Day: February 12, 2004

  • ETech: 35 Ways to Find Your Location (with special features)

    Chris Heathcote is bringing up the rear of the conference with a talk on geolocation.

    • no magic bullet
      • GPS is not the solution
      • appreciate the toolbox
    • measures
      • accuracy
      • availability
      • reliability, trust, etc
    • What’s good enough?
      • 20-50m?
      • too much costs too much
      • to little isn’t useful
    • Here we go
      • 0. assume: The Earth
      • 1. the time: is it light? dark? what time is it here?
      • 2-7. cultural clues: which cel phone operators? which wi-fi? phone number syntax? newspapers available? accuracy: country
      • 8. Ask someone.  Accuracy: 10 meters (if you’re lucky)
      • 9. Use a map.  Accuracy: 10 meters to 1 mile
    • mobile tech
      • 10. cell ID.  You have to go through the operator.  accuracy: 50m to 2 miles.
      • 11. cell ID (local lookup): you’ve got to keep track of geo data youself
      • 12. angle of arrival (AOA)
      • 13. time distance of arrival (TDOA) 30-50m
      • 14. observed time difference (OTD) 25-250m
      • 15. assisted GPS: mainly in japan.  cel operator assists GPS chip with your location for more accuracy.
    • Geo Tech
      • 16. GPS: pretty good, but doesn’t work everywhere.  Are there satellites above me?  kills batteries.
      • 17. WAAS: improves accuracy for GPS.  Even more sattelites required.  2m-25m
      • 18.differential GPS: needs two receivers pretty close.  1-3m.
    • street furniature
      • 19.postcodes and zipcodes.  usefulness varies
      • 20. street names.  Not all countries have street names.  hard to enter when mobile. 20m-hundreds of miles
        • 20a. street corners, intersections provide more accuracy. 10m-miles
      • 21. street numbers: great, if available.
      • 22. biz names. go out of date really quickly.  lots of some types of businesses in some locations
      • 23. landmarks and littlemarks.  what can you see?
      • 24-26. public transport.  bus stops, street lamps, traffic lights.  bus stop UUIDs.  Data is proprietary
      • 27. location street signs.  dedicated geolocation street signs.  10m accuracy.
      • 28. geowarchalking.  rock!  pirate geo graffiti.  geolocate the world.
    • emerging tech
      • 29. dead reckoning. accelorometers, compasses, really accurate measurement of relative positions.  needs accurate location and time source to start with.
      • 30. wi-fi triangulation. active campus
      • 31. broadcast TV/radio triangulaton.  needs broadcast reception from three different locations.  not likely in many areas.
      • IP lookup: great for a country or continent but not much better than that.  Varies.
    • location advertising
      • 33. encoding of location in access point name/location points.  part of SSID or whatever is advertised.
      • 34. local servers/rendezvous: where am I. fixed machines that say where they are.
      • 35. bluetooth.  dink.  here you are.
    • bonus
      • 36. RFID.  anything that transmits can give you location.  Is this scanner geolocated?  or in reverse, card senses if scanned and potential lookup
    • a social future
      • 37. who are you near?  where are they?
      • 38. objects you are near. are they broadcasting their location?  what’s more accurate?  do something with it.
      • 39. the road most traveled. recording and aggregate accurate flows.  time, speed, quantity of movement.  maps autogenerate themselves on the fly. better directions, see who has been where recently.  WAAG.
    • winding down: location is important.  what if you want to be lost?

    the presentation is here.  #geo on is another place to check out.  Become a geowanker.  Great presentation, Chris!

  • ETech: Dashboard

    Edd is going over Dashboard.  It’s pre-alpha, runs under Linux in C# using Mono, and just all around rocks.  I’m really impressed with the information that it snags when you go to one of Edd’s page.

    It’s sort of like jibot for the rest of your computing life.  It is absolutely brilliant.  I’ve been looking at screenshots of it for quite some time, but Edd’s presentation makes me want to go through the trouble of installing it.

    As usual, dajobe is logging everything with realtime IRC notes in #foaf.  The notes are excellent as usual.

  • ETech: Power to the People: Hardware Hacking for the Masses

    It’s off to the Plaza room for a hardware hacking session that sounds really interesting.

    Andrew Huang, or “Bunny” has some suprisingly easy hardware hacks to share.  He’s the Hacking the XBox guy.  Right now he’s going over the basics of hardware hacking, reverse engineering, and the like.  Current slide: Is RE Legal? (Answer: Yes- but IANAL).  Hardware hacking and reverse engineering is sort of a a checks and balance system.  For example: does that computer indeed have the chipset in there that it says it does.

    Watch out for the DMCA, it bites.

    Why reverse engineer?  Why not?  It can be a curiosity.  Tweaking and and innovation is another reason to hack or RE.  Accountability is another reason.  Hacking is balance.

    Printer cartridge ink chips suck.  Lock in sucks.  Hardware hackers can help by reverse engineering the chips and lock in system.  Get it out into the public.  Tweak your cars.  Chip your cars.  Why ship an engine but not enable all of its power?

    Hardware hacking appears to not be as easy as it used to be, but it’s still pretty darn easy.

    Emerging trends: circuit boards and dev boards are really cheap now.  They used to be really expensive, but now they’re cheap.  The barriers for entry still apear to be high, but are quite lower.  No single trend solves the problems of hackers, but several trends are here.

    • cheap circuit boards.  You can send design files to a company, they make them, send them out without having someone touch the board in the process.  Breadboards were great, but these things are better.
    • You can get really cheap PCBs which you can program and extend.  He has a list of sites up, but my eyesight is pretty bad so I can’t transcribe the URLs.  The talk should be online later.
    • FPGAs are helping.  ASIC: Application Specific Integrated Circuits are great, but really specific and not good for general hacking.  FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) chips are a hardware hackers friend.  They can do all kinds of stuff.  They can be really fast.
    • Design tools are getting better.  For example, WebPack is free.
    • Open Source hardware is here.  The tools and designs can be open.
    • Soldering and desoldering is a lot easier than it appears.  ChipQuick has an alloy for easily removing chips from boards.
    • Probing boards has gotten better.  The leads are really small, but the tools are definitely there.  Micrograbbers are less expensive and very efficient for hearing what an individual pin is doing.
    • A lot of the stuff that costs $25,00 can be done with much lower tech and a few weeks time.
    • IC Analysis is up and coming, getting easier.  The tech is a bit above my head, but cool no less.
    • Back Doors.  It’s all about back doors.  Use the back doors, they are your friend.

    I was hoping for some more practical hardware hacking, though the book Hardware Hacking Projects for Geeks by Scott Fullam should cover a lot of that.  I’m excited about lower cost FPGAs and PCBs.  I must check in to that some more.

  • ETech: GeoURL

    After a fine Denny’s breakfast with Ewan, I snuck in to the GeoURL session a few minutes late.  Right now Joshua Schachter is showing off a ton of cool sites that use the technology.  I really hope that the links from the talks are collected somewhere, because all of these sites are really cool and worth digging in to.

    As with anything with google juice, spammers have been trying to take advantage of it, but Joshua is on the job, so don’t worry.  If your blog is not yet GeoURL aware, get with the program and add it now.

    Joshua will be putting his presentation up on the web, I’ll link to it as soon as I find it.  Lots of amazing stuff has been built on top of the simple but effective GeoURL tag.

  • ETech: Life Hacks

    Danny O’Brien presented an excellent session on life hacks.  He sent out questionaires to alpha geeks who do work publicly and interpreted the results that he got back.  When he asked for screenshots of said alpha geek desktop, the most common theme was shells.

    And shells, and shells, and shells, and shells…

    The command line is the lowest common denominator when you work publicly.  The command line is also scriptable.

    The other common trend was the use of a todo.txt file or something similar.  Alpha geeks tend to work with tools that they know, and todo.txt or otherwise organizing life in text files.  The common view among alpha geeks is to not trust your software more than you have thrown your computer in the past.

    The email client is also an excellent organizational tool.  Alpha geeks use it a lot.  Private blogs and interntal/secret RSS feeds are also becoming more important, and often replacing email as an organizational tool.  Alpha Geeks are rapidly spending a fair amount of time in their RSS aggregators, and are using the software that they trust.

    I was suprised that wiki didn’t come up as an organizational tool.

    Scripting the daily life is also a common theme among Alphas.  Personal scripts tend to be short, for specific use, may have a limited use life, and are often embarrasingly encoded.  Often a script is written, used shortly, and promptly lost or forgotten.

    Danny is an excellent speaker, and it was great to peer into the minds of alpha geeks in the public space.

  • ETech: FOAF

    I’m sitting near the back of the FOAF session.  Complete notes can be found in the #foaf log.  I’ll add my comments/notes here.

    The big (but not really new) news is that Livejournal is rolling out a FOAF explorer, which could add another 2 million FOAFs.  Since Livejournal is such a community and friend driven site, I can only view this as a good thing.

    Dan Brickley gave an overview of FOAF and there was some discussion about privacy concerns.  Edd Dumbill is currently demonstrating FOAFbot.