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Google Me This

Google’s new service that overlays map images onto satellite surveillance photos (through its acquisition of the already existing Keyhole) generated a lot of ruckus from privacy advocates last week.

After taking a look at the program, it’s easy to see why some would be concerned that the program would be useful if you wanted to plan a raid on someone’s apartment building. If you’re lucky enough to want to look at one of the very small portions of the world that is actually photographed (so far, only major metropolitan areas and all of Massachusetts), the service is definitely very cool. I was able to zoom into my old parking lot in Pittsfield, Ma, and actually pick out my pickup from among the cars.

But therein lies the rub. I haven’t lived in Pittsfield for nearly three years, and my pickup has been living happily in Indiana for at least two. As a matter of fact, judging from all my zoom-ins, I’d say that most of the images are at least two years old.

If you want to know why all the images are a little out of date, why not try asking Google’s new Q&A service?

VoIP Up Yours

Broadband Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), which offer dramatically cheaper phone rates than traditional telephony providers, has long been held back by the simple fact that the consumers – who, for the most part, are still learning the terms MP3 and phishing – simply aren’t familiar with the technology, don’t know what the hardware would look like, and fear that it means having to do more on their computers than opening a new window.

That may be changing. Both Verizon and AOL launched new VoIP services last Thursday. The companies promise a simpler solution to the service. While this may not necessarily be true, , the simple brand-name recognition and sheer number of Americans already signed up with both companies means that Vonage may have a serious problem on its hands.

Wide WiFi

It appears as if VoIP will soon be reaching into the mobile phone market – at least in the slew of metropolitan areas planning to institute city-wide WiFi systems. Last week, Philadelphia announced the details of its plan to do so next year, and the Dayton, Ohio’s city commissioner gave the go ahead for a similar service there. Meanwhile, the Colorado legislature is working to give permission for municipalities across the state to set up their own city-wide systems.

Other cities with similar plans: San Antonio, Cleveland, Las Vegas, and New York.

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