Google Maaaaaaps

I grew up in rural Kansas, where the gravel roads and laid out in arrow-straight mile-square grids. It’s always pretty easy to understand where you are and where you’re going.

I was always confused by the transition from Kansas City, KS to Kansas City, MO, where the numbered streets shift suddenly from North-South to East-West — and especially by Westport, KS, where streets suddenly head off at odd angles.

So the transition to Connecticut, where the roads wind around like deer who’ve overindulged, and where trees cover every square inch right up to the pavement, was disorienting. Even after four years of driving around Fairfield County, Google Maps is my constant companion. Drop me in the middle of a neighborhood in Norwalk and I’m just as likely to end up in New York City as I am to make it home.

That’s why I completely identify with Durita Andreassen of the Faroe Islands. Durita was frustrated that Google hadn’t yet made it to her home to create Google Street View, so she took matters into her own hands. She picked up a few 360 degree cameras — and strapped them to her sheep.

Google allows individuals to contribute to Street View, and she started pumping content to Google. They noticed — shocker — and have now partnered with Durita and her friends to get the Faroe Islands…on the Map!

(Trigger warning — if you hate puns, DO NOT read the Google blog post linked above. Or, for that matter, this blog post.)

Durita is now crowd-sourcing the mapping to people on horses, and bikes, and kayaks, and even wheelbarrows (who knew the wheelbarrow is a common mode of Faroe Island transport??). And, of course, she continues “herd-sourcing” the mapping as well.

What’s next, Google? Sloth cams to map Central American jungles? Reindeer cams for the snowy north? A Dolphin cam to map the ocean’s depths? Watch this chaaaaaaanel to find out!

Moore’s Law — and Printed Pancakes

I came across an article this morning that caused me some concern. The Semiconductor Industry Association has published a new report saying that Moore’s Law — which states that computing power will double every 18-24 months as technological advances allow for ever-smaller memory chips — will be “repealed” around 2021 as chip makers run up against a constraint based on the sheer size of atoms. While there are still some options to explore, such as 3D design for chips, a slowdown in the rate of growth of computing power could have real implications for our ability to solve technical challenges.

I was relieved, then, to discover that humans appear to have already solved all outstanding technical challenges. The final technological hurdle — one not even on my radar — was crossed with the launch of the first pancake griddle that allows a home cook to “print” custom-designed pancakes.

Folks, if we’re now printing our pancakes we’ve clearly reached the end of our need for constant improvement in computing power. Moore’s Law can now gracefully retire.

Time for breakfast!