Mark’s Blog

  • Open Data GB postcode unit boundaries

    Open Data GB postcode unit boundaries

    Summary In October 2020 there was big news for postcode geography geeks like me: the ONS added a postcode column to their NSUL dataset, which gave us for the first time a coordinate and postcode for each property in Great Britain as open data. I’d previously tried to generate polygons for the boundary of each […]

  • Some enjoyable things from 2017

    Some enjoyable things from 2017

    2017 was a pretty crap year in lots of ways; I tried to write quite a broad review of what went well and badly from my point of view in order to take stock, but that very rapidly sprawled, so I’ve cut that draft down to this post, which is about mostly about cultural things […]

  • Two weeks off

    Two weeks off

    I’m just coming to the end of two weeks off work – not for travelling anywhere, but just time spent mostly at home trying to relax and think about what I’m doing a bit more calmly. This year has been a pretty stressful one at work, with me (unusually) having to work long days and […]

  • Why should you learn SPARQL? Wikidata!

    Why learn SPARQL now? I think that SPARQL has something of a bad reputation in the open data community – my impression is that that came about because when organisations published data by making a SPARQL endpoint accessible, people had problems like: Many SPARQL endpoints not working reliably Writing queries that joined data between different […]

  • Great British Bake-Off Visualizations

    Great British Bake-Off Visualizations

    For the last couple of years of The Great British Bake Off, I’ve been playing Fantasy Bake Off with colleagues and friends. It’s a fun and silly thing to do: each week you pick who you think will be star baker, who’ll come top of the technical challenge, and so on. The problem with this […]

  • Dealing with awkward subtitle problems in Handbrake

    I know very little about Handbrake; this is just some notes on what I personally do to reduce my confusion about why subtitles aren’t being ripped properly and manually fixing that, but I almost certainly can’t answer any questions about issues you might be having! This is just here in the hope that it might […]

  • Approximate UK postcode boundaries from the Voronoi diagram of ONSPD

    Approximate UK postcode boundaries from the Voronoi diagram of ONSPD

    This work has been superceded by a new dataset of postcode boundaries I’ve since made – this post is here largely for historical interest as a result, but the data may still be useful because it includes some (very approximate) postcode polygons for Northern Ireland, which I didn’t have data for in the new approach. […]

  • When does Columbo first appear in each episode?

    When does Columbo first appear in each episode?

    I made the graph below for a short talk I gave about the TV series “Columbo”, which I think is a marvellous programme. The point was to depict the typical structure of the show for people who didn’t know it: the substantial blue section of each bar (before Columbo first appears) usually just consists of […]

  • Books (2014 to 2016 ish)

    Books (2014 to 2016 ish)

    Someone (rather surprisingly!) mentioned they’d enjoyed my last post about books I’d been reading, and would be interested in another one, hence this post. Lots of these were recommendations from people I know, which I always hugely appreciate, but I haven’t attempted to note who recommended what below, partly since I’m not sure people would […]

  • Christmas Gift Ideas

    Christmas Gift Ideas

    Holiday gift guides seem to be almost exclusively terrible, particularly those aimed at “geeks”, whatever people think that means. In particular these lists are often split by gender, presumably because they’re written by (or pandering to) idiots. And they’re typically full of novelties or cute ideas that in practice will just occupy valuable space and […]