Light Bulbs to Get New Labels

The FTC is mandating that in 2011, light bulbs get new labels that emphasis luminosity more so that watts.  If you take a look at the labels shown at the link, it features quit a bit of new information to help buyers determine the best bulb for their needs.  The emphasis on lumens over watts is a good change, as it’s the actual measure of light instead of energy usage.  I personally like the “average yearly cost in electricity” of the bulbs.  From the example, I’m not sure $7.23 for a incandescent bulb will hurt many people’s wallet, but think how many light bulbs you have in your house.  The total can become a healthy chunk of change each month!

Mobile Gulf Observatory

Discovery News and Treehugger are reporting on the new citizen scientist MOGO iphone app which lets the users can “take photos of oiled or dead wildlife, tar balls and oil slicks and upload them into the database which pinpoints their location for rescue workers”. Science for Citizens.net is a blog that can matches up potential citizen scientists with organization projects. Science has a June 2010 article on how scientists can find and collaborate with citizen scientists such as using locating and managing volunteers. One of the most well documented citizen science projects is the Galaxy Zoo project which asks volunteers to classify galaxy images from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope archive.

5th Anniversary contest reminder

A quick reminder that if you would like to try your hand at our contest questions, you can find them over at the contest page. You can answer each question once, a correct answer will get you an entry in our random drawing. 5 correct answers, 5 entries.

The lucky US based winner will win an XBOX 360, 2 runners up (from anywhere) will win nifty things too. All will be announced at the live show at the ESRI UC on July 14 and Episode 261.

All submissions must be in by 11:59PM PSTJuly 1, 2010. Additional contest details and restrictions can be found on the 5th anniversary contest page. Good Luck!

Mobile Phones Collecting Location Information About Customers

Assuming you don’t live in a metal box that’s trapped under a heavy rock buried far, far into the Earth’s surface, you should be aware Apple is launching a new phone in the next day or so.  Part of that is the role out of a new iPhone OS – OS 4.  It’s available for most of the current iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch devices already and can be downloaded as of… well, now.  However, what you might not be aware is if you install the OS, you’re agreeing to allow Apple to collect anonymous location information about you.  The information is supposed to be used to help make their location services better, as well as to sell to location providers to do the same.  The information is collected in near real-time and there’s literally no way to opt out (other than the obvious opt out of not using one).  Think you’re safe with Android?  Think again. Google has been collection location information (sometimes not so anonymously because it includes your phone number) for a long time.

To me, this represents one of the great potential downsides to the mobile phone market.  There’s a lot of value in information about you and companies will most likely be fairly aggressive to collect the information.  There isn’t really a functional way to opt out of these systems without grossly crippling your phone.  We hope that phone carriers and phone manufacturers use this information responsibly and protect the rights of their customers.  Unfortunately there’s a long history of corporations NOT being so responsible with customer information, despite intentions to the contrary.  For me, the take away from this change in the iPhone’s terms of service is that we, as consumers, need to more aware of the value of our information, and take as many steps as possible to protect that information.  That being said, if I had AT&T, I would be second in line (behind Jesse, most likely) to grab the new iPhone.  So it’s hard to practice what I preach at the end of the day.

Now that is fan(tastic) dedication

GIS experts make really cool fans, especially when locations are involved. Unlike other types of fans who are limited to writing fanfic or posting comments about their favorite show, GIS experts can literally guide you through a universe. Apartment Therapy posted about Jonah M. Adkins, GISP Newport News, Virginia spent four (4)! years creating a geographic study of the fictious “ISLAND” from the TV show “LOST”. Of course there is always the Complete and Official Map of the Verse or Firefly Universe and a white paper on the discovery, colonization and structure of The Verse. Also, the Simpsons Interactive Map, an ambitious Big Bang Theory map which tries to locate fictional places in real life. According to TV Tropes, “Really deluxe worlds [fantasy world maps]are proportioned like two pages side by side” so that must make a geospatial map super deluxe or super obsessive.

Digital Egypt

It has been a while since I did a general GIS search over on YouTube. This time around I found an interesting piece of marketing for a product named Digital Egypt that will apparently be coming out in the future. It seems to be primarily focused toward the real estate sector, but it grabbed my attention as I was scrolling through with its interface. While not a standout interface, it is clean and looks much better than some of geo-based realtor tools I have seen out there.