Thursday, July 31, 2008
Posted by Alan Childress
Three technological ideas to ponder:
1. The interesting IT Security post Blurred Out: 51 Things You Aren't Allowed to See on Google Maps has all the usual suspects (the White House's rooftop security devices, bomber bases, nuclear plants), some that make sense once explained (Stony Brook University, the Boring house in Pennsylvania,the city of North Oaks MN), and some odd ones (downtown Sydney, William Hurt's house, Playland Amusement Park in Rye NY). Commenters list plenty other examples and explanations. [HatTip to EE, which also links a lyric-search and CD-cover website.]
2. I am a big fan of GPS units and the security and confidence they bring. They are so cheap now, and easy to use. Even "basic" units one can buy at Wal-Mart or Amazon do all you may need (e.g., some are cheaper because they exclude Canada and Alaska, though they incorrectly and insultingly call it "continental US only" as if Alaska is an island). Most units have a Go Home button or setting, and that is convenient from anywhere to get back on track. But consider setting the home address to a neighbor's house (or the police station) just in case your car is stolen or a valet professional gets inappropriately curious (recall a great scene in Entourage). I feel confident that you can find your way home from the next street over if that's how you set its default.
3. Let's all quit pretending that Zillow has any basis in reality. Any search of the web reveals error rates that would be unacceptable if it were to be taken seriously. In my case it does not even have the correct house at my address, not even close, but it dutifully values my house (without any information about bedrooms and baths even if it were the right house) anyway at some fixed number. I think the monkey-dart picking stocks experiment could also double for a more accurate valuation system on the web. Meanwhile, I have set my GPS "home" as this house down the street. If my car or GPS is ever stolen, and the thief has initiative and follow-through, I expect to see that house devalued more on Zillow.