"location" entries

Four short links: 13 November 2009

Four short links: 13 November 2009

Open Source Design, Interesting NoSQL Use, Copyright Documentary, Location Intelligence

  1. Open Source Enters The World of Atoms — an academic statistical analysis of open design. We indicated that, in open design communities, tangible objects can be developed in very similar fashion to software; one could even say that people treat a design as source code to a physical object and change the object via changing the source.
  2. Why I Like Redis (Simon Willison) — coherent explanation of why Simon likes and uses a particular nosql system. I can run a long running batch job in one Python interpreter (say loading a few million lines of CSV in to a Redis key/value lookup table) and run another interpreter to play with the data that’s already been collected, even as the first process is streaming data in. I can quit and restart my interpreters without losing any data. And because Redis semantics map closely to Python native data types, I don’t have to think for more than a few seconds about how I’m going to represent my data.
  3. © kiwiright (Vimeo) — short documentary about copyright, made to raise awareness of the issues in New Zealand. (just as applicable to the rest of the world)
  4. Your Movements Speak For Themselves (Jeff Jonas) — Mobile devices in America are generating something like 600 billion geo-spatially tagged transactions per day. Every call, text message, email and data transfer handled by your mobile device creates a transaction with your space-time coordinate (to roughly 60 meters accuracy if there are three cell towers in range), whether you have GPS or not. Got a Blackberry? Every few minutes, it sends a heartbeat, creating a transaction whether you are using the phone or not. If the device is GPS-enabled and you’re using a location-based service your location is accurate to somewhere between 10 and 30 meters. Using Wi-Fi? It is accurate below10 meters. A thought-provoking roundup of the information leakage with modern locative systems. (via TomC on Twitter)

Resetting Expectations: Some Augmented Reality Links

Mobile Devices and AR: Besides employing the location of users (Wikitude), there are generally two ways to overlay data onto the real world: through markers ( (2D) bar codes) or through automatic object/image recognition algorithms (“markerless”). The Economist gives a good overview of the different mobile applications that are starting to emerge and lists a few areas where AR makes sense such as shopping (letting house-hunters which properties are for sale) and events (giving sports fans access to stats and player bios).

Four short links: 18 June 2009

Four short links: 18 June 2009

Weaker Copyright Good, YQL.gov, GeoSPARQL, Happiness

  1. Harvard Study Finds Weaker Copyright Protection Has Benefited Society (Michael Geist) — Given the increase in artistic production along with the greater public access conclude that “weaker copyright protection, it seems, has benefited society.” This is consistent with the authors’ view that weaker copyright is “uambiguously desirable if it does not lessen the incentives of artists and entertainment companies to produce new works.” (read the original paper)
  2. Using Public Data for Good With the Power of YQLThe first part is a new batch of YQL tables providing data on the U.S. government, earthquake data, and the non-profit micro-lender Kiva. The second part is an incredibly easy way to render YQL queries on websites. After all, what good is data that no one can see?
  3. GeoSPARQL — RDF meets geo goodness. SELECT ?s ?p ?o WHERE { ?s gn:name "Dallas" . ?s ?p ?o } (via the geowanking mailing list)
  4. How To Be Happy in Business — this Venn diagram makes me happy. (via Ned Batchedler)


Clarke and the Continuous Location Update

I love the idea of Fire Eagle, Yahoo's under-supported location-brokering service. However until recently I found myself unable to use it. I had no mobile service that I could consistently rely on to update Fire Eagle. Enter Clarke. Clarke (named after Arthur C. Clarke) is a small tool that runs in the background on my Mac. It updates my…

Four short links: 27 May 2009

Four short links: 27 May 2009

Hacker Browser, Design and Engineering, Twitter Data, Fire Eagle Updater for OS X

  1. uzbl — lightweight WebKit-based web browser controlled with vim-like keystrokes, controllable through a FIFO for scripting, and all the “features” (bookmarking, history, changing URL) happen through external scripts. For the hardcore. (via joshua on delicious)
  2. A Conversation With Eric Rodenbeck About Usefully Cool Design and Engineering (Jon Udell) — if we could only distil Stamen down to their barest essence, we could make a fortune selling it on the black market …
  3. Twitter Data — using Twitter as a conduit for messages that have semantic markup. My gut reaction is that I’d prefer pure JSON in the data tweets, because a hybrid gives you poor use of the limited bandwidth and there seems no strong reason to care about human readability. (via Ted Leung)
  4. Clarke — elegant OS X updater for Fire Eagle that uses Skyhook to determine your location.
Four short links: 4 Feb 2009

Four short links: 4 Feb 2009

Data, climate change, and location:

  1. Details on Yahoo’s Distributed Database (Greg Linden) — summary of Yahoo!’s PNUTS, “a massively parallel and geographically distributed database system for Yahoo!’s web applications.” Greg keeps up with the papers from the search engine companies, and the insights he offers are great. For example, “Second, as figures 3 and 4 show, the average latency of requests to their database seems quite high, roughly 100 ms. This is high enough that web applications probably would incur too much total latency if they made a few requests serially (e.g. ask for some data, then, depending on what the data looks like, ask for some other data). That seems like a problem.”.
  2. Google Latitude — app and service for mobile phones (G1, Blackberry, Windows Mobile, Symbian) and desktops, where your location is tracked and displayed on a map which you can share with your friends. Interesting use of the map to get some Dodgeball-like functionality, but without programmatic access it’s less functional than FireEagle. I’m still not sure I really understand the use cases for this, and assume that over time it will evolve into something more practical.
  3. Without Hot Air — the full text of an excellent book on global warming is available. Well written and well thought. I look forward to the inevitable flood of foot-stamping carbon polluters harrumphing about flawed science and the inevitable final triumph of the flat earth geocentric cosmology.
  4. Is Big Data at a Tipping Point? — Tim pointed me to this a while ago, but I don’t think he’s blogged about it. Thesis is that as more and more open data gets out there, it’ll eventually be cross-related into something big and useful. The author asks how close we are to that. If the premise is true (and I’m not sure I buy the phase change metaphor), I think we’re definitely not going to be saying within 12 months “remember when we didn’t have enough useful plentiful accurate mashable data? thank goodness those days are past!”.
Four short links: 21 Jan 2009

Four short links: 21 Jan 2009

In today’s edition: the spread of fake news, keeping track of your real power use, a Javascript library
and a less-than-impressed take on mobile location apps.

  1. Echo Chamber – the British tabloid The Sun posted a story that turned out to be fabricated. This site tracked that story’s spread and uncritical acceptance by other news outlets and web sites.
  2. Real Time Web-Based Power Charting – build the software and hardware to get a live chart in a web page that updates every 10 seconds with the instantaneous power usage for your entire house.
  3. ActiveRecordJS – just what it sounds like, ActiveRecord for Javascript. AR is a complex subsystem of Rails, and it’s interesting to see the functionality ported to Javascript.
  4. I Am Here: One Man’s Experiment with the Location-Aware Lifestyle – a reporter tries all the location apps, and discovers the future isn’t all here yet. Interesting: only three paragraphs of this long story are about the good bits of location services, the rest question its implementation, privacy, and utility.
Four short links: 13 Jan 2009

Four short links: 13 Jan 2009

Apologies for the delay. Just remember Douglas Adams’s great line: “Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.”

  1. Misconceptions and Objections to Gaza Mapping – Mikel Maron deals to objections about the OpenStreetMap call for help to build an accurate free streetmap of Gaza. This is fantastic work from OSM.
  2. Twenty Most Practical and Creative Uses of jQuery – I am generally loathe to link to linkbait (“X most Y Zs!”) even though I’m guilty of it myself. This just pushes my jQuery love button, and the jQuery love button loves to be pushed.
  3. http://rocketstrikes.iamnear.net – as you cruise around London, find out where the bombs struck in WW II. There are huge opportunities for locative services to open up historical geodata like this, in the same way that Pepys Diary Blog and Dear Miss Griffis have brought old diaries to life.
  4. Differential Synchronization – the solution to the problem of “two people are editing the same document at the same time, and you need to make sure they’re each seeing the same thing”.

Donkeypedia.nl: Get a Donkey's Eye-View of Amsterdam & PICNIC

Here at PICNIC there is a donkey named Asino being led around by a fellow named Christian. The pair have a GPS, solar-panels and a video camera. As they roam around Amsterdam they geotag videos and photos for uploading to Donkeypedia, a Dutch-language site. As far as I know it is the only Donkey-enabled mashup. The site takes a…

ETech CFP Ends Friday (9/19)

Hurry! The Call For Participation for ETech 2009 closes this Friday (9/19). We've got a lot of great submissions so far, but we'd like to see more. The submissions will all be reviewed by mid-October. Below are the major themes of the conference. If you've worked on technology in any of these areas submit a talk. City Tech: Our…