Picture of a judge's wigThis Is Not A BLOG!Picture of a judge's wig

Date: 08/03/21

Going Back To My Routes

I mentioned back here (eighth paragraph down) that I wanted to do some sort of historical overview of the bus services I remember hereabouts from my childhood. After all, I reasoned, hardly anyone else is ever likely to bother with such a recondite task and once I'd gone then a lot of information would be lost.

As I also stated in that paragraph, I was stymied by one salient fact, namely that one of the routes I wanted to talk about ran along a road which ceased to exist close on fifty years ago. Trying to scan an old one-inch Ordnance Survey map of the area dating from prior to that proved not to be a viable solution because the size of the scan would be too small to enable much detail to be given. There was also a fold in the map right where I least wanted it. So that was that...or so I thought.

Then last June - as a sort of birthday present - my long-standing and long-suffering friend and former colleague Carl - also a fellow cartophile - sent me a link to the National Library of Scotland's online map collection (and specifically this link which is centred on JudgeCo™ World Headquarters as it stood in the 1950s, and as it stands defiantly today).

Over the following months, I spent many a happy hour driving the map all around the place, not just locally but to some of the places I'd visited in my life. It was particularly useful for tracking the old railways hereabouts, but I didn't immediately realise its potential for enabling my ideas regarding the bus routes to be brought to fruition. That only came to me a week or so back.

I'll spare you the details of the image-wrangling I had to do to get usable maps, but at the end of it all I had something which would more or less do the job.

There was one sizeable snag remaining, however; and 'sizeable' is the mot juste. Clearly, I was going to have to do the best I could to make sure that the maps were going to be sufficiently legible after all this. But at the same time I was going to be constrained by the limits of screen size, especially in regard to viewing the page on a mobile.

The solution may not be ideal, but it seems to give satisfactory results in most cases. It also explains why the piece to which all this is mere preamble is on a separate page.

You see, my standard maximum image dimensions for the whole site is either 433 or 600 pixels wide; that way I can be sure that they won't create the need for horizontal scrolling at most screen sizes. However, it became clear that not even the larger of those two dimensions would cut it as far as readability was concerned. Experimentation suggested that 1000 pixels would be the minimum useable width, so that's what the maps were resized to.

However, this would lead to horizontal scrolling if they were put on to a standard page (with a layout like this one you're reading now) because of the presence of the navigation sidebar. Putting the maps in a piece on a page of its own sans sidebar seems to work fine, so that's how it is.

But another limit I've set myself is not to have any image file larger than 100kB. Sticking to this would mean that what I gained in readability in dimensional terms I would lose in terms of image quality. Compromises will always have to be made when you are trying to conserve webspace though, and I think that it just about works. You can always try the methods described here to try to get a bit closer in.

So what awaits you when you get on the bus that awaits you at the bottom of this page?

Well, a slice of history. A slice which might well have gone unrecorded in any but the most formal way. This is both factual and personal, in the way the best histories should be, because the personal leaves the world with the person who experiences it and it would I think be a pity if any of it - however slim, however apparently trivial - should be lost, even if it just gathers dust unregarded in a corner somewhere. It's still there for someone to take an inordinate interest in it in the future.

(For a further exposition on what I mean, you might like to read this).

Outline image of a bus