The diaries from sea voyages are thrilling, especially those that study marine biology. From the first entry setting down the base coordinates to later entries listing nautical miles traveled. Although they take place almost two hundred years apart, two sea voyages are available online this week, Darwin’s Beagle Library from Darwin’s voyage (1831) and Clean Our Oceans Refuge Coalition (COORC) Alguita Expedition to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (2014).
In the world of advertising and marketing, it is fairly easy to guess that if something starts to show up on deal sites and clearance sections that it has either A. gone mainstream or B. jumped the shark and is no longer “cool”. Either way, this is good news for geocaching which has shown up in some fairly mainstream places lately.
Todays, Woot megadeal site has an entertaining video, Mortimer’s Adventures in Geocaching, to sell geocaching items on sale that features their mascot, Mortimer. Statements like “Geocaching is like a real life treasure hunt you can go on almost anywhere there is a steady population of nerds” might indicate that the Woot Seattle office has some veteran geocachers in the office. However, finding cool Lego figurines might just be a geocacher’s dream item. Continue reading
We downloaded several apps for our Very Spatial Road Trip that were recommended by friends, online reviews, and VerySpatial podcasts. Since she was acting as navigator, Barbara insisted on stopping at AAA and picking up a stack of paper maps for back up. We found that there is no better crucible for road testing a travel app than a lengthy trip into the unknown under sometimes stressful and time imperative conditions. We felt like the explorers in Dava Sobel‘s book “Longitude” who were sent to sea with new technologies that we hoped would live up to their claims. It wasn’t until after our trip that we heard more honest opinions on the strengths and weaknesses of the apps we packed. A friend, who is a global traveler, told us that it is good travel etiquette to leave our own input on any crowd-sourced apps as our “payment” for using it and to “pass it on” to other travelers. In that spirit, we have written a review of the apps that we used on our road trip from WV to CA.
Europeans and Americans just give directions differently. Who knew? Researchers conducted an experiment to see if people gave directions differently if they thought the person was driving verses looking at a map. Turns out that while that does have an impact, where you’re from has a larger impact on how you describe directions. Americans tend to give directions by saying street names and giving cardinal directions, e.g. “Go North on Main St”. Europeans tend to give directions by saying the number of streets to go and whether to go left or right, e.g. “Go up two streets, then take a left”. The article proposes a number of theories as to why this might be the case, but they don’t actually test any of them fully. Still, it’s a pretty interesting finding, I think. Also, it’s yet another point suggesting that I’m secretly European and didn’t know it
I know I am about a week behind on this, but I am still pretty excited about TomTom’s ever growing utilization of its MapShare database. With the release of regular, free updates of the community provided information this brings not only a boon for the TomTom nav unit customers, but an increasing recognition of, and, I would assume in turn, an increase in community provided data. This is a great asset for the TomTom data licensing customers who benefit from these user driven data updates. (Yay!)
Lightsquared is not prepared to go gently into the night. They have hired Theodore Olson (among others) to help argue their case. Olson is most famous for having successfully argued for Bush in the Bush v. Gore Supreme Court case that settled the 2000 US Presidential election. In other words, Lightsquared brought out the big guns. Olson argues that government encouraged Lightsquared to invest in a startup technology then slammed the door in their face when final approval was sought. I’m not enough of a legal expert to know if Olson’s argument holds water, but it is rather telling a relatively famous attorney would take up the case.
As I’ve said in nearly every post in this ongoing saga…. we’ll keep you abreast of the situation as news becomes available.
Lightsquared, who last month received a conditional waiver from the FCC on its products, looks like it might be in trouble as the FCC has withdrawn that waiver. Obviously the FCC acted in response to concerns over GPS interference. This officially ‘kills’ Lightsquared’s proposed solution to rolling out a 4G-LTE network over the spectrum it owns, baring some sort of miracle intervention from who knows where.
However, I think they’ve made an interesting counter argument to the GPS interference test results – the GPS industry is too big to fail. What they’re effectively arguing is that industrial GPS manufacturers use equipment that over listens to signals, meaning it’s paying attention to a portion of the spectrum upon they never were licensed to listen.
I’m not personally knowledgeable enough about spectrum use in general (and GPS spectrum use in particular) to know if the argument holds any water. I do think it’s interesting the FCC chose – wisely in my opinion – to preference navigation over cell communications. However, I believe more knowledgeable heads than mine should certainly investigate Lightsquared’s claims. The license of the spectrum really only works if everyone obeys the virtual fences properly. That’s true whether GPS is encroaching on Lightsquared’s territory as Lightsquared believes or whether Lightsquared is encroaching on GPS territory as testing has suggested.
We don’t feature Real Life Comics that often, but it’s a funny comic and worth a read… especially today Plus, I’ve met Greg Dean (the artist) at a con and he’s a super nice guy.
Here’s some bad news for LightSquared – looks like their system will negatively impact the overwhelming majority of GPS receivers currently in operation, based upon a leak of a test report. A series of tests were conducted by the National Telecommunications & Information Administration between Oct. 31 to Nov. 4 confirming this concern. LightSquared fired back suggesting they plan on operating at a lower power point than the tests and that ‘interfered’ isn’t properly defined by the study. They estimate their new systems will only negatively interact with 10% of existing GPS units. LightSquared says in a letter, “The report presents a completely slanted and selective review of the test results. Clearly the leak was intended to prejudge the issue and prejudice public opinion against LightSquared.”
To be honest, in my opinion, even 10% seems a bit high. Regulators were withholding approval for the new system in anticipation of this study. Looks like to me LightSquared better commission a new study PDQ or risk loosing approval for their new systems.