* photo taken at local bookstore
I watched this video on NPR’s “Krulwich Wonders” blog earlier this week and haven’t been able to shake it. Watch the video before we continue with this post:
Isn’t that just the creepiest thing ever? And the crazy part is, that’s an advertisement. Swedish tech giant Ericsson seems to want a future where we eschew human relationships to spend more time with our microwave ovens.
And what’s with that guy’s hair?
Continuing my post from yesterday, I want to show you guys something cool.
Here in Newspaper Land, we love a good story but we love it even more if it comes with “art.” My iPhone tracking story came with a golden opportunity for “good art.”
Along with news of the iPhone’s tracking features came an application called iPhoneTracker, which plots your phone’s GPS data on a map and marks your locations with multicolored dots.
I don’t have an iPhone (yet) but many of my co-workers do. Daily Mail cop reporter Ashley Craig volunteered to be our guinea pig. After she synced her phone to her shiny MacBook, we downloaded iPhoneTracker and launched to program. Within seconds we had a map of her recent travels to North Carolina, where she attended a friends wedding. Click the image to see a larger version.
One more thing. I find it amusing that Apple is being accused of Big Brother-ish activities when their first major television commercial was this:
I’m waiting for a video where someone slings a sledgehammer at an iPhone, but I don’t think it will have the same dramatic effect.
Did you ever have a fleeting memory a some figment of popular culture from when you were a child? That happened to me today. I was thinking about magic hats, as I often do, and I vaguely remembered a weird show from THE GREATEST DECADE OF ALL TIME, the 1970s, about a boy who actually fell into a magic hat to a strange, scary world from which he could never seem to escape.
Through the magic of Google, I figured out what I was talking about. I think my keywords were “boy,” “magic hat” and “TV.” And up popped “Lidsville.”
That would seem like a terrific name for a hat store. Instead, it was the freakiest show mankind has ever known. I quote here from those deadpan jokesters at Wikipedia: “The word ‘lid’ is slang for a hat or cap (as in ‘flip your lid’), but ‘lid’ is also early-1970s slang for an ounce of marijuana.”
Ha-ha! We have a great idea for a kids show! And we can sell LOTS of lunch boxes!
Like my hazy memory, the premise is that a boy goes to a magician’s performance, is intrigued, sneaks backstage and checks out the magician’s black hat. The hat grows to an enormous size and the boy climbs up to its brim to peer inside. And he falls in. To another world. Where almost everyone is wearing a theme park costume. And he can’t escape.
Naturally, this sprang from The World of Sid and Marty Krofft.
And, naturally, the boy in the show was played by Butch Patrick, best known as Eddie Munster.
The villain of the show was named Horatio J. Hoodoo, voiced by Charles Nelson Reilly. As a valuable aside, “Horatio J. Hoodoo” would be a great name for a family dog. For that matter, so would “Charles Nelson Reilly.”
The DVD collection of the 1971-73 series came out a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, poor Mark, the kid who falls into the hat, doesn’t return home in the end. But there’s still a chance! (Kinda.) Earlier this year, there was a report that Dreamworks is considering a remake of Lidsville.
I couldn’t make this up if I tried. Unless I had an ounce or two of lid. (* See my humiliating terminology error — and resulting loss of street cred — in the comments below. Also, discuss: if you don’t have street cred, can you lose it?)
Anyhow, check out the opening for “Lidsville.” And prepare to freak:
Have an iPhone in your pocket? An iPad on your desk? According to stories floating around the interwebs last week, you’re being watched. Apple’s super-popular devices are logging your every GPS coordinate, giving Big Brother an ongoing log of your travels.
Except, not really.
Christopher Vance, a mobile forensics specialist working with the West Virginia State Police, thinks the hype surrounding the devices’ “tracking abilities” is overblown. And I think he’s probably right, him being a mobile forensics specialist and all.
Go read my story about the issue in today’s Charleston Daily Mail, but here’s a brief rundown for the purposes of this post: Vance thinks the GPS coordinates are stored to make it easier for your phone to reconnect with cell towers and Wi-Fi networks you’ve previously used. If the phone needs GPS info, it pulls it from this secret log instead of re-gathering the information.
Also, another main point: you need direct access to an iPhone or the computer where it was most recently synced before you can retrieve any tracking information. Vance says he’s seen no evidence that your phone or iPad are transmitting your whereabouts to Apple Headquarters or anywhere else.
Vance also said the data is almost useless for forensic purposes — it can place someone in a city, even in an area of a city, but not on a particular street corner at a specific time.
Wi-Fi networks are a little more helpful (if the police see I’m on Taylor Books’ network at the same time some witnesses see me stuffing merchandise from the store’s fine magazine selection into my backpack, I might be screwed) but there’s no guarantee Joe Criminal will stop his exploits to switch over to wireless.
NPR’s All Tech Considered blog posted an interesting analysis of the tracking information. Be sure to check out the map about halfway down. The blogger is sitting at NPR headquarters but his phone is recording him at locations blocks away.
If you’re still worried, me and my fellow Motorola RAZR users are always willing to welcome you back to the flip-phone fold.