved Australian sports person or musician is left severely disabled in such an incident. Then, finally, cyclists might start to be seen as human by general population, and not just something that impedes their perceived divine right to get wherever they want as fast as possible.

  1. Plenty of time to let the alcohol and/or drugs to metabolise perhaps

Posted in Cycling | 1 Comment

sydney rain

Posted by: Ian on 28 April 2015

256km Radar

At the beginning last week, Sydney was in the path of a pretty nasty storm. As you can see from the image above it measured roughly 300km across, and went on to dump over 400mm of rain across the Sydney area.


Using the weather information I was able to create the following plot, which shows how much rain fell during the event, and also shows that it fell pretty continuously (the plotted lines are mostly straight). However, what the graph can’t show is how frequently a storm like this might be expected to occur (the ARI). For that, the raw data needs a bit more processing.

Sydney Storm

I made sure I grabbed the weather data for Observatory Hill just after things started drying up on Wednesday, which ensured that I had rainfall information covering the whole event. A bit of Numbers processing allowed me to calculate the equivalent mm/hr rainfall for comparison against the Bureau of Meteorology IFD standard tables for set time intervals. The final result is the Annual Recurrence Interval.

Interval 30m 1h 2h 3h 6h 12h 1d 2d 3d
Max Rain (mm) 12.2 21.2 25.4 30.2 51.6 70.8 123.8 228.4 263.6
mm/hr 24.4 21.2 12.7 10.1 8.6 5.9 5.2 4.8 3.7
ARI <1 <1 <1 <1 <1 <1 1-2 5-10 5-10

The 30 minute recording interval of the data doesn’t unfortunately allow assessment of the short, typically high intensity periods, but for the available records it’s clear that this storm was only a 5-10 year rainfall event1.

Climate change is likely to bring events like this frequently (perhaps on average 2-5 years) with larger storms coming much more often. The last few years have seen Sydney experience weather much more like that of subtropical Queensland as opposed to temperate New South Wales.

The wind that accompanied the storm was pretty strong, with lots of power outages and tree falls in the region. Just after the main event I was out in Darling Point and happened upon this unfortunate vehicle.


  1. For the Observatory Hill location, other areas such as Maitland were hit much harder.

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local map tiles for QGIS

Posted by: Ian on 24 April 2015

Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 5.10.48 pm

The Need for Speed

I do all my personal GIS work on a 2010 MacBook Pro, which, although loaded with 8Gb of RAM, working with a detailed street dataset can really slow things down. In order to speed things up I hit upon the idea of creating myself a set of pre-rendered raster map tiles that could be loaded in lieu of displaying a large vector file of streets (another option would have been an SSD, but that costs a little more, probably with less benefit).

Creating My Tiles

For my maps, I planned to use OSM-bright as it is nice and clear, and familiar to most people – it looks like people think a map should look.

I used Mapzen to download the most up to date osm.pbf file for Sydney. Previously I’ve used the data from geofabrik, but wanted an easy to use rectangular area and didn’t feel like working out how to clip it down to a workable area with osm2pgsql (if that is even possible11).

I already had an install of PostGIS available as part of the Boundless Open Geo Suite so was able to pick up the OSM OSM-Bright tutorial at the ‘osm2pgsql’ stage, although I used pgAdmin3 to create the database rather than Terminal.

There was little bit of confusion of the actual folder structure for the simplified-land-polygons-complete-3857 and land-polygons-split-3857 files; the guide tells you to put them in a directory named ‘shp’ which doesn’t exist in the download. After a bit of research, I found the following worked.

OSM-Bright Structure

Fixing TileMill

At one part of the tutorial, it requires you to run TillMill (if you haven’t previously) so that it can set up a few folders which OSM-Bright needs. Unfortunately Tillmill was broken with the Mac OS X 10.10 update, so when I tried launching it I was greeted with an eternally spinning wheel.

Fortunately, as the code is publicly available, I managed to find a solution and quick guide to installing it from the source code. It doesn’t create an App, but does allow it to run.

git clone
cd tilemill
npm install

I ran into a couple of problems with this; first off was not having NPM installed which was easily fixed with a package from Node.js. However I then found that the current version (v0.12.2) caused install errors and had to downgrade to v0.10.36 to get it working.

Once everything was built I just needed to do
./index.js and then go to http://localhost:20009 after the server was running.

TillMill Terminal

Since I had finished the OSM-Bright tutorial, I had a ‘Sydney OSM-Bright’ project which opened (a little slowly as it has to download some extra bits), and was able to pan and zoom my way down to Sydney.

TillMill OSM-Bright

From here, it was a simple case of selected the export to MBTiles option, changing a few parameters and waiting about 40 minutes while TillMill did it’s thing. Conveniently it does give you an idea of filesize based on your selections, so you can avoid accidentally tasking the creation of millions tiles and a multi-day export process.

Displaying the Results

At this point, I was expecting to have to set up a tileserver, and had already installed Tilestache to facilitate it. At that point, I found a comment that later versions of QGIS supported MBTiles directly, so fired it up and tried adding them as a raster layer.

For the first run I exported the MBTiles from TillMill for zoom levels 10-16, which is good for scales up to about 1:6,200 (since the tiles are images they get a little blurred at larger scales. I might try exporting down to zoom level 17, but that will result in a file 4x larger (as each zoom level creates four tiles for each tile above it). Render speed is fantastic though: far, far better than using vector layers for the basemap.

MBtiles in QGIS

You can see one further advantage of using OSM data here – the spiral shape of the Albert “Tibby” Cotter bridge over Anzac Parade is visible, and it was only finished a month or two ago.

  1. I’m guessing I’d have to use ogr2ogr first to clip, and then use osm2pgsql

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mapping cycling infrastructure

Posted by: Ian on 10 April 2015

I’ve seen a few ‘abstract’ cycle maps in the last few days, first by the Washington Post and then by TransportBlog, so I thought I would have a go at making one for Sydney. On the left is the road network for Sydney, while on the right is the bicycle infrastructure (I.e. segregated lanes, tracks or share paths).


[click for full version]

A few caveats:
  1. The maps are based on Open Street Map so the quality of the map is only as good as that of the underlying data. From my knowledge of Sydney, the bike infrastructure looks about right; although I know that Botany Sea Wall doesn’t have a bike lane and that Hopetoun Avenue and Malabar Road do (at least in parts). Ideally I would like to find a dataset of all Sydney bike infrastructure, but have not managed to yet, so have to work with what is available.
  2. I have not shown roads only identified as being part of the ‘Local Cycling Network’ as these are often just quiet streets.
  3. I’ve focused on the CBD and Eastern Suburbs as its ‘my area’; to cover all of Sydney brings its own issues of being able to render something aesthetically acceptable and still useful.

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now you see me

Posted by: Ian on 10 April 2015

now you see me

via Instagram

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spring classics

Posted by: Ian on 5 April 2015

spring classics

via Instagram

Its the 99th running of the Ronde van Vlaanderen today, so it seems like a perfect excuse to hit up the local fromagerie for some fancy cheeses. (L-R Pecorino Affienato, Brillat Savarin aux Truffle and Blu 61).

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Posted by: Ian on 25 March 2015


via Instagram

Pre-run fuelling.

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Posted by: Ian on 10 February 2015


via Instagram

I’ve been a fan of Huck Gee ever since finding some of his designs on my trip to San Francisco a couple of years ago. Since I neither have the space nor the funds to get everything, I settled for a book of his artwork instead. For now.

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mr crackles

Posted by: Ian on 7 February 2015

mr crackles

via Instagram

Since it’s just down the road, I thought I would give it a go today. Next time I’m going for the double-meat half-salad ‘manwich’.

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