Day 553 – Fire layer

Good news for Cape Town and the surrounding area is that we will apparently soon be able to visualise wildfires on Google Maps. Just like traffic, terrain and satellite have their own map layers, starting this week, the rollout of a “fire” layer will begin.

Wildfire boundaries should be updated on an hourly basis, and Google says you’ll be able to tap on a fire to see information from local governments, like “emergency websites, phone numbers for help and information, and evacuation details. When available, you can also see important details about the fire, such as its containment, how many acres have burned, and when all this information was last reported.”

That additional level of detailed information will begin in Australia and the US, but as a city which suffers from veldfires every single year, Cape Town will surely not be far behind. At which point, this feature turns into a service and actually becomes interesting and useful, as opposed to just interesting.

Phone tracking

I read this very interesting NYT article and thought that I should share it with my readership.

Obviously, I have many apps on my phone that use my location to offer me better, more accurate services. Indeed, some apps rely solely on tracking my location and sharing it with others. And for me, that’s really not a problem: the benefits far outweigh any potential negatives.

If I was in a job where that sort of information could compromise my security, then yes, I would be concerned.

But if anyone can weaponise my weekly visit to Pick n Pay by hacking into the logs of my location pings, then good luck to them.

Sony ad

Sony are advertising their Xperia cellphone range with a photo of an Xperia cellphone taking a photo of an incoming beagle and for the first time since 2005, I’m considering switching brand.

While the Xperia is undoubtedly brilliant at taking photos (and videos) of approaching beagles, the happy-go-lucky, blue sky, not-a-care-in-the-world imagery portrayed by this advert masks the dark reality, continuous hassle and huge expense of actually owning a beagle.

So very misleading.

On a more serious note, I love my Xperias and it would take more than a beagle on one of their ads to get me to move. I’m getting the XZ Premium next month, and I can’t wait.

Reject call with message

I was on a (landline) conference call the other day when my cellphone began to ring. I couldn’t take the call, so I rejected it with a message by clicking the “Reject call with message” button on my phone. It sent a message to the caller which read:

Sorry, I can’t take your call at the moment.

Which wasn’t actually very useful, since they already knew that I couldn’t take their call at the moment, as I hadn’t taken their call.

So I spent some of the rest of the conference call (the boring bit about costings for the new project) editing the pre-written messages* on my phone, so that I could be more helpful when rejecting calls with messages in the future. I could think of loads of useful, informative options, but there was only space for six messages so I had to be selective and choose the most important ones, each of which can now be selected and sent at the push of a single button.

I’m hoping that these new, improved messages will give more clarity as to why I’m not answering people’s calls in the future. I can think of several occasions where I would have used each of these over the past fortnight alone. Especially the one about the beagles [involuntary shudder].

 

* for my Sony: Phone > Menu > Settings > Calls > Manage reject messages

How to get Whatsapp on your desktop

Yes. Whatsapp is now available for your desktop (on Chrome, anyway). You can write message on your phone or your PC and everything is all automatically synced across all your devices.
Look Mum! I’m doing it now!
There are a few niggles – you have to have your phone connected to the internet while you’re using it (but let’s face it, we all do that anyway) and also:

Unfortunately for now, we will not be able to provide web client to our iOS users due to Apple platform limitations.

…but it works and installing it is easier than it seems.

Here’s how to do it on an Android phone.

1. Download the latest Whatsapp update from the Play Store.
2. Restart the Whatsapp app (Settings > Apps > Whatsapp > Force Stop)
3. Go to https://web.whatsapp.com/ on your computer.
4. Open Whatsapp and select WHATSAPP WEB from your phone’s Whatsapp menu.
5. Scan QR code on your computer screen.

And boom. You’re done.

And yes, blue ticks still apply. Now there really is no escape.