Archive for GPS

Somebody’s Watching You

How would you feel if you found out someone was tracking your every move? Or if you learned someone had the ability to know where you had been, and for how long?

I’m not talking about the government, or any law enforcement agency.  I’m talking about your friends, your family, your acquaintances, and your co-workers. Or maybe you have some people you need to be able to track?


LiveWire FastTrac GPS Tracker

LiveWire FastTrac GPS Tracker

I was looking for GPS (Global Positioning Systems) units like those from Garmin that can be used to help you get to your destination while driving or walking; and during my search I came across this site for which is managed by BrickHouse Electronics. One category of device they sell is GPS Tracking units.

Several of these devices were as small as a beeper (remember those) or a cell phone. They could easily be carried by someone on their belt, or in a packet, or a handbag.  This could be very handy for keeping track of your kids while they’re out of the house at school, or at a friends house. Or a family member who was travelling could carry one so that other family members could see where they were in their travels. These applications could be used innocently and safely enough. Many of these devices can be Internet enabled so that the owner can login to a web site to see a map which shows the vehicles location.

A news article in yesterday’s Chicago Tribune written by Liam Ford had discussed how the Chicago courts were having troubles in their plans to use GPS tracking devices to follow stalkers who had violated their court orders of protection:

Under the new law, global positioning systems can be made a condition of bail for people charged with violating protection orders. Judges can apply the law to anyone under an order who is deemed at high risk of attacking someone. But budget constraints and questions about the best technology available for GPS tracking have bogged down county probation offices as they prepare to implement the law, officials said. The devices cost $8 to $12 a day.

“The financial impact is quite large-larger than the $200 fine that will be coming from those convicted of the crime,” said Dawn Dalton, executive director of the Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women’s Network, an umbrella group of domestic-violence advocacy organizations.

Officials also say they don’t know how many GPS devices to order, because only a fraction of those with an order of protection against them will be eligible for tracking.

I would assume that they were using real time tracking devices to see if these offenders were approaching the workplaces and homes of their victims. It would be interesting to learn if any of the victims were being offered tracking devices, too, so that law enforcement could track if the violators were stalking them.


Some of the other devices were a little bit larger for mounting inside a car or boat or some other large movable object. These, too, could have useful purposes. Businesses could use them to keep track of company vehicles. There was another story in last weeks Sarasota Herald Tribune about 4 police officers who had been tracked by GPS during an investigation into whether or net they were working the hours they said they were on their work reports. Three of the officers retired, and one was fired.

MSNBC reported on an interview with Jason Lazarus, the marketing director for Brickhouse Securities, in connection with a story about how several churches were using small battery powered GPS tracking units to protect their holiday and nativity scene exhibits from vandals.

taxi_istock200Stories are even cropping up about offices using GPS devices to track employees in order to verify productivity. This enables them to answer questions such as: Is our sales rep at that trade show now? Did they make it to the conference on time? Where are the company vehicles right now? I remember how several years ago Philadelphia was going to install GPS tracking units in taxi cabsin order for dispatchers to track their locations. There were a number of cabbies who objected to this plan. These GPS Fleet Management Systems allow for a tracking system any business can afford to keep track of their vehicle and movables.

GPS Fleet Management

GPS Fleet Management

Of course, there’s nothing to stop somebody from discreetly installing one in your car.  Maybe someone doesn’t trust you, and is considering dropping one under the seat of your car, or in the truck. Imagine cleaning out your car and finding some little beeper you’ve never seen before. For some its just a fun game, but for others its a violation of their privacy.  Where do you stand? I know I was a little bothered this past weekend when I called a MovieFone to check on show times, and they didn’t ask where I was because they could tell where I was from the cell phone signal. Not only did not want to attend a show in that area, it just bothered me that some service that I had no personal connection with could locate me that way.  It would be great if I was calling 911, but not for show times.

I believe their is such an application available for iPhones and other smartphones with GPS installed. These applications let you see where your “friends” are in real time.

Where do you stand? Can you think of good uses for GPS tracking devices?  What’s the down side of GPS tracking? I’d be very interested in hearing some other perspectives and application sof this technology.

Post Comments or Questions with the link below. Keep up-to-date with Skylarking: By Email or RSS Newsfeed or on Twitter. You can also send questions with my email form.

Rundown to the New Year

Hello, everybody!  Sorry for the delay in posting today, but I’ve had a rough weekend. I had to get an emergency tooth extraction on Friday, and you can image how difficult it was to find an oral surgeon the day after a major holiday, and heading into a holiday weekend.

I thought I just had a head cold all week long, but it turns out it was all from an infected tooth. I had tried finding a physician on Friday, with no luck, so I tried calling my dentist since I remembered I had a tooth extraction pending. He was able to get me in to see Dr. Steven D’Abundo in Merrick before closing for the day, and he removed the tooth in a few minutes.

He also prescribed an anitbiotic which I take every 6 hours. He had also prescribed a pain killer, but it seems, surprisingly, I have had little need for that.

Borders Bookstores, Off-line Savings

Though Skylarking has concerned itself primarily with online savings offers, I’d like to alert you to an off-line savings offer. The Borders Bookstores chain is having a multimedia sale this week. All CDs and DVDs are being sold at 30% off their regular list price. (I corrected the discount.  originally I said it was 40%, but it is actually 30%). The sale has already begun, and it ends on January 4, 2009. So if you’re looking to save on some last minute, year end shopping, or if you have some gifts you forgot to pickup, go to your local Borders Bookstore and take a look.


Winter Clearance - Save up to 90%

I frequently order my business cards and customized stationery items and calendars from VistaPrint. Right now they are offering up to 90% off their regularly low prices. Now’s a good time to save on holiday cards for next year. Save yourself from rushing to the store next year, and save yourself a lot of money, too.


Here are some TigerDirect deals:

SAVE $50 – HP Compaq Notebook: AMD Sempron 2.0GHz processor, with wireless networking, 1 GB RAM (Memory, DDR2), with a 120 GB hard drive (Storage), a dual layer Lightscribe DVD burner, and a webcam. Uses Vista Home Basic $379.99* after $50 mail-in rebate, rebate expires 12/31/08. I particularly like the Lightscribe DVD burner. If you purchase blank Lightscribe DVDs, you can flip the disc over after burning data or video to it, and then have the burner burn a label onto the surface of the disc. It’s fantastic.

SAVE $50 – HP Compaq Notebook: AMD Turion 2.0GHz processor with wireless networking, 2 GB of RAM, and a 160GB hard drive. It alkso has the dual layer Lightscribe DVD burner and webcam. Uses Vista Home Premium $499.99* after $50 mail-in rebate, rebate expires 05/30/09.

More LCD flat-panel monitor madness: SAVE $30 – eMachines 17″ Widescreen LCD Monitor Refurbished 1440×900. Black $84.97.

SAVE $120 – Garmin Nuvi 265T GPS 3.5″ Touch Screen with Text To Speech and Bluetooth. Now $179.99.

SAVE $120 – EVGA GeForce 8500 GT Video Card: 1GB GDDR2 Video memory onboard, connects to a PCIe (PCI Express) slot. This board is SLI ready which means if you buy and install two of them they can work together for double the power.  This is great for 3D video gaming such as World of Warcraft. It also has connections for DVI, standard VGA, and HDTV. Now $39.99* after $35 Mail-in rebate, rebate expires 12/31/08.  You need to check if you computer has one or two available PCIe slots. Contact me if you hagve questions about this.

SAVE $30 – XFX GeForce 9600 GSO Video Card: 768MB DDR2 onboard video memory, uses a PCIe 2.0 slot with Dual DVI. It, too, is SLI Ready $79.99.

Sharp 52" Aquos HDTV

Sharp 52" Aquos HDTV

Need storage? Need a new hard drive? SAVE $10 – Western Digital Caviar SE16 320GB Hard Drive. Uses a SATA-300 connection. $49.99. Computers over 3 years old probably won’t be able to use this drive. An internal SATA card connector would be needed.

SAVE $1100 – Sharp 52″ Aquos LCD HDTV: Sharp, a leader in LCD technology, establishes a new standard for LCD TVs. With a screen size of 52″, the AQUOS® LC-52D64U fits a large screen into an incredibly small footprint. They changed the layout of circuits inside the LCD panel, reduced the number of parts, and developed the slim-line design therby reducing its depth by 25%.  It uses a proprietary Advanced Super View / Black TFT Panel with multi-pixel technology providing 10,000:1 Dynamic Contrast Ratio  and a 4ms response time. It has built-in ATSC/QAM/NTSC tuners and includes 3 HDMI (version 1.3) inputs, compatible with 1080p signals, a PC input and 2 HD component video inputs. Side terminals are included for wall-mounting convenience. $1399.99

Thank You

I received an unexpected gift over the holiday weekend. Almost 250 new readers in one day!  On Friday December 26, 2008, my Google Analytics report showed 468 people had visited the site that day. That’s almost 250 more than usually visit in a single day. The most popular posts that day were the Sears Heroes at Home program, Great Advice for New Computer Owners, and the Optoma PK101 Pico Projector.

Post Comments or Questions with the link below. Keep up-to-date with Skylarking: By Email or RSS Newsfeed or on Twitter. You can also send questions with my email form.

Cyber Monday Deals from TigerDirect

Need something to do during your lunch break? Here are some more Cyber-Monday savings to check out today. These come from my fave, $1.99* Shipping ON ALL ORDERS OVER $100 this week. This promotion ends on 12/5/08. The shipping offer is valid on all orders over $100 and under 35lbs. within the contiguous lower 48 states via Ground Shipping.

Plus, in my never ending quest to get every PC virus-protected: FREE 2009 (5-USER) Computer Associates (CA) INTERNET SECURITY SUITE w/Purchase of any Desktop or Laptop, Today ONLY!

They have a lot of great bargains to watch out for. Use the links below to get the deals, and TigerDirect will send me a little thank you gift for the holidays.

Computers and Laptops

LCD Monitors and TVs



For a full page ad of deals, click here.

Post Comments or Questions with the link below. Keep up-to-date with Skylarking: By Email or RSS Newsfeed or on Twitter. You can also send questions with my email form.