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Cell Phones Tracking Nightlife Activity

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the ignores-all-cb-radio-based-night-life dept.

Communications 121

Roland Piquepaille writes "A Columbia University computer science professor has co-founded a New York-based company named Sense Networks to sell tracking software to other companies. It is also distributing a free version of this software, named Citysense, which shows on your cell phone where the wild things are happening in your own town. Citysense 'uses advanced machine learning techniques to number crunch vast amounts of data emanating from thousands of cell-phones, GPS-equipped cabs and other data devices to paint live pictures of where people are gathering.' Citysense is available today in San Francisco, before being soon deployed in Chicago and five other U.S. cities."

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Those wild and crazy Japanese... (4, Interesting)

LM741N (258038) | more than 5 years ago | (#23992623)

...have been selling devices for years that match up males and females. You program your device for male/single/gay or whatever and when a compatible person is nearby in notifies you. Don't know how they notify- maybe a smoke detector alarm.

Re:Those wild and crazy Japanese... (1)

cryptodan (1098165) | more than 5 years ago | (#23992657)

It makes you feel all tingly in some places ala vibration. Use your imagination with the meaning of "vibration".

Re:Those wild and crazy Japanese... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23992669)

Thermite?

Re:Those wild and crazy Japanese... (1)

cryptodan (1098165) | more than 5 years ago | (#23992689)

I guess i should have just said it. Vibrating pleasure devices for men and women. Put in "certian" places.

Re:Those wild and crazy Japanese... (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#23992723)

In which places do the certians hang out? They sound Hot 8-)

Re:Those wild and crazy Japanese... (1)

cryptodan (1098165) | more than 5 years ago | (#23992817)

On a males dangly bits, and in a pocket in the front of a womans panties to stimulate them. of course these are bluetooth activated devices. So becareful around who you hang out with.

Don't own a BlackBerry... (1, Interesting)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 5 years ago | (#23992673)

therefore this application is absolutely useless to me.

Re:Don't own a BlackBerry... (1)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 5 years ago | (#23993591)

What? Flamebait? Seriously! It seems like it would be potentially interesting, and I went to the site and looked hoping to find something normal-web-browser-based, but it wasn't there. You couldn't run this thing on an iPhone, either. =( Very limited.

Re:Don't own a BlackBerry... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23998747)

You phrased it wrong in the GP post: you should have said

I don't have a BlackBerry, you insensitive clod!

You are having a senior moment, forgetting your memes like that, but your UID is too high to use that excuse.

Re:Don't own a BlackBerry... (1)

Slimee (1246598) | more than 5 years ago | (#23993615)

How is this modded flamebait? I'm so sick and tired of reading poorly mislabeled slashdot stories that tout around the title "CELL PHONE" when the stories usually only relate to a singular brand of phone, or limited range. Not everyone owns a Blackberry, and not everyone owns the iPhone (which is supposed to be next on the list of phones with enough crap inside to support this app).

Slashdot needs to get its shit straight on these stories, I always feel very misled reading cell phone articles.

Don't crash their party (5, Insightful)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#23992687)

Nerds not invited ;)

More seriously, it appears that this technology is GPS-only and not all folks have GPS-equipped phones. I don't understand GPS all that well and I'm wondering how this tracking software can locate them, do they have to consent to being tracked, etc. This also has some scary big-brother implications if it were to move past GPS and into standard triangulation of ALL cell phones -- with or without the user's consent(well, kinda -- what percent of average Joe users actually read their EULA/cell contract/etc.), to be used for marketing purposes(or worse).

Re:Don't crash their party (5, Informative)

icegreentea (974342) | more than 5 years ago | (#23992801)

TFA is a bit unclear, but it appears that in order to use this system, you also have to feed it your own information. Seems like a fair trade off (as long as its opt-in, can opt-out blah blah, standard privacy issues).

Re:Don't crash their party (1)

conlaw (983784) | more than 5 years ago | (#23992891)

it appears that in order to use this system, you also have to feed it your own information.

Why do have this "wild and crazy" vision of a CueCat?

Re:Don't crash their party (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23992863)

how is a self proclaimed ignorant post voted as insightful?

Re:Don't crash their party (1)

Sethumme (1313479) | more than 5 years ago | (#23993111)

Because insightfulness has nothing at all to do with what information you know (i.e., informative posts), it has to do with what new perspective you bring to the article's subject matter.

Re:Don't crash their party (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 5 years ago | (#23993447)

Some old greek got moded +6 insightful just for saying "all I know is that I know nothing". The GP post was not that bad compared to that.

Re:Don't crash their party (5, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 5 years ago | (#23992883)

If a cellphone company ever tracks the cellphones of slashdotters they'll think we're dead.

"Hey Jim, that guy has been sitting in the basement for the last 48 hours!"

"Nah, he's still alive. Starcraft II came out three days ago."

Re:Don't crash their party (3, Funny)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 5 years ago | (#23993127)

What's funny is the moment I read this I immediately went to starcraft2.com to see if you were telling the truth.

But alas, it was only a joke.

Re:Don't crash their party (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23996161)

This post saved me a few min. I was going todo the same thing.

Re:Don't crash their party (1)

weetabeex (1065032) | more than 5 years ago | (#23993431)

One can only wonder: how would they know whether "that guy" is sitting in his basement, or simply dealing with his very, very, very busy sex life?

Re:Don't crash their party (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#23993535)

BwaHaHaHaHaHa! Mod parent -1 unlikely.

Re:Don't crash their party (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23993571)

3 days is 72 hours, I demand to know why a dedicated geek would let that whole first day slip by.

Re:Don't crash their party (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 5 years ago | (#23993669)

He was busy searching for a no-CD hack and/or his torrent wasn't finished downloading. ;)

That, or he had to drive to five different towns before being able to find a copy in a retail store?

I dunno. :p

Re:Don't crash their party (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23994027)

What - your basement walls aren't covered in tinfoil?

Isn't the noise and signal there switched? (1)

patio11 (857072) | more than 6 years ago | (#23998069)

If a Slashdotter is moving from their computer cocoon within 72 hours of Starcraft II being released, THEN I would send in the paramedics. Clearly he has either suffered from seizures or is perhaps being kidnapped, probably by Koreans upset that he forgot to gg them after a match.

keke

Re:Don't crash their party (5, Informative)

vertinox (846076) | more than 5 years ago | (#23992945)

More seriously, it appears that this technology is GPS-only and not all folks have GPS-equipped phones. I don't understand GPS all that well and I'm wondering how this tracking software can locate them, do they have to consent to being tracked, etc.

Actually, GPS isn't required to locate you with a cell phones. The technology exists to poll which cell phone towers your phone is polling and make a guesstimate of where you are based on that.

With cell technology, you're not simply talking to one tower at a time because if you were traveling, then as soon as you were out of range of the tower, you would have the call drop. So the cell phones are actively polling the towers as you move to hand you off between the closest (or best signal in some case).

This is how they locate you if you call 911.

The downside is that if you are in a rural area, and have only 1 or even two towers (it takes three to triangulate), then they can't really tell where you are other than somewhere in a radius of the tower. So this technique only works within areas with high cell tower density.

On a side note, you could always lend your cell phone to a girl when she goes to a Chip and Dale club and let the hilarity ensue when your friends show up there.

Re:Don't crash their party (1)

samgeribo (1309565) | more than 5 years ago | (#23994225)

While what you say is true the use of the term 'polling' is a little misleading (maybe only to me). The cell phone is continually receives all the nearest signals (its a multichannel device) and may at any time switch channels to a stronger one. Its not polling in the sense that the phone isn't opening short term connections to the nearest cell phone towers to determine signal strength, which is what I think of when I hear the word 'polling'.

Re:Don't crash their party (1)

racermd (314140) | more than 6 years ago | (#23995089)

My first thought when I read the OP is that this could be the means by which some terrorists plan their next attack.

No, I'm not trying to jump on the paranoia bandwagon (though I take a step closer every day), but seriously... This is rather benign information by itself that, when gathered and analyzed, is very dangerous.

"Where are the most people gathering right now? Where can we get the best results from an attack?"
"Here's a list of the 5 most populated areas."

See where this is going?

Re:Don't crash their party (1)

Nibbler999 (1101055) | more than 6 years ago | (#23995449)

On a side note, you could always lend your cell phone to a girl when she goes to a Chip and Dale club and let the hilarity ensue when your friends show up there.

I assume you mean Chippendales [google.com] not Chip and Dale [google.com] .

Re:Don't crash their party (2, Funny)

stormguard2099 (1177733) | more than 6 years ago | (#23997349)

I assume you mean Chippendales [google.com] not Chip and Dale [google.com] .

There's a difference?!?! Oh God! Must cancel my son's birthday party ASAP.

Re:Don't crash their party (2, Interesting)

mrbluze (1034940) | more than 5 years ago | (#23993463)

This also has some scary big-brother implications ....

Just on that point, think back to the 70's and early 80's before the public availability of condenser microphones and tiny FM (and AM) transmitters. Big Brother was as active as ever, spying as much as he could.

Big Brother will be using whatever technology is available (read: whatever is imaginable) to track and follow. If you can imagine someone tracking someone with a device that is always on (or can be switched on remotely), then there are no 'implications' but 'realities' to deal with here.

Re:Don't crash their party (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 5 years ago | (#23994091)

The Government can already track every modern mobile phone out there. It was a requirement so that (ostensibly) 911 can find you if you're in trouble and call for help but can't tell them where you are. The only way to be untrackable unless you have a truly ancient phone is to turn it off, and if you're really paranoid take the battery out.

Re:Don't crash their party (1)

anexkahn (935249) | more than 6 years ago | (#23996481)

It doesn't have to be GPS only. Look at Google maps for mobile phones....it can approximate your position without a GPS, just using the cell towers. I have had it get my position within 300 meters before. Not super accurate, but better than nothing.

cool... (5, Funny)

hugecabbage (950972) | more than 5 years ago | (#23992703)

now I'll know quickly which places to avoid.

As Yogi Berra said: "Nobody goes there anymore..." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23994607)

"...it's too crowded."

This might be useful for liquor companies, taxi companies, and people who are drawn to giant crowds.

I prefer to go out to places that are less-known but more interesting.

Re:cool... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23997409)

I'll second that. How about a service to pinpoint the less crowded areas? Actually that's not even necessary, just go to expensive places, they'll be free of 'party types' junk.

Re:cool... (1)

Jellybob (597204) | more than 6 years ago | (#23997969)

You clearly don't live in London, where it seems the more expensive a place is, the more popular it is.

I have no idea why that's the case (people hoping to spot a celebrity maybe), but it's usually quite a good way of working out which places you can afford to have a drink at, and which ones are likely to charge you £10 for a glass of water.

Greetings! (0, Offtopic)

edwebdev (1304531) | more than 5 years ago | (#23992719)

I, for one, welcome our new Citysense-equipped computer-science-professor-overlord. Where shall I hang out tonight, O Omniscient One?

Re:Greetings! (0, Offtopic)

umghhh (965931) | more than 5 years ago | (#23993583)

what an humorless moron modded the parent offtopic?

what could possibly... (5, Insightful)

kaliann (1316559) | more than 5 years ago | (#23992737)

There's a technology that doesn't sound like it could be misused by local or federal government. Freedom of assembly isn't really being infringed if Big bro just sends nice officers to "investigate suspicious activity", right? For everyone's safety, of course. Could be a fire hazard. Or underaged drinking.

Re:what could possibly... (2, Insightful)

corbettw (214229) | more than 5 years ago | (#23992775)

Or terrorists, for that matter.

That said, I can't see the utility of something like this being all that high. Sure, it'll appeal to the posers who want to be seen in the right places; but the truly cool people don't need a device to tell them where the parties are, and the truly nerdy don't care.

Come to think of it, the terrorists would be doing us a favor if they bombed the places frequented by those types. Let's turn it on and watch the species evolve ever higher!

Re:what could possibly... (0, Troll)

Aaron England (681534) | more than 5 years ago | (#23992803)

You must have been one of those people who were never invited those those "places". I'm sorry to hear that. I hope your life improves.

Improves? (2, Insightful)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 5 years ago | (#23993357)

Not everyone's idea of fun is hanging out at a club. Some people would nearly die of boredom at a nightclub. Just because someone else's idea of fun isn't your idea of fun, doesn't mean they aren't having a good time. I'm sure the folks who like hanging out at clubs would get bored at a frantic LAN FPS game (what without people to hit on/get hit on by, the pointless braindead social banter, and the lack of certain mind-altering substances), or would be scared shitless driving around a track at high speed (being so easily stimulated and all).

To be honest I don't see how anyone could enjoy themselves clubbing. It's absolutely dull (especially if you hate pop culture) and the cost:fun ratio is abysmal IMO.

Re:Improves? (2, Interesting)

arstchnca (887141) | more than 5 years ago | (#23993505)

I don't know about your LAN parties, but I can't imagine them without certain mind-altering substances.

Clubs are for people who don't want "substances," rather they want one substance - ethanol. And they want to do so in a dark loud room where frankly being drunk seems alright. With a lot of other "cool" people, too.

Re:Improves? (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 5 years ago | (#23994137)

Clubs are for people who don't want "substances," rather they want one substance - ethanol. And they want to do so in a dark loud room where frankly being drunk seems alright. With a lot of other "cool" people, too.

I thought clubs had lots of people on party drugs ("disco biscuits" for instance). But maybe that's just the ones I go to ;-).

If the people in the club don't have a similar idea of "cool", then you're in the wrong club (for you). I know places where 5% of the guys are wearing t-shirts that could have come from Thinkgeek (they're the lazy ones, who couldn't be bothered with the whole cyber/robot thing).

Re:Improves? (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 5 years ago | (#23994213)

I always got bored at LAN parties (been to a couple, just at friend's places). I'm crap at games, and I don't like the competition, or sitting in the same room all night.

I'd much rather go to a pub (or two, or three) meet up with and chat to some friends, then go to a nightclub, dance (looks like exercise!) around, then chill out after (e.g. on the bus home, or at someone's house nearby).

P.S. not all clubs follow pop culture. They aren't all expensive either -- especially compared to the price of a high-spec PC and some games. If you live in a big enough city there's big clubs that play non-pop music, and even mid-sized places seem to have such a night once a month at a big place.

(This is Europe, perhaps it's different in the USA. Do you need to be 21 to go to a nightclub? If so, I can see that would make a difference to the atmosphere. And if so, what do students do on Friday/Saturday night?)

Re:Improves? (1)

edwebdev (1304531) | more than 6 years ago | (#23996327)

(This is Europe, perhaps it's different in the USA. Do you need to be 21 to go to a nightclub? If so, I can see that would make a difference to the atmosphere. And if so, what do students do on Friday/Saturday night?)


Fake ID

Re:Improves? (1)

gregbot9000 (1293772) | more than 6 years ago | (#23996949)

Smoke pot

Re:Improves? (0, Flamebait)

gregbot9000 (1293772) | more than 6 years ago | (#23995097)

It's about sex idiot.
Of course people who go to clubs would get bored at a LAN party, the woman are ugly and don't put out.
After I discovered how easy it is to get laid if you dye your hair and shop based on what's in style (American eagle and axe will get you laid BTW), I never do introverted time wasting crap.
But your right, just because someone else's idea of fun isn't your idea of fun, doesn't mean they aren't having a good time, it's just that the clubs idea of a good time is nailing some hot chick. But hey, video games you know are, uh, good or stuff, and make for great story telling and, uhmm, teach you things?

Re:what could possibly... (1)

kent_eh (543303) | more than 5 years ago | (#23993449)

Actually, I was often invited.
I usually left early, as my allergy to "plastic people" started to act up.

Re:what could possibly... (1)

arstchnca (887141) | more than 5 years ago | (#23993523)

What, people smiling no matter what is being said isn't hip and awesome?

Re:what could possibly... (4, Insightful)

spasm (79260) | more than 5 years ago | (#23992851)

"it'll appeal to the posers who want to be seen in the right places"

Except it won't even do that - by definition, anywhere where there's thousands of people isn't 'the right place'. Believe me, no hipster would be seen dead in pacbell park during a game or in some mega-nightclub. Posers want to boast about how they were in some tiny artspace with only 100 of the cogniceti(sp?) last night, now how they were in some giant venue that every moron from the burbs had managed to find.

Re:what could possibly... (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 5 years ago | (#23993181)

Exactly. Turn clubbing into Disneyland. Check your phone to figure out where the biggest lines are. Meanwhile people who have some sanity are sitting in a hole in the wall club enjoying a drink talking to others of like mind until that place too becomes the latest ride in the clubbing Disneyland.

Nightlife magazines will soon be reporting how to find clubs and trendy spots that are OFF the information grid. Personally, I can't wait for that one.

Re:what could possibly... (1)

woot account (886113) | more than 5 years ago | (#23993847)

I could see this being used in actually a pretty cool way by looking and seeing where there's a few people (not a lot mind you), and hopping to that place. Then, as that place gets more popular (10: more people there 20: more people come 30: goto 10), you can find another lightly popular place and hop there.

cognoscenti (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23997451)

cognoscenti

Re:what could possibly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23997781)

Or terrorists, for that matter.

Pickpockets more likely.

Re:what could possibly... (1)

howardd21 (1001567) | more than 5 years ago | (#23993003)

Or used - to allocate police, fire, etc. where issues could be more predicable.

Re:what could possibly... (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#23993019)

The clever anarchists will leave their phones at home, or perhaps employ the 'off' feature of the phone.

Re:what could possibly... (1)

swordfishBob (536640) | more than 5 years ago | (#23993607)

Easy way to add aftershocks to a flash-mob!

Re:what could possibly... (1)

rastoboy29 (807168) | more than 6 years ago | (#23996101)

I'm starting to think David Brin is right.   There's just so much more information "out there" and attainable.  I'm not sure it's possible to stop it, and so the least of the possible evils is just total transparency.

Implication for terrorism? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23992773)

Shows the hot spots of where lots of people hang out, thus a terrorist could figure out their next target quickly...

Crowd control (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23992789)

It's time to get passive pagers as a fallback.

Two words... (3, Interesting)

seanellis (302682) | more than 5 years ago | (#23992809)

"Flash crowd."

Larry Niven, 1973. Sure, we don't have the instant travel, but this sounds like it would give much more immediate information than waiting for Jerryberry Jansen to randomly turn up at the incident with a portable TV camera.

Re:Two words... (1)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 5 years ago | (#23994291)

You know you should go out more when you've read about flash crowds in Nevinyrral's Tome :)

Re:Two words... (1)

initialE (758110) | more than 6 years ago | (#23997161)

You'd think that a flash crowd would be a good idea but most people don't look good naked...

Las Vegas (1, Informative)

strabes (1075839) | more than 5 years ago | (#23992903)

Having been born and raised in Las Vegas, this type of service seems quite unnecessary in this town. After all, everyone knows where "the wild things are happening" here.

That's not how fun evenings work... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23992941)

Outside of areas with small populations, who in the demographic looking for nightlife would look for large groups of people to help determine where to go for fun? That's perhaps even dumber than determining the best movie to see based solely on the box office receipts from the weekend before.

Re:That's not how fun evenings work... (4, Insightful)

Skreech (131543) | more than 5 years ago | (#23993109)

I'd probably use it to find where people aren't.

My thoughts exactly (2, Funny)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 5 years ago | (#23993397)

I'm always struggling to find unpopulated, desolate areas for many of my hobbies. Being able to find an area with no people around would be very useful. The problem is that you run into the conundrum of whether to go to the non-obvious or obvious empty areas. Which one would someone looking for an empty area go to, in order to avoid others seeking the same thing?

Re:That's not how fun evenings work... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23998639)

So you are a burglar?

Not helping at all (4, Insightful)

billcopc (196330) | more than 5 years ago | (#23992981)

I can already picture sketchy bar owners buying up a ton of these things, to make their spot appear "hot" even though it's dead. After all, the idiotic vodka-redbull sipping bar-hoppers instinctively gravitate to the busiest shitholes, and this "technology" exists solely to capitalize even further on their collective ignorance.

Re:Not helping at all (1)

dimeglio (456244) | more than 5 years ago | (#23993707)

Having being in business, I learned never to underestimate collective ignorance. It drives the economy.

Re:Not helping at all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23993803)

I can already picture sketchy bar owners buying up a ton of these things, to make their spot appear "hot" even though it's dead. After all, the idiotic vodka-redbull sipping bar-hoppers instinctively gravitate to the busiest shitholes, and this "technology" exists solely to capitalize even further on their collective ignorance.

Actually, some people prefer to be in a busy place so that they can meet new people, rather than a dead place with nothing going on.

That's not me; I prefer to spend time with the people I went to meet, and to actually be able to hear them, to be able to order my drinks in less than 30 minutes, and so on. But then again, I hate paying for drinks at bars anyway.

Re:Not helping at all (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 5 years ago | (#23994065)

Actually, some people prefer to be in a busy place so that they can meet new people, rather than a dead place with nothing going on.

That's not me; I prefer to spend time with the people I went to meet, and to actually be able to hear them, to be able to order my drinks in less than 30 minutes, and so on. But then again, I hate paying for drinks at bars anyway.

I'm happy doing both: one to meet new people, the second to dance around/be drunk/listen to loud music.

Re:Not helping at all (1)

gregbot9000 (1293772) | more than 6 years ago | (#23995327)

You want to talk about collective ignorance, read the posts on this subject. It seems no one on /. understands the basics of getting laid or why this is actually a cool piece of tech.
Not to say I'm surprised, but seeing someone post about how they hate party's for the small talk? who the hell talks for more then ten minuets without trying for a hummer?
So I'll help out every one on /.: If you want to get laid you need to go where all the chicks who are ovulating are. These Miniskirt clad prey usually move in herds looking for spots that exude the one proven aphrodisiac "hipness". Thats where this software is actually cool. Think of this software like the things they put in cows ears. Now you can mechanically track the herd and pick up the easy/drunk ones who stray toward the edges without actually having to dye your hair or read Maxim.

Makes sense to me (1)

howardd21 (1001567) | more than 5 years ago | (#23992995)

Privacy issues aside, it makes sense to me. People naturally congregate and are drawn to where other people are. If I am in my office, and hear a lot of voices and discussion two doors down and am not aware of why the congregating is occurring, it draws me to it. I get up and go see what is going on.

This is the same thing electronically. If I am downtown, and a large crowd is congregating 10 blocks away and I am notified, I would be drawn to join them.

Additionally, by watching how long people stay that were drawn, it would provide hard evidence to what people really want to do, and what events could be considered "sticky" (and I do not mean sticky in a Slashdot, twisted way!).

Where do they get their data? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23993031)

One thing I am wondering about is where do these kinds projects get their data from?
Do they have receivers distributed across town (in which case I am fine with that) or do they tap into TelCo's information? Are they (telco's) allowed to distribute that information without my conscent? Or have I given them permission to do this when I signed up for a contract with them?
How do they decide which projects can access the location data and which ones can't?

this is interesting (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23993037)

i hear they're going to advertise linux to those going to the local gay bars. they know you filthy faggots love linux just as much as you love big cocks in your faggot asses.

fucking homos. go suck a dick.

Privacy for $$$ (1)

sciop101 (583286) | more than 5 years ago | (#23993051)

"I know where you were! I know who else is where you were!"

"I know where you are! I know who else is where you are!"

"I know who you call! I know who calls you"

"Now about your text messaging -- Let's talk $$$!

Spontaenous gatherings (1)

Skreech (131543) | more than 5 years ago | (#23993091)

If lots of people paid attention to where other people are and gravitated towards them, spontaneous gatherings of people could occur much like a planet would form in a young solar system.

Right?

Re:Spontaenous gatherings (1)

flnca (1022891) | more than 5 years ago | (#23994201)

Indeed.
  • Ten people waiting at a bus stop. Ten other people get guided there by their cellphones. "Oh no, not a bus stop again!"
  • Weekend shopping in the stores. Droves of families gathering for the best bargains. People guided there by their cellphones. "Oh no, not Walmart again!"
  • Slow day at LAX. People waiting for their airplanes. Soon, droves of new arrivals. "Damn, not that f---ing airport again!"

Re:Spontaenous gatherings (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23995345)

Slow day at LAX. People waiting for their airplanes. Soon, droves of new arrivals. "Damn, not that f---ing airport again!"

Gold Jerry, Gold!

Re:Spontaenous gatherings (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23998529)

Obviously you should use a mashup with Google Maps to find out what is at the specified location as well as to get directions to there. If they implemented a friends system, you could see where your friends had gathered without having to guess who might have gone out and ask them all in turn where they are and who else is there.

If you have to ask ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23993403)

... you'll never know.

Maybe I'll just not have a phone anymore (1)

Duncan Blackthorne (1095849) | more than 5 years ago | (#23993483)

I decided to NOT have a hardline phone at home because it didn't make sense to pay for two phones.
Then the telcos decide to discontinue public pay telephones.
Meanwhile, the EU decides to make it a law that cellphones have GPS in them, "for safety reasons" of course.
Now, I read stories about big business tracking people by their cellphones.
Even without GPS, someone can track me with a fair degree of accuracy, and I'm sure someone has some rather fancy software out there that we haven't heard about yet, that can make my location within a few dozens of meters accuracy.
Add to this the fact that currently, Telcos aren't held accountable for wiretapping and other otherwise-illegal activities.

I don't know about the rest of you people, but I'm starting to wonder if maybe I'm better of with NO phone of any kind, or to just give up and go back to a hardline phone at home with an answering machine, and screw wireless. It's not like I get many calls all month anyway.

Re:Maybe I'll just not have a phone anymore (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 5 years ago | (#23993651)

That's legitimate, it took police several days to track down a person that they thought was dying in an apartment after a prank call suggested it was happening.

Then there's the cases where you're calling 911 and don't know the address or are in a park or mall.

When things like heart attacks, strokes or crimes are happening, those couple of seconds can become priceless very quickly.

I know it's cool to be all super paranoid, but sometimes "safety reasons" are just that and not part of a huge conspiracy to take away your freedoms.

Re:Maybe I'll just not have a phone anymore (1)

riceboy50 (631755) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994995)

sometimes "safety reasons" are just that and not part of a huge conspiracy to take away your freedoms

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

But.. (1)

kingcool1432 (993113) | more than 5 years ago | (#23993501)

But,but.. I don't have cell phone coverage in my mom's basement

Good idea, but not very practical (3, Informative)

imrtt (1287370) | more than 5 years ago | (#23993599)

I operate a free GPS tracking service (http://www.instamapper.com [instamapper.com] ), so I know a thing or two about this topic.

This is an interesting idea, but it won't catch on for a few more years. The problem is that only a tiny fraction of cell phones (I would estimate less than 1%) are capable of GPS tracking now. Of those people who have a compatible phone, most won't bother to install the app and remember to start it whenever they go out. Typical battery life when GPS is turned on is about 8 hours. So this is not an app that can run in the background 24/7.

In the end, you will have something like 10 people in San Francisco who send data to their system. It is enough data to make sense of what's happening in the city? Not hardly.

Give it another 5-10 years, and perhaps most phones will have GPSs in them. Perhaps battery life will improve enough to make continuous GPS tracking possible. Until then, this service, and other similar services, will have little value.

Re:Good idea, but not very practical (1)

samgeribo (1309565) | more than 5 years ago | (#23994273)

Good points. They said a version for the iPhone was coming out. I'm reading the iPhone development guide and on THAT platform, you can't even background apps. Only 1 app can run at a time (other than the kernel and low level daemons). The iPhone does a good job of saving state between app launches so most people don't notice.

For the iPhone, then, you couldn't have anything else besides the GPS app run. If you say browsed to a web site or checked your mail you'd have to remember turn the GPS app back on.

Handy the first few days after the zombie outbreak (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23993855)

At least until the phone's batteries are as dead as their owners.

Quick! They move in herds! (1)

Dyne09 (1305257) | more than 5 years ago | (#23994097)

Just wait till some disgruntled college student uses this system to effectively wipe out a club full of trendy young people in one or more bars. Real time knowledge of where everyone is.

Emanating? (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 5 years ago | (#23994103)

How do just I stop my cellphone from "emanating" this data? I don't want a bunch of losers tracking down the hot nightlife I find and create, just because they subscribe to some website. TimeOutNY has already ruined too many places with a load of bridge & tunnel dweebs.

Maybe the cool places should all jam these "emanation".

But we already know where nerds will be all night! (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 5 years ago | (#23994303)

At our keyboards, in our studies/bedrooms, right?

(Checks local time: 12:30 am, and I'm at my keyboard checking /. [sigh]).

Totally underplanned (1)

Humorless Coward. (862619) | more than 6 years ago | (#23996115)

This would be an excellent tool to assist taxi dispatch, mass transit planning, and emergency response...
If it possibly worked on normal web browsers.
What a douche thing for someone to design an interface which only reports if you have a Blackberry, Pearl, Gamma Ray, Curve, or other product which sounds like a sextoy.
Well... maybe it should work on the Rabbit, too?
It doesn't work on Firefox.

Anonymity (1)

dvs01 (1192659) | more than 6 years ago | (#23996313)

I think that if all cell phones are tracked but have no user-identifying information on them, including a law to specifically make all associations between such data and any end-user invalid, then it can have a chance of being safe.

It would allow for very useful statistical info, many uses of which don't deal with the end users, but more of service usage reports, etc. Think of Webalizer, but in this case it would be Cellalizer :D

Flash mobs... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23996347)

Gotta love Niven and Flash Mobs. I'm betting one of those Google cellphone apps that really makes a splash will be form your own flash mob and assemble at specified local. You could have settings for friends/family and meeting up at church, wal-mart, or books a million at a given date/time.

The best plugins would be "find nearest location for you flash mob" and "pick profile traits of unknown people to show up and set a limit for X" (where X is hopefully less than 20.)

If you could query your local food places for their average wait time for a party of your X to be seated, that would be great as well.

You'd also want to actually tie it into something like www.crimereports.com and exclude locations where arrests or police have been called out regularly to from being considered in your party planning. (Note: this would be fine for a group of say less than 20 folks all ganging up on a given establishment for one evening in a relatively low crime rate area. It might not be good if you were planning a party for say 150-200 folks.)

I tried this out and (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23996869)

I used mine to find all the happenin' scenes and it just lead me to grocery stores and the dmv.

This sucks (1)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | more than 6 years ago | (#23996887)

FTFA: "Translation: if you have a Blackberry, you have instant 411 on where the cool folks are. Or, are not"

What? "Cool folks" and " where the wild things are happening in your own town."

Why would I need that service, in my own town?

I can only only images tons of cheesy spam-like messages in larger citys: "Eat at Genuine Tony's Pizza. Discount for the next 45 minutes"

In the small-town it will be things like "Garden mowever 70% discount at Wal-Mart"

No, it will probably never fulfill your wet dreams, unless it guides you to pay-for-service areas. Thinking of, that will probably be its main use... Sigh... Dump it.

This just in... (1)

FurtiveGlancer (1274746) | more than 6 years ago | (#23998165)

400 posers follow citysense, turn up at an early morning mega-church meeting and discover religion does not mix well with hangovers.
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