Tag Archives: GPS

How To See A Map of Every Location Where Google Has Tracked You

I’m not here to bash Google or Google Maps. I use both regularly and I definitely appreciate the convenience they’ve added to my life (the time before Google Search seems more and more like the dark ages these days).

But with added convenience often comes added cost. One of those costs is allowing Google to track your movements using GPS satellites.

This allows them to give you a very high level of accuracy during navigation, but it also allows them to store your movement history, just like they’ve stored every Google search since the website launched. We can only speculate on what they do with that data.

The good news is, there’s a way to see everywhere that Google knows you’ve been: an interactive map that allows you to see your tracking history.

The map includes a timeline (below it) that you can scroll over to see exactly where you were at certain times, as well as how far away you were from your home base at that time.

But the coolest feature: the map can be “played” as an animation, allowing you to go back in time and watch your movements as they unfolded.

Login to whichever Google account you use the most (or if you have a specific one for your phone, use that one), and then click on the picture below to try it out.

Tip: Use the calender to the left of the map to select a wider range of days and see a more complete picture of your movements:

For any of you that are familiar with Austin, Texas, I promise I don’t go to 6th as often as the map above makes it seem. Apparently, I just always seem to need my location services when I’m there for some reason…

What things will you learn about yourself when you check out your own tracking history?

BONUS: While doing research for this post, I tried to find the total number of Google searches since Google’s official first year in 1998.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find that number, at least not from a credible source. But I did, however find some statistics about recent years.

In 2013, for example, there were nearly 6 billion Google searches every day, for a total of about 2.16 trillion searches for the year.

Source: Google Official History, Comscore. Click to enlarge (Courtesy of statisticsbrain.com)

(h/t Business Insider)

A Few Reasons Why Tomorrow Might Be A Bit of a Strange Day…

Tomorrow will not be your ordinary Friday. For starters, tomorrow is the 13th, making tomorrow a Friday the 13th.

There will also be a full moon in the sky when the clock strikes 12:01 a.m. tomorrow morning. The last time that happened? October 13, 2000. The next time it will happen? August 13, 2049.

I’m not one for superstitions, but there is one thing I haven’t mentioned yet. Our sun has been shooting off powerful solar flares the last few days, including this one captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory early Tuesday morning:

Three recent solar X-flares emitted by the Sun. Click to enlarge (Courtesy of NASA/SDO)

Solar flares are brief, high-radiation eruptions that happen on the surface of the Sun. The three flares emitted in the past two days (pictured above) have been X-flares, the most powerful classification of solar flare. X-flares emit radiation at virtually every wavelength, from radio waves, to the light we can see, to x-rays and gamma rays.

Because of all of the different electromagnetic waves that the flares emit, they can disrupt communications here on Earth. In fact, the flare in the video above caused a temporary radio blackout here on Earth, according to Space.com.

The electromagnetic spectrum. Click to enlarge

Did I mention CMEs? CME stands for coronal mass ejection. This occurs when a powerful solar flare emits a plasma burst along with the radiation. A plasma burst can cause polar geomagnetic storms which are capable of severely disrupting communications and satellite systems, including GPS.

Along with having the potential to cause low levels of radiation poisoning in humans, a strong CME would also create surges in electrical wires, destroying transformers and leaving millions without power.

Despite the scary stuff, CME’s are pretty fascinating. These plasma burst clouds actually compresses Earth’s own magnetic field, which is what causes so many of the potential issues.

Artist depiction of how a CME plasma burst interacts with Earth’s magnetoshpere (Courtesy of NASA)

At first, officials at the U.S. Space Weather Prediction Center didn’t think that the flare in the video above had emitted a CME, only to find later that it had actually produced two of them.

They are expected to give Earth a glancing blow when they reach Earth orbit…tomorrow, Friday the 13th.

14 Years Ago A Crash Made This Race Car Driver A Quadriplegic. Now, He Drives With His Head

Sam Schmidt was an up and coming driver with 27 Indy Racing League starts until a tragic day in January of 2000. While racing at the Walt Disney World Resort, Sam lost control and crashed into the wall.

Sam works with some of his crew in the garage

The horrific accident left Sam paralyzed from the neck down. Though he knew he would never race again, Schmidt loved the sport too much to leave completely, and a year later he returned with his own team, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.

Sam was enjoying his success as a team owner until 7 months ago, when he got an unbelievable call: a company called Arrow Electronics was giving him the opportunity to get back behind the wheel. Sam signed up, “without hesitation”.

Click image to enlarge.

The company, which had already created a car that could be operated using only hand controls for a paraplegic driver last year, built a Chevy Corvette which allows Sam to drive using the control scheme in the picture above.

The 460-horsepower 2014 Corvette Stingray is equipped with a plethora of gadgetry. For starters, four infrared cameras in the cabin interact with small reflective balls on a cap worn by Schmidt, allowing the system to track and react to his head movement in just milliseconds.

The short video below explains how the whole system works:

The car has a computer system which is equipped to verify movements to make sure they’re not unintentional (like a sneeze, for example), and a GPS system which checks the car’s position over 100 times per second and can auto-correct when Sam gets within one meter of the edge of the track.

The technology itself isn’t actually new, however. It’s the creative way in which the technologies were brought together that is the real feat. Here’s Chakib Loucif, Arrow Electronics VP of engineering:

“The integration of technology to solve this problem, that is absolutely new… That is what makes this very very unique.”

Sam Schmidt in his custom Corvette. Click image to enlarge (Image courtesy of the SAM Project/Arrow Electronics)

Schmidt, who has already completely 25 laps (75 miles) in the car, said it, “felt pretty natural”. He will get a chance to drive at  Indianapolis Motor Speedway for Pole Day, a week ahead of the Indy 500.

Read more from Wired here.