Goo Smart by Half

I typed “postgis” into Google this evening, and in addition to the exquisitely organized first entry there were two ads, one relevant (EnterpriseDB, the Postgres company) and one seemingly utterly random, for an English language school.

Has the Google algorithm made a mistake? How is this relevant? Well, the language school is in Victoria, BC, birth-place of PostGIS, but it gets better than that.

Here’s a picture of their sign, which I walked past every morning for almost five years, since the school shares a building (1207 Douglas Street) with Refractions Research, birth-company of PostGIS.

But wait, there’s more! The name of the school is “GEOS Language Academy”, and the GEOS spatial library was also created in Victoria, specifically to bring spatial predicate algorithms to PostGIS!

Poor Google algorithm, you never stood a chance.


It’s not much, but it’s not nothing, my first ever patch to PostgreSQL proper is part of yesterday’s 8.4.2 release:

Fix incorrect logic for GiST index page splits, when the split depends on a non-first column of the index (Paul Ramsey)

It was just a minor syntax error I found because I was reading through that section of the code very, very, very closely (it’s true, I copy the work of smarter people than I) while implementing the indexes for GEOGRAPHY in PostGIS 1.5.

Extra, extra, PostGIS Really Fast!

Because, frankly, I love nothing more than approbation, I am going to quote this comment on “Much Faster Unions in PostGIS” in full:

This is a truly spectacular piece of work. We have often been asked by clients to buffer and merge point datasets with several million points. We attempted this using ArcWhatever (could barely open the points, let along buffer them) and FME, which ran for a week and then gave an out of memory error. So, I do the whole configure, make, make install thing, 4 times, for postgres, goes, proj4 and postgis. After a lot of swearing and running ldconfig a few million times I eventually get postgis to accept that geos really is installed – MySQL might have more limited spatial functionality, but it sure is a lot easier to build from source. Anyway, I digress. I run a few random queries using the excellent generate series capability in postgres, and manage to create, buffer and merge 100,000 points in a few seconds. Finally, I try this on a real world dataset, namely all of the postal addresses in Wales, 1.4 million or so. With a 200m buffer, this ran on a reasonably pokey 64-bit linux box in 19 minutes. Truly astonishing. Well done. Much as I love MySQL, this was a bit of St. Paul on the road to Damascus moment.

Full credit to Martin Davis, who implemented this technique in JTS. We just borrowed it for database land.

Code Sprint 2010: New York City

It’s official! Following the success of the 2009 Toronto Code Sprint a second event will be taking place in New York City, this winter.

This code sprint will bring together the developers for the MapServer, PostGIS, GDAL, GRASS, OGR, LibLAS, QGIS, Proj4 and other projects that are part of the “C Tribe” of open source software.

Timing: Saturday, February 20 to Tuesday, February 23, 9am to 4pm.

Location: OpenGeo Event Room, 148 Lafayette St, New York, New York

More Information: Wiki Page, Mailing List

Sponsor this event! Last year, sponsorship dollars paid for venue and dinners for the sprinters, who gave up their weekends and more to invest a collective 736 man hours in making their open source project stronger. Thanks again to our 2009 sponsors: Rich Greenwood,, Coordinate Solutions, LizardTech, SJ Geophysics,, GDAL! If you want to sponsor this event, and raise your profile with the 2 dozen people who make your software sing, please contact me.

Update: Thanks to our first 2010 sponsors, Coordinate Solutions, LizardTech, and! We are still looking for sponsors for 2010!


The New York Times political blog has instant commentary on Obama’s Afghanistan speech tonight, and the one-sentence teaser in the RSS feed speaks volumes:

In an address aimed at rank-and-file Americans, Mr. Obama did not call for sacrifices.