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charlesarthur : geography   8

Why bother with What Three Words? • Terence Eden’s Blog
The aforesaid Eden has some problems with the system that's meant to make your life easier:
<p>W3W splits the world into a grid, and gives every square a unique three-word phrase. So the location 51.50799,-0.12803 becomes ///mile.crazy.shade

Brilliant, right?

No. Here's all the problems I have with W3W.

1) It isn't open<br />The algorithm used to generate the words is proprietary. You are not allowed to see it. You cannot find out your location without asking W3W for permission. If you want permission, you have to agree to some pretty long terms and conditions. And understand their privacy policy. Oh, and an API agreement. And then make sure you don't infringe their patents. You cannot store locations. You have to let them analyse the locations you look up. Want to use more than 10,000 addresses? Contact them for prices! It is the antithesis of open.

2) Cost<br />W3W refuses to publish their prices. You have to contact their sales team if you want to know what it will cost your organisation. Open standards are free to use.

3) Earthquakes<br />When an earthquake struck Japan, street addresses didn't change but that their physical location did.

That is, a street address is still 42 Acacia Avenue - but the Longitude and Latitude has changed.
Perhaps you think this is an edge case? It isn't. Australia is drifting so fast that GPS can't keep up.
How does W3W deal with this? Their grid is static, so any tectonic activity means your W3W changes.</p>

There's also a few others - the internationalisation one is pretty big. I still don't see it getting traction; we just send each other location blobs these days, and Google Maps is pretty much universal.
location  geolocation  geography  what3words 
march 2019 by charlesarthur
How cartographers for the US military inadvertently created a house of horrors in South Africa • Gizmodo
Kashmir Hill:
<p>MaxMind has never told me exactly what their secret sauce is for determining where in the world an IP address is located, but if it doesn’t know that much about an IP address, and knows only that it’s being used by a device somewhere in the United States, it previously gave the coordinates for the front yard of Joyce Taylor’s farm in Kansas; by the time I called her in 2016, 90 million IP addresses were mapped to her home in MaxMind’s database. Any time a device using one of those IP addresses did something terrible, those looking into it assumed the people who lived at the farm were responsible.

When I emailed the company’s founder Thomas Mather, back in 2016, asking why it had associated so many IP addresses with the Kansas farm, he’d been incredibly candid with me, explaining that the company had picked a default digital location for the United States basically at random without realizing it would cause problems for the person who lived there. He asked me what the company should do to rectify the situation. “Do you have a sense of how far away we should locate these lat/lons from a residential address?” he emailed me back. “Do we also need to locate the lat/lon away from business/commercial addresses?”

I was a little stunned at the time to have the CEO of a company ask me for that kind of very basic advice about his own business. The company wound up changing the default location for the U.S. from Joyce Taylor’s farm to a lake nearby. Taylor and the residents of the farm later sued MaxMind; the case settled out of court.</p>

But it didn't do it for every one of those locations. Such as, yes, one in South Africa. Hill is gradually picking off every badly-assigned house in the dataset.
geography  hassle 
january 2019 by charlesarthur
What is the highest point on Earth as measured from Earth's center? • NOAA
<p>Mount Everest, located in Nepal and Tibet, is usually said to be the highest mountain on Earth. Reaching 29,029 feet at its summit, Everest is indeed the highest point above global mean sea level—the average level for the ocean surface from which elevations are measured. But the summit of Mt. Everest is not the farthest point from Earth’s center.</p>

You'll have to read on to find out. You've probably never heard of the mountain whose summit is the one. Remembering that the Earth is an oblate spheroid. And no, it's not Kilimanjaro.
geography  science  mountain 
november 2018 by charlesarthur
Internet mapping turned a remote farm into a digital hell » Fusion
Terrific work by Kashmir Hill:
<p>As any geography nerd knows, the precise center of the United States is in northern Kansas, near the Nebraska border. Technically, the latitudinal and longitudinal coordinates of the center spot are 39°50′N 98°35′W. In digital maps, that number is an ugly one: 39.8333333,-98.585522. So back in 2002, when [IP mapping company] MaxMind was first choosing the default point on its digital map for the center of the U.S., it decided to clean up the measurements and go with a simpler, nearby latitude and longitude: 38°N 97°W or 38.0000,-97.0000.

As a result, for the last 14 years, every time MaxMind’s database has been queried about the location of an IP address in the United States it can’t identify, it has spit out the default location of a spot two hours away from the geographic center of the country. This happens a lot: 5,000 companies rely on MaxMind’s IP mapping information, and in all, there are now over 600 million IP addresses associated with that default coordinate. If any of those IP addresses are used by a scammer, or a computer thief, or a suicidal person contacting a help line, MaxMind’s database places them at the same spot: 38.0000,-97.0000.

Which happens to be in the front yard of Joyce Taylor’s house.

“The first call I got was [in 2011] from Connecticut,” Taylor told me by phone this week. “It was a man who was furious because his business internet was overwhelmed with emails. His customers couldn’t use their email. He said it was the fault of the address at the farm. That’s when I became aware that something was going on.”</p>

Something indeed was going on. MaxMind says it's the fault of the users of its database.
geography  ip  address 
april 2016 by charlesarthur
David Maisel’s geometric geographies » The New Yorker
Marcia Bjornerud:
<p>David Maisel’s aerial photographs of Toledo, Spain, and the surrounding La Mancha region, some of which will be on view at Haines Gallery, in San Francisco, through March 12th, can make Earth’s surface look more alien than terrestrial. Parts of the area that Maisel focussed on are underlain by light-colored alkaline rocks, which formed through the evaporation of an ancient body of water. The silvery soil of plowed fields almost shimmers, like a ghostly memory of that long-vanished sea.</p>

Things like this, and more, in the gallery of images.

<img src="" width="100%" />
january 2016 by charlesarthur
Why rural roads sometimes have mysterious detours » Travel + Leisure
Geoff Manaugh:
<p>When the Dutch photographer <a href="">Gerco de Ruijter</a> arrived earlier this year for an artist’s residency at Wichita’s Ulrich Museum of Art, he noticed something strange while driving to a friend’s house outside of town. At several points, the rural road he was on came to an abrupt halt at a T intersection in the middle of nowhere, requiring a quick zigzag to continue on the same road. The detour could be anywhere from a few dozen yards to nearly half a mile, but, in every case, there was no visible reason why the road should shift at all. This wasn't the urban street grid of Wichita, throwing a few random twists and turns de Ruijter’s way. It was the large-scale grid of the country itself—those huge squares of agricultural land visible from airplanes—seemingly gone haywire.

De Ruijter soon learned that these kinks and deviations were more than local design quirks. They are grid corrections, as he refers to them in a new photographic project: places where North American roads deviate from their otherwise logical grid lines in order to account for the curvature of the Earth…

…“It did not take long for legislators to understand that a township could not be exactly six miles on each side if the north-south lines were to follow the lines of longitude, which converged, or narrowed, to the north," explains landscape architect James Corner in Taking Measures Across the American Landscape. "The grid was, therefore, corrected every four townships to maintain equal allocations of land.” This added up to a detour every 24 miles, from sea to shining sea. </p>
geography  maps  topography 
december 2015 by charlesarthur
The fastest-growing mobile phone markets barely use apps » Quartz
Africa and Asia, the two fastest growing mobile markets, aren’t very big on apps.

The overwhelming majority of mobile internet activity in the regions is spent on web pages, according to a <a href="">report released</a> on 28 July by Opera Mediaworks. In Asia and Africa, websites made up 90% and 96% of mobile impressions, respectively, in the second quarter.

Their habits are a sharp contrast to the US, where apps accounted for 91% of impressions. Globally, there’s a more even distribution, with apps making up 56% of mobile impressions and websites comprising the remainder…

…“A big portion of the mobile audience in mobile-first regions like Africa and [Asia-Pacific] are still using low-end feature phones because of the cost factor,” a spokesman tells Quartz. “This therefore compels them to use the mobile web more than apps, which are usually dominant on smartphones.”

Today's challenger for the "well duh" prize.
mobile  tech  geography 
july 2015 by charlesarthur
Infography: iPhone vs. Android shows north vs. south split (and in real time) >> TomSoft
The results are quite interesting: it shows that the split android/iPhone happens more at a country/continent level than at a user level. USA, England, Japan are in their vast majority « iPhone users », while South America, Spain, Indonesia are much more Android focused. France is one of the few balanced countries.

<a href=""><img src="" width="100%" /></a>

In other words, seems another north vs. south split, or rich vs. poor (it seems for instance that some Brazilian big cities are iPhone users while the rest of the country is much more Android).

Dubious about this; Android has the majority smartphone installed base in pretty much every country. And geolocated tweets are a tiny part of the total; hard to tell if they're represented proportionally.
iphone  android  geography 
december 2014 by charlesarthur

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