Matching Notes

Projects, mixes & posts by James Croft

12 February 2014

Integrating Ember into existing sites

I gave a talk last night at the Ember London about integrating Ember into existing sites.

I talked about using Ember to enhance existing sites, sites which don’t make sense to be written as JavaScript only web apps.

In particular, I walked through how I use Ember on Endless Rotation and explained the reasoning behind some of the tech decisions.

The decisions lead to the creation of a hybrid site where the server rendered HTML is enhanced using Ember and pjax is used to make the Ember components long lived.

The talks were recorded, so I’ll link to the video when it goes online. In the meantime, here are the slides.

26 November 2013

Introducing Mapstatic

I’ve just published a Ruby Gem and command line tool for generating static maps, Mapstatic.

Mapstatic can generate map images of any size, from any tile provider.

For example, a map of the UK at zoom level 6 using the OpenStreetMap tileset, is generated like so:

mapstatic map uk.png \
  --zoom=5 \
  --bbox=-11.29,49.78,2.45,58.78 \

This produces a file, uk.png, which looks like this:


In this example, I used a bounding box to specify the exact region to map. (This is a good tool if you need to work out the bounding box).

When generating maps from a bounding box, the width and height of the resulting image will be determined by the zoom level. With each increase of zoom level, the dimensions of the image will double.

If you need more control over the dimensions of the image, you can specify the dimensions and center the map on a particular location:

mapstatic map park.png \
  --zoom=15 \
  --lat=40.782563 \
  --lng=-73.965207 \
  --width=560 \
  --height=240 \

Central Park

I specified a different tile provider in this example with the provider flag. The map uses the Mapbox Streets tileset.

There aren’t any limits to the sizes of map that you can produce with Mapstatic, you are only limited by the zoom levels offered by the tile provider. However, I’m pretty sure generating maps like this will be against the terms of service for most commercial tile providers. You should probably check that before rendering a Google Map of the entire world.

At Minified, we use Mapstatic to generate the map images used on our Telescope Cards. We use Tilemill 2 as a tile server serving up tiles with our custom styles. Then we run Mapstatic with the provider flag pointing at Tilemill to generate the images for the cards.

Here’s a parting gif from Mapstatic - London rendered with a few different tile providers.


19 November 2013

A day in the life of a vehicle tracker

Here’s a little animation showing the movement of the vehicles on my tracking system over the course of a day.

It shows 330 vehicles zipping around the UK (and a handful in Ireland). They travelled just over 25,000 miles.

I made this using d3.js, you can see the code for it all here.

Vehicle Tracking

13 October 2013

Early Morning Mermaid

Last month I rented a big old pub in the middle of the Peak District, filled it with friends, took our soundsystem up and had a party for the weekend.

Over the course of the weekend I got to play some long sets and this mix is a section of one of those sets.

I was playing an early morning, last dance, nice tunes set as the night was drawing to a close and the sun was coming up. There was a lot of warmth, fuzziness, melodies and vocals in the mix to ease into the morning. It was a good moment, partying with friends at the end of a big night.

This is how it sounded:

Download (Right click, save as)

  1. Steve Reich & Coldcut - Music for 18 Musicians (Maceo Plex Remix)
  2. Konstantin Sibold - Madeleine
  3. Boss Axis - Challenger (Alle Farben Remix)
  4. Luciano - Rise Of Angel (Andrea Oliva Remix)
  5. Pete Gooding feat. Coni Soddemann - Gazing in Blue (Bambook Remix)
  6. Le Carousel - Carousel (Phil Kieran Mix)
  7. Andhim - Hausch
  8. Guti - Hope
  9. Monkey Safari - Hi Life (Ole Biege Remix)
  10. Pachanga Boys - Time
  11. Nick Warreni - Devil’s Elbow (Max Cooper remix)
  12. Ry Cuming, Frank Wiedemann - Howling (Ame Remix)
  13. Terranova feat. Tomas Hoffding - Question Mark (Kink Remix)
  14. Mano Le Tough - Primative People (Tale Of Us Remix)
12 October 2013

Mix Archive

I’ve had some fun digging through some old drives and finding various mixes that I’ve recorded over the years. If you fancy sharing my nostalgia you can have a listen to them over here.

It’s interesting seeing the progression of my DJing taste over the years, Hip Hop through Breaks and Electro into House & Techno.

Listening back to the mixes now, it’s clear that some mixes have held up better than others. I’m not really feeling the breakbeat anymore and some there are some dodgy electro choices in there. Basically, the period when I was first getting into electronic music is hit & miss.

This hip hop mix from 2003 is fun though, and the chilled mix is nice to listen back to. Maybe I should dig out some of that old vinyl.

18 February 2013

Changing 'blue dollars' in Argentina

Here’s a tip for anyone travelling to Argentina, bring US dollars.

The Argentinan economy is in a state at moment, inflation is at about 25% and people are worried that a crash is coming. In order to protect themselves, Argentinans are keen to change their pesos into more stable currencies such as the US dollar.

The government has put limits on the amount of dollars that can be exchanged and this has led to the emergence of an informal currency market where dollars are bought and sold. Dollars traded in this way are called “Blue Dollars” (el Dólar Blue, not Dólar Azul). The demand for US dollars is currently so strong that the blue dollar exchange rate is currenty 50% higher than the official one.

By changing GBPs into dollars before leaving the UK and then selling them when we arrived in Buenos Aires we were able to get about 50% more pesos for our money.

Here are some tips for selling blue dollars:

  • Check the current rate of the blue dollar on or Twitter.
  • Apparently, it is all about the Benjamins. $100 bills are the most sought after notes and selling these will get you a better rate.
  • There’s a Facebook page where buyers and sellers can connect. We posted on here and were contacted by a few buyers but the rates offered didn’t match what we could get elsewhere.
  • If you are in Buenos Aires, the place to go to change dollars is Calle Florida. This is where the street money changers hang around, you won’t have any trouble finding one.