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Category: Misc

The ‘other’ always needed in any classification.

HTML5 Geolocation Data Sucks

I have long been excited about HTML5 having access to a geolocation data. It should make it possible to build a whole range of applications for phones and other devices that are cross platform but make use of the users location. Unfortunately reality bites when you try and actually build an application based on the technology.

I have been working with Sencha Touch and the Ext.util.Geolocation object but am having problems with accuracy. I have noted the following behaviour.

When I call for a location on iPhone (3G) and iPad (v1) I get a one with around 1.3km accuracy. Basically it places me at one of two spots about 1km apart. If I switch to the native maps app then it places my position within 10m of where I am standing – that “wow it knows where I am” accuracy . Switch back to my web app and the first call to the GeoLocation returns similar accuracy. Any subsequent calls return the old inaccurate positions.

An areligious (not “A religious”) justification for meditation

If I start to talk about how the world is and therefore how we should best live there is a danger you will dismiss what I say as either playing with ideas that have no relation to real life (philosophy) or trying to impose some mumbo jumbo from a possible imaginary deity (religion). Many people are reluctant to explore this stuff because it will either prove a complete waste of time or overturn a belief system that they have accepted since childhood.

Despite this I do need to create a narrative explanation of why you should try mindfulness meditation. The rationality at the heart of our culture requires that this comes first. Please treat what follows as a pragmatic way of viewing the world for the purpose of living the good life rather than just a set of ideas or a religious doctrine.

Things arise in dependence on conditions and when those conditions cease the things cease. This is the root of the philosophy. This is easy to accept because when we look we can see it is true. This should not be confused with “cause and effect” which is more a product of language. To have a “cause” and an “effect” we need to define one thing as being the cause and something else as being the effect which is useful when we want to use words to represent these things but involves isolating them from the rest of the universe. Drawing a line around them if you like. So we could talk about it raining because it is cloudy but this conveniently leaves out the causes of clouds and the processes within the clouds.

Carbon Guilt and Frantic Justification

Generally we are pretty ‘right on’ as a family. We live in town in a two bed flat with all A-rated appliances – a condensing boiler etc. The building is old but we don’t have much external wall space and we have argon filled double glazing and draft proofing in most of the old sach windows. We are in a conservation area so can’t change them to anything else.

We are vegetarian though not vegan and we don’t fly for recreation. I have to fly for work sometimes and one day I will take the kids on a plane somewhere just so they have the experience. They are the only ones in their classes at school who haven’t been on an aircraft and some of their class mates don’t believe them when they say so.

Identifiers, Identity and Me


The nice thing about blogging is that you get to mix-n-match your thoughts together in a way that you couldn’t do in the constituant parts of your life. This post brings together the notion of Globally Unique Identifiers (GUIDs) from my world of work and Buddhist notions of identity. It isn’t really acceptable to talk Buddhist spirituality in biodiversity informatics meetings and bringing up techie stuff when talking to Buddhist friends doesn’t help communication much either but here I can bravely attempt to mash the two together and I hope  shed light on both.

Buddhism is widely and erroneously believed to propose the notion of anatman meaning ‘no soul’. Atman figures big in Hinduism and in Abrahamic faiths as ‘soul’. Buddhism has a different spin on the soul and this is where the error often comes in. Generally different-from-having-something is considered to be not having it. Therefore it is concluded that there are no souls in Buddhism – but this is confused thinking.

“Do you have a soul?” is a loaded question. It assumes firstly that the world can be split into things, secondly that these things can have possessive type relationships and thirdly there are two things ‘you’ and ‘soul’ that may have this relationship. If you have a problem with any of these assumptions it is difficult to say anything in response to the question. Any notion of a self or even a thing is totally contingent on everything else in space time. Buddhism finds it difficult to locate ‘you’ and ‘soul’ and so impossible to express an opinion on their relationship.

This is exactly where we arrive at biodiversity informatics and the problems we have with GUIDs.