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Behind the "My Location" Errors In Google Maps

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the i-can-see-my-house-from-here dept.

Earth 78

waderoush writes "Ever since Google added the 'My Location' feature this week to the desktop and laptop versions of Google Maps, allowing Firefox and Chrome users to see their current location on a map, people have been reporting bizarre location errors — Manhattanites, for example, are being told by Google that they're in Austin, TX. Ted Morgan, the CEO of Boston-based location software provider Skyhook Wireless, talked about the problems in an interview Friday. Skyhook's Wi-Fi-based location-finding technology was passed over when Mozilla adopted Google's own location services toolkit for Firefox 3.5 in April; Morgan says that was unfortunate for Web app developers, because Google's 'crowdsourced' database of Wi-Fi access point locations is far less reliable than Skyhook's."

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Brief summary of article (5, Insightful)

Patman (32745) | more than 5 years ago | (#28661533)

CEO of competing firm: "This totally wouldn't happen with ours, ours is awesome!" No meat there, just an assertion passed as fact in a 'news' article.

Re:Brief summary of article (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28662449)

Google did this to me a few years ago with a front page redirect (it thought I was in somewhere in South America). Their ip to location DB is 'ok' but has flaws.

Tell them
http://www.google.com/support/websearch/bin/request.py?contact_type=ip [google.com]

It takes about a week to a month and they will correct the mapping.

Re:Brief summary of article (1)

MikeFM (12491) | more than 5 years ago | (#28665241)

The odd thing IMO is that I've been using the GeoIP db for years and it is pretty reliable and very easy to use. Why does the browser even need this feature? It's not perfect as some IP addresses aren't correctly mapped but typically they are very close. I use them on my eCommerce sites to give estimates on shipping without asking the user for their location and to present location aware suggested products.

Re:Brief summary of article (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#28667107)

Well, I'd say that a real gps-based database always beats a crowdsourced one. So he may be right, and the assertion may be rightful. Dunno.

But just because he states "This totally wouldn't happen with ours, ours is awesome!", this does not mean that he *has* to be a liar.

I know, I know. A CEO not being a liar. Good joke and all. I could nearly not believe it myself. :P

'crowdsourced'? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28661551)

Why is 'crowdsourced' in quotes? Is it crowdsourced or not? And if it is, which project is that?

Re:'crowdsourced'? (1)

eln (21727) | more than 5 years ago | (#28662621)

It's in quotes because the person in the article (the CEO of a competing company) is trying to imply that crowdsourcing is inherently inferior to whatever his stuff does. You can almost see him sneering as he says it. Quotes like that are used to denote derision and sarcasm, such as: This 'article' really shows what passes for 'journalism' these days.

Re:'crowdsourced'? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28662869)

so Google had vehicles driving around doing a far harder task with streetview and you are telling me THEY didn't war drive for wifi and cell tower signals?

Just cant admit to it due to patent issues i guess.

Skyhook's implementation really is inventive (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28661593)

The initially war-drove around, mapping APs. Then when users connect to those APs in the database and query the location, they also send back a report on other nearby APs. This allows their database to grow and become more accurate over time, without them having to keep war-driving previously established areas.

Re:Skyhook's implementation really is inventive (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28661679)

I sincerely hope it gets more accurate! Not only is it consistently wrong, it isn't even wrong the same way. Today it is showing me in a very small, tight circle in a city 60 miles away. That's better than a few days ago when it was flip-flopping between a 15 mile radius circle in the right area and an area in a state several states away from me.

Not ready for prime time, that's for sure.

Re:Skyhook's implementation really is inventive (5, Interesting)

bstreiff (457409) | more than 5 years ago | (#28661863)

Skyhook's reliance on wireless APs doesn't work so well when the APs move. I took my APs with me when I moved to a new place, but my iPhone (which uses Skyhook's assisted-GPS) thought I was always at my old place for months until I realized what was going on and that I should submit my AP MAC addresses [skyhookwireless.com] to correct their location.

It's possible that it sees an AP near you that's recently been moved.

Re:Skyhook's implementation really is inventive (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28662305)

Seeing as how this is a lower density residential area (with just single family homes on decent sized lots (10,000 SQ FT lots), and nobody next to me has moved in awhile I think it is more likely that it changes as some of the AP's show as available, then show as not available (the list sometimes shows 3 other times it shows up to 6). I imagine that is the difference. Right now it shows 5. Oops, checked again and it is 6 APs. So I think as they come and go from the list it decides I have moved miles.

Re:Skyhook's implementation really is inventive (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28663033)

It say's you're in texas. because that's where the 'linksys' AP was last seen...

Re:Skyhook's implementation really is inventive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28663095)

I realized what was going on and that I should submit my AP MAC addresses [skyhookwireless.com] to correct their location.

It's possible that it sees an AP near you that's recently been moved.

I notice there's no way to opt-out once your WAP has been entered in their database. Those 3G cell network -> WiFi bridge devices are very mobile, and any attempt to cache their location will end in failure.

Skyhook claims "we also understand that your exact physical location is inherently private and that it should only be used in very limited ways over which you have control."[emphasis mine] but apparently that doesn't apply to the owners of the wifi networks whose location is in their database.

Re:Skyhook's implementation really is inventive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28663195)

By broadcasting a signal, you give up a right to privacy. If you're really worried though, just change your MAC address.

Re:Skyhook's implementation really is inventive (1)

byteCoder (205266) | more than 5 years ago | (#28693197)

I had the same problem with SkyHook this last month. I set up my Airport Extreme in my hotel room in San Francisco for WWDC. When I re-used it on a visit to Northern Wisconsin (where there was no cell phone, much less AT&T service), my iPhone always reported its location as the hotel I was staying at in San Francisco. Frankly, I was surprised that SkyHook picked up my new access point in the short amount of time that I had it up and running in San Francisco.

Re:Skyhook's implementation really is inventive (1)

Mana Mana (16072) | more than 5 years ago | (#28666859)

``The initially war-drove around, mapping APs. Then when users connect to those APs in the database and query the location, they also send back a report on other nearby APs. This allows their database to grow and become more accurate over time, without them having to keep war-driving previously established areas.''

I don't know why you had to go ac on us---just saying, Ted^W.

I've heard of their technology, it was a few years ago when the suggestion that gps chipsets in smartphones was a fantasy; lookee what happened. Then there was Google's/others' eureka moment of not needing chipsets but just using and triangulating on cell towers for a position fix. Anyway.

The idea of wardriving the nation and its territories has always seemed so Yahoo directory manpower suicide. Once upon a time, kids, Yahoo had an army of humans categorizing the Net link by link, but Google ate their non-automated lunch soon enough. Ted's idea, not just his, is doomed to fail. Why bespoke a posfix dbase when you can assembly line and automateit!

Even with their idea of just seeding the thing, attracting and glomming others as time passes is so inefficient.

I use their Google Maps a hell of a lot, I always save time whereever I am by mapping from/to pairs by just using either my zip, or my home address if it's already in browser memorey. I took/take it as a given that my IP address is being mapped to my zip/address data. It's not hard for any shoulder surfer less so Google to infer where *I am*, and that I am going someplace else.

Add me, my bros, my dogs, and my mates searcheS over time and you can rate high accuracy over the medium/long term. WTF.

Do that ad naseum, ad infinitum, omnipresently and you are Magellan, babe. ^.^

Oi!

Can't find My Location (2, Interesting)

Dalroth (85450) | more than 5 years ago | (#28661607)

I've been looking in Google Maps for this mythical "My Location" feature and I can't seem to find it. What am I doing wrong? I've got my default location setup, but I'm pretty sure that's not what they referring to.

Bryan

Re:Can't find My Location (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28661671)

It's in Google Maps for mobile devices, not in a web browser.

They just added it to laptop/desktop GoogleMaps (1)

billstewart (78916) | more than 5 years ago | (#28671589)

Like, RTFA? But it's only there if you're using Firefox 3.5 or Google Chrome, and if you've got the options set correctly (which doesn't seem to work with my copy of Chrome?) and if you can figure out that the not-very-obvious little circle-in-a-square icon on your Google Map is a "My Location" button (waving the mouse over it seems to invoke Tooltips.)

The article doesn't say if Google Maps works differently depending on whether you're on a laptop vs desktop (or how it can tell) - my laptop moves around to different places, while my desktop doesn't. Maybe if the feature worked better I could figure out whether it cares (e.g. asks every time or whatever?)

Re:Can't find My Location (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28661677)

Right above the zoom buttons, you have a street view icon. Between the street view icon and the scroll buttons, you may see a small circle. Click there.

Unfortunately, Google has horrible user agent sniffing. I'm on Firefox on Linux, and I need to spoof myself as a Windows user to get that button.

Re:Can't find My Location (2, Informative)

BusDriver (34906) | more than 5 years ago | (#28661699)

It's just above the zoom in and out slider, a little round circle in a square (with cut off corners). Or just below the hand with the four arrows.

Click that and a bar will appear at the top of firefox and ask if it's ok to share your location.

Hope this helps.

Re:Can't find My Location (2, Informative)

The MAZZTer (911996) | more than 5 years ago | (#28661701)

It's the little circle thing by the panning and zooming and street view controls.

When I click it it takes me to Austin, TX, which is over 1500 miles from where I actually am. And where I actually am isn't even Manhattan, but New Jersey. Google says it's because laneline-based connections are probably going to show erroneous results based on ISP, except that Verizon is based in Viriginia according to whois, not Texas!

Re:Can't find My Location (1)

The MAZZTer (911996) | more than 5 years ago | (#28661717)

Addendum: Whois on my own IP also indicates a Virginia location. I can't figure out how they're getting Texas!

Re:Can't find My Location (3, Funny)

kybred (795293) | more than 5 years ago | (#28661855)

Addendum: Whois on my own IP also indicates a Virginia location. I can't figure out how they're getting Texas!

That's because Texas is where you want to be!

Re:Can't find My Location (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28662275)

Actually Texas annexed Virginia, sorry we forgot to tell you.

Re:Can't find My Location (2, Funny)

jrumney (197329) | more than 5 years ago | (#28665059)

Great, apparently I live under a motorway junction about 10 miles away. Thanks Google, you just made me homeless!

Re:Can't find My Location (2, Funny)

auric_dude (610172) | more than 5 years ago | (#28661707)

The Google "My Location" feature is indeed hard to find and some also report having problems finding other G"spots"

Re:Can't find My Location (2, Insightful)

waderoush (1271548) | more than 5 years ago | (#28662379)

Dalroth: The new My Location feature only works when you're visiting Google Maps using Firefox 3.5+ or Google Chrome 2.0+ (or any browser equipped with Google Gears).

Re:Can't find My Location (1)

Dalroth (85450) | more than 5 years ago | (#28663515)

Thanks everybody. That little icon is so not intuitive. I never even saw it until you guys pointed it out.

Bryan

Re:Can't find My Location (1)

Ritchie70 (860516) | more than 5 years ago | (#28665181)

Maybe this is your problem?

Currently supported browsers include Google Chrome 2.0+ (using Gears), Mozilla FireFox 3.5+ or any browser with the latest version of Gears installed.

Re:Can't find My Location (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28674731)

Cool...

"Your location cannot be determined."

Desktop sitting behind 2 NAT firewalls with Comcast serving up the intertubes.

Interestingly, TPB keeps offering personal ads for ladies from a community 10 miles away.

What's google's problem?

Remind me not to use Firefox 3.5! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28661631)

the little blue button that shows you your position on a map--is now available to people accessing Google Maps from their laptop or desktop computers as well (as long as they're using the latest versions of the Firefox or Chrome browsers).

We have so little privacy as it is, why are you taking away the few shreds we have left?

Re:Remind me not to use Firefox 3.5! (1)

RawsonDR (1029682) | more than 5 years ago | (#28661713)

What you have is freedom. Firefox will prompt you before it does anything, and if you want to disable it entirely then see geo.enabled in about:config.

Nobody is taking anything from you.

Re:Remind me not to use Firefox 3.5! (5, Informative)

General Wesc (59919) | more than 5 years ago | (#28661731)

As any sane person would expect, and thirty seconds on Google would confirm, the browser asks permission before sending the location data. Screenshot. [howtogeek.com] No privacy is being taken away.

Lesson of the day: don't make nutty assumptions, and don't post knee-jerk reactions based on them.

Re:Remind me not to use Firefox 3.5! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28661829)

Please dear god tell me that screenshot isn't from your computer! That's gotta be one of the most disturbing skins I've seen in a long time.

Re:Remind me not to use Firefox 3.5! (0)

internewt (640704) | more than 5 years ago | (#28662331)

Indeed. I am not upgrading to 3 because of the horrific address bar, and now this! Where has the light, fast, sleek browser gone? Oh yeah, someone's pay at Mozilla is based on increasing the number of users, so chasing those IE users has become paramount. Hence the change in direction from a UNIX-esque philosophy to a hand-holding philosophy (happened between 1 and 2, I think).

Sooner or later there will be a bug in FF or someone else's implementation of this geolocation crap, and the browser could be spewing your location to anyone who wants it.

Advertisers will love this crap too, so expect unscrupulous ads to tell users how to turn off the geolocation warnings/prompts totally. Anything that an advertiser would like is never in an individual's interest (unless you are a brainwashed, simple, consumer).

Re:Remind me not to use Firefox 3.5! (1)

macshit (157376) | more than 5 years ago | (#28662429)

Indeed. I am not upgrading to 3 because of the horrific address bar

I hated it at first, but now I love it. It is indeed different than the old address-bar, but actually... it works really well. I find that I completely rely on it to re-find random sites I know I visited in the past but didn't bother to bookmark.

You really ought to try it for a while before rejecting the entire browser because of it...

Re:Remind me not to use Firefox 3.5! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28664335)

Yep. It's my favorite feature as well. The Awesome bar and Ad-block are the big things keeping me on Firefox instead of using the much snappier Chrome.

Re:Remind me not to use Firefox 3.5! (1)

greenreaper (205818) | more than 5 years ago | (#28663755)

I respectfully disagree. It's called the awesomebar and not the horrificbar for a reason. Yes, the very first betas of it were horrific. It's really pretty damn good now.

Re:Remind me not to use Firefox 3.5! (1)

CyberDragon777 (1573387) | more than 5 years ago | (#28663937)

1. Geo-location only works if you explicitly enable it.

2. You can change how the address bar works in Settings/Privacy (or whatever it is called in the english version).

Re:Remind me not to use Firefox 3.5! (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 5 years ago | (#28668755)

how the address bar works in Settings/Privacy (or whatever it is called in the english version).

So tell me, what are the English words for "settings" or "privacy"?

Re:Remind me not to use Firefox 3.5! (1)

CyberDragon777 (1573387) | more than 5 years ago | (#28683107)

I know what they are called in English.
I have no idea what they are called in the english Firefox version, because I have a hungarian one installed. It could be Configuration/Secret stuff or something, i don't know.

Google Groups Suffering A Similar Issue (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28661645)

I think that Google needs to look into its error management systems, as this isn't the only Google system to have trouble lately. Google Groups is having some major issues with the search engine- it's next to impossible to find things right now. Searches that should find information find nothing, and the advanced search is especially broken.

Google Groups search was especially useful in finding helpful information on older usenet posts, so it's unfortunate that this is the case. While I'm not saying the problems are related, I do feel that it speaks to a systemic issue that needs to be addressed- if both Google Maps and Google Groups are buggy, then what is being done to ensure this doesn't happen?

Re:Google Groups Suffering A Similar Issue (2, Informative)

Jack9 (11421) | more than 5 years ago | (#28663235)

This has nothing to do with "error management". Geolocation by IP is based off a combination of who leased the IP and where the packets are routed. If you are working through a dedicated T3 in Orange County, you're likely to resolve to Seattle. This is a persistent problem for geolocation services, not specifically Google. I'm not sure the point of the article, when anyone who's used commercial and free lookups, knows this is par.

In other news, they probably heard that Vista is a next generation OS.

Re:Google Groups Suffering A Similar Issue (1)

Xerolooper (1247258) | more than 5 years ago | (#28671351)

This has nothing to do with "error management". Geolocation by IP is based off a combination of who leased the IP and where the packets are routed. If you are working through a dedicated T3 in Orange County, you're likely to resolve to Seattle. This is a persistent problem for geolocation services, not specifically Google. I'm not sure the point of the article, when anyone who's used commercial and free lookups, knows this is par.

In other news, they probably heard that Vista is a next generation OS.

Thank you Jack9. This is what I was thinking the whole time. Have they been living under a rock. If you really need to find your location, with a still far from perfect but higher consistency GPS is within most peoples reach. This IP location technology at its best is on the level of amusement rather than anything to rely on.

mod 3o3n (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28661659)

flaws in the BSD my caaling. Now I before playing to

Problem not limited to Chrome and Firefox (2, Funny)

ilsa (197564) | more than 5 years ago | (#28661705)

Every now and then my G1 will insist that I am somewhere in Oregon. Usually I am clued in by the weather app giving a clearly erroneous temperature on the front screen. Perhaps my phone is just asking for a trip to someplace cool, since Vegas gets pretty hot in the summer. So far the phone has always come to its senses in a few hours.

who cares... (3, Funny)

hitmark (640295) | more than 5 years ago | (#28661821)

get a gps dongle, and install google gears if your using firefox (tho i'm not sure if there is one for 3.5 yet), and get improved accuracy.

question is, when can one get automated routing to the nearest pizza place?

Re:who cares... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#28666681)

get a gps dongle, and install google gears if your using firefox (tho i'm not sure if there is one for 3.5 yet), and get improved accuracy.

Google gears is available for the some mac crap, 32 bit linux on x86, and windows x32/64, on Firefox 3.0.10 and older. That's it! I went hunting for explanations, the official excuse is "we don't test on RCs because we would have to make too many builds." Consequently, google is not ready for FF 3.5 even though it was not a secret.

Do yourself a favor, and don't depend on google gears. Even google does not bother to take it seriously.

Re:who cares... (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 5 years ago | (#28666759)

And still its built directly into chrome, and used for gps support on google maps with geolocation...

Re:who cares... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#28667041)

And still its built directly into chrome, and used for gps support on google maps with geolocation...

Chrome is NEVER going to take over from Firefox as long as it has its current license. Also, as long as it is missing critical features that drove people to Firefox in the first place, like an Ad Blocker that actually works. Failing to support the most important Open-Source browser in an attempt to gain relevance for your own browser is a Microsoftian bitch move.

I hate this 'location-based' crap (5, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | more than 5 years ago | (#28661835)

A while ago I was working in Italy: Google would then redirect me to Google in the Netherlands, and Facebook rather kindly switched automatically to displaying its pages in Dutch. Steam usually gets the location right, but won't then let me use my perfectly valid British credit card to buy games when I'm not in Britain.

This is one of the most user-unfriendly ideas to infest the web over the last few years.

Re:I hate this 'location-based' crap (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28662051)

Language switching based on guessed location is evil. That's what the accept-language HTTP header is for!

Re:I hate this 'location-based' crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28662203)

Those are taken from the OS and pure BS.
For instance, in Quebec (a province of Canada), it's common to get the OS in French. However, for a whole suite of reasons you may want to see the site in English (Quebec French is quite different from France French, and many French translations are quite bad).

Present the document in the preferred language and have an easy way of changing it.

Re:I hate this 'location-based' crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28662419)

No, they're taking from the browser. Now, some OS-tied browsers may do it based on the OS, but it's very easy to configure language preferences in browsers like Firefox, ie Settings -> Content -> Languages.

Re:I hate this 'location-based' crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28662485)

Those are taken from the OS and pure BS.

The Mozilla browsers are preset to the language of the browser installation. There's got to be a default, I guess, but you can change the accept-language header in all browsers. Try "fr-ca" for Canadian French or "en-us" for US English. You can and should list more than one, in descending order of preference.

Re:I hate this 'location-based' crap (1)

spinach and eggs (1472445) | more than 5 years ago | (#28666001)

Precisely! And I wish more multi-lingual sites would pay attention to my preferences as given in the accept-language header rather than demanding that I make my selection from their language menu.

Re:I hate this 'location-based' crap (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 5 years ago | (#28662255)

A lot of it has to do with "rights" based on country. A company might have the right to distribute a game in Britain, but not in Sweden. As such, they would have to have a way to ensure that the game is only distributed to people in Britain.

It would be much more in the spirit of the Internet if there were more "global" rights for distribution, but I think many people can recognize how this would be a double-edged sword.

Re:I hate this 'location-based' crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28662393)

A while ago I was in Germany, and Google insisted that I read the German version of Google, even though my browser said that it only understood English (as I configured it). It's fine when they use GeoIP to present a localized version of a page, but not when the Accept-Language request headers requests otherwise.

Re:I hate this 'location-based' crap (2, Interesting)

dkf (304284) | more than 5 years ago | (#28662601)

A while ago I was in Germany, and Google insisted that I read the German version of Google, even though my browser said that it only understood English (as I configured it). It's fine when they use GeoIP to present a localized version of a page, but not when the Accept-Language request headers requests otherwise.

I suspect that the problem is that a lot of people have misconfigured (or buggy) browsers that foul up the Accept-Language header, always claiming to prefer English. That puts Google in a bit of a bind; they're damned whatever they try, so they try to satisfy the majority and minimize the level of grief. FWIW, when I use Google in Germany, it still comes up in English. (Well, I think it does, but I've not checked for a bit and my configuration might have other differences too.)

Re:I hate this 'location-based' crap (3, Interesting)

marcansoft (727665) | more than 5 years ago | (#28662967)

I get that in Spain, but that's okay, since you can change the Google preferences to English easily enough.

However, what I don't get is the non-advertised, hidden, mandatory biasing of search results based on the Google UI language. Results vary depending on what language is picked for the Google UI (and no, this isn't the "show only results in such and such language" feature, as it still shows results in multiple languages - it's just biased in preference of the UI language). Why isn't there a checkbox to turn it off, and why is it hardcoded to use the UI language? Very often, if I'm using Google in spanish I find that the most relevant results for obvious queries (say, some well-known open source software) are in 4th or worse place, and the first few spots are occupied by some random sites about it that happen to be in Spanish. I get the idea and why some people might like it, but I don't see why they will not explain it or offer an option to turn it off.

Re:I hate this 'location-based' crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28663523)

Google should just follow the spec and use Accept-Language and nothing else. Google web search is getting more and more useless. It makes way too many assumptions. Not only does it pretend to know better what my preferred language is, it also "corrects" words even if I enter them in quotations marks. It's become impossible to search for an exact phrase on Google.

Re:I hate this 'location-based' crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28664735)

In the vernacular of today's youth: word.

I'm currently bouncing around Asia, and Pandora and Hulu are completely AWOL, of course--I have to use a proxy if I want to connect at all, and then the connection rates are painfully slow. Google is set to a new (and occassionally censored) subdomain (I"m looking at you Hong Kong) every time I hit a new country, even though I use iGoogle and it should be able to tell that I haven't changed any preferences, And Facebook keeps asking me if I want to help Translate it into Thai.'

Re:I hate this 'location-based' crap (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 5 years ago | (#28665671)

I live in China, and it's always wonderful when some brain-dead web page decides to serve its content to me in Chinese, despite the fact that my web browser and operating system are en-US. It is especially nice when there is no option to change back into English (looking at you here, Bing.com).

Re:I hate this 'location-based' crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28665847)

It's even worse when one lives in an area that uses a minority language. I live on an island in Finland, where the local language is Swedish. Almost every program tries to install itself in Finnish - finding how to change language using a language you don't know is very difficult.

Not an Intractable Problem--It's Just a Bug (0)

curmudgeon99 (1040054) | more than 5 years ago | (#28661887)

As a software developer myself, while still professional embarrassed at any bug that escapes into the wild, I know how today's modern software ecosystem has evolved: iteratively. This obvious defect--pinning the snobby effetes of Manhattan in the alcohol-immersed college town of Austin, Texas--seems almost fitting. Maybe Google My Location is on to something. As I write this, I think I'm in Manhattan but wait--all the license plates are white, with a red star. What's all that green stuff on the ground where there should be concrete and asphalt? Wait a second--where's the subway? (Oh, no local and state taxes = no subway.)

Re:Not an Intractable Problem--It's Just a Bug (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28662949)

well, that and the fact that its just not practical for us texans. Our horses dont like being underground. ;)

We're well into the jet age.... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28662119)

...it's way past time to be making assumptions about a person based on where you think that person may be.

    Just because I'm in Germany doesn't mean I want the German language version of anything. Quite the opposite, in fact.

    Apart from helping me figure out where to go, I don't see the value of geolocation on the web. All the touted benefits of geolocation other than finding directions seem either naive or sinister to me.

Privacy ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28662579)

anyone can shed light on the following mixture;

MAC database with long and lat and IPV6 round the corner.

Lets just think about DRM alone for a sec....

My location is strangely getting worse (1)

Edmund Blackadder (559735) | more than 5 years ago | (#28662751)

It used to be very good. When I was at work (in downtown LA) it would not only identify the building I was in correctly, but it would also identify which side of the building I was in). When I was home it gave my location as being less than a block away from my real location.

But bizarrely, it is getting worse. Nowadays, it is not unusual for it to be way off. Right now I tried my location on my cell phone and my true location is just outside of the blue circle "my location" gives out.

So that is rather unusual. Google services usually get better over time, not worse. I wonder about this crowd sourcing stuff. What information are the crowds putting in the system exactly? Because it seems like there may be saboteurs working among those crowds. There are many companies that really need google's "my location" to be unreliable (such as those providers that want to charge you a monthly fee for their map app.)

How are they gathering data? (1)

jaffray (6665) | more than 5 years ago | (#28663433)

The article says Google is crowdsourcing their data, but if so, where's the input? When I click on "My Location", I just get a message that "Your location could not be determined" - I don't see any followup on "so where are you, so we can add this location/wifi-signal pair to our database".

For what it's worth, Loki gets my home location exactly right, while Google doesn't even venture a guess.

Re:How are they gathering data? (1)

DavidRawling (864446) | more than 5 years ago | (#28664987)

I must be missing something. I went to the Loki website and told it to find me - to do so, the site wants to download and install stuff (lokiplugin93586120938561098512093.exe), using a Java applet whose certificate has expired, and which runs outside the sandbox.

And this is supposed to "just work" on public websites? Are they seriously expecting people visiting random websites to download and install (with admin rights, no less) unexpected software, because that site is offering local advertising?

Seriously. W.T.F.?!

Africa (1)

azav (469988) | more than 5 years ago | (#28665035)

In parts of Africa, GPS coordinates in Google Earth are off by hundreds of miles.

Re:Africa (1)

Ozymandias_KoK (48811) | more than 5 years ago | (#28667849)

Depending on country, you may be running into filtering. In the UAE, I used to get very different mapping results for the same coordinate if I used a local proxy, but the US-based proxy would be spot on.

Try using Navizon (also crowdsourced but accurate) (2, Interesting)

some1somewhere (642060) | more than 5 years ago | (#28665229)

I don't know exactly how Google is "crowdsourcing" the AP locations and similar (TFA doesn't clarify), but a competing firm to Google and Skyhoook, Navizon [tinyurl.com] , uses similar tech.

The difference is that while it is unclear what method Google use, Navizon clearly states they will PAY users who have GPS installed in their phones, to roam around and collect Cell ID, APs, etc. and submit it to them. At the SAME time you get maps to see where you are, Buddies to see where your friends are, etc.

So in this instance, Navizon is paying for the crowd to submit the latest/updated data all the time. So if I drive around an area, and an AP that was there yesterday is no there anymore, you won't get the same error as Google where you suddenly appear to have gone to a different city/state/whatever, as I just personally updated the AP landscape.

Great stuff, and to get paid as well... I guess it is cheaper for Navizon to pay users a $10 or $20 dollars for a few hours of "driving" rather than run their own vans around trying to update APs all over the world, and this way the database is likely to stay very, very fresh!

I want to help make it better (3, Insightful)

Plug (14127) | more than 5 years ago | (#28667049)

What is the link to the "Your guess at my location was wrong: I am actually at" page?

Its okay (2, Funny)

garphik (996984) | more than 5 years ago | (#28674485)

Its still beta ;-)
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