Tag Archives: Wired

In January, Ranganath took on the task of building a prototype for a new Foursquare app. By the spring, even he had to admit that the project was a mess. It caused batteries to drain after just a few hours. It gave bad directions. It sent alerts at the wrong times — tossing users recommendations for a nearby fashion boutique when they were comfortably seated at a bar around the corner.

The problem was the method the prototype was using to identify location — a straightforward combination of GPS, Wi-Fi signals, and cell towers. It couldn’t always find the right signals, and even if it did, it tended to seriously drain the battery as it searched.

But when Ranganath told Shaw about the problems, the data scientist had an idea. Why not take a shortcut? Foursquare already had a massive database of check-ins — location information about the places its users most liked to go. And this data didn’t just include the place where someone had checked in. It showed how strong the GPS signal was at the time, how strong each surrounding Wi-Fi hotspot signal was, what local cell towers were nearby, and so on. Leveraging this data meant that Foursquare could still grab a good current location even if users were underground, near a source of radio interference, or facing some other signal obstacle. Chances are, some prior Foursquare user had seen the world through the same flawed eyes and reported his or her location.

Read the full article on Wired.com.

The Brilliant Hack That Brought Foursquare Back From the Dead

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“Governments must not use cybersecurity as an excuse for censorship or to deny people their opportunities that the internet represents”.

So said David Cameron in 2011, criticising internet censorship and monitoring carried out by other countries around the world.

In 2013, this is the same man who wants to see internet filters installed in homes across the country and whose government collects huge quantities of data from the transatlantic cables that form the internet’s backbone.

The argument trotted out by supporters is that Western spying programmes prevent terrorist attacks. They probably do, but have also been used in ways that chill the freedom of speech. Case in point: the NSA appear to have gathered phone metadata on New Zealand journalist Jon Stephenson on behalf of the New Zealand government, in order to help identify his sources.

via Wired.co.uk

Censorship and surveillance: Cameron’s Internet

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