Jonathan Crowe

My Correct Views on Everything

Mapcodes

The New Yorker’s Elements blog has a piece about mapcodes. These are short alphanumeric codes assigned to every location on the planet, with short codes reserved for areas of high population density. It’s meant to be a substitute for latitude and longitude, and aimed at parts of the world where there are no formal addresses (which makes directions somewhat interesting): give someone a mapcode, and you’re giving them a very precise location.

The Peace Tower in Ottawa, for example, has an Ontario mapcode of 09W.YK (mapcodes exist within country and state/provincial contexts).

The main problem, as I see it, is that while the Mapcode Foundation is trying to make mapcodes a standard, it still relies on data tables to produce the code, which is to say that there’s some computational overhead. Whereas something like Universal Transverse Mercator coordinates can be derived from topo maps (which have UTM grids on them).

The Best Map of Pluto Ever (Until Some Time Later This Month)

New Horizons Map of Pluto

The New Horizons spacecraft’s rendezvous with Pluto is next week, folks, but we’re already getting better views of our favourite dwarf planet than we’ve ever had before. NASA has assembled images taken between June 27 and July 3 into the above map, which despite its relatively low resolution shows some intriguing surface features: the so-called “whale” and “donut.” (Of course, low resolution is relative: this is already much better than the Hubble-based maps of Pluto released in 2005 and 2010.) Image credit: NASA-JHUAPL-SWRI.

Robert Lazzaretti, Fantasy Mapmaker

Lou Anders interviews fantasy mapmaker Robert Lazzaretti, who drew the maps for Anders’s Thrones and Bones series (Frostborn, Nightborn). I can never get enough information about the process of making fantasy maps.

Previously: Mapping An Ember in the Ashes; How to Make a Fantasy Map.

Ecdysis Voter’s Packet

Ecdysis is, you may remember, a nominee for this year’s Aurora Award for Best Fan Publication. It’s available for free online, so its inclusion in the formal voter’s packet isn’t really necessary. But since making all the eligible issues available in a single download might make things more convenient for Aurora voters, I’ve put together my own little voter’s packet: a ZIP file containing the three issues published in 2014 (28.9 MB). I hope you find it helpful.

Best Saga Proposal Revised

So the proposal for a Best Saga Hugo Award (see previous entry) has since been revised: they’ve abandoned getting rid of Best Novelette, which was needlessly zero-sum, and have lowered the minimum word count. The proposal now says 300,000 words; the draft posted to File 770 at more or less the same time says 240,000. A series cannot win more than once, but it can certainly be nominated multiple times (so long as two new installments requalifies it) until it wins — I think of this as the “my favourite series better damn well win this time” provision.

I’m still not a fan: it’s going to be a popularity contest for very popular (if not always good) ongoing series. And any minimum word count is going to be exclusionary. A 240,000-word lower limit would have rendered ineligible the original Foundation trilogy — which won a one-off “Best All-Time Series” Hugo in 1966.

And as far as I can tell the amendment would still allow series to appear on the Best Novel ballot when the final installment is published, like The World of Time did last year.

Brandon Kempner tries to model what the Best Saga Hugo ballot would have looked like if it had existed: part one, part two, an imagined winner’s list.

My Readercon 26 Schedule

For the third year running I’ll be a program participant at Readercon 26, which this year takes place from July 9 to 12 at the Marriott in Burlington, Massachusetts. We’ve just been given the go-ahead to share our panel schedules, so I can now tell you where you’ll be able to see me shoot my mouth off:

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Some Initial Thoughts on a Couple of Hugo Award Amendments

Herewith some initial thoughts on a couple of proposed amendments to the World Science Fiction Society’s constitution that will be discussed at the WSFS business meeting at Sasquan. These amendments propose changing the rules governing the Hugo Awards.

Warning: Hugo Award rules neepery ahead.

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iMac Hard Drive Replacement Program

Apple has announced a hard drive replacement program for some 27-inch iMacs with three-terabyte hard drives that were sold between December 2012 and September 2013. I entered my serial number at the link and it turns out that my iMac, which has a three-terabyte Fusion Drive, is included in the program. So at some point in the near future I’ll have to have its hard drive swapped out. (I wonder if my iMac’s periodic Weird Internal Noises can be attributed to this. Will find out soon enough.) More at AppleInsider, TidBITS and The Verge.

The Changing Definition of ‘Slow’

Our car, the Subaru XV Crosstrek, goes from zero to sixty in less than nine seconds with the manual transmission (Car and Driver, Motor Trend). Thirty years ago that would have been considered quite sporty, but the usual line in online discussions about the car is that it’s dog slow. Which I’ve always thought was a bit unfair. The XV is a ruggedized compact hatchback tuned for fuel economy, not a sport compact: think Corolla, not WRX. But sometimes the rhetoric is a little over the top: one YouTube commenter (I know, I know) called the XV “very dangerous to drive in the highway due to pathetic power and torque on the CVT, and pathetic power and torque in the manual, coupled with insufficient gears.”

Thirty years ago, that very same highway would have had on it cars like the Chevrolet Chevette/Pontiac T1000, a car I remember well, because it was more or less the first car I ever drove. 65 horsepower. Four-speed manual or three-speed automatic. Zero-to-sixty? With the automatic, thirty seconds.

How times have changed, if a car can be three times as quick off the line as this but still be considered so slow as to be “very dangerous.” Those of us who learned to drive in the eighties have to laugh.

The Pharmacy War Ends

Pharmacie R. Filion

For much of the last year, Shawville has had two pharmacies instead of just one, but now we’re down to just one again.

From what I understand, here’s what happened. After the death of pharmacist Richard Filion in an auto accident a year ago, his pharmacy, the Proxim-affiliated Filion & Laflamme, was put up for sale. Ahmad Hassan, who’d been working at the pharmacy for the past few years, offered to buy it, but the estate refused his offer and sold it to three other pharmacists. (As I understand it, pharmacies must be owned by a pharmacist.) Hassan then opened his own pharmacy down the street under the Uniprix banner, taking a number of the Filion staff and clientele with him (Hassan is well-liked in this community). A lawsuit followed, alleging that Hassan had interfered with the sale of the Filion pharmacy. That lawsuit, as well as the two-pharmacy situation, ended at the end of May, with Hassan buying out and closing the Filion pharmacy. The Filion building is now vacant; Hassan’s pharmacy is now expanding to the rest of its building.

Filion closure noticePharmacie A. Hassan

Older Entries

RIP Yahoo Maps
Palladium in the Pontiac
Nikon 810A Reviewed
Conservation Through Identification
The Short Fiction of Peter Watts
Mapping the California Sea Floor
Mapping An Ember in the Ashes
Google Apologizes for Offensive Map Search Results
John Lanzendorf’s Paleoart
Aurora Award Nomination
The Martian
Clichéa
Google Map Maker Program Suspended
Approaching Ceres
Historical Highway Maps of Manitoba
The Great Snake Weigh-in of 2015
Review: My Real Children
Taxonomic Changes to Crayfish, Swamp and Earth Snakes
‘1491’ Is Becoming a TV Series
Google Maps Edits Cause Embarrassment