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Satellites Spy On Black Friday Shoppers

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the bet-you-can't-see-through-my-roof dept.

Businesses 171

MojoKid writes "Those satellites in space don't just take spy pictures. On this Black Friday 2010, they actually took pictures of you, and your rush to Black Friday shopping deals. The research is being done to see what consumer demand this year means for retail stocks. The trend, so far, has been favorable. The companies involved in this are Remote Sensing Metrics and Digital Globe. Remote Sensing Metrics is a Chicago-based consulting firm that analyzes the satellite imagery. In turn, it purchases those images from Colorado-based company Digital Globe, which operates its own satellites."

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171 comments

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DHS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34359776)

Took control of amazon.

would ya look at that..... (1)

metalmaster (1005171) | more than 3 years ago | (#34359792)

Stores with product X for price Y have crowd patterns like Z

Re:would ya look at that..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34360206)

It just seems like this is an incredibly overly complicated and expensive solution to a problem that doesn't really exist. The major retailers will all release their numbers, and they'll be significantly more indicative than this worthless satellite data. Mall parking lot fill rates don't mean shit, because even if they give a reasonable estimation of how many people were shopping, they give no indication of dollars spent per shopper. Last year didn't see significantly smaller crowds, but it saw a huge drop in money spent. More shoppers on Black Friday just means more bargain hunters, and lots of bargain hunters during a recession doesn't really mean an improving economy.

Re:would ya look at that..... (1)

JustOK (667959) | more than 3 years ago | (#34360968)

reading the rfids...from SPAAAACE

Re:would ya look at that..... (1)

jhigh (657789) | more than 3 years ago | (#34360404)

Yeah, I have to say that I don't get the point of this, either. What are they trying to learn with images that they can't learn with the raw numerical data?

One more reason (5, Insightful)

Roland Piquepaille (780675) | more than 3 years ago | (#34359794)

to stay away from the mindless consumerism that defines today's society.

My immediate family and I don't buy presents for any of the "holiday seasons". We offer ourselves things of no merchant value, such as poems, good time and love.

Whenever I go to town, I see people moving from shop to shop like drones, trying hard to figure out what they're going to buy next. We used to be like that, but we aren't anymore. We use money to live (food, basic transportation, reasonable housing) and our hands and heads for entertainment.

Re:One more reason (2, Insightful)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 3 years ago | (#34359900)

While I respect a modicum of separation from "mindless consumerism", I'm unconvinced of the premise you advance - and do not see that having your car show up as two to four off-white pixels in a satellite image of the Wal-Mart parking lot is any cause for alarm whatsoever.

Re:One more reason (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 3 years ago | (#34359950)

do not see that having your car show up as two to four off-white pixels in a satellite image of the Wal-Mart parking lot is any cause for alarm whatsoever

WHAT? That means someone stole my car! And painted it white!

Re:One more reason (5, Insightful)

Roland Piquepaille (780675) | more than 3 years ago | (#34359962)

It's not the number of pixels that represents my car, or the danger (or lack thereof) for my liberties, it's the fact that those who want to sell us things treat us like cattle: our consuming habits are under intense scrutiny all of the time, and we are fed a form of brainwashing called "advertising" as a result of the marketing studies. And the worst is, it works: people consume, consume and consume all the time, and start consuming even more when certain dates come (like Black Friday).

I chose to stop consuming whenever possible, to not be a cattle.

Re:One more reason (0, Redundant)

brusk (135896) | more than 3 years ago | (#34360052)

Even anti-consumption is a form of consumption.

Re:One more reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34360220)

That "even anti-blah is blah" pattern works for a lot of things, but not consumption. If you are not consuming, you are not consuming. Full stop.

Re:One more reason (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#34360398)

That "even anti-blah is blah" pattern works for a lot of things, but not consumption. If you are not consuming, you are not consuming. Full stop.

If you are not consuming, you are consuming nothing.
Ha ha! Language tricks!

Re:One more reason (0, Offtopic)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 3 years ago | (#34360472)

> If you are not consuming... ...you are dead.

Re:One more reason (2, Insightful)

davester666 (731373) | more than 3 years ago | (#34360056)

I hate to think of how much the police department would make by selling the information they gather by driving through mall parking lots, scanning every single license plate looking for stolen cars...

Re:One more reason (1)

pspahn (1175617) | more than 3 years ago | (#34360380)

They don't aready? WTF are they so busy doing?

MOOoooslim? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34360452)

How the HELL could you NOT want THIS for the start of your Holiest of holy Xtian holiday season:

  STAMPEDE! [thedailywh.at]

"God gives us Cadillacs! God gives us houses! God gives us shopping malls!" -- the point at which, disgusted, I walked out of a tent revival meeting in Tucson, AZ ca. 1972 and never looked back.

Re:MOOoooslim? (1, Insightful)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 3 years ago | (#34360570)

I'd have done the same. Just because someone calls themselves Christian does not mean they actually are.

Do not think that every Christian buys into the (false) "Name-it-and-Claim-It" gospel. It's a garbage presentation of the True Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Re:One more reason (1)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 3 years ago | (#34360034)

Personally I do like the premise the OP advances. Instead of getting more stuff of little to no real value, they are making memories that will last longer than any item made of fiber, metal, or inorganic hydrocarbon compounds. By putting real thought and care into their choice for presents, they are retaining a sense of humanity that today's society dearly lacks.

Re:One more reason (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34360264)

How so? Are the "good times" the OP enjoys giving poetry and love any more meaningful than the "good times" people have giving material goods?

If you don't like materialism, don't participate. But there's no need look down on people for enjoying themselves.

Re:One more reason (2, Insightful)

causality (777677) | more than 3 years ago | (#34360528)

How so? Are the "good times" the OP enjoys giving poetry and love any more meaningful than the "good times" people have giving material goods?

If you don't like materialism, don't participate. But there's no need look down on people for enjoying themselves.

You say that as though materialism and quality time with loved ones are two equally valid positions. They're not.

Further, "don't participate" is good advice. The hurdle is that materialism is the dominant culture. You have to go against the grain and actively resist numerous influences and pressures and expectations in order to shun the material method of celebrating what were originally historical and religious holidays. This is by design, since sadly most Americans don't have the backbone to do that even if they wanted to. Caving in to a dominant culture not because it's what you deliberately embrace, but because it is difficult to do otherwise, well that's a very strange definition of "enjoying themselves".

It's a domination of the mind for the purpose of profit, just like all marketing and most facets of culture. A domination, not an offering of an inherently superior choice. If PR and marketing are done masterfully, then those influenced by them can't imagine any other realistic way of doing things.

Sometime during the last 100 years we made this transition from an economy based on utility and thriftiness and some degree of national self-sufficiency to massive globalism and consumerism based on this kind of madness. The people who fight for places in line at 3am at stores on Black Friday resemble nothing so closely as trained dogs taught to respond to cues. You place this on equal footing with wholesome enjoyment of family, quality time, and love? As I said, it's madness.

Re:One more reason (1)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 3 years ago | (#34360546)

Thank you, for so eloquently stating your position (one which I firmly agree with).

Well... (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 3 years ago | (#34360312)

Personally I do like the premise the OP advances. Instead of getting more stuff of little to no real value, they are making memories that will last longer than any item made of fiber, metal, or inorganic hydrocarbon compounds.

That's until the Alzheimer's kicks in. Then you'll be sad indeed you invested so little in Star Wars figures.

Re:Well... (1)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 3 years ago | (#34360548)

When Alzheimer's kicks in you won't even remember what they are, much less why you have them. The only joy you will get is the day-to-day seeing of something "new". At that point, nothing will really matter as you'll just be existing.

Re:One more reason (1)

jhigh (657789) | more than 3 years ago | (#34360440)

You obviously don't have kids. There is nothing comparable to the joy that one receives from watching the look on your kid's face(s) on Christmas morning. Anti-consumerism is all fine and good, but on Christmas Eve, I want my kids giggling and shaking with excitement while I try to calm them down enough to fall asleep. On Christmas morning, I want to watch them squealing and opening presents.

So, yeah, I'm a consumer at Christmas time.

Re:One more reason (2, Insightful)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 3 years ago | (#34360506)

Then you've already indoctorinated your kids to the consumerist side of Christmas. There is plenty to be excited about without expensive presents. Teach your kids to enjoy the finer things in life (like each other's company) more than some toy.

You're right, I'm not a parent, but if I were, I hope my wife and I would be able to celebrate Christmas in some truly meaningful way. (:

Re:One more reason (-1, Flamebait)

jhigh (657789) | more than 3 years ago | (#34360604)

Then you've already indoctorinated your kids to the consumerist side of Christmas. There is plenty to be excited about without expensive presents. Teach your kids to enjoy the finer things in life (like each other's company) more than some toy.

You're right, I'm not a parent, but if I were, I hope my wife and I would be able to celebrate Christmas in some truly meaningful way. (:

Bull. All kids are "consumerists." That's why they get so excited about presents. All kids are selfish, which is why we have to teach them to share. As a parent, nothing gives greater pleasure than seeing your children happy. When they're little, very little makes them as happy as getting presents.

You can try to paint this like some epic failure on my wife and my part as parents, but that's just crap. If you and your wife celebrated Christmas in "some truly meaningful way" that didn't include your kids getting presents, you would just have really unhappy kids. Being a good parent doesn't mean not buying your kids presents. It means being able to buy them presents and teach them that that's not what Christmas is all about.

Re:One more reason (1)

masmullin (1479239) | more than 3 years ago | (#34359906)

My immediate family and I don't buy presents for any of the "holiday seasons". We offer ourselves things of no merchant value, such as poems, good time and love.

Your Christmas sounds pretty shitty, well except for the love part... That sounds kinky.

Re:One more reason (2, Interesting)

Roland Piquepaille (780675) | more than 3 years ago | (#34360000)

Your Christmas sounds pretty shitty, well except for the love part... That sounds kinky.

That's because you equate Christmas and consuming.

Let me tell you how my family and I stopped buying stuff for Christmas: we used to rush downtown to buy each other presents, before the 24th, just like you. Then we figured we could buy more shit for our money if we exchanged promises at xmas eve, and actually bought said shit after mid-january, when the unsold articles would be discounted. We did that for several years, and ended up realizing we has just as much fun without the shit on xmas eve, and we could perhaps do without buying the shit at all. And that's what we've been doing ever since.

It works, you should give it a try. If you, your wife or your kids end up unhappy, you can always promise to buy the shit later when it's cheaper.

Re:One more reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34360132)

Why do you hate America?

Seriously though, cheers. Sounds like a good system.

Re:One more reason (1)

jhigh (657789) | more than 3 years ago | (#34360450)

Wow, I feel bad for your kids if you have any...

Re:One more reason (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34359982)

sounds like a buch of hippie retards
enjoy living like fags, lol!

Can I be adopted? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34360090)

That your holiday celebrations work is proof of the love your family shares. I think that too often stuff is used as a substitute for love, and the outward manifestations of love-- devoting time and attention to "loved" ones.

You are very lucky.

Re:Can I be adopted? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34360522)

That your holiday celebrations work is proof of the love your family shares. I think that too often stuff is used as a substitute for love, and the outward manifestations of love-- devoting time and attention to "loved" ones.

"Share"? You are only hearing one side of the story. You should probably find out what the kids think of getting a poem rather than the Robosan 4000 that they really wanted. Saving from avoiding consumer goods as presents will probably be exceeded many times over by the cost of the therapy the kids will require. :-)

Re:One more reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34360216)

Is anyone else confused here? I thought that Roland died in 2009. Wasn't there a /. article on it?

"Roland Piquepaille" is an imposter. (1)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 3 years ago | (#34360374)

Is anyone else confused here? I thought that Roland died in 2009. Wasn't there a /. article on it?

Yes, the real Roland Piquepaille [wikipedia.org] died almost two years ago. (His real user account was rpiquepa [slashdot.org] ).

The question is, why should we take anyone blatantly misusing someone else's name like that seriously? And no, I don't believe that this user coincidentally has the same real-life name (or chose that user name independently).

Re:One more reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34360240)

We used to be like that, but we aren't anymore. We use money to live (food, basic transportation, reasonable housing) and our hands and heads for entertainment.

Yet you own and use a computer. Gf.

Re:One more reason (2, Insightful)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 3 years ago | (#34360274)

That fits perfectly with the environmentalist goal of de-civilizing the society. I hope your next step is to grow your own food in your backyard, drink rainwater, and light fire with two stones (or a stone and your head if you prefer). What you call 'mindless consumerism' is a sign of a healthy and prosperous society with plenty of goods that most people want and can afford, there is nothing wrong with it.

Re:One more reason (1)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | more than 3 years ago | (#34360766)

Wow, nice leap. Faux Roland never said one word about environmentalism. As for environmentalism's "goal" of de-civilizing society I can only assume that is some kind of inside joke among those who prefer to see the worlds resources polluted beyond the point of being able to actually sustain civilization.

Re:One more reason (2, Insightful)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 3 years ago | (#34361062)

There is far more evidence that the goal of at least some leading environmentalists is de-civilizing the society and a return to a primitive society (for example, a bestselling environmentalist author: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iTYe8WloF1U [youtube.com] ) than that there are people who would "prefer" to see world polluted beyond the point of being able to sustain a civilization. I don't know anybody who would want that.

There is a reasonable middle ground (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 3 years ago | (#34360348)

Consumerism can be mindless. But it can also be very thoughtful. And that, to me, is when it's just as good as something like a poem.

Humans are tool users, and there's nothing wrong with buying tools to use as instruments in having fun and making memories. Which could be literal instruments as a new guitar for a music lover. Or something like a new computer for a parent who doesn't have a good grasp on what to buy. These would seem to come under "consumerism" but can have a lasting impact on happiness and shared memories too.

One think to help this is to reduce the number of people you have to analyze - I have a large extended family that comes together for Christmas, but instead of everyone buying everyone else a present, each family picks two other people to buy gifts for. Christmas for us is mostly about having a good time but it's also enhanced by people getting presents that really move them or mean something to them, because a lot of thought generally goes into each present. And even though we used money to buy them I see nothing wrong with the situation.

Re:One more reason (1)

aztektum (170569) | more than 3 years ago | (#34360376)

ohnoitsroland

Re:One more reason (1)

Atraxen (790188) | more than 3 years ago | (#34360712)

Actually, no it's not... See a comment up the page.

If anything, Ohnoitsaguywhoistrolling... If it's the real Roland, your zombie-hunting fantasies are about to come true.

Re:One more reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34360406)

Shut the fuck up you fucking cocksucker.

Re:One more reason (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 3 years ago | (#34360646)

Ugh, smug alert!

Your post reminds me of the classic "I don't watch TV, it's all crap.". Good times and love are great and are sometimes accompanied by purchased gifts. Many are fun and useful gifts beyond the ability of an individual to craft. Your black and white sneer at anything offered by a merchant is a disturbing brand of fanaticism. If beating your chest about how "enlightened" you are gets you off, more power to you. The rest of us choose to enjoy the good things produced by the skill of our fellow man.

Re:One more reason (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 3 years ago | (#34360706)

So, what device are you using to post this? And how did you get it without paying for it? Or is this not entertainment?

Re:One more reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34360808)

I thought you were dead, or something

Re:One more reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34360882)

Christmas must suck at your house.

no surprise (1)

cryoman23 (1646557) | more than 3 years ago | (#34359796)

are we really surprised that they take pictures of us from space?

Re:no surprise (4, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34359936)

I am moderately surprised that the fairly low-resolution data you would get from a visual surveillance satellite(ie. you can tell how full the parking lot is on Black Friday. How many people are there to buy el-cheapo crap to satisfy their Christmas obligations without going further into debt, and how many are there to pick up toys just because they can? Can you tell the difference between my 'Insignia' brand bottom-of-the-barrel-but-good-enough-to-watch-football-with-my-browskies LCD TV and a top of the line cinemaphile disposable-income-eater of similar size just by the box, from space?), even with sophisticated machine vision algorithms or more analysts than the National Reconnaissance Office, would be competitive with consumer metrics available from other sources.

I'm guessing that most Black Friday purchases are not made with cash and the ones that are are probably comparatively small and could be estimated just by putting a few flunkies near a statistically relevant sample of checkout lines. This would mean that any of the major credit/debit card guys should have a much better, and much more machine readable, trace on consumer spending. Retailers, of course, many of whom are publically traded and nearing the end of their fiscal year, obviously know what they sold; and I'm guessing that the guys in the shipping sector know reasonably well how much stuff had to be shlepped from the pacific rim to refill Wally World after the event.

Pictures from space have been a given for years now; they just seem like a sloppy source of data compared to all the others that already exist...

Re:no surprise (1)

Local ID10T (790134) | more than 3 years ago | (#34360038)

I am moderately surprised that the fairly low-resolution data you would get from a visual surveillance satellite(ie. you can tell how full the parking lot is on Black Friday. How many people are there to buy el-cheapo crap to satisfy their Christmas obligations without going further into debt, and how many are there to pick up toys just because they can? Can you tell the difference between my 'Insignia' brand bottom-of-the-barrel-but-good-enough-to-watch-football-with-my-browskies LCD TV and a top of the line cinemaphile disposable-income-eater of similar size just by the box, from space?), even with sophisticated machine vision algorithms or more analysts than the National Reconnaissance Office, would be competitive with consumer metrics available from other sources.

I have personally seen non-classified photos from reconnaissance satellites where I could clearly read street signs and license plates.

I can't speak to the value of such photos for marketing information, but I can attest to the quality of the images themselves.

Re:no surprise (1)

Zakabog (603757) | more than 3 years ago | (#34360270)

I have personally seen non-classified photos from reconnaissance satellites where I could clearly read street signs and license plates.

Those couldn't have been from satellites, it would require a huge mirror to be able to clearly read anything like a street sign or a license plate. Those photos were more likely from something like a plane.

Re:no surprise (1)

Nyeerrmm (940927) | more than 3 years ago | (#34361046)

I guarantee you haven't seen this. Look up the diffraction limit, it makes this basically impossible from orbit.

Re:no surprise (1)

sed quid in infernos (1167989) | more than 3 years ago | (#34360042)

This is available the next day. It's not as if they won't refine their estimates once better information becomes available.

Re:no surprise (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 3 years ago | (#34360334)

Can you tell the difference between my 'Insignia' brand bottom-of-the-barrel-but-good-enough-to-watch-football-with-my-browskies LCD TV and a top of the line cinemaphile disposable-income-eater of similar size just by the box, from space?)

If it's a big enough TV, then yes, yes we can.

Re:no surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34360386)

my-browskies

Is that what you named your eyebrows?

Competitive Intel (1)

No Lucifer (1620685) | more than 3 years ago | (#34360464)

I imagine that companies are not buying this data for information on their own stores (Wal-Mart, for example, can see every transaction at every store in real time), but rather on their competitors' stores. Any large retailer can process their own sales information a million different was in very short order. But getting intel on your competitors can be very valuable. For example, Wal-Mart can use these images to say "at 5am, the average store had 1 car in the parking lot for every 10 square feet of retail space. Target had 1 car for every 14 feet of retail space (also determined by the images)". This could give Wal-Mart a rough sense of their performance versus competitors well in advance of the Q4 earnings release, for instance.

Re:no surprise (1)

trancemission (823050) | more than 3 years ago | (#34360780)

Here in the UK most major retailers have 'loyalty' cards and clubcards to track/analyse 'consumers' - credit/debit card companies can only really see how much you spent in a certain shop [store] - over time I would imagine you can build a nice 'consumer profile' from these cards [hence the personalised offers you get]

Many people in the UK are more than willing to agree to their behavior being logged and analysed - and sometimes you get free shit......

To everyone under 30 (5, Insightful)

ldconfig (1339877) | more than 3 years ago | (#34359808)

I and us older folks messed up. I am very sorry you may never know what freedom really is. ld

Re:To everyone under 30 (1, Insightful)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 3 years ago | (#34359834)

I'm not sure how you have connected "Freedom" with "protection from having your car's top photographed from a satellite while it's sitting in the parking lot of a Target next to thousands of others from which it is generally indistinguishable". Please explain.

Re:To everyone under 30 (5, Insightful)

ffreeloader (1105115) | more than 3 years ago | (#34360196)

You are now so used to being spied on that you can't even comprehend what the world was like without it.

It was a much friendlier and relaxed place to live. Nobody had the right to sift through your life just to see what they could sell you and the government wasn't into monitoring every move you made and jailing you for the least offense. That was a society that had much more freedom.

I can remember when getting caught lighting up your tires wasn't an automatic reckless driving ticket and a several hundred dollar fine as well as a large increase in your insurance rates. Cops were much more human and forgiving for they remembered what it was like to be young and dumb and weren't out to disrupt your life for your first mistake. Most of them, as long as you didn't try to lie to them, would let you go with a warning even if they caught you making a pretty serious mistake. I've been let walk after burning rubber for half a city block and reaching close to 80mp in a 25mph zone right in front of sheriff's deputy I didn't see. He asked me what happened and I explained it to him: I was showing for a couple of very good looking young women and that it was a first for me to do that in town as my hotrodding and racing was done out of town. My honesty got me a warning instead of a ticket and some time in jail. Try that today and see what happens to you.

You had the freedom to make mistakes and learn from them without being severely punished. If you didn't learn, well, that was your problem and you could expect to have the book thrown at you the second time. During high school most of us used to carry pocket knives and a lot of us had guns in the trunks of our cars because we liked to go plinking after school. I remember pranks such as wiring the urinal drain in the faculty men's bathroom to a Model T coil not getting anyone kicked out of school, and intentional small explosions in chemistry class going unpunished. I also knew a guy who blew a foot deep hole in the football field with a home made pipe bomb who got nothing more than a 2 day suspension. He wasn't hauled off to jail and prosecuted for terrorism. In fact the issue never was reported to the police and this was done inside city limits.

Today's young people don't know what liberty is as we live in a society in which we are watched 24/7 and our liberties are fast disappearing. Not much individual freedom is left even when compared to eras such as the 60's and 70's, let alone the 1800's, but those of you who didn't live in those decades, and aren't students of American history, will never understand what has been lost. It's a paradigm you can't grasp because you've never experienced it.

Re:To everyone under 30 (2, Interesting)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 3 years ago | (#34360302)

"I've been let walk after burning rubber for half a city block and reaching close to 80mp in a 25mph zone right in front of sheriff's deputy I didn't see. He asked me what happened and I explained it to him: I was showing for a couple of very good looking young women and that it was a first for me to do that in town as my hotrodding and racing was done out of town. My honesty got me a warning instead of a ticket and some time in jail."

So you're whining that you can't drive wrecklessly down a street and possibly kill people. You're the reason why we can't have nice things.

Re:To everyone under 30 (3, Insightful)

ffreeloader (1105115) | more than 3 years ago | (#34360502)

"I've been let walk after burning rubber for half a city block and reaching close to 80mp in a 25mph zone right in front of sheriff's deputy I didn't see. He asked me what happened and I explained it to him: I was showing for a couple of very good looking young women and that it was a first for me to do that in town as my hotrodding and racing was done out of town. My honesty got me a warning instead of a ticket and some time in jail."

So you're whining that you can't drive wrecklessly down a street and possibly kill people. You're the reason why we can't have nice things.

Sorry, but that's the dumbest response I've seen in a while. How you managed to take that from my post is beyond me.

Government wasn't out to punish every infraction. They were out to teach if they thought you were capable of learning. They were human and recognized that they themselves made mistakes. They wouldn't let you get by with making the same mistakes multiple times, but a one-time infraction wasn't enough to always severely punish you.

Funny how back then it was much easier to get ahead, in spite of how you claim I'm the reason you can't have nice things. Where you drew that logical fallacy from is beyond me. It's some of the worst logic I've ever seen. Funny how you think humanity in a less intrusive government led to a bad economy. The reality is just the opposite. Big brother watching you and wanting to control every aspect of your life is the reason our country is going broke.

Re:To everyone under 30 (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34360828)

With regards to driving, Reckless used to mean that a judgment call (by the Officer) would be made determining if what you were doing was actually done with abandon.

Now it means "X miles per hour over the limit, pay this large fine"

The officers themselves are no longer free to make judgment calls, because they themselves are under surveillance.

Re:To everyone under 30 (4, Insightful)

farnsworth (558449) | more than 3 years ago | (#34361020)

So you're whining that you can't drive wrecklessly down a street and possibly kill people. You're the reason why we can't have nice things.

The reason we can't have nice things is not because people are human and make mistakes and do dumb things. The reason we can't have nice things is because recently the US has turned into a police state and a nanny state. Kids aren't allowed to walk to the park, zero-tolerance/three-strikes for utterly minor "crimes", and being treated like a criminal for wanting to travel around the country are all new things that have come to be over the last few decades. To pretty much any average US citizen (Helen Lovejoys aside) who is paying attention, this is an obvious and blatant turn for the worse.

People being human is not preventing you from having nice things. The current environment that is dehumanizing everybody indiscriminately is.

Re:To everyone under 30 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34361016)

They could've done this on a much smaller scale with digital cameras too, retard. This isn't anywhere close to "big brother watching you", it's a fucking study.

Re:To everyone under 30 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34361144)

Not much individual freedom is left even when compared to eras such as the 60's and 70's, let alone the 1800's

Let me guess... you're white, right?

Re:To everyone under 30 (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 3 years ago | (#34360278)

Privacy is a freedom. It's gone. This particular one isn't that bad, assuming it's Google Earth level imagery. But it is another example of the constant surveillance we are under.

Compare your grandparents stories about all the things they did that were wrong or illegal that they got away with, realized was wrong, and learned from that. And with the push for complete surveillance will result in fewer people getting away with such things, people don't get the "oops" factor they used to have to let them learn from mistakes without others adding in a lifetime of punishment for every mistake. And that freedom is gone too.

Do you really think we have as much freedom now as there was in the USA 100 years ago?

Re:To everyone under 30 (3, Insightful)

jordan314 (1052648) | more than 3 years ago | (#34359890)

I get a creepy feeling from this too. I've always favored military intelligence over war, and I supported the largest US spy satellite launch last week. But I was hoping our satellite technology wouldn't be flagrantly used to spy on our own citizens, especially for things as mundane as holiday shopping.

Re:To everyone under 30 (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34359928)

These images are collected by privately owned satellites, not the National Reconnaissance Office.

Re:To everyone under 30 (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34360308)

Who launched them? I'm not sure what the situation is like now, but it used to be that you could buy the best satellite imagery from Soviet spy satellites that were being leased out by a bankrupt former Soviet Union. I did some work on an MoD site in the late '90s, and they had a great picture of the entire site in their reception. I asked about this, since I'd read that it was illegal to take aerial photographs of the area - apparently for a few hundred quid over the Internet they got a Russian satellite to fly overhead on a clear day and take high resolution pictures. I think a lot of the older satellites were sold off to private concerns a couple of years later.

So, even if they're privately owned satellites, they may well have been launched with taxpayer money (on one side of the iron curtain or the other) for the purpose of spying on the evil communists / capitalists.

Re:To everyone under 30 (1)

rastos1 (601318) | more than 3 years ago | (#34360458)

These images are collected by privately owned satellites, not the National Reconnaissance Office.

Out of curiosity - do you think that if a crime/terror attack or any other event of interest happens in the screened area, can the police/FBI/CIA/NSA/... subpoena the pictures?

Re:To everyone under 30 (1)

Nyeerrmm (940927) | more than 3 years ago | (#34360958)

Sure police can, but it's probably not terribly useful. Commercial satellite imagery is limited to .15 meter resolution by ITAR restrictions, and has to be targeted in advance. Great for tracking crowds, not for police work.

Re:To everyone under 30 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34361044)

These images are collected by privately owned satellites, not the National Reconnaissance Office.

Out of curiosity - do you think that if a crime/terror attack or any other event of interest happens in the screened area, can the police/FBI/CIA/NSA/... subpoena the pictures?

They wouldn't bother because they have their own that are much better quality.

Re:To everyone under 30 (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34360078)

This, my friend, is the first time a /. comment has made me cry.

Someone under 30.

Yeah, You, Specifically (3, Informative)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 3 years ago | (#34359832)

Since 1 pixel is 1/2 meter, this is approximately what you look like from space: ---> .

Digital Globe has a flikr feed at http://www.flickr.com/photos/digitalglobe-imagery/ [flickr.com]

Re:Yeah, You, Specifically (4, Funny)

masmullin (1479239) | more than 3 years ago | (#34359922)

Oh man. That shot makes me want to play sim city

Re:Yeah, You, Specifically (1)

dpilot (134227) | more than 3 years ago | (#34360012)

Naaaah, not Sim City... Ant City!

Re:Yeah, You, Specifically (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#34360772)

"They are ants, Michael. They are ants." -Bill Gates, Family Guy

And people said I was weird (5, Funny)

proverbialcow (177020) | more than 3 years ago | (#34359854)

They mocked me for staying at home, making aluminum foil hats and slathering my naked body with turkey gravy, but who's laughing now?!?

Re:And people said I was weird (1)

masmullin (1479239) | more than 3 years ago | (#34359930)

Everyone that read your post.

You forgot one crucial step (2, Funny)

formfeed (703859) | more than 3 years ago | (#34360128)

Friday morning you park your car at the mall, then take the bus home and hide.

Re:And people said I was weird (1)

jeffasselin (566598) | more than 3 years ago | (#34360460)

Dude, you should know that aluminum hats actually improve the transmission rate of the mind-control waves, you gotta use lead.

Oh and turkey gravy gives skin cancer now :-)

Re:And people said I was weird (1)

gooman (709147) | more than 3 years ago | (#34360932)

They saw me walk into the mall where I purchased a Faraday cage suit and matching tin-foil hat.
I put them on before I left.
They think I'm still there! Hee hee.

That'll learn 'em.

clouds? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34359880)

and what did they do in places with cloud cover? Digital Globe only appear to offer visible spectrum images not radar or thermal imagery.

ours, not likely (2, Insightful)

fermion (181285) | more than 3 years ago | (#34359910)

On this Black Friday 2010, they actually took pictures of you, and your rush to

So you are telling me that a group of people renowned for hiding in parent's basement with the technological knowledge to shop online willing went out into the deathtrap that was black friday.

Re:ours, not likely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34360876)

Luckily we have these satellite feeds to tell us, because I never would have guessed!

Peace Sells.... (1)

turgid (580780) | more than 3 years ago | (#34360028)

....but who's buying?

Re:Peace Sells.... (1)

brusk (135896) | more than 3 years ago | (#34360082)

Warmongers diversifying their portfolios?

There's been crowd counting for years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34360068)

Every holiday there's counts of traffic in mall parking lots, usually done by someone with a clipboard and a stop watch - walk around a predetermined area and count the spaces every 15 minute, then stand at a corner and count the traffic for a minute. Using satellites and computers will ensure its more accurate, but it's not a new thing.

I don't get it (2, Interesting)

formfeed (703859) | more than 3 years ago | (#34360110)

If you want to know how well you are doing, wouldn't you get better data from your cash register than from your parking lot?

- Unless of course you want to know how well your competitor is doing.

Re:I don't get it (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34360360)

Partially, but they also want to know how many people are looking but not buying. It would also be interesting to correlate with the amount of data usage in whatever the local GPRS / UMTS bands are to see how many people were comparing prices for offers online, and whether these people are buying things afterwards. Even without that, you want to get some idea of the percentage of people walking into your shop are walking out with a purchase and how many are just browsing. With in-store video footage and a little image processing, you can also see which departments are most popular with which demographics, how those translate to sales, and so on. You can then use this information to make more money next year, for example by arranging your store layout so that people have to walk past things that they might impulse purchase to get to things that they actually want. This is basically how Google makes its money, although apparently it's not evil when they do it.

Been Doing this for Years (0)

wiredmikey (1824622) | more than 3 years ago | (#34360230)

Hedge Funds, Analysts, etc have been analyzing satellite images for years to keep an eye on retail. While interesting, this is by no means anything new.

Usually done with low tech aerial photos (1)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 3 years ago | (#34360416)

Hedge Funds, Analysts, etc have been analyzing satellite images for years to keep an eye on retail. While interesting, this is by no means anything new.

Yes and no. Its difficult and expensive to get a satellite to image a specific place on a specific date. Most of this sort of work is done by sending up a local flight instructor (they are relatively inexpensive per hour and instrument rated in case of weather) with a photographer as a passenger.

Re:Usually done with low tech aerial photos (1)

wiredmikey (1824622) | more than 3 years ago | (#34360764)

Great point.

Did you note it? Statistical cheating (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34360496)

... on the charts.

If you did not get it, you may be easily cheated: the bottom of the bar charts was NOT at zero, so the graphical representation of the development in 2010 was totally misleading.
Probably the increase was around the spread of the values, so not meaningful at all.

No more charming cheating charts, please.

Really?!?!?! (1)

Atraxen (790188) | more than 3 years ago | (#34360634)

So, we're now jumping on the bandwagon where everything is spying? (I know, I must be new here...) Because, what _I_ read was a barebones article (193 words!!!) barely longer than the summary, that basically says they are using imaging of parking lots (and they implied traffic patterns as well) to see how full they are. I might be wrong, but my response is already almost longer than the article which makes it difficult to tell. I say it's a valid approach, spun up via alarmist phrasing to look like a privacy article.

Please, next time you flee in a panic from road surveyors who 'are there to spy on you and determine your vectors', please stay in your lane, because I'm already dealing with enough poor drivers... Deep breath - just because they have eyes pointed in your general direction that does not constitute spying.

bar charts (1)

Spaham (634471) | more than 3 years ago | (#34360722)

No one seems to comment on the way they represent the data in the bar charts.
If you look at the bars, there seems to be a real big change year after year, as
the commenter says. But if you look at the numbers, they tell a different story.
How does a change from 31% to 35% become a huge improvement ?
People don't learn to read charts, and don't learn to make them.
If they showed the three bars on a scale from 0 to 100%, then you wouldn't be
able to tell the difference, or very slightly.

Re:bar charts (1)

Spaham (634471) | more than 3 years ago | (#34360746)

I'd like to rephrase my last sentence as it can be misinterpreted.
When I say that you wouldn't be able to tell the difference, I mean
that the difference between 31 and 35% isn't much, and it would
reflect on the charts if the scale was chosen right.
Choosing to use such a zoomed scale increases the perception
of the change over the years. If you look at it quickly, you may
think that people have almost doubled over the years...

Not ME (1)

Stele (9443) | more than 3 years ago | (#34360794)

On this Black Friday 2010, they actually took pictures of you, and your rush to Black Friday shopping deals.

Nope, not me. I NEVER leave the house on Black Friday. I prefer not to be trampled and run down by mindless consumers.

I do my Xmas shopping from the relative safety of my computer and Amazon. Ironically, the government probably knows a lot more about MY shopping habits than those in the satellite images.

1984 is NOT an instruction manual (1)

Dante1321 (874270) | more than 3 years ago | (#34360966)

i don't like this satellite culture, these mods that see through solid matter are ILLEGAL,to say the least! Let alone all the microwave frequencies that got leaked to the idiot junkies in surveillance by TRAITORS. And I say this 'in the ultrasound' as my stomach grumbles & my machine keeps freezing. ON 28TH DECEMBER 2003 THE MICHIGAN GOVERNOR SIGNED PUBLIC ACTS 256 AND 257 (EFFECTIVE 1/1/04). THESE OUTLAW THE USE OF ANY EM WEAPON ON ANYONE. PENALTY - 15 YEARS-LIFE. over and over and over again... Happy Holidays :)
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