Saturday, February 02, 2008

Skyhook sends me to Kansas

I've been playing a bit with Skyhook's system for locating you based on nearby Wi-Fi networks. It's quite funky and comes built into new iPhones and the latest iPod Touch firmware. They've mapped a lot of the US and the top 50 European cities, including Dublin.

The way it works apparently is that the do a wardrive and log the MAC addresses of all the APs, along with the GPS co-ords of where they're visible. When you run their location service it scans for nearby APs and sends the list to Skyhook; they send back their best guesstimate of where you are. Works great around town.

They also have a neat "self-healing" feature: each time you query for your location, they add any unknown APs to their DB, so their coverage area slowly expands as people use the service, at no cost to them. Neat, right?

Well, almost. I tried the service in my apartment last week, and Skyhook didn't know where I was. Fair enough, since I'm in a block of apartments surrounded by more blocks and the Google Europe HQ. Then, tonight I fire up the client again, and Skyhook happily pinpoints my location... to here. About 4000 miles away from where I am. Wha?

It took me a while to figure out what's going on (at least, what I think is going on...). There's a new AP visible from my apartment, with an SSID that looks like it's a PS3. Best I can tell, someone went home for a vacation (loads of American
googlites here) and brought back their PS3... which Skyhook thinks is still in Kansas.

The interesting thing is going to be what happens with the "self-healing" algorithm... I imagine that now Skyhook thinks that all the previously unknown APs I can see are in Kansas too, and that bit of Dublin that they think is in Kansas will grow steadily as more people do lookups. Eventually it'll collide with something they think is in Dublin, and then who knows....

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Unqualified Reservations: Five problems with Google Android

This article has a nice list of things that are goin to hold Android (Google's mobile platform) back. I did a piece on Newstalk on Saturday about Android and I agree with most of the article -- Android is cute, but it's basically a way to get people to use Google's real products (search & advertising)
on phones.

Vodafone Gets Restraining Order On T-Mobile's iPhone Sales

Aww, someone's not liking their sour grapes. Voda in Germany has apparently gotten a restraining order against T-Mobile
to prevent T-Mobile's iPhone sales, on the basis of "Waaaah they won't share!". OK, not really -- it's on the basis that Voda say t-mobile's exclusivity on iPhone sales may be illegal.

Get over it guys, you dropped the ball on the iPhone and now you don't have anything cool to sell for Christmas. Don't cry about it!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Pointless IT project of the year

From ENN -

"The Sunday Business Post also reports on a planned broadband link from Cork to Donegal, which will allow firms with branch offices to link all their premises. The brainchild of Co Clare-based Ai Bridges, the project has already got underway, with a metro Ethernet from Cork Airport linking Clare, Limerick and Galway. The service is hoped to be available in Donegal by the second quarter of 2008."

Just what we need - more infrastructure connecting places with dubious broadband demand. Probably taxpayer-funded too.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Dell refund me €50

So, in my quest for a Windows license refund, Dell have sent me a credit note for €50 (and presumably credited this to my Mastercard, although I can't check this at the moment). The only problem is they offered me 50 pounds and gave me 50 euros. This may be cheeky, but I mailed them again and asked them to look into the issue (hey, that's another €25).

419 scams now coming to your postbox

My girlfriend got an advance-fee fraud scam (the one where you've won the lottery) by post today. This is the first time I've seen one of these by post, and it was surprising to see in come to Dublin, Ireland of all places. Apparently this one is well known though.

This one originates in Spain (a Spanish PO box and phone number, but they could be forwarded of course). Some "small" giveaways are

- It's been printed on a colour inkjet printer
- The "official stamp" on the bottom is clearly printed on -- the text is actually on top of it.
- One page tells you how much you've "won" but on the "claim form" you have to fill in the amount of your winning yourself.

(see some pitures of a similar letter on this site)

The return address is
Tridenta Seguros S.A. Espana
Calle Juan De Mariana 25
C/P 28045 Madrid Spain
Tel 0034 650 273 803

Of course, this is just the advance fee fraud scam going full circle. The original version was called the Spanish Prisoner scam and dates from
1588. The Nigerians just popularised it online, and the Spanish are taking it back to its roots!

More on Boston "bomb hoax"

After the Boston "bombing" suspects were charged, the judge points out that it's basically a ridiculous case. At the subsequent press conference, the artists say they will talk "only about 1970s hairstyles". Class.

Someone set us up the bomb

So, in a "guerilla marketing" stunt, the Cartoon Network had some art students make signs showing characters from the cartoon series Aqua Teen Hunger Force and hang them around various US cities. This goes completely ignored everywhere except Boston, where police are immediatey beseiged by 911 calls reporting the "devices"; highways, metros and the Charles River are closed; the artists are charged with causing a terror hoax. Jesus.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Dell offer to refund my Windows license

Dell have offered my "50 pounds" for my Windows license. Mind you, they don't admit that they owe me for it.

So, should I take it or hold out for the $115?

Full text of the email:

Dear Mr French

We have checked this out and this would be an issue with Microsoft not Dell, but as a gesture of goodwill we wi;l refund your account with 50 pounds, can you please forward us your full order no and we will have the actioned for you to-day.

Kind regards

[name with-held to protect the innocent]

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Dell sell Windows-free desktops in US

It looks like Dell have realised that not everyone want Windows! In The US, they've started selling the Dimension n-Series Desktop which comes with the drive unformatted.