Left in Aberdeen

The week started on a bad note. I was due to attend a training session in Edinburgh. Having got up specially early on Monday, and taken a taxi to Aberdeen railway station, I found that the 07.11 train to Edinburgh was cancelled. The station staff were really clear: the reason was that there were no drivers trained in the recently-introduced recycled 1970s HSTs who could drive on the Dundee – Edinburgh leg of the journey. A tweet to @Scotrail elicited a different response: it was cancelled because of a late running train ahead But when I challenged that they went quiet. The next Aberdeen – Edinburgh train would have got in too late, so I missed the training session.

Data Fest 19

With the imminent start of Data Fest 2019, much of the week was spent preparing for that: sorting our logistics, delivery of marketing materials, prepping slides for the events that I will speak at, and promoting the eight Aberdeen Fringe event sessions on Social Media.

Air Quality

The roll out of our network of Air Quality Devices continued this week. By the weekend we had 18 devices now live, with six to come online from previous builds, and a further 7 were built at a Saturday workshop led by 57 North Hacklab.

That will take us to over thirty soon – well on our way to our target of fifty by June. Meantime I’ve been working with Gavin Barnett on some of the device monitoring and alerts (including gathering live weather data).

Walkabout gathering data

On Saturday we had the first Data Fest event in Aberdeen. This was led by the team from Mapping: Apping who include NHS Grampian and Aberdeen University. They have created bespoke walks around the city, promoting walking, and capturing photographs, sounds, oral histories.

Shadow of chimney stack on a gable end
Shadow of chimney stack on a gable end

We walked a new route – using the top decks of public carparks as vantage point from which to observe and listen to the city. This was strongly reminiscent of the Joy Diversion outing that we engaged in at Open Data Camp – led by OD Manchester. It also raised the issue of how content is stored, licensed and retrieved. I’ve suggested that the organisers attend the WikiData WikiCommons workshop on 19 March to investigate the use of these platforms, and encourage wide sharing and a broader availability of content for the app.


I completed Keep The Aspidistra Flying by Orwell. Its is very good piece of writing, examining themes of poverty, marketing, capitalism and what it means to be successful.  The central character, Gordon Comstock is very difficult to like: engineering his own problems and very much the author of his own misadventures!

However, I’ve been inspired to read two more of Orwell’s novels, starting with Coming Up for Air.

Weeknotes – 2019 – Wk10
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