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Earth

Drivers Need To Forget Their GPS 571

HughPickens.com writes: Greg Milner writes in the NYT that an American tourist in Iceland directed the GPS unit in his rental car to guide him from Keflavik International Airport to a hotel in nearby Reykjavik, and ended up 250 icy miles away in Siglufjordur, a fishing village on the outskirts of the Arctic Circle. Mr. Santillan apparently explained that he was very tired after his flight and had "put his faith in the GPS." In another incident, a woman in Belgium asked GPS to take her to a destination less than two hours away and two days later, she turned up in Croatia. Finally disastrous incidents involving drivers following disused roads and disappearing into remote areas of Death Valley in California have became so common that park rangers gave them a name: "death by GPS." "If we're being honest, it's not that hard to imagine doing something similar ourselves" says Milner. "Most of us use GPS as a crutch while driving through unfamiliar terrain, tuning out and letting that soothing voice do the dirty work of navigating."

Could society's embrace of GPS be eroding our cognitive maps? Julia Frankenstein, a psychologist at the University of Freiburg's Center for Cognitive Science, says the danger of GPS is that "we are not forced to remember or process the information — as it is permanently 'at hand,' we need not think or decide for ourselves." "Next time you're in a new place, forget the GPS device. Study a map to get your bearings, then try to focus on your memory of it to find your way around. City maps do not tell you each step, but they provide a wealth of abstract survey knowledge. Fill in these memories with your own navigational experience, and give your brain the chance to live up to its abilities."

Comment Won't work (Score 1) 131

Never do customer support unless the user can log in to their account.

Well, there's your problem. Most of the times I don't want to log in into an account, because:

  • Their site won't work at all with my security settings
  • I don't understand all the fields I have to fill on a foreign site.
  • I want some answers first before I give my privacy away.

And if I want to abuse the system on purpose, I can always pretend to be a computer-illiterate old granny.

Comment Re:They can't afford it (Score 1) 412

Alas that changed things only for the worse. If the price of your daily bread is measured in the same unit as this data noise, the data noise becomes worth something and your daily bread loses value. Still, the money does not originate there. It is mainly a pump to get money flow upwards. The money of today originates in banks doing creative bookkeeping. The central banks only rubber-stamp it for extra usury.

Comment Re:They can't afford it (Score 1) 412

As long as money can only be generated by banks committing creative bookkeeping for usury ("interest"), nothing can be afforded at all. But when the government itself can issue money, it should be perfectly feasible. Even then, I would suggest that most of the money is generated in exchange for effort for society, simply for the fact that taxes are hardly needed then anymore. The taxes then only serve to maintain financial balance and to stop inflation.

But it is a good thing when society itself (represented by its government) can decide what they want to afford and not have it told by financial institutions, like it is now. We could still have great health care, but we gave it all away to an insurance company.

Comment Re:The surveillance state (Score 0) 131

Yes, the crooks were caught because everyone is seen as a crook and therefore monitored. The fact that bank robberies have diminished is the smallest difference with the past. In the past, the police was meant to protect civilians, not to stalk them. They did not visit your house if you used your freedom of expression. And the banks were at least not openly robbing the taxpayer. A lot has changed.

Comment Re:Ridiculous (Score 1) 132

The next step is for consumers to insist on well-defined and sufficiently-lengthy support and update policies as a condition of purchase

That would be nice if a user had anything to say about the stuff he would buy. You can demand every reasonable thing in the world, but "then don't buy it" is the only answer you will ever get.

Not buying a phone might give you a good feeling for living up to your principles, but it will not result in a phone with reasonable support.

The Military

Biofuels Will Power Navy's Next Deployment (sandiegouniontribune.com) 115

mdsolar writes with news about the launch of the "Great Green Fleet," part of a Navy plan to use 50% alternative fuels by 2020. The San Diego Union-Tribune reports: "This Wednesday, there surely will be tears, hugs and excitement as sailors begin another deployment to the world's hotspots. On the surface, it will be a replay of a common occurrence in any Navy town when sailors go to sea, but in the ships' gas tanks will be fuel made from renewable resources that has officials back at the Pentagon exuberant. 'Underway on beef-fat power' might not have the same ring as 'Underway on nuclear power,' the historic message the Nautilus submarine beamed when it left the pier 61 years ago today. Nonetheless, the Navy is trumpeting the use of renewable biofuels as a game-changer. In 2009, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus announced that the Navy and Marine Corps would get half of their power from non-fossil fuel sources by 2020, and that the Navy would deploy an entire carrier strike group using biofuels by 2016."

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