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Activities related to the OpenStreetMap project

4ª Rodada Nacional Tri-Estatal México-Pachuca

Submitted by gwolf on Mon, 11/10/2008 - 12:48
4ª Rodada Nacional Tri-Estatal México-Pachuca

Yesterday I took part of the fourth inter-state bike ride, requesting the construction of proper and safe cycling ways. Tens of Mexican bike-rider organizations were part of the organization, althought the effort is basically grouped under the Ciclopistas y Ciclovías Interestatales project - For further details on the route we took, you can look at the México-Pachuca road map, although it was not followed literally.
I am very happy I decided to take part of this - I went with Adrián, but after the first rest/grouping we lost track of each other, and decided the best would be for each to go at his own pace. He managed to do the 95Km ride, I decided to stop at about 85 (I set my target to the first houses of Pachuca, so I could say I arrived ;-) ) and took a ride from the barredoras that were trailing us. Still, 85Km in about six hours (including the two rests) are well over what I expected to endure. And although the conditions were not ideal (i.e. there was some re-pavement jobs in a large portion between Tizayuca and Pachuca, which led to poor road conditions in some areas, and the dry, horrid smell of tar in others; we cycled along the vehicles in the very busy highway, so we didn't exactly get a dose of clean air), it was great. And I thought each of my muscles would hurt like hell today, but no, they are just feeling lazy ;-)
The GPS tracking on Nokia SportsTracker, The GPS tracking on OpenStreetMap

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Free Software and the Democratic Construction of the Society

Submitted by gwolf on Fri, 10/24/2008 - 23:52

Last Wednesday I went for the first time in many years to FES Iztacala, the UNAM faculty where I worked for four years (1999-2003) and where I have most learnt and advanced in my career so far. I have a very special spot in my heart for Iztacala :-)
But it was not just a nostalgy drive - In no small part, I had not visited Iztacala -despite several invitations- because... It is really far away, in Tlalnepantla, Northern Mexico City (while I live in the South, just by UNAM). It takes me approximately 1.5 hours to get there via public transportation, and I would not venture less than 1 hour travel time by car. So... Having nothing to lose, I decided to go by bike - you can look at my route to get there (OpenStreetMap, SportsTracker) and safely back home (OpenStreetMap, SportsTracker). Some people I have talked with think it was a crazy thing to do - No, I don't feel that, by a long shot. A 26Km ride in slightly under two hours, and back. People insist on thinking that biking in such a large and chaotic city as Mexico is unsafe, dangerous, suicidal... I deeply disagree. Cycling is fun and got me to my destination in almost the same time I would have made by bus. And no, I would not buy four liters of gasoline just to cross my city.
Anyway, I am also happy about the reason that actually got me to go to Iztacala - I submitted a talk+paper I prepared together with Alejandro Miranda to Congreso Internacional Software Libre y Democratización del Conocimiento organized by Universidad Politécnica Salesiana in Quito, Ecuador. This conference is quite different to those I am used to, as it is quite more formal and academic; it is mainly targetted at social scientists working on understanding our movement. We prepared a talk called Software Libre y la Construcción Democrática de la Sociedad - which was accepted, to my amazement.
Neither Alejandro nor I were unable to travel to Ecuador to give the talk, so we arranged to present it via a videoconference call - Which was based on Iztacala. A nice session, although quite different to what I am used to. Our presentation was on a panel setting, under the global Ethical and political dimensions in the Free Software culture, with 20 minutes to present the topic (I am used to preparing one- or two-hour talks), and it was frankly rushed... We "met" with some friends (or were able at least to greet them shortly after the talk) who attended live to the conference, and... Well, all in all, it was one of those good, interesting experiences I would surely repeat. And besides, I have several things pending to show off about my current work to my Iztacalan fellows ;-)

FISOL, Tapachula / OpenStreetMap

Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 09/24/2008 - 12:49

I was invited to participate at Festival Internacional de Software Libre (FISOL), in Tapchula, Chiapas. The other invited speakers were Sandino Flores (tigrux), Alexandro Colorado (jza), Eric Herrera (crac), John Hall (maddog) and Fernando Romo (pop), all well-known due to very different contributions to the Free Software movement in Mexico and abroad. Several other people also presented tutorials, but I was not involved in that part, and mentioning one while not the rest would be unfair.
The conference was quite massive - Tapachula is a medium-sized city (~200,000 people) in Mexico's Southernmost point - Sadly, due to its geographical location, it is mainly famous for being the region where illegal immigrants from Central America enter Mexico towards the USA, and it is a known spot for all kind of abuses, both from the authorities and from gangs of thieves.
This is the third time I come to this conference. The first two years (2005, 2006) it was organized by the local CUCS university and it was reasonably large, but this year it counted also with many other universities in the region. Attendance was... HUGE. We were told around 1600 students were registered to participate, and I expect at least 1000 to have actually been there. Very amazing and encouraging!
It is, by far, a base-level conference - Most attendees had had no previous contact with Free Software at all, or had at most toyed around with a distro for some hours. Some people, of course, _are_ already working and involved, on various different degrees. All in all, quite encouraging.
But not only I had fun (and got extremely tired!) at the conference, or at the beer sessions afterwards. I also got to push some more publicity (and work, of course!) towards my new favorite pet project: OpenStreetMap.
As many other Debianers, I joined the fever last August, during Debconf. So far, I have been quite busy tracing and mapping; I am quite fortunate to get the OSM addiction while living on the edge of the well-mapped area of Mexico City. So far, I have mostly worked on the Ciudad Universitaria and Coyoacán areas, where some sensible improvement can be felt. Lots yet to do, for sure, but I'm making progress.
Still, mapping Coyoacán sometimes feels a bit futile. Why? Because all of my cycling/tracing/mapping sessions look almost like a little blip on the overall state of my city, which is way better than what I expected - Most of the central city is done (although lots of work is still pending on the very large outskirts - but getting there can be a trip just by itself!)...
But this time, I had the opportunity to do something new, something better and sensible. And, yes, it feels very good. How does the map of Tapachula look for just a weekend of mapping activity? And, yes, I only went out once (morning running) expressely to get some new traces, the rest of it was while being transported by car to the conference-related activities. And I didn't even have to say once "lets go by a different route"! ;-)
Just for comparison: Last week, Tapachula's state was quite similar to what they have today on Google Maps - Just the major highways in the area. Besides, if you look at the satellite map for Tapachula, I estimate I managed to map around between a fifth and a tenth of the city's surface.
So, have you got a GPS? Do you enjoy going out on the street, be it walking, running, cycling on driving? Or even if you don't enjoy it, are you sometimes forced into it? Start contributing to OpenStreetMap now!

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