Open maps are better maps

After a year full of new experiences outside my home country (Colombia), I learned that differences of thought, behavior, languages, communication, routines are everywhere. But what I found more relevant is that everyone is unique in their approach to a given task, but there are contextual factors that (un)consciously bias this approach.

In the field I try to focus -FYI: Location-Based Services-, I was exposed to a bit of the world in which people with similar goals develop -nevertheless, biased by an European context-. The experience was rich in many aspects; it was great, good, errrh and even really bad at some points! However, there is a conviction that is being born in me and it started since the very beginning after I left: When dealing with Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) is the way to go.

[ And this comes from the person who’s thesis is about location privacy. Go figure! ]

In Colombia we use and depend a lot on Google-everything (earth, maps, calendars, docs, etc). And there is nothing wrong with the whole google suite. But there is, however with maps. It is no secret now that every serious data representation includes a geographical context -it’s only natural, we have to be somewhere all the time!-. Depending on google’s arbitrary way of mapping our cities with the details it considers enough is just wrong. And even worst, since their street imagery is impressive -and invasive!-, we take for granted that their details of our city maps are good, but they are so not even remotely close to that. The world, countries, cities and villages change constantly and we should not take for granted that google will keep track of these changes as properly as the actual citizens.

I’ve seen decision making based on these poorly mapped areas, decisions that take place in a matter of seconds, where considerable amount of money is directed towards a good purpose, but with not enough information to be based on; and that makes me think that a lot of good intentions in the right minds might lead to terrible losses if they’re not backed up with reliable information – maps.

So the problem is evident, however the solution is still blurry. I mentioned my conviction about openness and what follows is my biassed approach -but not necessarily wrong-.

OpenStreetMaps (OSM) is a well known alternative to google maps, where it differs is in the way that anyone can alter anything on it. I know it sounds like a bad idea, but it is also the best we have. With the right people mapping for the right purposes, OpenStreetMaps has become a great source of accurate information in many countries where google’s arbitrary updating is left behind. The fact that you can keep local copies of different states of the map makes it sustainable and trustworthy.

There are many communities dedicated to mapping the world on OSM through YouthMappers chapters, one of them is PoliMappers. It was just recently conformed and is directed by a great team (my team, ha!), with considerable experience and contributions yet to be seen. You can join any mapathon and help to build a more realistic virtual map of the world that you can own.

Erik Satie – Gymnopédie No. 1

Materializing magnificent ideals & absolute lack of plans

[ Sometimes all it takes is a deadline and a theoretical lemon pie. ]

This comes from younger days when a *theoretical lemon pie* -because I wouldn’t know if I would find it at the local shop- reward would push me to meet the goal. The lemon pie can be whatever works for you; some might think of chocolate, wine, single malt scotch, spritz campari, a nap, a jog, a netflix marathon… Well, you get it. The point is to push yourself to do whatever you are procrastinating away from and actually do it, and do it right. The satisfaction of actually doing it properly will let you enjoy your reward guilt free.

Having actually something to accomplish is also a key point, sometimes we set our goal too broad, making it seem impossible to achieve and therefore leading to procrastination until we figure out how to start, so: Make lists. Create a goal and divide into small tasks that seem affordable, then each time an item in the list gets done, it feels so good to cross it off -and I mean the old style manner, with a pen and post-its kind of thing-.

Perseverance

PS: This post was written assuming you actually agree with the task at hand and that it’s something you feel committed to. Otherwise, it’s just a waste of time for you and everyone else involved.

The White Stripes – Little Accorns

Be like the squirrel!

Día 34

Cada uno es responsable del mundo en que quiere vivir

y decide cómo vivirlo, con milagro o con pesadilla, lúcido o dormido,

como un ser de negatividad o como un ser de reluciente magia.

Claro que la pesadilla es más fácil, puesto que ésta nunca nos parece una creación nuestra y no nos sentimos responsables.

-Cristóbal Jodorowsky

A battle of wolves

Ours is a world that two wolves try to devour — the first is the wolf of skeptical science and religious fundamentalism (they are the same one). The second is the wolf of our cosmic connection, synchronicity, astral realms, and manifestation by intention. The wolf that dominates our life is the wolf we feed. I needed to feed the right wolf. I needed to lay it on the line from here on in.

Mark Ireland – Soul Shift

So May… How is it that you meditate? Kriya what?

People often ask me about yoga and meditation and how could they practice and what is it exactly that I do… It actually takes me some trouble to put it into words coherently, which is why I’m going to lay some information about it here and hopefully do a better job clearing that.

I practice two kinds of Yoga regularly; these are Kriya Yoga and Sivananda Yoga which is similar to Hatha Yoga, it involves exercises like asanas, pranayamas, flexibility enhancement and it is mainly physical/body control through mastery of breath. This is a bit similar to any Hatha Yoga class offered in many places, but goes deeper. To put it in a phrase it is:

Adapt, Adjust, Accommodate.
— Swami Sivananda.

A lot tougher than it sounds.

As I mentioned, I also practice Kriya Yoga, some might have seen these nectar drops I sometimes post. They’re my daily dosage of Kriya wisdom on my email. Kriya is how I meditate, its focus is the mind, thoughts and self-knowledge. This, off course requires commitment and discipline, but anyone willing to try is more than welcome.

Swami Atmavidyananda

Swami Atmavidyananda & Suresh Baba. Cali, Colombia.

To start practicing Kriya you need to be initiated by a qualified Yoga Acharya in the Kriya Lineage, so yes, this means you have to look for an initiation event which are offered usually once per year in Colombia, Brazil, USA, India and in some European countries, for more info check the Kriya Yoga Official Site and/or this video below of Paramahamsa Prajnananandaji 🙂 <3

It also helps if you read the popular “Autobiography of a Yogi” by Paramahamsa Yogananda!

Authobiography of a Yogi

Ravi Shankar – Chants of India

Por un mundo con menos bitch faces y más servicio

Y no me refiero a la “solidaridad de género” -que tanto nos falta- siquiera. Sino a la total falta de empatía como humanos, a las miradas frívolas y hasta el regocijo que muchas mujeres -si, en específico mujeres- sienten al hacerle la vida un poco más difícil a otras.

if girls always treated each other like we do when we're drunk

Si, yo nunca fui la más popular, ni la más extrovertida, ni amigable. Pero cuando se trata de servir a alguien lo hago siempre de la mejor forma o no lo hago y punto. En casos más mandatorios, digamos laborales,  la cosa está fuera de cuestionamiento y simplemente lo hago lo mejor que puedo. Si existe un protocolo lo sigo, si puedo ayudar de más lo hago, sin importar que el necesitado sea hombre o mujer y sin pensar en la recompensa directa que yo pueda tener por ello. Es un instinto, una filosofía tal vez, que aprendí desde siempre de las personas que admiro. Sin embargo, parece que fui la única.

La creciente política de hacerse la bitch a la hora de atender mujer a mujer, con la máxima inutilidad posible en trabajos donde el servicio lo es todo, o al menos gran parte, parece ser una tendencia a la que toca adaptarse. No entiendo ni me alcanzo a explicar de donde se alimentan semejantes comportamientos, ¿envidia? ¿aburrimiento? ¿sentimientos de inferioridad? ¿hormonas?. No sé. El caso, es que es ridículo y si nos perjudica mucho: A todas.

Bitch please

La escena cambia totalmente cuando se tratan de géneros opuestos, la posibilidad remotísima y hasta inconsciente de alguna atracción física o emocional por alguna de las partes, quizá pueda explicarlo, pero nunca justificarlo. El servicio, por motivos laborales o no, debe prestarse de buenas maneras, de lo contrario se está ofreciendo un impedimento, poniendo obstáculos, perdiendo tiempo, recursos y hasta energía.

A todas -y todos-:
A la siguiente oportunidad que tengan de servir a alguien, háganlo por el hecho de hacerlo y nada más. El resultado será mucho mas gratificante y se ahorrarán insultos y bitch-faces. Porque sí, estamos hechos de esa manera -la compasión y empatía no es un invento del papa o de los budistas-, inténtenlo.

“Lo que das te lo das,
lo que no das, te lo quitas.”
-Alejandro Jodorowsky

Devendra Banhart – Now That I Know

Don’t make the cut

As someone who had a grasp at the serious implications, not only physical but psychological that this tiny cut may cause in a human male person. I feel committed to at least spread a little awareness on this subject that by no means should be treated lightly. Circumcision is a major surgery with lethal risks, it should not be performed for aesthetics, religious or social reasons.

The video below is funny yet shows the important minimal facts anyone should know about circumcision, male or female. Since at the end of the day, mothers also make the decision for the newly born.

For more serious information on intactivism (the movement to promote genital integrity) see the circumstition website and google around!

Mikky Ekko – Smile

Bose Soundlink Mini

Bose Soundlink Mini

So this is one of millions of reviews for this speaker, I am no speaker genius by any chance, but for readers who might be considering getting it I hope it helps.

I put Dave next to it so you can get a perspective on the size of it, it really is mini yet a very powerful classic looking speaker, which is more like a piece of heavenly experience for listening to your tunes. It is perfect to use in a medium-sized room, I use it daily with my MacBook Pro and Spotify Premium -this really is a grrrreaat combo-, the quality of the sound being reproduced obviously impacts the performance of the speaker, so Spotify allows me to play at high quality streaming (320 kbps) and use my cellphone as a remote control for the music playing on the computer; this comes really useful for me since I’m lazy. I love everything wireless (DLNA, Bluetooth, NFC, WiFI…), which is one of the main reasons I got this, I haven’t had to plug it in to anything other than for charging –yeih!-. It can be used on outdoors, for relaxing at the beach, pool, balconies and of course works directly from the cellphone or any other Bluetooth capable device…  The sound is more than decent but don’t expect to pull off a pool party alone with it.

Pros

  • Compact and portable.
  • Stylish and classic looking.
  • Powerful.
  • Really easy to use.
  • Performs well at low and high volumes.
  • Bose quality sound (no need to say much on this).
  • Car charging accessories available (not included).
  • Carrying cases available (also not included)

Cons

  • The battery could last longer, but I’m not complaining, this depends however on the volume and usage.
  • Bluetooth range is a bit limited -but easily fixed with remote Spotify service!-
  • 200 $USD

Advice: If the cons are not a problem for you: Get it! I love mine and would definitely recommend it.

I chose Bohemian Rhapsody for this post since it is the #1 song for testing speakers for the complexity of sounds this rock opera mixes. Gotta love Queen!

Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody