The Google/EU Search Removal Issue

Google are starting to remove results when searching for individuals, if that individual requests – provided the result is no longer relevant.

It seems to me that this is simply a logical extension of the Data Protection act – here are the principles that underline the UK act. In particular, take a look at parts 3, 4 & 5. Google, having been established as a data controller for individuals, are obliged to keep the data they hold about individuals proportional and relevant.

That’s also – surely – Google’s goal: to have relevant results, which includes prioritising accuracy and timeliness. Therefore, is the Removal Form simply achieving something Google’s algorithms haven’t been able to do for themselves?


Watching the Watchers

Last night, Google released an update to its Street View system to include new locations across the UK, Netherlands and other European countries.

My home city, Portsmouth, is not on there yet but Southampton is so, clicking through my old university stomping ground I came across this little treat:

First shot: The Google Car may or may not have gone through the first red lights. Who knows… the lights ahead are already on amber.


Second shot: Lights are still on amber. Technically you should be preparing to stop 😉


Third shot: They’re red. Is the driver still going? Watch the two cars in front – a white one and a dark blue one. Also, note the two schoolkids walking under the tunnel.


Fourth shot: The two cars ahead are further away – either they sped up or the driver is slowing down… maybe he stopped after all? Note the two kids are closer too, so it’s a continuous set of frames


Fifth shot: The two cars are well away now, already around the left-hand bend. There’s no reason to believe from this particular shot that it’s a few seconds after the last – the driver might’ve waited for a green and gone a bit later, right? Well, take a look for yourself at the car behind the driver, and the two schoolkids will still be there. In the distance, cars are starting to come towards our fearless driver…


Final shot: there are more schoolkids running under the bridge, and the oncoming cars are now having to wait for our Google Driver to get out of the way!

Conclusion: well, none really. This is a pointless, but mildly satisfying discovery. Enjoy.

Google Earth 5.0

Google’s 3D world viewer, Google Earth has been updated to version 5.

The headline feature is the ability to view historic satellite photos, as in this picture of Cherque Farm housing estate, near Lee on Solent, Hampshire, UK.


Housing estate nr. Lee on Solent, Hampshire UK
Housing estate nr. Lee on Solent, Hampshire UK

In the series of photos, ranging from 1999 (left) to 2007 you can clearly see the construction of the estate over time.

A303 Diversion

Apparantly the big news in the Westcountry is that the A303 is to be closed some time early next year, with a 40 mile diversion. The BBC has more details and the Highways Agency press release is also available.

I wondered why neither the HA nor any of the press articles I’d seen bothered publishing a map. While they’re happy to describe an elaborate route in text, it took me less than five minutes to knock this up.

The visual view is – I think – much more explanatory than any text, and it adds instant impact to the article.

Google Gears + Demo

Finally, I’m back into doing something that I love – fiddling with new ideas.

Today, Google released Google Gears 0.4 with geolocation. For those of you not yet aware of Google Gears, it’s an attempt by the big G to enhance the client-side with a variety of rich add-ons, such as local databases, offline services and smoother integration with the host OS.

Gears is also available for Windows Mobile devices and, with the addition of geolocation, adds some exciting spice to the mobile platform.

Previously I’ve made aborted attempts to use a combination of Navizon (a mobile tracking service), Fire Eagle (Yahoo!’s location “platform”) and (Tom Taylor‘s very handy directory of POIs). It works to a point, but is a hopelessly elongated way of serving geo-aware content from a web browser.

With Gears 0.4 it’s now possible for the browser to interrogate directly the user’s location, through a combination of cell IDs and GPS (where available). The natural conclusion is to slap this tool onto the front of something like, et voila, you have a location-aware website puling information directly from the client.

Without further ado, check out my painfully basic demo – you’ll need Windows Mobile 5/6 and Google Gears (if it is not detected, it’ll prompt you to install).

As a bonus, the site will also work on your desktop, but I’m presuming that’d only be available with a GPS dongle of some kind?

I’d love to spice it up a bit – actually without presuming too much I’m fairly sure this is a natural upgrade to and other sites… if you have any thoughts feel free to post below 😉

Google Reader Strangeness

Google Reader always was a little odd with its unread posts count – sometimes not updating its post count until I “did” something in Reader (e.g. refresh), but more recently over the last couple of days it’s been quite a way out. Is anybody else experiencing this?

Screenshot of Google Reader

All the refreshing in the world won’t clear those 3 “new” items, but a couple of minutes later (since starting this post) it’s all back to zero again.

Google Oversight

Google’s new website is the front for the OpenSocial Foundation, an attempt to gather support for open development of OpenSocial-y issues such as data ownership and APIs.

Naturally, being the omnipotent creature that Google is, they’ve used their own Spreadsheet and newly-added survey feature to gather supporters (myself included).

Unfortunately, while the email address is hidden, it’s not gone completely. View the source of this page – a HTML output of the spreadsheet which appears on and behold: a listing of every email address submitted.