Saturday, September 24, 2011

Avoiding Speed Traps

Trapster is a free community collected listing of speed traps and other road hazards that installs onto a lot of platforms including both iPhone and Garmin GPS amongst others. Those others include:
  • BlackBerry
  • Android (the TMobile G1 and others)
  • Nokia N95, N96, N97, 5800, E71, and other Symbian s60 phones
  • Palm WebOS phones such as Pre and Pixi
  • Windows Mobile touch screen phones with 6.0, 6.1, or 6.5 OS and GPS
  • Unlocked J2ME phones with GPS (for example the Sprint Samsung Instinct)
Evidently, if you don't have one of the phones that support the service you can still get text message alerts with maps on any phone that supports text messaging.

Speed traps are identified by users who report back to Trapster. Trapster learns the credibility of traps based on how many users submit them and the credibility of each user over time. It seems to work pretty well although there are likely to be a lot of false positives given that the police are not likely to always be at every previously reported site. You can, of course, just use the alerts and not submit.

Although Trapster is free, the Trapster hybrid GPS/WiFi downloadable client does make extensive use of data services. It also eats battery life on the iPhone. If you have an unlimited data and text message plan, there should be no extra charges but I'd confirm that.

So, I use this on my Garmin by downloading the most recent database rather than using it on the iPhone. In any case, pretty good for free.

And if anyone is interested, my Garmin of choice is the Garmin nüvi® 1450LMT which I bought from Amazon for under $150. My earlier GPS of choice, the Garmin nüvi® 765T died during an upgrade. Much foul language was used that day.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Do We All Want to be Hackers?

I read an interesting article recently about the popularity of the V for Vendetta mask. Evidently, it is the most popular Warner Brothers mask available for sale. More popular than such iconic characters' masks as those from the Batman, Darth Vader or Harry Potter.

Okay, so Alan Moore and David Lloyd's depiction of a disfunctional Britain has been amongst my favorite stories since it first appeared in the pages of Warrior in the '80s. It was a truly groundbreaking story when it was first published and still stands the test of time. It even withstood a pretty pedestrian translation to film and a truly awful record (yes, it was on vinyl). But that's not why the mask is popular, selling 100,000 compared to 5,000 of others.

In no longer pretty cities
There are fingers in the kitties
There are warrants, forms and chitties
And a jackboot on the stair

excerpt from "This Viscous Cabaret" with words by Alan Moore

Perhaps it's word's like this that led the hacker group Anonymous to adopt the mask during their protests. It certainly is a fitting choice. But why would that lead to so many sales?

I guess there must be a lot of wannabee's out there as it's hard to believe that Anonymous is 100,000 strong. The choice of mask, as a long time fan of the book, made me smile. And evidently I'm not the only one as Alan Moore stated in a 2008 interview with Entertainment Weekly, “That pleased me. That gave me a warm little glow.”

Me too. But I still have to ask, on a forum called MacBook Hacker, why so many want to be thought of as hacker's?