GPS

Will G+ Eat RSS, or Insist on Sole Ownership?

Thursday, July 21, 2011 

Weird: I have yet to find a way to import an RSS feed into G+. This is one of those things that significantly undermines Google’s “your data” cred. Anyone know of a way to do it? I haven’t found an “import RSS feed into your feed” the way facebook kinda does and the wordpress/facebook plugin does.

I’m a very strong believer in “he who owns the hardware, owns the data,” so, for example, posting this on G+ means that this text is Google’s (note, this was originally published on G+, then I stole it back!). And since it didn’t originate on my personal wordpress installation (free as in speech, free as in beer) running on my server at home (free as in speech, not absurdly expensive as in cheap beer), it isn’t mine.

My server also runs my mail server, my file server, my web server etc. all from my garage meaning that’s my data and my hardware and fully protected by law, while any data on Google’s server is effectively shared with every good and bad government in the world and my only legal recourse if it gets hacked or stolen or sold or given away or simply deleted is to… write an angry post on my blog and swear never to trust a cloud service again.

This is, obviously, exactly the same at FaceBook and every other cloud service. I use Facebook as a syndication service: I post on my own servers and syndicate via RSS to FaceBook, which becomes, in effect, the most frequently used RSS reader should people who haven’t gotten around to blocking me in their streams might find and by which perhaps occasionally be amused. This means I still own my data and my data has no particular dependence on FaceBook’s survival.

This post is visible only as long as Google wants it to be.  If Google changes the rules, I lose the data.  OK, I can download it – as long as they choose to let me, but it isn’t my data. When I post on my server then give FaceBook permission to republish the data, I control my data and they get only what I decide to give them. When I post this on Google and then ask “please, sir, may I recover my post for another use?” the power relationship is reversed: Google owns and controls everything and my rights and usage are only what they deign to offer me.

That almost everyone trusts the billionaire playboys who put king sized beds in their 767 party plane as “do no evilparagons of virtue is odd to me, but nothing better validates Erich Fromm’s thesis than the pseudo-religious idolatry of Google and Apple.  Still, even the True Believers should realize that the founders of these Great Empires are not truly immortal and that even if Google is doing no evil now, it will change hands and those that inherit every search you’ve ever done, every web page you’ve ever visited, every email you’ve ever sent, every phone call you’ve ever made or received, the audio of every message ever left for you, the GPS traces of every step you’ve ever taken, every text and chat and tweet might think, say, that Doing Good means something different than you think it does.  One should also remember the Socratic Paradox that renders tautological Google’s vaunted motto.

Unfortunately, at least so far, Google won’t let me use G+ to syndicate my data – they insist on owning it and dictating the terms by which I can access it. If I want to syndicate content through my G+ network, it seems I have to fully gift Google that content. I’m hoping there’s a tool to populate my “posts” from RSS so the canonical will remain on my server. Because it is the Right Thing To Do.

(Shhhh..  I’m going to copy and paste this into my own wordpress installation, even though I wrote it here on the G+ interface.  They probably won’t send me a DMCA takedown, but I do run the risk that they’ll hit me with a “duplicate content penalty” and set my page rank to 0 thus ensuring nobody ever finds my site again.  Ah, absolute power, so reassuring to remember that it is absolutely incorruptible.)

Posted at 11:47:35 UTC

Category: politicsself-publishingtechnology

Rental Infiniti M35x

Thursday, August 27, 2009 

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I got a very nice M35x upgrade from Hertz in LA this visit. It was one of the better rental cars I’ve had and a nice conclusion to 7 rentals in a row. The car is fast, comfortable, and quiet. The stereo sounded very good, there was in-dash GPS, refrigerated seats (!), and some other good features.

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The control dash is a bit over the top. The radio/temp/GPS control panel is via a big knob in a near horizontal format that made it fairly difficult to find the controls one wanted while driving, probably my only complaint.

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It has a fairly nice back-up camera feature that projects overlay graphics to guide backing up and made parking a lot easier once one got the hang of mapping the camera to motion.

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Oddly, the car had a feature I couldn’t figure out – a Compact Flash card slot. It is unusual not to have a USB interface, which seems more general than something media specific like a CF slot. I didn’t have a CF card to test, but I’d think it is either a way to add data to the GPS or media for the radio.

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Posted at 15:24:02 UTC

Category: photorental cars

Ski Megeve

Saturday, February 14, 2009 

A business trip took me to the French Alps and I managed to escape to the Mageve ski resort at the (excellent) advice of our sponsor. It’s a beautiful place, the winter counterpart to St. Tropez. It is easy to get to from Geneva, though the GPS took us up a tiny winding back road when we trusted it that wasn’t plowed and definitely was not the approved route. The resort is huge and interconnected with other valleys in the European style. There is a good range of terrain, though nothing too terribly difficult. The crowd tends to be fashionable and right now is the holiday season and in France so it is a bit crowded. Rentals are cheap (25 Euro) and lift tickets are pretty affordable too (35 Euro).

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The crowd is generally a bit fashion conscious: in fact, everyone I’ve met thus far is a seasonal employee and also works at St. Tropez. Which also suggests something else: the visitors tend to be a bit fashion conscious and with my old gear and less than fashionable presentation I seem to connect more with the local employees than the other guests. There was a very cool woman from Cote d Ivory I met at a Jazz club, and a hilarious photographer I ran into at a bar/tapas place. He spoke pretty good English and had a hilarious story about why he was there having crashed into his friend and broken his snow board while trying to avoid a tourist that had stopped on the downside of a big mogul (bad idea).

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Ski School is a big part of the holiday season and the kids fly down the hill like brightly colored ducks in a row.  Some are pretty advanced and the instructors take them to fairly challenging terrain sometimes leading them off into the woods: au revoir les enfants.

There is wonderful powder in the Cote 2000 lift area, which takes a lot of traversing to get to and even more to get back from – two Poma lifts back, one of which is the longest Poma lift I’ve ever had to ride. Near the summit after what seems like 30 minutes there is a sign “>50% Grade.” Uh oh. Then, right on that grade, the lift stopped for about 10 minutes to clear some injured off the track. Ow My Ass!

Instamapper ski map

In one of the back country areas there was some lovely off piste deep snow. I was cruising along and jumped a small creek. OK, nearly jumped a small creek. The far side was a nice steep rise and got me quite airborne, butt high. I landed flat on my back skis up in the air which engendered screams of tiny laughs from a swarm of little French ski students. Hey, one of their own had just missed the same jump and was retrieving his skis, so I don’t feel too bad.

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Ski School Megeve is an English (British) speaking outfit.

Posted at 09:20:54 UTC

Category: photoplaces

Cool Tracking Technology

Wednesday, February 4, 2009 

Instamapper.com has a pretty cool solution. Nothing radically novel in concept, but it does pretty much just work and with most devices with a GPS.

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It’s a little different from Google Latitude, which has a social aspect (your friends) but no history. Latitude is built into Google Maps Mobile 3.0, so everyone will have this on their phone in a few days. That’ll be weird fur sure.

Amazingly I downloaded this app this morning at 3.0.0, by the time I’d told a friend about it the release was 3.0.1, and the last person I told got 3.0.2. I guess Google is excited about this one.

Posted at 12:30:05 UTC

Category: cell phonesGeopostmapplacestechnology

Volvo v50 08 wagon

Wednesday, April 23, 2008 

Rental review

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I rent a lot of cars, and sometimes Hertz gives me something a little more interesting – like this Volvo V50. It’s a lot more comfortable than the usual Tauri, faster, and has a better stereo. The key features of a rental car are:
  1. Quiet – this car is about as quiet as any I’ve rented except perhaps the Audi A4.
  2. Comfortable – the V50 is a little less roomy than a torus, but I find the layout fits very well and doesn’t feel at all cramped.
  3. Basic amenities – I’ve gotten rental cars with manual windows or manual seats and mirror adjustments. It would matter less in one’s own car or just driving around, but realizing the mirrors are out of wack as you try to merge onto the freeway that is probably taking you the right direction before the GPS has locked satellites and discovering that you have to reach over, unroll the window, and poke at the mirror is sub optimal. The Volvo has everything you’d expect.
  4. Stereo – up here in Canada I listen to CBC-R2. Good classical and some funky music too. It’s nice when it sounds good. The Volvo has a great stereo that performs well at any volume and isn’t absurdly bass heavy like a Scion. On the other hand, the Volvo doesn’t have an iPod port like the Audi or a MP3 compatible CD player like a lot of Mustangs have.
  5. Security – I usually have a computer with me and sometimes it is convenient or necessary to leave it in the car. A trunk is a lot more secure than a wagon, and while the Volvo has a pull-out cover to hide what’s in the back, it’s not as confidence inspiring as having a solid trunk.
Posted at 22:00:27 UTC

Category: photorental carstravel

DEMO 08 Palm Desert

Friday, February 1, 2008 

Capsule summaries of the companies presenting at DEMO 08 in Palm Desert. 76 reviews continue past the break (click to expand):

Read more…

Posted at 16:55:51 UTC

Category: reviewstechnology

Snow Storm

Tuesday, January 22, 2008 

Carolyn and Vera and Zolly and I went skiing in Tahoe; they stayed at Donner Peak and I spent the day running up and down Granite Chief at Squaw, the only part of the mountain no being blasted by enough wind to blow you backwards uphill. The snow got pretty heavy at times and it was very pretty.

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Unfortunately the day before at (ahem) Boreal (ahem) I fell going pretty fast down their “black diamond” slope and bent my thumb back on the ice. The colors had faded by today and it is starting to move again.

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I really want to make a “sports” personal GPS, something with an indestructible over the jacket/on the wrist/on the handlebar wireless display and a remote back mountable patch antenna on some kind of shoulder strap and a data recorder with heart rate monitor. My GPS showed a max speed of 40.6 mph, but it can’t really get the fast parts because I’m bent over then and it is hard to mount it where it can see the sky.

Posted at 02:00:24 UTC

Category: photoplacesweather