Not about everything

March 15, 2014

January 31, 2014

Open Street Map: good or too many?

Filed under: app,internet,nature — takaita @ 13:27
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In the old days I bought maps everywhere I came. Then I used them there. Then I saved them in a box. I have boxes full of old maps.

But now times are changing. There are easy devices with GPS. Since about one year I have a tablet-with-GPS. And I love it. My tablet only has WiFi connection, so whenever I am away from WiFi there is no downloading of maps. And maps are mostly needed when away from WiFi.

The solution is of course very simple: offline maps. It needs a couple of GigaBytes but then turning the GPS on opens a zoomable map. I am especially fond of MapsWithMe. Maybe simply because it was the first that made me satisfied, maybe there are other or even better apps available.The lite version is free and the maps are free. Actually I liked it so much that I bought the pro version – the first and so far the only app I paid for. For a lot less money than I used to spend on paper maps each year.

Besides the tablet mentioned above, recently some new Android devices have entered my household. Luckily it is possible to share apps that are bought. I bought MapsWithMePro on what I would call my family-account. I created a Google account with the only purpose of sharing stuff in my family. Sharing family-wide events, contacts and also apps. And because Android devices support multiple Google accounts, each family member can also have an individual account with individual stuff. The good thing is that an app bought with the family-account can be installed on each device with that account.

So, it is time to throw away the boxes with old maps. It will save some space.

But. The boxes are replaced with GigaBytes of maps. Maps are freely available from Open Street Map. Great project. Many apps use it. And there is also a bit of a problem. I now have three different apps using Open Street Map for its own purpose. And each uses its own collection of maps. That means that in stead of 3 GB of maps I have to store 9 GB. And maybe more, if I want to have more parts of the world in my apps.

Apart from MapsWithMe, I also use OsmAnd (a navigation app) and ObsMapp (for recording nature observations, see for example this blog entry). And each has its own Open Street Map format and requires me to download the those maps.

It would be so much easier if only a single set of maps was required. It would save space on my SD-card and it would save download and updates. Maybe it is too much to ask.

January 18, 2014

Please share to show my pupils how far a photo can go (even if you don’t want it to!)

Filed under: internet — takaita @ 22:17
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Sharing this, because it seems an interesting lesson.

I am teaching E-safety to my pupils at the moment and wanted to try a little experiment. Please share this photo and see how far it gets, I want to show my students how easily photos etc can go viral, even when you may not want them to. Share it and see how far it goes!


January 12, 2014

The vulgarity of facebook

Filed under: internet — takaita @ 22:16
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Facebook is getting worse. Or maybe it has been this bad all the time. I am not sure why, but facebook thinks I should cheat on my wife. Or maybe facebook does not know about my relation and simply supposes i need a Russian half-nude.

Here are the pictures in 4 of the 5 advertisement I see right now.


November 29, 2013

The stupidity of the twitter developers

Filed under: internet — takaita @ 15:14
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The Twitter developers can not even create a normal login page. The page is riddled with javascripts and apparently they made it so, that they must all be present in order to even login. Yes, through adblock I have blocked a script, because I blocked the domain (I do not wish to see any social media when I am surfing the web, blocking twimg helps). There is however an external script needed on the login page. It is a jquery library, at least it says “jQuery JavaScript Library v1.8.3” at the top.

Why oh why should my browser need jquery to login? It must be because the Twitter developers have learned that nothing can be done without jquery. They are not very bright.

December 8, 2012

Google, doing it wrong again

Filed under: internet,world wide web — takaita @ 14:00
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For some reason I wanted to install another browser on my system, next to Firefox and IE. I picked Google Chrome. That was a mistake. Because, even though my OS is in English, Google thought I’d prefer a Dutch version. No way to change that it seems. And I also wanted to install it in the directory of my choice, not in the directory where Google thought it should be. No way to change that.

It is not the first time that I see Google doing it wrong: see Google is losing it.

November 20, 2010

Force is proportional to acceleration. What is the constant?

Filed under: internet — takaita @ 11:53
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Somewhere I bumped on this captcha question: “Force is proportional to acceleration. What is the constant?“. The answer is supposed to be “mass”. But that makes little sense.

To clarify, the phrase “Force is proportional to acceleration” refers to F=m.a, the second of Newton’s laws of motion: “A body of mass m subject to a force F undergoes an acceleration a that has the same direction as the force and a magnitude that is directly proportional to the force and inversely proportional to the mass.” (quoted from that wikipedia article).

Then comes the captcha question: “What is the constant?“. The problem is that there is no constant in that formula.

The wikipedia has an article about mathematical constants, starting with the line that it is a special number. Numbers have no dimension, mass has a dimension (kilogram), and so do the other elements in Newton’s law: force is measured in Newton, acceleration in meters per second per second. No mathematical constant in F=m.a.

A physical constant then. Again no, because it is described as “a physical quantity that is generally believed to be both universal in nature and constant in time“. This does not apply to anything in F=m.a.

There is another wikipedia article: Constant (mathematics), which states “In mathematics, a constant is a non-varying value, i.e. completely fixed or fixed in the context of use. The term usually occurs in opposition to variable (i.e. variable quantity), which is a symbol that stands for a value that may vary.” Does this make sense in the context of this captcha? Almost, but not completely. Force is proportional to both mass and acceleration. It does not imply that mass must be constant to make the formula. In a discussion elsewhere someone came up with a rocket which is burning fuel in order to gain speed. By burning fuel it loses mass. However this does not mean that in this case the force is no longer proportional to acceleration. F=m.a is also valid for this rocket with changing mass. Mass does not need to be constant to make the formula work. The rocket does not violate Newton’s law.

Then shouldn’t the question rather ask for “constant” (adjective) in stead of “the constant” (noun)? That would imply that the first phrase not just hints at (or describes) Newton’s law, but describes a specific situation where Newton’s law is active. Something like “over a period of time, force is proportional to acceleration”, followed by the question “what remains constant?”. That would make sense. But it is not what the captcha says.

As a side note: I started a discussion about this on reddit. Nobody agreed with me, so anyone else is welcome to disagree. Please stay a little polite. The discussion on reddit got a bit out of hand in the sense that I got personal messages telling me a.o. that I was an all-caps fucking imbecile. It was probably just a troll, but the internet seems to make people angry for no reason sometimes.

July 10, 2009

Google is losing it

Filed under: internet,world wide web — takaita @ 07:25
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The search results from Google are getting worse to a level that is annoys me. The reason is that Google search has been made “smarter”. While searching for a couple of terms, Google now supposes that the search results should include also search terms that are supposed to be related.

Some examples.

As I am interested in dragonflies, and I am Dutch (the Dutch word for dragonfly is “libel”), I do quite frequently use the search term “libel”. I am aware that this word has a totally unrelated meaning in English, but that meaning is mostly suppressed by using multiple search terms in Dutch, or for example adding the name of an area in the Netherlands. Or by setting the language to Dutch. But, searching for “libel Nederland” gives as the first hit a Dutch woman’s magazine called “Libelle”. Yes. I see the similarity in the words. Words can be similar but can have a totally different meaning.

Another example. Recently I was trying to find some information about legislature on internet privacy. The words “internet” and “privacy” are used in Dutch to, but legislature is “wetgeving”. That last word exists only in Dutch, so you’d think that it would return only Dutch search results. Well, it doesn’t. Check it out: searching for “privacy internet wetgeving” makes Google think I might also be searching for something wet, like “wet dreams poetry” or “wet women” or “wet ink printing”. So stuff like this is inserted between the results.

Google thinks it is smart by supposing I am dumb. That is really annoying.

January 16, 2009

Small annoyances on the internet

Filed under: internet — takaita @ 17:26
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Here’s my list of small annoyances on the internet.

  • Visit counter on
    I have a yahoo 360 page.  Sometimes that shows a visitors count. Sometimes not. So sometimes I keep on clicking on my account pages just to see the visit count. There are actually two versions of the visit count: one that shows only the overall visit count and one that also shows the visits for the current week and the current month.
  • Reddit auto-downmods of submissions. sometimes is interesting, sometimes a bit boring. But interesting enough for me to occasionally take a look at it. I tried submitting a number of pages, but found out that they almost always were voted down instantly to zero points. Only recently, after two years and something like 20 submitted urls, I actually got a karma above 1.
  • Everywhere this Google login.
    Google is everywhere. I do use some Google services, search mainly. But also occasionally gmail, blogspot, analytics, picasa. Maybe some more. But wheneever I log in to one of them, I am logged in to all of them. I am even logged in to Google search. I do not want to be logged in to Google search. Mind your own business Google!
  • Impossible captchas.
    I understand the point of captchas. But it happens more and more often that I am not able to decipher it. Usually I need a few tries before ‘breaking’ the code. I read that I’m not alone in that.
  • The obviousness of my mediocracy.
    Of course I always knew that there was someone better than me for each of my qualities. But with the internet, it becomes so painfully clear.
  • Stolen content in blogs.
    People who embed a video from YouTube,  a photo from flickr or a text, created by somebody else and presenting it as their own in their blog. Usually with no reference to the source and with no or very little explanation. People doing this and getting away with it.

October 1, 2008

Look at all the lonely people (or their blog)

Filed under: internet — takaita @ 11:39
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Looking around on all kinds of blogs, it is amazing how many people continue blogging while they are getting no responses at all. Yes. I admit, it is the same here with me. There is an occasional response on my ramblings. I can see in the stats page that somebody occasionally opens this thing in a browser.  But my guess is that most people do that by accident, and that they quickly depart elsewhere.

On the other hand there is a limited number of blogs which are visited very often, and I hear people even make a living from the revenues from ads on their blog. Interestingly enough, those blogs are not more interesting than the non-visited blogs. In fact, many such “popular” blogs have a 100% stolen content. An entree is just displaying a clip from youtube or some photos from flickr, which have been submitted there by some else. It even happens that blogs steal complete blog entrees from another, lesser known blog. Don’t be original, but get rich. That’s the idea. At least I understand it.

But why do people keep on blogging when they have almost no readers and even less responses? Is that a sign of loneliness. A sign of trust that in the future, one day, people will massively see the talent and originality of the blogger – and that is just a matter of time. Or is it stubbornness (thinking about this, it is actually almost the same as the previous reason). Is it a need to write, a need to go public with whatever it is that is blogged about, because there is no one else around who would listen. Your partner prefers the TV to listen to, your kids have their own friends and those who are supposed to be your friends have their own life – so they say.

Blogging is telling stories to no one.

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