Posts categorised as "blog"

Will The New Delicious Still Be ... Delicious?

Delicious is dead! Long live Delicious. Like a lot of Delicious users, I recently received a mail urging me to authorise the transfer of my Delicious account and bookmarks to the new service once ownership transfers from Yahoo! to AVOS.

The reception to the news of Delicious's new owners has been ... varied. Marshall Kirkpatrick has written a post in favour of the transfer, but Violet Blue is not so sure. If you do a little bit of digging, you'll see that the new Delicious has the potential to be far more restrictive on what you can, and what you can't bookmark, especially where potentially offensive content is linked to. Offensive is a horribly vague and subjective term; one which means many different things to many different people.

The Cloud May Be About To Get Stormy

If you read the technical media and the blogosphere, we're all on an inexorable march towards The Cloud. No-one seems exactly sure what The Cloud is, but we're going there. As I wrote in a previous post, I use a simplistic definition for The Cloud; any form of storage that I connect to over a network connection classes as Cloud storage. It is, perhaps, an overly simplistic definition, but until a more formal and agreed definition surfaces, it will suffice for now.

I'm also, in some cases inadvertently, a reasonably prolific user of Cloud storage. I store large amounts of data in The Cloud; photos, software, general data, web pages, databases, emails and so on. With safely secured backups of course, as Cloud services are just like any other computer resource; sometimes they fail and go offline.

iOS Location Caching Round-up - Conspiracy Theories: 0, Smart Location Caching: 1

More a meta post, or what Kuro5hin would have called MLP (meaningless link propagation), this post started out as a comment to one of my previous posts on the iOS location caching controversy but soon expanded way beyond a comment into a full blown post.

Firstly, let's get the conspiracy theory out of the way; this theory has been presented in a variety of ways but all of them seem to think that your iOS device is tracking your location and that the reason for this is some shadowy request from government or intelligence agencies. Perhaps the most eloquent case for this was on Frank Reiger's blog.

Now I love a good conspiracy theory as much as the next person and Frank’s blog post was a great read. But I have to take issue with the two main points he raises. Firstly there’s “if it was a bug then it would have been fixed … it hasn’t been fixed so it can’t be a bug and must therefore be deliberate“. Secondly there’s “not only has the bug not been fixed but the file even moved location without being fixed so it must be (even more) deliberate“.

Location's "Ick Factor"; First iOS And Now Android

Two days ago I wrote about the "discovery" of a cache file on iOS devices that stores the position of cell towers and the associated media coverage surrounding this. Note that I use "discovery" in inverted commas here. As Sally Applin pointed out in a comment on my previous post, this "discovery" is not new and a paper on this by Alex Levinson, Bill Stackpole and Daryl Johnson was published in January 2011 as part of the Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences. Maybe sometimes researchers don't read other, existing, research on a subject before publishing.

iOS Location "Tracking"; Gross Invasion Of Privacy Or Media Sensationalism?

Oh dear. For a few years now I've been talking about how the privacy aspect of today's location technologies is something that may just catapult location into the mainstream, and possibly tabloid, media and probably for the wrong reasons. I envisaged this as being something salacious and potentially titillating, such as two Z List celebrities involved in a high profile divorce case, where they claimed to be in two separate places but their phone's A-GPS showed the complete opposite. If you were at Where 2.0 in San Jose this week or reading the headlines on the web sites of the BBC, The Guardian or BoingBoing, you'd be forgiven for thinking that just such a location media event had happened. But has it? The headlines certainly seem to think so ...

iPhone tracks users' movements ... says the BBC iPhone keeps record of everywhere you go ... says the Guardian Got an iPhone or 3G iPad? Apple is recording your moves .... says O'Reilly Radar iOS devices secretly log and retain record of every place you go ... says BoingBoing

... and when I use the word "says" in reality "screams" would be more accurate.

Communicating To The Communicators (At The CIPR Social Media Conference)

Regular readers of this blog will be aware of my comfort zones when it comes to speaking at conferences. If there's maps, geography or location involved, however tenuous the connection, I'm well within my comfort zone. But speaking to a room full of seasoned communicators, such as Public Relations professionals? That's way outside of my comfort zone.

Nonetheless, on Monday of this week I found myself at the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, in London's Russell Square, at the CIPR Social Media Conference 2011, allegedly talking about something called The Smartphone Web, to just such a room full of seasoned communicators.

The Missing Manual For OpenStreetMap?

The first computer I used at work was powerful for its day (though pitifully underpowered compared to the phone that's sitting in my pocket at the moment) but was somewhat unfriendly by today's standards. You sat down at a terminal (not a PC, they hadn't been invented) and were presented with a command line prompt that said "Username:", pass that barrier to entry and it said "Password:". Armed with the right combination of username and password you would be rewarded with a flashing cursor preceded by a dollar sign as a prompt ... $. If you wanted help you couldn't browse the web (it hadn't been invented) nor ask in a mailing list (the Internet was in its early days and you probably didn't have access). Instead you consulted the big, heavy, ring bound, bright orange documentation set; these were the heady days of DEC and VAX/VMS.

The computer I'm writing this on still needs a username and password but is easy to use, graphical, intuitive and comes with multiple web sites, discussion and documentation sites and mailing lists to ask questions in. But to get the most of today's computers you still need a book sometimes, which is why David Pogue's Mac OS X: The Missing Manual is still one of the most well thumbed books I have, 8 years and multiple editions later. There's a version for Windows too.

So what does this have to do with OpenStreetMap? Bear with me ... there are parallels to be drawn.

Mapping The Might Have Been

The moment you make a map there's a fairly good chance that it will be out of date. There's nothing wrong with this; anyone who works in the cartography or mapping fields will tell you that one of the biggest challenges in making maps is not making the map, it's keeping it up to date once it's made. Geography is constantly moving, changing, flowing thing.

One of the most fascinating aspects of old maps is not so much looking at what's changed since they were made, though that is fascinating enough, but of what might have been but then never was.

Regular readers of this blog may have worked out that out of all the maps there are, my favourite is the London Underground Tube map. A browse through the London Tube Map Archive shows just how much the Tube network has expanded and contracted over the years and how stations have changed not only in name but sometimes in position as well. But some of these maps also show what was planned but which was never realised; as Trent Reznor once put it "all the what abouts, the might have and could have beens". Take a look at this map of the network from 1938.

After Neogeography, Here Comes Neocartography

First there was neogeography, a convenient label for the practice of geography outside of the formally accepted geographical disciplines. A convenient label, but one which caused some controversy and mud slinging with the aforementioned formally accepted disciplines being labelled paleogeography and with a strong emphasis on the pejorative.

So it seems almost inevitable that we now have a proposal from the International Cartographic Association to form a commission on neocartography, looking into the practise of making maps outside of the formally accepted cartography profession.

Happy 30th. Anniversary To The 2nd Computer I Ever Owned

It's 2011 and I'm writing this blog post on an Apple MacBook Pro. It cost in the region of £1500 and comes with a 15" screen, a dual core 2.66 GHz CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 300GB internal hard drive and an internal battery which lasts around 7 hours. It's probably the best laptop I've ever used but it's evolutionary and hardly revolutionary.

Now look back to  30 years ago. The Internet existed, sort of, the World Wide Web didn't, home narrow-band connections were rare and broadband hadn't been invented. But if you had £49.95 to spare you'd be able to buy a small home computer which you plugged into your TV set, used black-and-white graphics only, and came with a 3.26 MHz CPU, 1KB of RAM, no internal storage (you used a cassette tape recorder) and no internal battery (mains power only). Did I mention you also had to assemble and build it yourself? If you weren't so moved, the fully assembled version would set you back £69.95.