Articles wanted for GeoConnexion International May/June


The May/June issue of GeoConnexion International is going to have the following themes and deadlines.  If you’re interested in submitting an article, email me so we can discuss topic and angle. You don’t have to write an article that matches more than one theme!


Surveying; GNSS; LiDAR; UAVs


Environment; Agriculture, Forestry; Fishing; Marine; Oceanology; Bathymetry; Navigation

Editor’s choice

Machine learning/AI; Automation

First draft deadline

4 March 2019

Final draft deadline

3 April 2019

Matteo Sedazzari ‘s Tales of Aggro is now available

Matteo Sedazzari ‘s Tales of Aggro is a right rollocking read – a series of short stories for which I did the proofreading last year and Irvine Welsh himself has recommended:

‘A real slice of life told in the vernacular of the streets’ – Irvine Welsh

Meet Oscar De Paul, Eddie the Casual, Dino, Quicksilver, Jamie Joe and Honest Ron, collectively known around the streets of West London as The Magnificent Six. This gang of working-class lovable rogues have claimed Shepherds Bush and White City as their playground and are not going to let anyone spoil the fun. Fashion conscious, music obsessed and shooting from the lip, these lads are legends in their minds and eager to stamp their identities on the often-indifferent streets.

Meet Rockin’ Wilf, uncle to Eddie, Teddy Boy, natural born thief and victim of 1970’s police corruption. Meet Stephanie, a wannabe pop star who is determined to knock spots off the Spice Girls, with her girl group.

Above all though, meet West London and hear the stories of ordinary people getting up to extraordinary adventures.

It’s all about a group of kids growing up in West London in the 70s and 80s, but continues through to the present day. The ‘aggro’ itself isn’t always want you think it is and the ending’s actually quite touching. Give Tales of Aggro a try!

Tales of Aggro: behind the scenes

From a personal perspective, it was a nice job to do and a change of pace – plus, being a SE London boy of the 80s, it was fun to read what the West Londoners were up to at the time, particularly around the Beeb! It’s also not often that I have to create a style guide from scratch, rather than inheriting one, so it meant I could get my Oxford Style Guide out again.

Matteo was great to work with, too, so I hope his latest book is at least as successful as his first, A Craft Cigarette – Tales of a Teenage Mod.

InDesign and hanging text

Lego Durham Cathedral

Over our Christmas holidays, we went to the very lovely Durham and the even lovelier Durham Cathedral. One of the surprising highlights of the cathedral, as well as the grave of the Venerable Bede himself, is the miniature version of the cathedral made from Lego that you can find in the gift shop at the back.

Unfortunately, there was something about the model’s explanatory text that caught my eye:

It’s that dangling “St” on the second line. Grrr.

Now, I don’t know if this was laid out in InDesign, but the scent of the Adobe Paragraph Composer does seem to linger over it. Now, one of my bugbears with that program is that it doesn’t have great ‘keep with’ controls. Yes, you can at least keep lines together and avoid widows and orphans, but you’d think Adobe’s expertise with type would mean it could offer more than Microsoft does with Word – look how many different kinds of white space there are in InDesign, for example:

InDesign’s “Insert White Space” function offers 12 different kinds of space

I do love both “Balanced Ragged Lines” and the Adobe Paragraph Composer, although given the effect soft returns has on them, I usually use “No Break” to avoid confusing them. “No Break” also avoids the similar problems caused by copying and pasting non-breaking spaces into pull quotes, headlines and other differently formatted text, within both InDesign and content management systems. Use “No Break” and when you “Paste Without Formatting”, the “No Break” is removed, and the text can wrap as appropriate for the new measure; use a non-breaking space or a soft return and nine times out of ten, you’ll then have to remove it manually in the destination.

InDesign’s useful ‘No Break’ function is only available through the Character palette, so I add a keyboard shortcut for it to make it easier to access

Avoiding runts

But these functions don’t prevent short words such as “St” and “I” from hanging at the end of lines or paragraphs from having “runts”. The latter can be fixed using GREP functions in stylesheets but that’s not exactly a simple fix nor one that the average freelance is empowered to use.

So it would be great if Adobe paid a little more attention to the “meat and two veg” aspects of text in InDesign, rather than just the flashier aspects of design-intensive text in short publications, brochures and adverts. It would save subs a huge amount of time if there were a simple way to automatically avoid that kind of unsightly text-handling, such as including it in Paragraph Composer by default or making it an option in paragraph formatting.

Until then, I’ll just have to keep an eye out for hanging text and runts, and keep “No Break” to hand.

Always consider your modifiers

Guardian headline "How to talk about sex with your children"
The Guardian subs may have been in a hurry

In any sentence, it’s always worth considering what is being modified by what. Here, I think we can all agree, it would have been better at the very least to recast that headline as: “How to talk with your children about sex”.

I’ve finally switched my site to WordPress


When I started blogging, all the way back in 2005, I made a slight technological false start and started using Mac OS X Server’s built-in blogging system. That’s what I had, so I thought it a good thing to test.

It wasn’t good.

Plus running my blog off my home computer probably wasn’t the best idea anyway, given 2005’s broadband bandwidth and speed.

I quickly decided to move to a hosted service and to use Movable Type instead. At the time, that was a much better choice, since Movable Type had many technological advantages over its competitors, including its plug-ins, security, minimal use of server resources and built-in caching. WordPress? No thanks.

Changing times

Twelve years later and my choice wasn’t looking so smart. Movable Type had fallen behind, switched between open and closed source a couple of times, and was now largely focused on the Japanese corporate market. Meanwhile, WordPress had become the de facto standard for blogging. It was time to switch.

Migrating my wife’s company’s web site took about an afternoon, it was that easy. Migrating my 10,000-post media blog was far more of an endeavour, requiring custom coding, rewriting of both Movable Type and WordPress import/export plug-ins to deal with custom field types, and considerable performance fine-tuning. I reckon it took about a month, maybe two, to get everything purring along nicely.

This blog and my own web site, however, took a little longer. That’s mainly because I didn’t have the time to do it, rather than because of any intrinsic complexities. However, I finally began the project in earnest a couple of weeks ago and yesterday, I was at last able to deploy the initial release of the new-look site.

It’s still a slight work in progress and I’ve not yet migrated over my entire portfolio of articles from the previous system. Nevertheless, I think it’s pretty much there and looks a lot more modern than the previous version; it’s also far more suitable for mobile browsing than the Movable Type theme, which was created before responsive sites had even been conceived.

Fingers crossed, it’ll also spur me into blogging a bit more often, as I realise it’s now been about three years since I last posted something here!

DIY archaeology in Crete


Crete is clearly an island with a lot of history – millennia, in fact. Indeed, it has so much history that it doesn’t know what to do with some of it. The likes of Knossos are obviously going to be popular with millions of tourists:

But smaller, less famous, out of the way sites are a slightly trickier proposition. Sometimes, there may not even be room for a car park, let alone the staff to look after the site.

Take the Minoan settlement near the village of Στύλος (Stylos) in NW Crete. It’s a bit up a hill from the village itself and a bit of trek.

You’ll be able to find it easily if you’re walking though, because there’s a sign. Next to a ‘stock fence’.

Sign for the Minoan settlement near Stylos

All you have to do is undo the string securing the fence, peel it back, go through, re-secure the fence, then up the hill you go to the left, through the flock of sheep, turn right and keep going up until you come to a single building with a green roof.

The green roofed building near Stylos

Now you know you’re in the right place. Because there are no signs, no guidebooks, no nothing to tell you where you are. Which is a shame, because there is actually quite a lot further on up the hill, behind the green-roofed building.

More of the Minoan settlement


Of course, you’re better off reading this web page to find out exactly what.

Things get a little weirder up the hill from the settlement, because there’s actually a Minoan tholos tomb nearby. How do we get there? Well, a little further up the road from Stylos, there’s a grove of trees, behind a proper fence. Look here’s the gate. It’s been padlocked shut. Fortunately, there’s a key attached to it.

The gate to the Tholos tomb

Behind the gate is all the information you’re going to get about the tomb and its excavations. Maps? Not really…

The map of the excavation

So after a bit of wandering around the trees, avoiding (if possible) the cicadas that hurl themselves at you, you might find this:

The dromos to the tomb

Could this be what you’re looking for? Why yes, it’s the δρόμος (dromos or path/route) to the tomb. You knew that, didn’t you?

If you’re plucky enough to pick your way down through the grass and the weeds, this is what you’ll find – a Minoan arched entrance to a tholos tomb:

The entrance to the Tholos tomb

You can just go in. No one will stop you. What’s inside? A coned roof with a hole at the top.

The top of the Tholos tomb

You are now standing in something that people made 3,500 years ago. And you will be literally the only people there and may be the only people who will have been there in days or even weeks.

There’s stuff like this all over Crete. Just look and you should find something like this pretty much anywhere. It’s well worth it.

Greece is the word

It was an event in October to celebrate modern Greek culture and writing. We were there mainly for Bettany Hughes and Victoria Hislop, but both Katerina Vrana and Greece’s answer to Robert Downey Jr, poet/performer Vassilis Amanatidis, proved to be surprise discoveries of Greece is the Word.

And you can watch the whole day’s events below. You probably won’t spot us, though.