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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Declan McCullagh’s article at c|net is worth your time. It covers the latest rulings on allowing police access to cell phone user’s location information without a warrant. It also details how when a 1994 surveillance law was to be passed, then FBI Chief Louis Freeh said it would never be used to track cell phones, which is exactly what’s happening.

Bottom line:

Consider the implications. If you voluntarily transmit your exact GPS-derived location to a cellular provider—so you can get information returned about nearby restaurants or driving directions—the Justice Department apparently believes that your location should be available without a warrant.

That’s not what Louis Freeh promised, that’s not what Congress wrote, and that’s not what a majority of federal judges who have looked at this have decided. But for now, there’s nothing stopping prosecutors from shopping around and finding a sympathetic judge who will find some way to interpret the law in their favor next time.

But there’s more, and this is something many of us know, since we were trained in cartography: “[this situation] highlights one of the biggest problems with all of these data collection efforts—both governmental and in the private sector (yes, that means the search engines, too)—is that no matter what the intentions of those who set them up originally, sooner or later someone will abuse them and use the data for unintended purposes. ” That’s from Mike at TechDirt and he’s right on. Was the data in Goole Earth (and peers) designed to be used by terrorists to make trouble? No. Is it being used that way? Probably.

by Adena Schutzberg on 02/14 at 06:00 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Monday, February 13, 2006

Over at All CAD Access Ralph Grabowski notes this list from Evan Yares defining high end CAD.

Among the qualities from the list that perhaps translate over to high end GIS are:

No-holds-barred functionality.
Breadth and depth of applications.
Integration with enterprise applications.
Specialty design tools.
Large/complex-project management tools.
Continuous innovation.
A difficult-to-use user interface.

What else? I’ll offer:

CAD integration
Modelling tools
Advanced statistics

What else would you add?

by Adena Schutzberg on 02/13 at 03:30 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Virtual Globes shares that we in the northeast get a half day workshop on Virtual Earth hosted in Waltham, MA on March 1. For those in the rest of the world, it’s available via the Web.

by Adena Schutzberg on 02/13 at 06:00 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

“I haven’t seen a productivity killer like this since Google Earth premiered and the nation’s cubicle dwellers spent the next three days zooming around cyberspace looking for UFOs at Area 51. “

Alan T. Saracevic of the San Fransisco Chronicle on

by Adena Schutzberg on 02/13 at 06:00 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

In reviewing the coverage of the opening ceremonies last Friday, AP writer David Bauder, made this estute overservation regarding NBC’s choice of using the Italian name for the host city.

WHERE’S ROMA?: We’d almost gotten used to NBC’s decision to use the Italian version of “Turin” throughout its coverage until they drew attention to it by showing a map of Italy with “Rome,” “Florence” and “Torino.”

by Adena Schutzberg on 02/13 at 06:00 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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