Why Google Maps is years ahead of the competition

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Justin O’Beirne, former head of cartography at Apple, explains why Google Maps has a multiple year advantage on the competition.

Basically, it’s about the structures/building footprints Google can display thanks to their satellite imagery and Street View efforts. Nobody else has this level of precision.

Bye Apple Maps!

1 1+ +Childhood+Neighborhood

Here’s another example:

[Source: Google Maps’s Moat]

Stop reading what Facebook tells you to read

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Foster Kramer wrote a hell of a piece explaining why we ought not to trust Facebook with the stories we see appearing on the newsfeed. Here are two tidbits but please read the whole thing:

And as smart as you think the people who run Facebook are, trust us when we tell you that they are far, far, far smarter than you could imagine (and if not the people, then definitelythose algorithms). 

They understand human psychology to a stunning degree, which is how they’ve been able to capitalize on it for the last few years. It’s why Facebook is filled, mostly, with the things you agree with, or are seemingly helpless against clicking on. But because you’re a human being, something about it probably rubs you the wrong way. As it should! You’re a human, and not a hamster doing a stupid pet trick, which is what Facebook has turned both readers and publishers into. Credit where it’s due: They’re that good. And yeah, fake news is a problem—but before we learned about it being a problem, where Facebook was concerned, it was a feature.

And

So! Facebook created the newsfeed, and then turned to publishers/media outlets, and said: Guess what? Everyone’s on Facebook. You want a piece of the action? You’re gonna play ball with us. You’ll put share buttons on all of your stories. You’ll participate in our Facebook Instant Articles program. You’ll advertise with us! When we tell you that we’re going to start promoting video over articles, you’re going to start making video. And then when we tell you what kind of video, you’ll make that video too! And if you don’t want to play ball, fine. Your competition will.

[Source: The 2018 internet resolution everyone should have: Bring back your browser bar]

The Hardest Workers Don’t Do the Best Work

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At the 2014 World Cup soccer tournament in Brazil, the U.S. midfielder Michael Bradley put up a statistic that wowed folks back home: He ran further than anyone else. Through three games, Bradley had covered a total of 23.4 miles, according to a micro-transmitter embedded in his cleat, while his team finished tops among nations in “work rate,” a simple measure of movement per minute otherwise known as running around.

Left unmentioned was the fact that the lowest work rate of the tournament by a non-defender was recorded by its most valuable player, Argentine goal machine Lionel Messi.

Yup, work smart, not hard. 

[Source: The Hardest Workers Don’t Do the Best Work – Bloomberg]

No, tailgating doesn’t get you where you need to go faster

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A study published on Thursday (Dec. 14) in the journal IEEE Transactions on Intelligent Transportation Systems uses mathematical simulations to show that tightly following a car in front of you will only worsen traffic jams. Instead it proposes that drivers adjust their position based on both the car in front and behind to keep traffic flow smooth. This small behavioral tweak could as much as halve commute time on certain roads.

[Source: MIT researchers have developed a new algorithm for cars that could halve congestion — Quartz]

New Iranian Video Game, Engare, Explores the Elegant Geometry of Islamic Art

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The intersection of mathematics and art holds out great potential for not just endless discoveries but deeply memorable creations. The 20th-century visionary M.C. Escher understood that, but so did the Islamic artists of centuries before that inspired him. They’ve also inspired the Iranian game developer Mahdi Bahrami, whose newest effort Engare stands at the cross of mathematics, art, and technology, a puzzle video game that challenges its players to complete the kind of brilliantly colorful, mathematically rigorous, and at once both strikingly simple and strikingly complex patterns seen in traditional Islamic art and design.

“The leap from the bare bones prototype to it becoming a game about creating art was a small one, given that Islamic art is steeped in mathematical knowledge,” writes Kill Screen’s Chris Priestman.

[Source: New Iranian Video Game, Engare, Explores the Elegant Geometry of Islamic Art | Open Culture]

The secret backstory of how Obama let Hezbollah off the hook

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Project Cassandra members say administration officials also blocked or undermined their efforts to go after other top Hezbollah operatives including one nicknamed the ‘Ghost The Ghost One of the most mysterious alleged associates of Safieddine, secretly indicted by the U.S., linked to multi-ton U.S.-bound cocaine loads and weapons shipments to Middle East.,” allowing them to remain active despite being under sealed U.S. indictment for years. People familiar with his case say the Ghost has been one of the world’s biggest cocaine traffickers, including to the U.S., as well as a major supplier of conventional and chemical weapons for use by Syrian President Bashar Assad against his people.

A fascinating read by Josh Meyer for Politico. 

[Source: The secret backstory of how Obama let Hezbollah off the hook]

How Facebook Figures Out Everyone You’ve Ever Met

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In case you wondered how Facebook knows who to recommend on their People You May Know feature: 

Behind the Facebook profile you’ve built for yourself is another one, a shadow profile, built from the inboxes and smartphones of other Facebook users. Contact information you’ve never given the network gets associated with your account, making it easier for Facebook to more completely map your social connections.

Source: How Facebook Figures Out Everyone You’ve Ever Met