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"Murphy was an optimist!"

Why Twitter? Because San Francisco CA is shaking October 30, 2007 11:15 pm

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Communications, Technology
, 3comments

With Twitter, I know that San Francisco just had an earthquake. A big one. Obviously that may not be of importance to someone in Knoxville…unless you had relatives there. Just one example.

Update: more. Truemors. wise crack. 5.6 hits South Bay. Dave Winer is ok but was scared. Biggest native apenny has ever felt. scared the stink out of a skunk. Twitter has coverage but not local tv. USGS page on the quake is here. another acknowledgement. on google maps. missed Scoble but got his house. could have been a tech bubble burst. still no news coverage. some missed it.

Update: Reddit comments. Building at 2699 California collapses. John Anthony Tenta aka Earthquake.

Update: Finally some news about the earthquake..wait, no, that’s just news reporting that Twitter reported the earthquake.


Of Grasshoppers October 30, 2007 10:58 pm

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Of Grasshoppers, Philosophy
, 1 comment so far

Student: Once an a**hole.
Master: Always an a**hole.

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Knoxville Street Views Happening Now October 30, 2007 10:15 pm

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Gadgets, Of Interest, Privacy, Technology, Touchy Subjects, Transportation, Travel
, 9comments

Narration with additional commentary (note: since this was ad libbed I misspoke and called the antenna on top of the car "a satellite" when I intended to say "a satellite uplink" or "satellite antennae):

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

camera carPut your best lawns on! A California company is driving around Knoxville taking pictures of your neighborhood for Google Street Views or a competitor. I saw one of these cars zoom through my cove a few weeks ago and I wasn’t quick enough to strike an interesting pose. Westmoreland Gets on Google MapsI was also unhappy with the state of my lawn and porch but oh well. So, will Google catch you peeing on the side of the road? Getting a ticket? Breaking into a house? Growing pot? Or just showing off your favorite thong? (see also). Concerned about privacy?

Better picture:
Google Streetview Car photographs Knoxville

Update: Confirmed! That is a Google car!

Update: The WebUrbanist presents 10 urban snapshots from Google Street View including one implying that the google camera van ignores traffic blockades. Mashable asks Should Google offer to blur Street View imagery for people requesting privacy? And get my cat off your website! If you are enjoying these links then you will also enjoy http://www.streetviewfun.com/, some bizarre splicing issues, and Wired’s voting system to find the best Street View pictures.

Update: Jon Hickman asks, "Where do you actually see the pictures they take?" I am pretty sure these will show up in Google maps and Google Earth. Mashable suggests that they will be accessible from http://www.googlestreetview.com/ and two others but those domains aren’t live yet. Ah! Here is Google’s video explanation of Street Views and a direct link to where Street Views are available.

Of course Microsoft has Windows Live Street View.

Update Feb 6, 2009: Top 10 Moments Caught on Google Maps Street View (link to the flasher – she’s just a blur of pixels now)


Oneself October 30, 2007 8:18 pm

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Philosophy, Poetry
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You come into this world alone
Yet in the company of others.

You live your life alone
Yet in the company of others.

You die alone
Yet are mourned in the company of others.

Why can the heart not be alone
But yearn for the company of others?

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Say NO to speed cameras October 30, 2007 3:36 pm

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Economy, Gadgets, Local Politics, Politics, Technology, Touchy Subjects, Transportation, Travel
, 3comments

I was against red light cameras (and still am! $2 million TN dollars went to TX because of Redflex!) and I sure am against speed cameras. Speed trapping makes roads dangerous! Roads should be predictable. We don’t need people slamming on their brakes for police cars and cameras. Sometimes to avoid a problem it is safer to speed up then slow down even if that means hopping above the speed limit. An officer can see, "that truck was about to sideswipe him and he avoided it by speeding up." A camera cannot make that judgment.

I often drive fast on the Interstate. It is safe because the relative speed of traffic is the same and visibility can be several miles. I don’t drive recklessly. There is a huge difference between driving fast and driving recklessly. A slow driver can drive recklessly. In town, I tend to drive the speed limit. I recognize the lights have been timed such that you will make little gain by speeding in town. The few seconds you shorten your trip by speeding is not worth the danger you place pedestrians and other drivers in within the unpredictable confines of busy roads.

Speed cameras and red light cameras are profit tools for public, tax funded law enforcement. We don’t need them! We fix traffic problems through better civil engineering (narrow roads, curves in roads, reduction of traffic signs, removal of speed limits, etc.) and through education. Could you imagine the impact it would have if a police officer pulled you over for speeding and instead of giving you a ticket brought a video player to your car and forced everyone in the car to watch a 15 minute educational video on how speeding wastes fuel, puts unnecessary wear and tear on the vehicle, places people at unnecessary risk, and reduces travel time by less than a few minutes than staying under the speed limit? The 15 minute delay per incident may be reason enough to slow down. But even if the message did not reach the driver, perhaps it would get through to some of the passengers and then you’ve made a difference. Will a bill in the mail have that same impact?

UPDATE: Michael Silence has put up a poll to see if Knoxville wants speed cameras. When I took it, 86% said no.

Update: UT to probe ethics of using traffic cameras. Think about the other cameras we can have in our future "beeeep Our facial recognition software has identified you as Jane Doe. You have been standing in the same spot for 5 minutes and one second which constitutes loitering under ordinance w37704. A fine of $45 has automatically been assessed to your cell phone bill."

Related: Google is mapping Knoxville. How will you be immortalized for the world to view? Do speed cameras change driving habits? See Driving Patterns – Let the Ass Merge.

Update: More details including Chattanooga’s numbers.


Calling Marriot Housekeeping October 30, 2007 9:42 am

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Communications, Daily Life, Family, Gadgets, Of Being Dad, Sarah, Technology, Travel
, 2comments

On Saturday the 13th of October, Sarah settled into bed midnightish at a Marriot Hotel near Atlanta. She was traveling with the high school band to perform flags. On Sunday the 14th she awoke unable to find her phone that she had left on top of her luggage so she assumed it was in her luggage (that’s her official story..personally, I think she woke late and groggily shoved everything in her bag and rushed out to see her friends without giving the phone a thought). Sunday at 9pm as she came off the bus I asked, "where’s your phone?" She replied, "In my luggage." On Tuesday, she finally confided that her Motorola RAZR v3xx was lost or stolen.

I scoured her phone and text messaging records. The last number called was to Phoenix, Arizona so there was hope that we had a way to contact the person with the phone. After a few calls and several text messages we figured out that Sarah had actually placed those calls on behalf of a friend. Hope was lost. I contacted the housekeeping manager at the hotel and he confirmed no phone had been turned it. I deactivated the phone. A week later I called again and still no phone. LissaKay comes to the rescue (aided by Twitter) with a replacement phone for Sarah and Sarah flips with excitement spending the next 6 hours customizing the phone.

Yesterday I get a phone call from someone explaining they found the phone! Yea! Housekeeping came through. No, wait, this is guest! The phone, lost on October 13th, was found under the bed by an honest person staying in room 517 on October 29th. It still had power because Sarah had turned it off so the honest person was able to lookup "Dad" and found me. This means that room 517 hasn’t had a thorough cleaning in at least half a month and that for at least 15 guests, assuming the room is occupied every day, don’t check the room very well. Ewww.

Now, who gets the phone? Sarah or Tommy.


Reading for Halloween October 30, 2007 9:11 am

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Halloween, Holiday, Of Interest
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As a reminder, Google has Ebooks for Halloween. (direct link to Halloween ebooks) Read a spooky story!

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One of those days October 30, 2007 6:58 am

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Daily Life, Family
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You know it is going to be an interesting day when you start off by putting your hot chocolate in your bowl and your oatmeal in your mug.

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