Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A moment for Arthur C. Clarke

Arthur C. Clarke's soul has moved on to its next step in the great journey. He is best known for writing 2001:A Space Odyssey, which I saw in amazing 70mm Cinerama in 1968. Less well known, he promoted the fact if satellite were placed in orbit around the earth at a height of about 22,000 miles, it's orbital period is about once a day, so appears to be stationery compared to a point on the earth's surface. Now there are so many satellites there for media and rebroadcast (and spying) that they threaten to bump into one another.

For me, I will remember Arthur C. Clarke more for the first book I read of his in school: Childhood's End. I think this book planted the mind-seeds of both my interest in science but also in mysticism. The book alludes to an OverMind, a much less personal conciousness that pervades the universe than I had learned about in Sunday school, and one that continually resonates with me when I see the amazing diversity, complexity and interdependency of the universe.

Thank you, Dr. Clarke, I hope you are part of the OverMind now.

Take the Blue Pin...

Yes, I said "Pin" not "Pill". You are not going to be transported into the Matrix, you're just going to find out where Google maps thinks you are.

And damn if they aren't right.

I coughed up the $20 for the new iPod Touch apps and hacking around showed a "My Location" button in Google maps. "Ha!" I mocked, "That's only for iPhone users whose phones can then triangulate from the nearby cell towers. That would never work for a device like this that ONLY has Wifi!" So I pressed the button anyway, expecting an error message.

I didn't get an error message. Instead, I got a blue circle completely pin-pointing our house. Freak me out! How could they know that?

A few frantic minutes of googling later, I found Skyhook, who seem to have created an entire database of locations of what must be millions of wireless routers. Somebody had entered our Airport into Skyhook's database. Without my permission! "Well, what can you expect?", I berated myself, "You decided to broadcast your network's id. You didn't click the little 'make my network private' button that would have hidden its identity from roaming Skyhook trolls."

But it is pretty useful to get Google Maps to draw my route to a destination from wherever I am. Means postponing that GPS gizmo I was going to buy...