No honey, actually it’s NOT my speeding fine. Google Location History – bit creepy, pretty useful


I’ve just discovered the Google Location History page for my account, that tracks where I’ve been, based on my iPhone pinging Google on a regular basis. I can’t work out whether to be completely creeped out, or to shiver with excitement with all the ideas welling up around what useful applications you could build around the data. It’s actually been around for a while, it’s part of the Google Latitude product.

Here’s my map for the past 30 days:

Screen Shot 2013-05-28 at 5.37.03 PM

Big concentration of dots around the David HQ in Brighton. Couple of trips up to the northern suburbs (that’ll be sports games with my son); and a big trip down to the south east of Victoria, when we had a delightful day in the country, including stopping by the snail farm for some escargot.

Before you panic, this page is only available to you, not publicly, and you can delete the history at any time. To reach all this goodness, log into your Google Location History page. It’s possible to invite friends to access your Latitude data as well.

It had not struck me until I searched around a little, but an obvious application for this data is tracking company employees and assets. For example, Google has their own service via Google Maps for Business.

Screen Shot 2013-05-28 at 5.47.55 PM

Clearly there are security and privacy concerns around this data. It’s a little strange seeing my travels mapped with such accuracy. And of course there are the positive tales, like stolen property being recovered using Latitude data.

However, here’s the really neat stuff, look what turned up in our mail today:


Yes, oops. Someone was a little over the speed limit earlier this month, there was some debate in our household who this might have been, neither of us could recall who was out and about on Dendy Street at lunchtime on 8 May. I decided to fall on my sword and sign the form and accept responsibility – and the demerit points.

But now I’ve checked Google Latitude, here’s my map for the day:


Dendy Street is up the top – I never went near there, at least not with my iPhone in my pocket, and it’s a rare time I leave the house without my phone. Not sure this is worth broaching with @FionaK, so I’ll cop to the fine anyway.

Could the Liberal Party’s opposition to the NBN be in part driven by TV broadcast lobby?


Google has been rolling out its Google Fiber internet connections in communities in the USA. Google Fiber offers a 1Gb internet service for $US70 a month, $US120 including tv channels. It’s basically akin to a Foxtel cable connection to your home, but with blisteringly fast internet.

An article on the Forbes website caught my eye this morning “Online Video Soars As Traditional Broadcast Collapses“. Apparently in areas where Google Fiber is available video on demand services delivered over the internet are booming, and traditional broadcasters are suffering badly:

Demand for VOD is growing even more quickly than analysts expected, as traditional broadcast audiences shrink and the market for traditional broadcast content implodes. As consumers spend increasingly more time on their mobile devices, revenue from broadcast advertising has suffered. Broadcasters have cancelled 18 programs from the 2012-2013 season so far, according to Entertainment Weekly.

Also interesting is how it’s spurring other internet providers to take action:

Google Fiber’s influence is impacting other carriers as well: within a week of Google’s announcement of expansion to Austin, Texas, AT&T announced a 1 Gbps plan for Austin and Time Warner Cable  announced new city-wide wireless service for its Austin customers.

In Australia we’re staring down the gun barrel of a change of government, to a Liberal party that wants to neuter many of the benefits of the National Broadband Network, the Labor Government’s plan to install fibre to the home internet – and which is already up and running in some suburbs.

The simplest way to express the difference between Labor and Liberal is speed. Because the Liberal plan does not delivery a fiber connection to your home (or business premise), instead replying on a ‘last mile’ of copper or wi-fi, inevitably speed is comprised. Tony Abbot is on record as saying that 25Mb is “is going to be enough, more than enough, for the average household”. If you want the full 1Gb potential you’ll have to pay for the fiber to be extended to your home. In contrast the NBN brings the fiber directly into your home, just like your pay TV cable.

The Liberal’s argue their plan is cheaper and better. The problem is almost no expert or commentator seems to agree with them, based on my probably biased survey of news stories.

Their policy is all the more stranger because the person in the driving seat is Malcolm Turnball, the Shadow Minister for Communications. Malcolm made his considerable fortune from innovation online – especially as one of the early backers of pioneering Australian internet company Ozemail. I’ve long been fascinated at Malcolm’s opposition to the NBN, it just seemed against what surely must be his past experiences of how innovation in internet connectivity can stimulate a community and economy.

The Forbes article piqued my interest. The local television broadcast companies have long been loud and effective lobbyists in Canberra. Their mega-rich owners always happy wheel and deal – and on occasion threaten and cajole – our politicians. And traditionally they’ve opposed innovation and competition in their very lucrative,

So it made me wonder if the broadcasters have been reading the tea leaves and realising just how much of a threat the NBN poses to their cosy oligopoly – and whispering in the ears of the Liberal party power brokers? Rupert Murdoch, who owns a serious chunk of Foxtel, doesn’t hide his distaste for the Labor government, and though his Australian newspapers has been relentlessly pushing the Liberal cause.


Unfortunately we may have no choice, the campaign has been successful and the polling says we face the proposed of a Liberal government come the end of the year. I did enjoy this article suggesting it’ll be the NBN that saves Labor, but to be honest I’m not holding out much hope.