Jul 24, 2005

The world on your screen

Interesting. NASA created the 'World Wind' soft, free to download, that provides high resolution satellte scans of the entire world (screenshots). If you leave in US, you should have no problems finding your home. I will see if it will prove useful in finding me an appartment :) Which also reminds me of the 'privacy scare' some people are fond of: the malicious government is watching us from above! Bah. Now, everybody can be a Big Brother... there is nowhere to run :) Hopefully, some privacy freaks will now dig a dungeon and stop bothering the rest of us :)

9 comments:

martin the great said...

I thought the avatar reminded me of something.

As for the whole Big Brother issue, I don't think satelite scans are that much of a privacy breach. Everyone's got at least a cell phone on him nowadays, not to mention tons of other cool high-tech gadgets and gizmos. Compared to satelite surveillance (which can be countered just by overhead cover), it's much more accurate and much easier to track a person by tracking the phone.

Of course, he can turn it off at any time. But then again, with the camera surveillance system in most cities (saw those recent photos from London? Installing security cams not only on bus stops, but in the buses themselves is clever), there's small need for that fancy schmancy cell phone tracking, much less for satelite scans.

On the other hand, being able to read your neighbor's newspaper even though you are on vacation in New Zealand, well that's just downright cool. This also makes for an interesting resource for AR-gaming (that is Alternative Reality Gaming, google or wiki for more info)...the players are given GPS coords, they boot up that World Wind thingy, enter the coords, zoom waaay in and read the note the puppetmasters (basically the game's GMs) left there...which might be another set of GPS coords. Man, that'd be cool.

Yipes, went on quite a lengthy (well, for me, anyway) rant here...

martin the great said...

Alright, I take that last big paragraph back (at least partially), apparently it's not realtime. I should've probably clicked the link before ranting away.

Piotr Konieczny said...

Hey MtG, looong time not seen, it's a pleasant suprise to hear from you again!

The phone - yes, if you carry one. And I wouldn't be supprised if it could be 'enhanced' to make it invisible.

The spread of personal tracking devices reminds me of David Brin's 'Earth' novel. Written in the late 1980s (IIRC), he predicts just that (many people will have Internet-plugged cameras etc.) and that using Useent-like thingy they can coordinate their activities, for example, trying to solve a global-wide mystery case. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend this book.

I am just about to install the NASA thingy. I am not sure if it provides the 'live' scanning or just some 'once every few hours/days' photos (there is also the issue of clouds etc.) but I am sure it will be able to do so soon if it isn't already. After all, most of the required technology is already in place...

Btw, MtG, you still hooked on Honor?

Martin The Great said...

Ad the phone: well, all you need to do is turn it off and you're invisible. I'm not sure about the 'enhancement' - when your cell phone is on, it is 'logged in' to the local GSM network. When you use it, the audio/data travel back and forth between your phone and the nearest GSM transmitter, a GSM node, if you will (or the one with the strongest signal). All you need to track someone's phone is to find out what node is he logged to. The accuracy depends on the number of nodes in the area - in the middle of nowhere with no buildings to disrupt the signal, there's one node every, say 50 km. Things get complicated when the nodes radius' overlap (last year, when I was in the mountains , my phone got confused as to whether is it in CZ or PL). OTOH in the city there's a node in each city part, each subway station and (lately) in malls, which allows for a much better accuracy.

(About time I got to the point.)

The thing is that in order to use the phone, you need to log in the nearest node. There's no stealthy approach, no way to mask the signal, to make it invisible.

However, if misdirection is an option, and if you have a powerful enough antenna on your phone (you can jury-rig it in no time, all you need is about half a meter of copper wire; that's what I do when the signal seems to be too weak), you can log in to a different node, let's say on the other side of the country.

Ad Honor: depends on what do you mean by 'hooked up'. I still read it every now and then, though the last book - At All Costs - has pretty much disappointed me (at least judging from the snippets); I mean, come on! Where did the carnage go? Who cares about Honor's personal life, I want my blood, gore and all the explosions back!

Piotr Konieczny said...

Seems like you know your cellphone, Martin :)

As for AAC, I have read it all and I can vouch there is lot of action later. The claim 'biggest battle ever' is validated as well. Good stuff.

Martin The Great said...

It's my best friend during those long, dark nights. Or rather, the girl on the other side of the line is.

So you say it's worth the, er, ballast in between the action? Anything new tech-wise (other than what's covered in snippets)?

Piotr Konieczny said...

It's worth it. And yes, there is quite a few techs - I guess we can safely say that it is a change comparable with AoV.

martin the great said...

Alright, sold! Now only to persuade my dad, he's the one with the Visa card after all...

Piotr Konieczny said...

Say, Martin, you still use your yahoo mail? If not, send me a mail from your new account, mine has not changed.

 
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