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Comment GPS Doesn't Solve Any Problems (Score 4, Interesting) 266

I used to have to ask someone where the nearest this or that could be found. I used to have to ask how to get from A to B. Local landmarks used to be paramount in navigation and route finding. Now we can haplessly ignore the locals and find our own way straight to the restaurant we chose based on Yelp reviews. Word of mouth is not very useful anymore, at least not in the traditional sense. What I'm getting at, is that smaller cities/towns lose control of their identity. It's the internet that decides which restaurants and hotels are the best, and how to get around town. I'm not trying to commend on whether or not this is better or worse, but it's hard to find one piece of technology which has contributed so much to this trend.

GPS has removed the need to "memorize" local street patterns or common routes. Why bother to remember how to get to your favorite vacation spot when GPS will "always" be there to guide you? (Again, this is stripping local landmarks of their significance)

In another sense, GPS (GNSS for those of you modern enough to embrace foreign constellations) has really complicated the idea of "location." The instability of consumer-grade GPSr observations and the steep price curve for more accurate instruments has created a rather cluttered mess. Everyone seems to think that their coordinates are better than the other guy. I'm in the land surveying/geomatics field, and even at that level GPS is rarely brought up in legal disputes because it's just not an acceptable replacement for good old fashioned direct measurements (or acceptable substitutions, like EDMs).

In my opinion, GPS/GNSS has not solved *any* issues in the civilian world. It has (over)simplified and depersonalized navigation (non GNSS alternatives exist and have worked wonderfully for centuries), created clutter and confusion, and in conjunction with the internet helped to strip local societies of their identity.

Comment Re:Uhm... DUH. (Score 1) 575

Why should I take this kind of data collection personally? After all, they know what I do on the internet but they don't actually don't know anything about me. I'm just a number, a component of their statistical calculation. I'm a source of data used to seed their advertising rotation algorithm for shit I never buy (mostly because I don't even acknowledge the advertisements).

Why is it that when we WANT someone to notice our tiny, pathetic existence we decry the cold, computerized nature of big business and complain about how we are "just a number" to them... but when we call it a "privacy issue" it's all about "how much they know about me!"

So what if Google knows you looked up hydroponics kits? Do you think they have some useful purpose for that information which is ultimately going to negatively affect you in some way?

Comment Re:Not just android (Score 2) 198

Was someone under the impression that any of this was a secret?

One need only look at the privacy policy to figure this out: http://www.pandora.com/privacy/

Information about your computer or device: We may also collect information about the computer, mobile or other devices you use to access and listen to the Service. For example, our servers receive and record information about your computer and browser, including potentially your IP address, browser type, and other software or hardware information. If you access the Service from a mobile or other device, we may collect a unique device identifier assigned to that device or other transactional information for that device.

With such headings as "Automatic Data Collection", "How we use the information we collect:", and "How the information we collect is shared:" it's kind of hard for me to see how there was any ambiguity?

On the other hand, I know most people never bothered to read the privacy statement but that is by no means Pandora's fault. They provided the information - if users failed to actually read it, that's on them.

Comment Re:Ask Slashdot (Score 3, Insightful) 600

Why indeed?What reasonable motivation could he have to poll a well-established base of computer experts for advise?

Maybe they should just hire one of these "computer experts" who knows the answer instead of someone who can't even seem to use Google?

Seriously, they're paying him to get the job done. If he doesn't know how to find this information for himself and make an informed decision, he should not have accepted the job in the first place.

Let someone who has the requisite knowledge have the job (or contract) and get the job done using well established procedure and expertise.

Even if he does know, he should come to the table with options and ideas and ask (say, on a forum) for some expert opinions about specific products (or at least brand names/vendors!) This shows that you have at least done some homework.

Comment Barney Splat (Score 2) 186

Judging by the lack of any other response citing this game, it may have been more of a local thing but I do recall at least 2 or 3 BBSes that had this in my area... Of course, I was 8-10 years old so this was right up my alley. No matter what you decided, you always ended up killing Barney somehow. I guess I'm not totally legit either, we had a 2400 baud modem -- way too high tech, I'm sure, by many of your standards.

Comment Civil & Geomatics = Windows XP & 7 (Score 1) 434

I'll name a few reasons why we're stuck with Windows XP & 7:
- AutoCAD - Land Desktop & Civil 3D
- Leica LiDAR Scanner Software
- ArcGIS
- Trimble Geomatics Office
etc...

The tools of industry are written for windows. Your employer will have Windows based computers with Windows based software, so education follows suit and we're stuck with all-windows systems.

Comment Re:Huh? (Score 1) 513

I don't see how that's much different than a sign saying "Photo Enforcement Zone 1/4 mile". It's saying, "Hey, idiot, you have a 1/4mi to slow down or you're getting a ticket!"

Or did you not know that? I was actually in Phoenix (I drove there from CA) less than a month ago so I know first hand what this system looks like.

I think you'd have to be a colossal idiot (or so unaware that you deserve a ticket anyway) to get a ticket from one of these systems, and I did notice that it slowed traffic down on the whole.

Does it seem like kind of a waste of money? Yeah, I'm sure it cost a TON of money that could've gone to more useful things (like refurbishing their public library with some current technology), but as far as your argument I fail to see a significant distinction.

Comment GIS + Scales (Score 1) 235

Almost any map or photo will have *some* common aspect that relates to current day. Right now I am working on a project of cataloging old (back to 1937) aerial photographs of the county I live in.

I use ESRI's ArcMap, a ruler, an excel spreadsheet and some brainpower. I pick sensible coordinates (PLSS corners make the most sense when available, as well as street intersections) and then locate them on a more-or-less current day satellite/aerial overlay in ArcMap. Once I decide on my corners, I just measure the physical map from each common point/corner to the map edge (twice for each corner- one for x, one for y). Then pick two points and measure between them and compare your measurements in the "real world" to come up with a scale (this is why excel is handy). Then you just go back to your GIS software and move each of the corner points the specified "real world" distance!

This DOES take time but it is probably the most accurate method you'll find for older maps (or aerials).

If you simply pick one or two points and rubbersheet or affine, you'll often end up with frustratingly bad results for these. Those advanced methods require many, many links with a higher accuracy than you'll be able to achieve. My method also has the benefit of accounting for rotation/skewing/etc (not all the aerials/maps will be the exact same orientation, dimension, and scale... in fact, it's rare that two have even one or two of these elements relatively close).

Good luck!

Comment Hulu Dekstop?? (Score 1) 321

The article made no mention of it this, but Hulu desktop has revolutionized the TV-watching habits of my girlfriend and I since we got it on our Macs; paired with the Apple Remote control it's better than my Comcast and much more responsive and easy to use that onDemand. Also, we have a Netflix when we're in the mood for a movie.

I still don't think I could get her to kick the Cable just yet though...

Comment Re:The new termination fee is high, but justifiabl (Score 3, Insightful) 520

yeah, I actually built a business model on this concept:

1. Purchased DROID w/ contract
2. Break contract, keep phone at $185 net profit
3. Sell phone on eBay
4. New user of phone activates phone on Verizon (because they have no choice of carrier when they buy the DROID) and pay Verizon a bunch of money that I wasn't going to pay
5. New user changes their mind, sells the phone on eBay, and new-new user runs off to sign up with Verizon

Ha! Ha! Ha! I really screwed Verizon over!!

Hey, wait...


Point is, no matter how much Verizon sells a phone for, that phone can only do one of two things: be used to make Verizon money, or go in the trash. Is it justifiable for a CARRIER-LOCKED PHONE to be contractually *fully* subsidized by the purchaser? If this was AT&T, T-Mobile, etc. I could see the point - I take my phone and run, screwing the company out of money. But with Verizon's phones, regardless of how long I am with them - the phone will keep making them money!

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