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As most of the world knows by now, Facebook began rolling out new “features” on their social networking service this week. Besides the ability to go back to 1950 and note the first time you drove an Edsel, the other big change is that now you will be able to share what you are doing without clicking anything – it’s “frictionless”. You should take a moment and read Dave Winer’s post which looks at why you should logout of Facebook and Dan Lyons hilarious post about how all of our lives have been changed forever.
When I watched the livestream of the Facebook announcements, I immediately commented wondering how long before a wife divorces a husband because she sees that he is browsing Victoria’s Secret for panties that are a different size than she wears. I still give it about a week before the first stories of inappropriate business are posted. Back in 2007, a man was fired because his employer-provided GPS showed him leaving work early.
It looks like an example of what is to come on Facebook hit eBay this weekend. Found via Darren Stuart, a man in Swindon in the United Kingdom is selling a Tom Tom Go model 700 GPS receiver on eBay. This might be the most hilarious auction I’ve seen – of course the story is a bit emotional as the man found out that his wife is/was cheating on him. The auction is currently at a price of £10,000,000 which is just over 15 million USD.
From the auction (read the full description on eBay):
This was my wife’s, may her knicker draw be infested with the fleas of a thousand Camels…The Go 700 was once the top of the range Sat Nav from TomTom, with an internal Hard Disk Drive instead of the traditional SD Card, and had full Bluetooth and Wireless capabilities. I bought this for the back-stabbing harlot, some four or five years ago, before she met Nigel with the Little Penis, and it cost me over £400…
Her infidelity was discovered when I took her car for an MOT, and while waiting, I was tinkering with the Sat Nav and noticed that all her recent journeys had all been to Nigel’s…So, like any normal human, I reprogrammed Nigel’s address to one in a town far far away…
There are over 100 questions posted on the auction and the seller has responded to all of them. The auction ends on September 28th so you have a few days to decide if you want to up the bid from $15 million.
If you are a regular reader here at CN, you know that I am a big fan of public transit. I actually miss riding my subways in NYC now that I live in Texas (my friends think I am crazy!). It’s been so interesting and exciting to watch the MTA (that’s the NYC transit agency) embrace technology over the past 12-18 months.
At the MTA Transit Committee meeting for January 2011, there was some interesting information regarding RFID testing. The information begins by noting that on the 7 train line which runs from Times Square out to Main Street in Queens, they are testing a new train tracking system called the Interactive Train Registry Activity Console (I-Trac).
From the report, “The I-TRAC system is a web-based system with many advantages…updates can be implemented very quickly and will only require a refresh of the browser to be activated by the end-user. Updates will be performed between rush hours.”
During November 2010, the MTA tested RFID and GPS units along the 7 train line. From the report, “TIS installed barcode RFID tags on a 7 train so that the barcode could be read by a hand held device to test the GPS. On December 15, TIS conducted their RFID and GPS test on the 7 line at the Vernon-Jackson station.” The report continues, “The data will be captured via the trains, downloaded, converted to the Transit TIS system, and then broadcasted to the public. The GPS and RFID reader gave very good results. The RFID gave accurate readings of trains entering and leaving the stations…The next step will be for the vendor and Subways Engineering to conduct site surveys of three stations where RFID readers will be installed.”
The MTA has been testing countdown clocks at a variety of subway stations. My issue with these clocks is that they are only available after you have paid your fare and are waiting on the platform. It looks like these new RFID/GPS units will be able to broadcast realtime information so you can make a decision before you leave home or the office.
The Apple iPhone developer’s blog has an interesting entry from yesterday that discusses location-based advertising in iPhone apps. The usage of GPS functionality to deliver local information must provide “beneficial information” to the user.
The entry notes (my emphasis), “If you build your application with features based on a user’s location, make sure these features provide beneficial information. If your app uses location-based information primarily to enable mobile advertisers to deliver targeted ads based on a user’s location, your app will be returned to you by the App Store Review Team for modification before it can be posted to the App Store.”
MacNN has a good look into what this decision means for developers and for Apple. “Many analysts believe Apple is preparing to launch a mobile advertising network that will serve ads through free apps on the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. The company recently acquired Quattro Wireless, a mobile advertising specialist, after reportedly failing to sign a deal to purchase AdMob. The latter company was later picked up by Google,” MacNN notes.
Last week the NY Waterway announced the addition of a bus locator service to their bus fleet in NYC. The NY Waterway provides a ferry service around NYC and they have a bus fleet with over 40 buses. The company notes that their 40 buses makes them larger than many transit systems across the U.S.
The bus locator service is available via the addition of GPS transmission devices placed on their buses. Currently you need to call NY Waterway to find out when the next bus will arrive although the company says that mobile apps are coming soon. Not sure why you would launch without a way to get the information automatically via your computer or mobile device.
Earlier this year the NYC MTA launched a test of a bus locator service on several crosstown bus routes. Many other cities already have displays with a list of times until the next bus arrives. While I am not a fan of this functionality underground (there is never a long wait), I am a big fan of this technology for the bus fleet. The countdown timers can give you a quick indication if you should walk or take a cab.
Have you ever called in sick but really you were heading out to the beach? Told your boss you had a doctor appointment when you were actually at the spa? Those days may soon be coming to an end!
A company named ExtendTime has launched a new mobile application that runs on any phone with GPS capability. The product is called ExtendTime Mobile GPS and the company hopes to tap into home healthcare market and reduce fraud.
The application allows the employee to note the work they are performing and the application automatically includes their location based on the GPS. ExtendTime describes the application as, “The mobile employee can now clock in/out time, review schedules, transfer labor hours, check benefit information, and receive messages from supervisors while the GPS feature captures the coordinates of the employee’s location.”
The idea is that as a boss you will now be able to easily tell where an employee is as they report for work. They are focusing on the healthcare industry as there are increased compliance requirements. The ExtendTime product helps to provide an audit point. Of course workers who want to get around this, or any other tracking system, will figure out a workaround.
Amstermdam-based GPS-maker TomTom has announced the launch of their online route planner tool today. From what I can tell, this could be a real competitor to Google Maps and/or Mapquest. The biggest difference between the TomTom online route planner and other route planners is that it the routes it provides are "intelligent".
What intelligent means is that the directions TomTom provides changes based on time of day and historical traffic. What might be the best way from point A to point B during a weekday rush hour will be different than on Sunday at 7am.
The next piece of the route planner is TomTom’s HD traffic function. This only works in London and Holland currently but basically what happens here is that data from TomTom’s gps customers is sent back to TomTom so that real, live traffic can be displayed on the online map and then routes changed accordingly. One interesting note – TomTom gets data from Vodaphone when their customers make calls and are moving – basically TomTom can tell how much traffic there is from someone speaking on a phone while in route – that’s pretty damn slick (and scary!).
Lastly, TomTom uses MapShare which allows their GPS customers to report incorrect maps (i.e. when a street shows one-way on the map, but it’s really two way or when a street no longer exists). Those changes are sent immediately back to TomTom and are updated nightly to the online map.
If TomTom can figure out how to get their GPS customers to both use and spread the word about the new online route service, it could gain some much needed traction. The online route service is currently in beta.
Here’s a demo video explaining how the system works:
This weekend Samsung alerted me that my cell phone was ready for an upgrade to Windows Mobile 6.1 which apparently also set the GPS receiver to “on”. This morning I went out for a walk, loaded Google Maps, clicked “use GPS” and started walking. This was my first time with my own GPS unit and damn is it precise. On my walk home I realized Google now knows where I’ve been walking. While I didn’t login to use the Google Maps service, they could easily get that information.
XMCP wrote a post this weekend which looks at how Google tracks each of us as we use the net. Last year James Thomas devised a plan to go without using any of Google’s services and was able to turn off their tracking as well. XMCP’s post doesn’t include the mobile point I’ve noted above but does look at some of the elements of tracking. People talk about how worried they are about national ID cards – does Google know more about us than an ID card ever will? I like XMCP’s notes about Google Chrome.
Just how much does Google know? Ok for Google to control these many bits of data on each user no matter if they use it or not? Here’s my chart for easy reference:
- If you use Adwords, they know your marketing plan and they know your purchasing patterns.
- If you use Adsense, they know which of your sites makes money (though we know nothing sadly), they know how to target which ads to your site, they know how much to payout and how much to keep.
- If you use Alerts, they know what topics are important to you.
- If you use Analytics, they know which sites you control and/or monitor, how those sites are doing and every trend possible.
- If you use Blogger, they know what you write about. Every word, every phrase, every out and in link.
- If you use Calendar, they know where you have been, are, and plan to be.
- If you use Catalog search/Product Search, they know what items are of interest to you and which items you actually purchase.
- If you use Checkout, they know all of your personal information: name, address, phone, credit card, ccid.
- If you use Chrome, they know everything they didn’t already know about your browsing.
- If you use Desktop, they know what you have on your PC.
- If you use Docs and Spreadsheets, they know that you are writing a paper on 13th century france, and your checking account is $30 overdrawn.
- If you use Earth, they know where on the planet you desire to research.
- If you use FeedBurner, they know all about your readers and your readership levels.
- If you use Finance, they know what stocks (and other instruments) you own, which you monitor, and which trends you follow.
- If you use Gmail, they know everything. Yep, everything.
- If you use Groups, they know you have a fetish for rare steaks and love art from Paris.
- If you use Image search, they know that you like Britney Spears and you have a craving for chocolate babaka and cat photos.
- If you use Local search, they know where you are now, and what you are interested in.
- If you use Maps, they know where you might be, where you might be going, where you have been. And as noted above, if you have GPS, they know where you are at this exact moment.
- If you use Reader, they know what you are interested in.
- If you use Search (any Google search), Google knows every search you have ever made.
- If you use Talk, they know who your buddies are.
- If you use Toolbar, they know every web site you visit.
- If you use Translate, they know that you are learning German.
- If you use Video, the same applies as for YouTube.
- If you use YouTube, they know every video you have watched, what genres you like, which naughty videos you have watched, which ones you commented/favorited on, and the videos you have uploaded.
Please add your own Google tracking bits and I will update the post. (added Reader per comments)