Think GPS is cool? IPS will blow your mind (re-post)

For all of their awesome applications — from portable navigation devices, to self-driving cars, to cruise missile targeting — the American Global Positioning System and its Russian cohort GLONASS have two fundamental flaws: They don’t work indoors, and they only really operate in two dimensions.

Now, these limitations are fair enough; we’re talking about an extremely weak signal that has traveled 20,200km (12,600mi), after all. Passing through concrete and other solid obstacles is hard enough for a strong, short-range cellular signal — you can’t seriously expect a 50-watt signal traveling 12,000 miles to do the same. Detecting a GPS signal on Earth is comparable to detecting the light from a 25-watt bulb from 10,000 miles.

The situation is a little more complex when it comes to detecting a change in altitude; GPS and GLONASS can measure altitude, but generally the data is inaccurate and too low-resolution (on the order of 10-25 meters) for everyday use. Even with these limitations, though, space-based satellite navigation systems have changed almost every aspect of society, from hardware hacking to farming to cartography to finding a girlfriend.

What if we had a navigation system that worked indoors, though? What if we had an Indoor Positioning System (IPS)? Believe it or not, we’re very nearly already there.


Last year, Google Maps for Android began introducing floor plans of shopping malls, airports, and other large commercial areas. Nokia, too, is working on an indoor positioning system, but using actual 3D models, rather than 2D floor plans. Just last week, Broadcom released a new chip (BCM4752) that supports indoor positioning systems, and which will soon find its way into smartphones.

Unlike GPS and GLONASS, there isn’t a standard way of building an indoor positioning system. Google’s approach tracks you via WiFi — it knows where the WiFi hotspots are in a given building, and through signal strength triangulation it can roughly work out where you are. Nokia’s solution is similar, but it uses Bluetooth instead of WiFi, making it higher resolution (but it would require the installation of lots of Bluetooth “beacons”). Other methods being mooted involve infrared, and even acoustic analysis. None of these approaches are accurate or reliable enough on their own, though — in spaces that are packed with different materials, and roving groups of attenuating meatbags, these signals are simply too noisy.

The Broadcom chip supports IPS through WiFi, Bluetooth, and even NFC. More importantly, though, the chip also ties in with other sensors, such as a phone’s gyroscope, magnetometer, accelerometer, and altimeter. Acting like a glorified pedometer, this Broadcom chip could almost track your movements without wireless network triangulation. It simply has to take note of your entry point (via GPS), and then count your steps (accelerometer), direction (gyroscope), and altitude (altimeter).

In short, indoor positioning systems are coming — first to built-up and heavily-touristed areas (in the next year or two), and then, as smartphone saturation reaches 100%, everywhere else.

Life with IPS

What does it mean to be able to track your movements, in real time, at any location in the world, inside, outside, and underground?
Before we begin, it’s important to point out that — just like GPS — IPS doesn’t necessarily betray your location to third parties. IPS can be entirely local to your smartphone (or other portable navigation device). IPS, like GPS, can establish a location fix completely passively. The whole doomsday scenario of Rockefellers and global megacorps tracking your every move is unlikely to come to fruition without plenty of warning (and ample time to stage a rebellion).

Starting out in the shallow end, IPS would enable a whole new range of “real life analytics” apps. If you love how that Nike+ GPS app tracks your running speed and distance, an IPS version would blow your mind. IPS could track exactly how many steps you take and how many stairs you climb — and calculate, quite precisely, how many calories you burnt in the process. IPS could keep a perfect record of how many minutes you spend in the gym (and on which machines). IPS could tell you how many hours you spend in bed, commuting, in the office, and on the toilet.

The true power of IPS, though, would come from linking your real life analytics to other streams of data, such as social graphs and payment systems. IPS could track where and when you are most likely to use Facebook or Twitter, and tell you which locations are conducive to happy (or sad) status updates. IPS could be used to create beautiful heatmaps of where you spend money; you could even play it back in real time and watch your avatar as it bounces around a Google Map, first to Starbucks, then to the train ticket machine, then to the office vending machine, and so on.

Then, imagine if shops and other commercial locations broadcast their current special offers (which could simply be an internet RSS feed that your phone periodically downloads). If IPS detects that you are near a store with a special offer, your phone could alert you. Likewise, your phone could tell you if you’re about to go into Starbucks, but a nearby coffee house is cheaper. Again, this could be done passively, without giving away your location (though I wouldn’t be surprised if some special offers are only available to people who opt into being tracked).

Girls Around MeIPS could replace (usually criminally expensive) audio guides in museums — just hold your smartphone up to your ear. Edging towards Big Brother territory, IPS could give parents the ability to track their kids — it could even automatically initiate a phone call, if your kid happens to wander into a store that you don’t approve of (or an R-rated movie). IPS, it goes without saying, would massively simplify indoor augmented reality, too.

Perhaps most excitingly, IPS could herald the creation of real life social networks. By tying into Facebook, IPS could tell you, right this moment, if there’s someone nearby who also wants to play squash or watch an art house film. You could be walking down the street, and your phone could alert you that, just one block over, there’s someone who shares your passion for early DC comics, or some other esoteric topic. We touched on this in another post recently, but IPS could also tell you exactly how many men (or women) are at a given nightclub — or, less contentiously, the nearest venue with a high concentration of <insert topic> geeks.

These real life social networks would require you to share a lot of data with those around you, but think about it: This could finally be an application of mobile computing that turns your attention outwards to those around you, instead of eternally gazing downwards at your smartphone screen.

By on April 24, 2012 at 12:52 pm

Earth Day: The History of A Movement

Earth Day: The History of A Movement

Each year, Earth Day — April 22 — marks the anniversary of what many consider the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970.

The height of hippie and flower-child culture in the United States, 1970 brought the death of Jimi Hendrix, the last Beatles album, and Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water”. Protest was the order of the day, but saving the planet was not the cause. War raged in Vietnam, and students nationwide increasingly opposed it.

At the time, Americans were slurping leaded gas through massive V8 sedans. Industry belched out smoke and sludge with little fear of legal consequences or bad press. Air pollution was commonly accepted as the smell of prosperity. “Environment” was a word that appeared more often in spelling bees than on the evening news. Although mainstream America remained oblivious to environmental concerns, the stage had been set for change by the publication of Rachel Carson’s New York Times bestseller Silent Spring in 1962. The book represented a watershed moment for the modern environmental movement, selling more than 500,000 copies in 24 countries and, up until that moment, more than any other person, Ms. Carson raised public awareness and concern for living organisms, the environment and public health.

Earth Day 1970 capitalized on the emerging consciousness, channeling the energy of the anti-war protest movement and putting environmental concerns front and center.

Watch Video:

The idea came to Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. Inspired by the student anti-war movement, he realized that if he could infuse that energy with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution, it would force environmental protection onto the national political agenda. Senator Nelson announced the idea for a “national teach-in on the environment” to the national media; persuaded Pete McCloskey, a conservation-minded Republican Congressman, to serve as his co-chair; and recruited Denis Hayes as national coordinator. Hayes built a national staff of 85 to promote events across the land.

As a result, on the 22nd of April, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values.

Earth Day 1970 achieved a rare political alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, city slickers and farmers, tycoons and labor leaders. The first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. “It was a gamble,” Gaylord recalled, “but it worked.”

As 1990 approached, a group of environmental leaders asked Denis Hayes to organize another big campaign. This time, Earth Day went global, mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries and lifting environmental issues onto the world stage. Earth Day 1990 gave a huge boost to recycling efforts worldwide and helped pave the way for the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. It also prompted President Bill Clinton to award Senator Nelson the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1995) — the highest honor given to civilians in the United States — for his role as Earth Day founder.

As the millennium approached, Hayes agreed to spearhead another campaign, this time focused on global warming and a push for clean energy. With 5,000 environmental groups in a record 184 countries reaching out to hundreds of millions of people, Earth Day 2000 combined the big-picture feistiness of the first Earth Day with the international grassroots activism of Earth Day 1990. It used the Internet to organize activists, but also featured a talking drum chain that traveled from village to village in Gabon, Africa, and hundreds of thousands of people gathered on the National Mall in Washington, DC. Earth Day 2000 sent world leaders the loud and clear message that citizens around the world wanted quick and decisive action on clean energy.

Much like 1970, Earth Day 2010 came at a time of great challenge for the environmental community. Climate change deniers, well-funded oil lobbyists, reticent politicians, a disinterested public, and a divided environmental community all contributed to a strong narrative that overshadowed the cause of progress and change. In spite of the challenge, for its 40th anniversary, Earth Day Network reestablished Earth Day as a powerful focal point around which people could demonstrate their commitment. Earth Day Network brought 225,000 people to the National Mall for a Climate Rally, amassed 40 million environmental service actions toward its 2012 goal of A Billion Acts of Green®, launched an international, 1-million tree planting initiative with Avatar director James Cameron and tripled its online base to over 900,000 community members.

The fight for a clean environment continues in a climate of increasing urgency, as the ravages of climate change become more manifest every day. We invite you to be a part of Earth Day and help write many more victories and successes into our history. Discover energy you didn’t even know you had. Feel it rumble through the grassroots under your feet and the technology at your fingertips. Channel it into building a clean, healthy, diverse world for generations to come.

Hundreds Of Thousands Could Lose Internet Access In July

InternetA few mouse clicks now could mean the difference between staying online and losing Internet connections after early July.

The problem started when international hackers launched an online advertising scam in an effort to take control of infected computers around the world.

In November 2011, six Estonian nationals were arrested and charged with running the scam that infected millions of computers worldwide and an estimated 500,000 in the U.S.

“They were organized and operating as a traditional business but profiting illegally as the result of the malware,” said a cyber agent who worked the case. “There was a level of complexity here that we haven’t seen before.”

In a highly unusual move, the FBI responded by setting up a safety net months ago using government computers to prevent Internet disruptions for users whose computers were infected, but that system will be shut down this summer.

But the court order authorizing the safety net expires on July 9, so the FBI is now encouraging users to visit a website run by a security partner that will inform them whether their PCs are infected and explain how to fix the problem.

After July 9, infected users won’t be able to connect to the Internet.

Information About How To Check And Clean Your Computer

Checking Windows 7 for Infections

The easiest way to check if your system is violated with DNS Changer malware is to go to one of the “are you infected sites” (see below). These sites only require someone to visit. The “are you infected site” will inform you if you are infected.

Note: These sites only detect for DNS Changer. You might be infected with other malware. Please take appropriate precautions to protect your computer.


Go to one of the following sites if you are running MS Windows 7 to verify whether or not your computer has been infected:


URL Language Maintainer English DNS Changer Working Group (DCWG) German Bundeskriminalamt (BKA) & Bundesamt für Sicherheit in der Informationstechnik (BSI) Finnish, Swedish, English CERT-FI is the Finnish national reporting point for computer security incidents and information security threats. CERT-FI is also responsible of maintaining the national information security situation awareness system. Swedish, Finnish, English CERT-FI is the Finnish national reporting point for computer security incidents and information security threats. CERT-FI is also responsible of maintaining the national information security situation awareness system. Dutch/French CERT-BE is the primary Belgian contact point for dealing with Internet security threats and vulnerabilities affecting Belgian interests. French Le CERT-LEXSI est la division de veille et d’enquête sur Internet, dédiée à la protection du patrimoine en ligne des organisations. English/French Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) and Canadian Cyber Incident Response Centre (CCIRC) English CIRCL (Computer Incident Response Center Luxembourg) is the national Computer Security Incident Response Team (CSIRT – CERT) coordination center for the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg Dutch SIDN (the Foundation for Internet Domain Registration in the Netherlands) English CERT Australia, Stay Smart Online, and Australian Communications and Media Authority joint page on DNSChanger Information German, Spanish, English ECO (Association of the German Internet Industry)

E. White


Blog Spammers

No Spam
It seems like as soon as something becomes a popular source of entertainment or communication or something that simply attracts a crowd, there’s always someone there to exploit that activity or trend for their own selfish personal reasons. Always someone trying to force something upon you that you didn’t ask for, you don’t want and that you have to spend time and money on to discard it. They try to cheat the system which ends up causing most people extra time out of their day to clean up the mess left behind by these spam trespassers. I will start by referring to postal “Junk Mail”, which should be considered the grandfather of spam. My mailbox seems to be full each and every day, yet I have chosen to go paperless with all my bills. I would guess that 90% of all Postal Mail is trashed before it’s even looked at. 90%…think about the resources it takes to deliver mail. There are trucks to haul the mail, people to sort the mail, people to deliver the mail and post offices to store the mail and the list goes on. Ask yourself this question….If the US Postal Service stopped delivering mail, how would that really affect you? You could pay your bills online, use email to send out holiday e-cards which won’t cost you $5.00 a piece, get your grocery coupons from the newspaper or online ads and now, you can even have your unemployment checks deposited directly to your bank account. I really can’t think of anything I receive in my mailbox that I couldn’t take care of faster, more securely and more efficiently by using another method or using the internet. Can you? Of course, that’s not the only type of mail that 90% of us discard without looking at. Email is another way people give you something you didn’t ask for, don’t want and that you have to spend time and money on to discard. Yes…money. You buy Anti-Spyware, Anti-Virus, Anti-Malware, Firewalls and Anti-Spam software to prevent from receiving Email spam and to protect you when you do. At one of my previous jobs I was responsible for supporting and maintaining their Email server. I used to run reports that would state the amount of spam vs. non-spam email we were receiving on a daily basis. It was a small company, about 30 employees, yet, altogether, they received about 5,000 emails a day. Of those 5.000 emails, approximately 4.900 were flagged as spam, that’s 98% on average. That’s unbelievable. I’m confused as to why people don’t have a problem doing this to other people and to other businesses.  Doesn’t anyone care about how they affect the next guy….NO, NOT ANY MORE.

Now, since I’m new to writing blogs and publishing them, I’m starting to learn more and more about Blog Spammers.  There are companies that provide Blog Spamming services available all over the internet.  They will spam your blogs with phony comments which includes the URL of their customer’s website.  The link to their website creates what is called a “back link” and helps to drive their customer’s site up the organic search rankings, it does nothing for you.  Their comments will say things like, and I quote, “I’ve learn some just right stuff here. Certainly worth bookmarking for revisiting. I wonder how so much effort you put to make this sort of fantastic informative website” or “I am really impressed along with your writing skills and also with the structure on your weblog.  Can’t wait for your next post” or something along those lines that is intended to stroke your ego.  These blog spammers must think we’re all idiots…like we’re going to believe those were the thoughts of someone who really meant it.  I mean, you can tell the difference between a sincere comment  and one left by someone or some program that never read the post.  Again…there’s someone trying to force something upon you that you didn’t ask for, you don’t want and that you have to spend time and money on to discard.  In my opinion, spamming someone’s blog is like going to your neighbor and saying, “Hey Bob, in addition to Bob's front Yardmine and Ted’s front lawn,  I ‘m going to be using your front lawn to sell some stuff  because I want to make it appear that I have more stuff than I really have, or that I have a larger selection then I do, so more people will come and buy from me.  There’s nothing in it for you but you will have to clean up the trash the people leave behind on a daily basis.  And, I won’t tell you when I’m going to use your property, I will just do it when ever I please…hope you’re OK with that Bob, if not, who cares, nothing you can do about it”.  The only difference is that Bob knows who’s trespassing, victims of spam do not have that luxury.

Here are some facts about spam in general:

(a) Roughly 40 percent of all e-mail traffic in the United States is comprised of unsolicited commercial e-mail advertisements (hereafter spam) and industry experts predict that by the end of 2003 half of all e-mail traffic will be comprised of spam.

(b) The increase in spam is not only an annoyance but is also an increasing drain on corporate budgets and possibly a threat to the continued usefulness of the most successful tool of the computer age.

(c) Complaints from irate business and home-computer users regarding spam have skyrocketed, and polls have reported that 74 percent of respondents favor making mass spamming illegal and only 12 percent are opposed, and that 80 percent of respondents consider spam very annoying.

(d) According to Ferris Research Inc., a San Francisco consulting group, spam will cost United States organizations more than ten billion dollars ($10,000,000,000) this year, including lost productivity and the additional equipment, software, and manpower needed to combat the problem. California is 12 percent of the United States population with an emphasis on technology business, and it is therefore estimated that spam costs California organizations well over 1.2 billion dollars ($1,200,000,000).

(e) Like junk faxes, spam imposes a cost on users, using up valuable storage space in e-mail inboxes, as well as costly computer band width, and on networks and the computer servers that power them, and discourages people from using e-mail.

(f) Spam filters have not proven effective.

(g) Like traditional paper “junk” mail, spam can be annoying and waste time, but it also causes many additional problems because it is easy and inexpensive to create, but difficult and costly to eliminate.

(h) The “cost shifting” from deceptive spammers to Internet business and e-mail users has been likened to sending junk mail with postage due or making telemarketing calls to someone’s pay-per-minute cellular phone.

(i) Many spammers have become so adept at masking their tracks that they are rarely found, and are so technologically sophisticated that they can adjust their systems to counter special filters and other barriers against spam and can even electronically commandeer unprotected computers, turning them into spam-launching weapons of mass production.

(j) There is a need to regulate the advertisers who use spam, as well as the actual spammers, because the actual spammers can be difficult to track down due to some return addresses that show up on the display as “unknown” and many others being obvious fakes and they are often located offshore.

(k) The true beneficiaries of spam are the advertisers who benefit from the marketing derived from the advertisements.

(l) In addition, spam is responsible for virus proliferation that can cause tremendous damage both to individual computers and to business systems.

We as a society have become too complacent.  Instead of putting these trespassers out of business….we create a “Junk E-Mail” or “Spam” folder in our Email programs to accommodate them.  The only way to stop people from using spam as an advertising technique is to get them to care that their methods affects the bottom line of other businesses and is a nuisance  to society in general…instead of only caring about themselves and how they can use others to get ahead.

-E. White-

The Games Our Children Play

Video Games vs. Our ChildrenIt seems like every child these days has a Game Console or a Xbox, PlayStation or Wii and they love to play video games. Game consoles plug into your television and can even connect to your home’s internet router so games can be played in Multi-Player mode with other online gamers. Some games can be educational while others, particularly on the WII, promote exercise. However, the most popular games don’t provide your children with any educational or physical value. The most popular games are First Person Shooter (FPS) games like Call of Duty and Battlefield. Call of Duty has a series of FPS games for game consoles and there’s also a version for personal computers. The latest release is Call of Duty / Modern Warfare 3 which has sold over 50,000,000 copies to the gaming public. This game simulates war type scenarios and is very violent. I’m just wondering if parents that allow their children to play FPS and other violent video games are really aware of what effect this might cause to the future psyche if their children.

Let’s take a look at what we know and why you should be concerned:

  • Recent research has shown that connections between children playing violent video games can cause later aggressive behavioral problems.
  • FPS video games may become such a part of their lives that they may start to believe it’s real and they may want to combine their real life with their gaming life. Not good when their gaming life consist of killing people and blowing up things.
  • Research has also shown heavy gamers, which is four or more hours a day, put in less effort at school, have poorer reading skills, play less friendly with friends, have fewer hobbies and activities, and are more likely to be overweight.
  • The American Psychological Association says there are three major effects of playing violent video games, children may become less sensitive to the pain and suffering of others, children may be more fearful of the world around them and children may be more likely to behave in aggressive or hurtful ways toward others.
  • The online gaming community in general is not a place for the weak or for gamers that lack skill. The sub-par gamer is often ridiculed and called names like noob (a derogatory term for new player), loser, names that question their sexuality, racial names and more during the course of a Multi-Player online game. This might create an inferiority complex with the child and make them start to believe they can’t accomplish real life tasks.

Watch the video of a child raging during a session of Call of Duty. My question is, where are his parents?
Warning: Contains strong language and content that may be disturbing.

More facts about real life tragedies that violent video games may have contributed too.

The Academy of Pediatrics says “More than one thousand scientific studies and reviews conclude that significant exposure to media violence increases the risk of aggressive behavior in certain children, desensitizes them to violence and makes them believe that the world is a ‘meaner and scarier’ place than it is.” If children begin to think that this type of violence is normal behavior these thoughts are often said to be difficult to change later on in life. This is similar to the studies of domestic violence where children who are exposed to violence either become offenders or victims because they believe that what they are exposed to is the norm. One instance that brought the worry of violence in media is the Columbine incident. The two young men that committed this act of violence were said to have played numerous hours of violent video games. Their exposure to violence is said to have been the cause since the children involved in Columbine came from secure home environments with active parental influence. As with Michael Carneal, from Kentucky, who in 1997 shot and killed three of his classmates. He too was also said to have been a video game fanatic. Michael Breen an attorney in the case against Michael Carneal stated in court; “Michael Carneal clipped off nine shots in a 10-second period. Eight of those shots were hits. Three were head and neck shots and were kills. That is way beyond the military standard for expert marksmanship. This was a kid who had never fired a pistol in his life, but because of his obsession with computer games he had turned himself into an expert marksman” (Ivory, 2003), (Hanson, 1999, p. 15). These two instances in a whole may be small evidence however, proves that violent media play a role in such violence.

Did you know that:

  • 99 percent of boys and 94 percent of girls ages 12 to 17 play computer, web, portable or console games?
  • More than 90 percent of kids play video games 30 minutes a day though boys spend twice as much time playing than girls.
  • In fact, video gaming is so widespread among American kids that studies show that nearly every teen plays games in some way, regardless of gender, age or economic status.

What can we do, as parents, to take control of this rapidly growing issue that has become the norm amongst our children?

  1. When your kids are young, choose video games for them. Look for games that don’t contain violence or stereotyping. Talk to other parents for advice and suggestions of good games. Always check the rating and content descriptors on a game before renting or buying it.
  2. Parents are often frustrated by how little they know about the games their children are playing. Sit down and play with your kids, particularly if they have a new game and you’re unsure of the content. (Be aware that games can become more violent as you play them longer, so be prepared to invest some time in playing a new game with them.). If they play online, make sure you sit in on a few sessions of their online play and who they are interacting with in Cyber-Space.
  3. If possible, have your computer or video game console in a public area of your house so you can closely monitor what your kids are playing.
  4. Talk to your kids from a young age about why you find certain video game content objectionable. Most teens will play video games with violent or sexist content from time to time, so it’s unrealistic to try to ban them outright at this age. However, if you talk to your teens, about why you find certain games offensive, they will respect your feelings, and hopefully they will carry your values with them even when they play games away from home.
  5. Encourage critical thinking. Discuss with kids how believable events or story lines in games would be if they happened in real life. Challenge stereotypes when you see them, and encourage your children to do the same.
  6. Do whatever is necessary to encourage and support your child’s participation in other activities such as boy / girl scouts or after school sports. If your child doesn’t seem to be interested in anything other than video games, try a tie-in to one of his or her favorite games. If your son prefers fantasy role-playing games, for example, you might encourage him to read books with fantasy themes.
  7. Limit the amount of time your child is allowed to play video games at home. 1 to 2 hours a day with 1 or 2 days of NO video games at all and 2 – 4 hours during the week-end seems reasonable. Also, talk to the parent’s of your children and find out if they are playing video games when they are away from home. Let them know of the video game restrictions you’ve imposed on your children.

More information on the effects of violent video games on our children:

-E. White-

Once again, I decided to change the look of…I think the new custom WordPress theme and website design works well with the content and I’m very pleased with the way it turned out.  Below is an example of the header which contains Our Branding. / Website Designs
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Google Latitude Knows Where You Are and Knows Where You’ve Been

Do you know where your friends are?

Google Latitude Friends Map

Click for Larger View

If not, Google wants to help you find them. Google has a product called Latitude, an opt-in feature that lets smartphone and laptop users share their location with friends and family and allows them to share their locations in return. Although not pinpoint accurate, Latitude can display your general location based on information from GPS satellites and cell towers. Latitude works on both mobile devices and personal computers.

What Latitude can do?

Once you and your friends have opted in to Latitude, you can see your friends’ Google icon displayed on Google Maps. Clicking on their icon allows you to call, email or IM them, and you can even use the directions feature on Google Maps to help you get to their location.

Google says Latitude works in 27 countries and with many mobile platforms including iGoogle with your computer. Here’s Google list of supported phones:

Google Latitude Supported Phones

Google Latitude is available on the following mobile devices:

  • Android-powered devices with Maps version 3.0+
  • iOS devices (iPhone 3G, 3GS, iPhone 4, iPad, and 3rd/4th generation iPod touch)

Native application:

The Google Latitude app, which you can download from the App Store, will run on the iPhone 3G, 3GS, iPhone 4, iPad, and iPod touch (3rd/4th generation), with iOS 4+. However, background location updating is only supported on the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, and iPad 3G.

Web application:

The web application runs in the Safari browser on iPhone and iPod touch devices in the Safari browser (Requires iPhone OS version 3.0+). Note that the web application does not support background location reporting.

  • Most color BlackBerry devices
  • Most Windows Mobile 5.0 and above devices. Note: Some Windows Mobile devices don’t support cell-ID location detection.
  • Most Symbian S60 devices
  • Some Sony Ericsson devices. Learn more about specific availability.

Some older versions of these devices cannot support Google Maps for mobile version 3.0 and above and will receive the most recent compatible version without Google Latitude.

How it works:

Let’s say Bob wants to share his location with his girlfriend Jane. He invites her to accept his invitation through his mobile device or computer. Then Jane can accept and share her location back; accept but not share her location; or completely reject poor Bob. If Jane has chosen to share her location with Bob, she can decide whether to share her best available location or simply which city she’s in. Jane could also hide her location to keep ol’ Bob in the dark from time to time, or if Jane breaks up with Bob for her neighbor Richard, then she could just remove Bob from her location list altogether.

In addition to restricting specific people, Latitude will also let you do a blanket location setting for all your contacts. You can choose to let Latitude detect your location automatically, you can also set it manually if you prefer or you can hide your location completely.

Google Latitude Location History Map

Click for Larger Image

Is Google tracking me?

According to company statements, Google only keeps your most recent shared location on its servers at any time. If you’ve hidden your location, then Google doesn’t hold any information on your locale at all. However, I know for a fact that Google keeps up to 6 months worth of location history of the places you’ve been. To access your Latitude History information, logon to your Google account from your laptop or desktop computer, from the main navigation menu, select More > Even More > Latitude and then select the Location History button. Google starts tracking your location a couple days after you install the application on your smart phone. The images on the right are an example of what your location history looks like. It shows where you’ve been for a 24 hour period. If you want to view another date, simply select the date on the calendar shown on the page. You can even use the satellite view that will take you down to street level, that’s amazing! Your Google account can view only your location history data, in other words, you won’t be able to view the location history of your “Latitude Friends” from YOUR Google account.

Google Latitude Map - History / Satellite View

Click for a Larger Image

While this feature sounds like it could be helpful, and sometimes incredibly annoying, I wonder what this does to the notion of privacy. For example, will federal officials or the police ever try to force Google to relay your location information? Or, what if Google Latitude shows your significant other that you’re somewhere you shouldn’t be when actually you’re a few blocks away? Where you are can also say a lot about you especially when it comes to your free time.

Think of the possibilities, is this giving Google and others to much information? We need to think about what would happen if your whereabouts ended up in the hands of someone with malicious intent. Your privacy and personal information should always be handled with care. Share your information only if you have a good reason too and only to those you trust.

On the lighter side, I found a funny video regarding Google Latitude. Enjoy!

– E. White –


What everyone needs to know about content

My definition of content, as it relates to Content Marketing is; the message we share in order to attract the right people’s attention and then earn their interest, to their betterment and the development of our company and personal brand.

Content is going to be extremely important in 2012 with Google changing its algorithm and with people looking at ways to create a strong presence on platforms that continue to change, like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. Great content is the one constant!

Here are some items I think about on a regular basis with respect to the content I share on blogs.Website Content

Creative: You have to have a strong voice and stand out. If you are blogging for a company, make sure the content you are writing relates to the products or services that your company provides. If you are writing about a popular subject, like social media, you really have your work cut out for you. There are so many social media blog sites. My advice to you, write about your personal experiences. This way you can take a solid stance on a particular subject.

Objective: Know your facts, do your homework. It is OK to use other people’s information or refer to articles, but always give credit. In fact, other writers appreciate people conducting reviews of their articles. Check out this blog post I wrote, about an article by Todd Schnick – entitled “Social Media Opinions”

Name: Always remember when you write, you represent your personal brand and company brand. You are always working to build your image and earn the respect of your readers. Always respond back to all valid comments left on your site. You can disagree with someone, but do not make it personal. Disagree with the point, not the person.

Time: Blogging takes time in the beginning. Generate ideas. Find a time that works for you to write blog posts on a regular basis. If you get stuck, come back. If you miss a day, it’s ok, just don’t miss another day. Take weekends off if you need to. You also might discover that weekends are the best time to write. Timing is everything. Find your best time and stick with it.

Every day: Work with your site every day. Check out the type of readers who are accessing your site. Spread word about your blog using Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. If you see a potential story, bookmark it for a later time. Read other blogs and see if there are things you could add to your own blog to make it better.

Newsworthy: Blog about topics or issues that are current and would add value to your  readers. Build on someone else’s idea and give credit. Check out trending stories. Make sure you are creating good, original content. It really doesn’t make sense to echo the same news as someone else.

Test: Try out different topics. Look at different blogging platforms. Personally, I prefer self hosted WordPress. Check out different page layouts. Make sure you use an analytic tool to gauge how many visitors, page views you are receiving and the words they use, to find you etc. Also, test sharing your links on social networks, using different titles to the original post. This allows you to learn which type of title attracts the most interest, so you can write better post titles next time. Talk to people who have been blogging for longer than you, as their experience could be extremely useful to you.

– E. White –

The Truth About Sharks

Blue SharkSharks are often seen as dangerous man eating predators that should be feared and extinguished. Nothing could be further from the truth. Only a few sharks are dangerous to humans. Out of more than 360 species, only four have been involved in a significant number of fatal, unprovoked attacks on humans: the great white, tiger, oceanic white-tip and bull sharks. These sharks, being large, powerful predators, may sometimes attack and kill people, but all of these sharks have been filmed in open water, without the use of a protective cage. Also, most of the recorded attacks were due to the human being mistaken for prey and the shark was just doing what it’s survival instincts told it to do. Shark are our friends and should never be extinguished or hunted for sport. They are a vital component of our oceans, they feed on a wide variety of fish, shellfish and mammals. The oceans remain healthy because every organism in it is part of a complex food web. When any component of this web is removed the balance in the system is altered. Sharks are involved in several steps of this web including, feeding on the sick and dying, and feeding on larger animals such as whales, seals and tuna, which have few predators. Since the food web is very complex, it is almost impossible to predict exactly what might occur, but it is safe to say that with loss of an apex predator, there will be noticeable ramifications.

Here are a few myths about sharks that should be corrected:

Sharks are trash fish – No Way!White Shark
Sharks are a critical part of marine ecosystems, a source for knowledge to help the human condition and the basis of a valuable fishery. Sharks are the maintenance crew of the sea.

Sharks have poor vision – Erroneous!
Shark’s eyes, which are equipped to distinguish colors, employ a lens up to seven times as powerful as a human’s, and some shark species can detect a light that is as much as ten times dimmer than the dimmest light the average person can see.

All sharks have to swim constantly – Misconceived!
Some sharks can respire by pumping water over their gills through opening and closing their mouths while at rest on the bottom.Shark in Cave

The great white shark is a common, abundant species found off most beaches visited by humans – Guess Again!
Great whites are relatively uncommon large predators that prefer cooler waters. In some parts of their range, great whites are close to being endangered.

Whale sharks, the largest species of sharks, are vicious predators – Not!
Whale sharks, which are the largest fish that ever lived, are plankton feeders like the great whales, thus the name.
Tiger Shark
Most sharks are harmful to people – Untrue!
Of the more then 350 shark species, about 80% are unable to hurt people or rarely encounter people.

A shark is a shark is a shark – Misconstrued!
There is no “typical” shark. The more than 350 species all differ in habitat, lifestyle and body form.

Sharks are hard to kill – Off Base!
Stress of capture weakens a shark, and so some sharks are easily killed in hook-and-line or net fishing.Whale Shark

Shark meat is poisonous to people – Wrong!
Although there have been some reports of people being poisoned by shark meat, the meat from the majority of sharks is edible and delicious when properly handled and prepared.

Sharks have peanut-sized brains and are incapable of learning – Wrong!
Sharks’ relatively large and complex brains are comparable in size to those of supposedly more advanced animals like mammals and birds. Sharks also can be trained.
Oceanic White-Tip Shark
Most sharks cruise at high speed when they swim – Invalid!
Although some sharks may swim at bursts of over 20 knots (23 miles per hour), most sharks swim very slowly at cruising speeds of less than 5 knots (5.75 miles per hour).

Sharks are not found in freshwater – Incorrect!
A specialized osmoregulatory system enables the bull shark to cope with dramatic changes in salinity from the freshwaters of some rivers to the highly saline waters of the ocean.Surf Buddy

Sharks are not discriminating eaters and scavenge the sea – Wrong!
Most sharks prefer to eat certain types of invertebrates, fish and other animals. Some sharks eat mainly fish. Others eat other sharks or marine mammals. Some sharks are even plankton-eaters.

Sharks prefer human blood – False!
Most sharks don’t appear to be especially interested in the blood of mammals as opposed to fish blood.

Sharks eat continuously – Preposterous!
Sharks eat periodically depending upon their metabolism and the availability of food. For example, juvenile lemon sharks eat less than 2% of their body weight per day.

Sharks must roll over on their sides to bite – No!
Sharks attack their prey in whichever way is most convenient, and they can protrude their jaws to bite prey items in front of their snouts.

The biggest enemy to sharks is man – Absolutely!
That’s why man must now do all he can to preserve them.

Shark Information

Wikipedia Encyclopedia
A great resource for all sorts of information. The link provided browses to detailed facts on sharks.
White Shark Overview
ReefQuest Centre for shark research.
The Shark Foundation
Good resource site that includes information on all types of sharks.
Shark Research Institute
Execellent up-to-date Shark information site. Check out their “Adopt a Whale Shark” program.
Bite Back
See how you can help preserve our marine ecosystems.
Marine Science Institute
Site includes marine conservation involement programs for families located in the San Francsico Bay Area.

Web Design Practices / Simple Tips for Web Design

Your web site is where your business resides — it’s like the Headquarter of an offline company. Hence, it’s important to follow good style principles and create positives so your web site reaches out to the maximum variety of visitors and sells to as many individuals as possible.  Following these Simple Web Design Tips will help you achieve your design goals:

Clear communication is a must when designing websites. After all the aim of the Web Design Practicesnet page is to deliver an explicit message to the audience therefore communication is key. Think of the long-term implications of your internet design. A net page filled with flashy animations would possibly attract a few browsers in the start, but may soon fizzle out as shoppers face problems with poor website usability, reduced speed of loading pages and lack of content.

Right on top of your list is your target market. Every website contains a different target market and should be designed accordingly. Content is as crucial as color, graphics, typography and layout of the web site.

Your website ought to be fascinating and truth crammed, simple to navigate and smart enough to come back to once more and again. The navigation menu should be uncluttered and concise therefore that visitors understand how to navigate around your web site without confusion. Make your web site users feel invited and snug when navigating your web site and don’t ever compromise usability for style. A website with dazzling designs however poor navigation is sure to irk your audience and leave them pissed off.

Reduce the quantity of images on your web site. They make your web site load very slowly and a lot of often than not they’re very unnecessary. If you’re thinking that any image is essential on your web site, make certain you optimize them using image editing programs so that they need a minimum file size.

Keep your text paragraphs at a reasonable length. If a paragraph is simply too long, you ought to split it into separate paragraphs therefore that the text blocks cannot be too big. This is very important as a result of a block of text that is too big will deter guests from reading your content.

Make certain your web site complies with web standards at and build sure they’re cross-browser compatible. Just because your web site is formatted according to your intentions in Internet Explore, doesn’t mean it will be formatted correctly in Fire Fox. You should make sure that your web site displays properly in all of the following primary browsers: Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, Google Chrome and Opera.

Meticulous attention to detail reflects your professionalism. Don’t litter your net page with all sorts of stuff however maintain a harmonious balance of content, graphics, typography, colors and content labeling. Smart typography and a right combination of colors unobtrusively enhance your website with high caliber craftsmanship.

Avoid using scripting languages on your website unless it is fully necessary. Use scripting languages to handle or manipulate information, not to make visual effects on your website. Heavy scripts can slow down the loading time of your web site and even crash some browsers. Also, scripts don’t seem to be supported across all browsers, thus some visitors may miss important data as a result of that.

Use CSS (cascading style sheets).
CSS permits you to maintenance the formatting of your entire site (e.g. the color or size of a text) on a single page – a CSS document. For example, if you wish to change the background color of your website, you’ll simply amendment your one CSS sheet and your entire web site’s background color would change.

Designing your website will be pretty easy with the numerous free web templates that are easily obtainable over the internet. But you should keep in mind that a web style template should only be used as a foundation around that you should custom-style your website to suit your special necessities.

Use inception software and freeware.
There’s no reason to create your own dynamic scripts (e.g. searching carts, chat-rooms, etc.), you can find plenty of freeware that is pretty easy to find by searching the web. Why reinvent the wheel if you don’t have too.

Do not benediction for free or tasteless internet-hosting.
Free hosts might emit your web site with awkward ads. Additionally, free and cheap hosts typically don’t support dynamic websites.

Just getting a website up and running is solely half the battle. Your web site should be designed making sure the mentioned factors are considered.  After you publish your site, be sure to treat it as a living breathing thing that requires attention to survive.  Using CMS  software (e.g. WordPress) to build your site will make it easier to be maintained and updated down the road.  Your visitors don’t want to see the same ol’ content every time they visit your site, keep your content fresh and your visitors will return.

It’s higher to have a easy, sleek, and useful website, than to own a complicated, sloppy, dysfunctional website.

– E. White –