Rollerblading Grandad USA

Day 6Jeff Dornan – better known as the “rollerblading grandad” is well known on the streets of Ormskirk and Southport. He has a Facebook fan group and earlier this year hit the news when he was prosecuted for being a danger to the public. Imagine my surprise when in August, 1900 miles away I spotted Jeff’s American tribute act:

This video was taken in New York as part of my road trip across the USA.

Oracle Magazine

Time Magazine, the International Herald Tribune, the New York Times… these are just a few of the quality publications you might reasonably expect to find on a transatlantic flight. So imagine my excitement as I boarded the plane to find Oracle Magazine on the rack! On this eight hour flight I’ve spent literally minutes flicking through it reading about topics including:

  • One Console to Rule Them All: New features of Oracle Enterprise Manager improve the management of the entire Oracle stack.
  • See savings with Linux: Oracle Enterprise Linux, Oracle Unbreakable Linux support services and Oracle VM help save money, time, energy – and the planet. [they can cure the common cold too, so I hear]
  • Imunising code against SQL injection attack by using bind arguments.

From the letters page, Felix writes in:

I am a regular reader of your magazine, and indeed appreciate you and your team for your relentless effort in lifting information technology to greater heights. Still, I want to ask you to publish more about the application of HTML, PHP and JavaServer Pages to Web design and development.

1) Is this serious?! 2) I think Felix would be better served by a good book about web development than a corporate magazine!

Listed in the upcoming events section is eduWeb but sadly IWMW is missing… maybe next year we could submit details!

Location, Location, Location

Location-based services are – so they say – the next big thing. In essence, LBS capable devices can use GPS (or cell tower location if GPS isn’t available) to provide tailored information based on where you are. This could be the location of a cash machine, games or where your friends are.

In the last few weeks Google have introduced a couple of new services for the latest version of the iPhone operating system.  The first of these was search with location where a standard query could contain results relevant to where you are.

Google Latitude on iPhoneThe second news was the long awaited announcement of Google Latitude being available for iPhone. Latitude was announced earlier this year for several different platforms but iPhone was notable by its absence. It allows you to share your location with friends and see who’s near you.

The interesting thing about the iPhone version of Latitude compared to that available for other phones is that it is browser-based instead of a dedicated application.

It sounds to me like Google and Apple had a bit of a disagreement over this!

After we developed a Latitude application for the iPhone, Apple requested we release Latitude as a web application in order to avoid confusion with Maps on the iPhone

The blog post goes on to lament the lack of background processes on iPhone OS which results in your location only updating when you have Latitude open in Safari.

The decision to use the browser shows the power of the W3C Geolocation API and I suspect use of it will grow massively now that it has a large installed user-base.

Using it within web applications is easy too. This demo uses just a few lines of JavaScript to try to work out where you are. It’s not supported by all browsers, but the Google Gears extension adds support to desktop or laptop machines by using wifi hotspots and IP addresses to determine location when cell tower or GPS information isn’t available.

So now you all want to know when you can see it in action. I’ve still got a few details to finalise but I’m hoping to do some location tracking for my road trip across America. We leave on Friday so I’ll try to post more details before then.

Crowdsourced holiday plans

I’m looking for help.  No, not that sort of help… or that sort… I’d like you, dear readers, to help plan my holiday.  While this might sound entirely selfish I will be using it as an experiment in crowdsourcing:

delegating a task to a large diffuse group, usually without monetary compensation

In this case definitely without monetary compensation!

Here’s the details.  My brother and I fly out to San Francisco at the end of July and have 18 days to travel across the country to New York via lots of hopefully interesting places.  There’s more details over on my personal blog [Edge Hill University is not responsible for the content of external websites!] but I’ll repeat the key bit here and explain how I’m hoping it will work.

Here’s the initial route we came up with:

San Francisco, CA to Laguardia Airport - Google Maps

So: San Francisco, CA; Los Angeles, CA; Las Vegas, NV; Grand Canyon, AZ; Denver, CO; Chicago, IL; Toronto, ON; Boston, MA; New York, NY.

If you’ve been to any of these places, or have heard of good things to see and do, let us know in one of the following ways:

How is this different to the usual way of planning holidays?  You’ll normally ask friends and family who’ve been before for suggestions and things to do and places to visit and my crowdsourcing plan is indeed very similar.  The difference is twofold.

Firstly the range of people I hope to reach out to for ideas is far greater.  Even before I made any real effort to spread the message I had people responding on Twitter with suggestions.  Some of them I’m never met in person but they’re part of my extended personal or professional “network”.

Secondly, by engaging people with the process of planning, I hope to get more people interested in what we’re doing and hence get more and better suggestions with different people’s ideas building on each other.

I’m not going to spam this blog with my holiday plans any more, but I might blog about some of my observations about the crowdsourcing process.  If it all goes well then I may even use the experience as the basis for a BarCamp session at the Institutional Web Management Workshop immediately before I fly out!