...so take it easy.
My name is Michal Migurski. I play the role of CTO for Code for America, a Bay Area non-profit organization helping make government digital services beautiful, simple, and easy to use. Until December 2012, I was technology head at Stamen, a San Francisco design and development studio focused on data visualization and map-making. Below, you will find my weblog, tecznotes, and a collection of smaller and older things I've worked on.
Background photo by Fred.
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Two weeks ago I was in New York for State Of The Map 2015, the annual OpenStreetMap conference.
2014’s event was in DC, and I had kind of a hard time with it. Good event, but dispiriting to come back to the community after a year away and encountering all the same arguments and buillshit as 2013 and before.
This year in New York was awesome, though. It felt as though some kind of logjam had been cleared in the collective consciousness of OpenStreetMap. Kathleen Danielson, new international board member, delivered a mic-drop talk on diversity. New York designers and urbanists were in attendance. A wider variety of companies than ever before sponsored and presented.
I was a last-minute addition to the program, invited by Brett Camper to take over moderation of his panel on vector rendering. There is video now on the website (here is a direct Youtube link for when the permalink-haters who do the site each year break all the current URLs).
We had four participnts on the panel.
Mapzen has been doing a bunch of interesting things with 3D, and when I visited the office Peter Richardson had a bunch of printed Manhattan tiles on his desk, including this one of 16/19300/24630 with Grand Central and the NYPL viewed from the north:
Konstantin Käfer from Mapbox works on the new GL rendering product, and he’s been producing a regular stream of new rendering work and data format output throughout the three years I’ve known him. Konstantin shared this gorgeous animated view of a map zooming from Boston to Melbourne, showing off dynamic text rendering and frame-by-frame adjustments:
Hannes Janetzek of OpenScienceMap produces a rendering product intended for scientific use. His work is used to support academic research, and he was unique on the panel for not having a commercial product on offer: “OpenScienceMap is a platform to enable researchers to implement their ideas, to cooperate with others, and to share their results.”
Steve Gifford of WhirlyGlobe-Maply is primarily in the consulting business, and his open source 3D globe rendering platform is used by the current number two app in the Apple app store, Dark Sky. The rendering output of Steve’s work is typically different from the other three, in that he’s mostly delivering zoomed-out views of entire regions rather than the street-level focus of OpenScienceMap, Mapzen, and Mapbox. It was telling that everyone except Steve identified text rendering and labeling as their primary difficulty in delivering vector-driven client-side renders.
Steve’s rendering pipelines commonly cover more raster rendering than the others, such as this screen from Dark Sky showing stormy weather over Ohio and Kentucky:
I produced a bunch of vector rendering work two years after I left Stamen, and I enjoyed moderating a panel on a topic I’m familiar with without having any skin in the game. It’s super exciting to see all of this happening now, and it feels a bit like OSM raster rendering in 2006/07, when Mapnik was still impossible to install but a growing group of people like Dane were nudging it forward into general accessibility. I give vector tiles and vector rendering another 1-2 years before it tips from weird research and supervised, commercial deployment into wide use and hacking.
I’ve installed an internally-geared hub on the Schwinn touring frame.
I had originally expected to get a Sturmey-Archer 5-speed, but numerous bike shops told me that they were seeing a high rate of returns on the Sturmey’s, so I picked a Shimano instead. The rear dropout spacing on the Schwinn is just 126mm while the hub is 130mm across. It needs a bit of stretching to get the wheel in.
I used the equipment and help at the fabulous SF Bike Kitchen to get this made. It needed two trips, one to put together the basics and a second shorter trip to true it all into shape. Adam’s help last year gave me the confidence to try this out, and Esther from Bike Kitchen staff helped me understand dish and tension.
I swapped in a pair of Velo Orange Montmartre handlebars to accommodate the shifter. They look a little nicer than the flipped-back bull horns I had previously, but the shifter itself is kind of a disaster.
It’s big and knobbly and really doesn’t fit anywhere useful. I placed it on the right bar-end like Sheldon Brown’s Raleigh International, but he’s got his on a drop bar while mine’s right under my wrist. I’m looking for alternatives here; most of the Shimano products for this purpose look like cheap stereo equipment. I did run into a guy on BART with an interesting stem-mounted Shimano shifter that looked to be made of milled steel, but apparently it’s a pre-release prototype by Mission Bicycle, and the only one currently on the road. They sounded surprised when I called to ask them about.
The internal hub is a dream, and overall the bike continues to take shape slowly.
Update: Trying this variant with a bar-end extension:
- made its way to iTunes in 2014,
- and got listened to a lot.
10. Voyou: Houseman
Gem pointed me to DJ Jeb Edwards’ Beat Bash mixes early in the year, each a themed collection of late 80’s and early 90’s dance music. Some industrial, some hip-house, some techno. Voyou’s Houseman was included on March 6th in a selection of Cold War tracks.
9. Pet Shop Boys: Bolshy
We saw Pet Shop Boys perform in Oakland in the spring, a fantastic show. I hadn’t realized they were touring in support of a new album. Fluorescent is another good track on that album.
8. Gidge: You
Neb proudly called out Gidge as a new addition to the slooowly-changing music rotation in his convertible.
7. Aphrodite’s Child: The Four Horsemen
I was curious to learn more about Vangelis, composer of the 1982 Blade Runner soundtrack. Aphrodite’s Child was his Greek progressive rock band formed in 1967, with Demis Roussos, Loukas Sideras, Anargyros Koulouris, and Vangelis Papathanassiou on keyboards. I found this song sticky, and was briefly scared that I like new age music. I had a song called Four Horsemen last year too, a popular theme.
6. µ-Ziq: Roy Castle
From the altogether-excellent Trance Europe Express vol. 3 compilation, which also introduced me to Biosphere and other key trance and ambient artists in college.
5. The Melvins: A History Of Bad Men
True Detective featured music selected by T Bone Burnett, and there’s a chunk of music here that I pulled together from track listings for the series. A History Of Bad Men can be heard in the background of the bar scene where Rust goes to meet Ginger.
4. Grinderman: Honey Bee (Let’s Fly To Mars)
More from True Detective. Honey Bee comes in right at the end of the infamous six-minute tracking shot.
3. Bosnian Rainbows: Eli
I played this one when Burrito Justice had me on his show in November. Haunting.
2. SIL: Windows (Original Mix)
Basically perfect 1991 Amsterdam prog-house.
1. Junior Vasquez: Live at Sound Factory 1993
A complete mix of New York disco and house.
The 2015 Code for America fellows show up next week from all over. In 2013, CfA published the book Beyond Transparency. I heard from last year’s class that many had read it cover-to-cover before starting. So, we gathered-I-mean-curated a pile of essays and blog posts on design, culture, and code, assembled them into a 400 page reader, and shipped one to each of our 24 incoming fellows.
We included gems like Leisa Reichelt’s Help Joy Help You, Dan Milstein’s Coding, Fast and Slow, the GDS banned words list, timeless design classic Deep Inside Taco Bell’s Doritos Locos Taco, and dozens of other bits of propaganda that we thought might come in handy this year.
We assembled the materials via Github and delivered scrubbed HTML files. Interior design was handled by Noel Callego via oDesk, and I made the cover. Lulu.com did the printing; overall turnaround was a little over three weeks for design, printing, and shipping.
Here are some photos by Frances:
Between the yellow cargo bike and the green commuter bike, I have a mid-90s Trek that I use for errands around town. It’s not very interesting, so it’s time to replace it with a new project like the others.
Earlier in the fall, I picked up this 1985 Schwinn Tour De Luxe frame:
Here it is in its original glory, minus the Surly fork and Box Dog sticker. I’m borrowing a page from the religious fervor for agile/lean development process at work and building this one up starting with the pile of bike parts I already have in the garage.
I had to pick up the stem, front wheel, brake levers, and backwards-mounted bullhorn handlebars. Everything else is from other bike projects. I’ve started riding it a bit this week, and I’m really happy with the stiff frame and upright riding position. I did find one problem with the rear brake bosses: one of them is slightly loose, so I’m using a caliper brake instead of a cantilever until I can get a welder to help.
The back wheel is clearly about to fall apart. I want to replace it with an internally-geared hub, probably one of the Sturmey-Archer 5-speeds that can fit in the 126mm of rear spacing.
Modest Maps is a BSD-licensed display and interaction library for tile-based maps in Adobe Flash 7+, written in ActionScript. This is an active project I'm working on with Darren, Shawn, and Tom.
Mappr is a geographic browser of Flickr's photo collection. I wrote a large portion of this application with Tomas and Eric, notably the place-name matching and geolocation bits, and pretty much the entire back-end.
Jitter and 3D Geometry
Updated experiments in 3D geometry handling using OpenGL and PHP.
Photos taken from the roof of the SOMA-SF warehouse space I lived in, summer of 2002.
Collages of freeway satellite imagery to satisfy a fetish for complex interchanges.
Quickdraw and basic 3D
Rough experiments in 3D rendering basics and matrix math.
moveon: fahrenheit 9/11 national town meeting / part of a nationally-broadcast conversation between Michael Moore and MoveonPAC directors.
stamen google news visualizer / data visualisation experiment intended to give a high-level view of who's making news at the moment, and who made the news at specified times in the past.
bmw design priorities / rich internet application development in collaboration with DesignworksUSA Advanced Communications Group
moveon: bush uncovered / map of moveon.org's bush uncovered event series
naral/pro-choice america / map of the march for women's lives
sflnc / web dev political activism on behalf of the san francisco late night community
bipole / audio-video synchronicity courtesy of me & andy w.
video riot / “an edgy electronic tailgate party and a real-time drive-in multiplex”
viberation / event production, multimedia installations, dancing all night
Map Projection / a collection of classes used to project GPS data points onto maps, implemented in PHP 4
OSC hub / PHP-based client and server for Open Sound Control, optimized for use with Max/MSP implementation.
flash component of the H&K global website, a database-driven worldwide office map
coho / content management display component, for Apache/PHP/MySQL
sordid / command-line mp3 sorting utility for mac OS X, unix