back to article Before I agree to let your app track me everywhere, I want something 'special' in return (winks)…

"This website is requesting permission to access your location. Yes/No?" Absolutely not. My personal details are sacred! I learnt this the hard way. An unfortunate experience with what seemed like a harmless little app – RshnMobstr, I think it was called – taught me not to give away too much. The app asked perfectly innocent …

  1. Sam Therapy
    Flame

    Even tyre pressure sites are at it.

    Wanted to find out the tyre pressure for our car. It was only a few weeks old, didn't have the manual to hand and couldn't remember, so Mrs T Googled for sites with the info. We put in the, make, model and age of the thing, but the site wanted to know our reg number and location before offering up the info.

    I told her to stay away from the site and in the meantime I'd guess the pressures. As it turned out I wasn't far wrong. I now have the numbers engraved into my memory.

    1. Rameses Niblick the Third Kerplunk Kerplunk Whoops Where's My Thribble?

      Re: Even tyre pressure sites are at it.

      ....tyre pressure....

      Is it not on a yellow sticker on the inside of the drivers door / door sill?

      1. Zimmer
        Go

        Re: Even tyre pressure sites are at it.

        No, it's on the inside of the fuel filler flap, behind the handy windscreen ice scraper

        1. Chris Evans

          Re: Even tyre pressure sites are at it.

          Are you sure its not: on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying 'Beware of the Leopard.'

          1. Grouchy Bloke
            Coat

            Re: Even tyre pressure sites are at it.

            That would be the planning Department

      2. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: Even tyre pressure sites are at it.

        In my car it is on the inside of the flap over the fuel cap.

      3. Muscleguy Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: Even tyre pressure sites are at it.

        No of course not, it was a metallic type plate and it was silver. Yellow, I ask you . . .

    2. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      Re: but the site wanted to know our reg number and location before offering up the info.

      Tut. High pressure sales techniques...

  2. Chris G Silver badge

    Why Bluetooth

    I have one usr for bluetooth and that is to connect to my solar panel controller, bluetooth will not function without location on, the controller is the other side of my kitchen wall, well within range.

    There is no other means of interfacing with it either.

    I also discovered that after a restart on this phone android enables data sharing between apps. Although all permissions are pared down to basic functionality.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Why Bluetooth

      Google argue that apps could scan nearby Bluetooth MAC addresses and work out your location so the app must have the location permission in is manifest and you must turn on location on the phone to show you agree to this hypothetical piece of nonsense happening... and also by the strangest of coincidences you also offer up your location to every other app on your phone which wants it and Google themselves.

    2. KittenHuffer Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Why Bluetooth

      It's because some white hat hackers pointed out that it's possible to figure out your location by looking at the bluetooth devices that you can see around you. Not easy, and needs a huge database that you can lookup devices to find the locations associated with them.

      The Googly one, while 'improving' user privacy, decided that this meant that you MUST agree to allow access to 'Locations' when you only want to allow access to Bluetooth (or BT LE). This means that you also have to agree to full GPS location as well!

      To really 'improve' user privacy they should have separated Bluetooth location out from the general location option. That way you can enable Bluetooth for something without giving them full GPS access as well.

      --------------> Because they're always watching!

      1. ThatOne Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Why Bluetooth

        > they should have separated Bluetooth location

        Come on, they found a halfway credible excuse to force people to enable location and you want them to give it up?

        Having location is very important to them, as it's the only part of the whole "targeted ads" scam that actually works as promised, allowing you to show location-based ads in the rare cases it makes sense (It only works for individual brick and mortar stores, not for products or brands).

      2. Muscleguy Silver badge

        Re: Why Bluetooth

        Some of us they watch more closely of course. Left wing grouping associated enemy of the state? Sorry Scottish Independence campaigner. Judging by the cuddly non threatening better world types the spooks have files on it seems reasonable to expect they have one on me.

        Playing who is the informer to Special Branch at meetings is always a way to pass the time if things get boring. Why yes, I do tend to turn my phone offski before meetings. Why do you ask?

        1. ThatOne Silver badge

          Re: Why Bluetooth

          > it seems reasonable to expect they have one on me

          Don't feel special, it's what they're paid for. They have files on everybody (except terrorists of course, as events have proven over and over again. I guess those are too tedious to track).

    3. Jamesit

      Re: Why Bluetooth

      "bluetooth will not function without location on"

      I have location disabled and Bluetooth works for me. I've only connected to speakers and headsets though. Does this only make a difference with apps?

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: Why Bluetooth

        It's only for devices which need a specific app to connect to them. Things like audio devices or keyboards which use the OS Bluetooth system will work fine. Something which an app controls, like a fitness tracker, object tracker, or custom equipment will require access to fine Bluetooth control, which is lumped in with precise location access so the app gets both.

        1. Jamesit

          Re: Why Bluetooth

          Thanks for the info, it makes sense now. An app still shouldn't need location data to work.

  3. KittenHuffer Silver badge

    As a kid ....

    .... it was the Finger of Fudge adverts that we always used to snigger at! Turns out a Finger was just enough to give your kids a treat!

    I always wanted to know if the official job title of the guy who put them in boxes for delivery was 'Fudge Packer'?!?

    1. macjules Silver badge

      Re: As a kid ....

      It was the ReadyBrek advert that did it for me. "If you want your kids to glow in the dark, move to Windscale"

      1. Persona Silver badge

        Re: As a kid ....

        Rowan Atkinson from "Not The Nine'O Clock News"

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wk0WzCtF0yY

    2. Daedalus Silver badge

      Re: As a kid ....

      An infamous parody of Club choccy biccy treats' jingle, "If you want a lot of chocolate on your biscuit join our Club" was:

      "If you want a lot of lipstick on your dipstick join our Club"

    3. Persona Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: As a kid ....

      I'm old enough to remember the Cadburys Flake advert being on television, but young and innocent enough not to have thought of it as anything other than a mummy type eating chocolate.

  4. Warm Braw Silver badge

    21st century lamp columns ... incorporating sensors that can receive and transmit

    It's always puzzled me that this this lot seem to think a cotton protest T-shirt is an adequate defence against the harm they assert is being done by lamp posts...

    1. BenDwire
      Facepalm

      Re: 21st century lamp columns ... incorporating sensors that can receive and transmit

      Wow !

      the 5G roll out kills babies before they are born

      I'm amazed that people can be this deluded, especially as we've been using the very same frequencies for years. Maybe they should also say that Channel 5 is killing babies too ...

      And I'm pretty sure they won't understand the irony when they post their new T-shirt purchase on social media either.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: 21st century lamp columns ... incorporating sensors that can receive and transmit

        In another story on the front page there's a story about toxicity in the Perl community.

        I'm rather of the opinion that the human brain is unable to cope with social media instead of toxicity or stupidity in this community or that community, because it seems there's problems with practically any community you could name.

        1. Richard 12 Silver badge

          Toxic pearls

          A small proportion of people are hate filled buckets of pus who just want to spatter over everyone they meet.

          So it's absolutely certain that every community over a certain size has a few of them, and it generally takes a while before the admins bring out the banhammer.

          So yeah, of course the Perl community has a few.

          For an example of what happens when there is no moderator, look at Twitface.

      2. ThatOne Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: 21st century lamp columns ... incorporating sensors that can receive and transmit

        > I'm amazed that people can be this deluded

        Don't. Delusion and sticking to a belief despite strong evidence to the contrary is a fundamental trait of humans. It has spawned religions both spiritual and political all over the history of humanity, and still does it on a daily basis.

        We like to flatter ourselves that we are intelligent, thinking creatures, while we're mostly just zombies somebody has already eaten the brains of. Don't believe me? Open a newspaper and look at the world with a critical eye (not the usual "thoughtless gut reactions" one).

    2. AndyFl

      Re: 21st century lamp columns ... incorporating sensors that can receive and transmit

      Followed the link and read down to the bit where they say 5G kills babies before they are born, rolled my eyes and closed the page.

      This grasp of science and engineering is exactly why they "seem to think a cotton protest T-shirt is an adequate defence against the harm they assert is being done by lamp posts".

      Idiots, the lot of them.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 21st century lamp columns ... incorporating sensors that can receive and transmit

        "Followed the link and read down to the bit where they say 5G kills babies before they are born, rolled my eyes and closed the page."

        But it's true! Me mum walked by a 5G tower back in the 70s when she wuz pregnant with me and I died.

        ...I got better.

        1. DJV Silver badge

          Re: 21st century lamp columns ... incorporating sensors that can receive and transmit

          But you still look like a newt.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: 21st century lamp columns ... incorporating sensors that can receive and transmit

        OTOH it's as good a way as any to sell cotton T-shirts. Cynical? Mio?

    3. disgruntled yank Silver badge

      Re: 21st century lamp columns ... incorporating sensors that can receive and transmit

      A gentleman I spoke to last fall said that it had caused the COVID pandemic.

    4. Dr_N Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: 21st century lamp columns ... incorporating sensors that can receive and transmit

      The imagery on that site is actually hilarious:

      https://www.saveusnow.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/elementor/thumbs/mobile-4565661_1920-e1600847678917-oz0z2qb4eis3i08ebtwlvbkng4xeulvjzhewvi7xy8.jpg

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 21st century lamp columns ... incorporating sensors that can receive and transmit

      "

      It's always puzzled me that this this lot seem to think a cotton protest T-shirt is an adequate defence against the harm they assert is being done by lamp posts

      "

      Looks like they are a political party and according to the Electoral Commission they are registered under the name Graham Steele in Gateshead.

      Probably Graham Steele, brother of 5G nutter/grifter Mark Steele. (No, not the comedian, that's Mark Steel.)

      https://www.vice.com/en/article/wxeb45/my-dad-got-hoaxed-by-the-anti-5g-conspiracy-movement

      Grifter's gotta grift.

      1. MrBanana Silver badge

        Re: 21st century lamp columns ... incorporating sensors that can receive and transmit

        Thank you so much for the Mark/Mark differentiation, I wasn't a huge fan of (the comedy) Mr Steel but at least I knew what he stood for. The other one - obviously bonkers on a stick.

        I've previously had a spat elsewhere with a 5G in street lamp = death ray proponent. "Yes, the PSU seems to be over specified, but that is not because it is part of a global conspiracy to flood the world with death rays that cause COVID. It is because it is an industrial application meant to last years with minimum maintenance. Unlike the PSU in the shitty LED nightlight, with a 7 month lifespan, that you bought from PoundWorld."

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: 21st century lamp columns ... incorporating sensors that can receive and transmit

        "(No, not the comedian, that's Mark Steel.)"

        I did wonder, when they are offering to send Mark Steele to your town to give a talk :-)

    6. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: 21st century lamp columns ... incorporating sensors that can receive and transmit

      So your nutters in Blighty are not much different that our nutters here in the States? As the nutters seem to be getting more attention and more followers, I fear humanity is doomed.

      1. MonkeyCee

        Re: 21st century lamp columns ... incorporating sensors that can receive and transmit

        Given the recent events in Plymouth, then sadly yes.

      2. ThatOne Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: 21st century lamp columns ... incorporating sensors that can receive and transmit

        > nutters seem to be getting more attention

        Nutters make the fortunes of Facebook and Twitter, and in return those two allow them to congregate worldwide, unite their voices, and recruit new followers among the feeble-minded. It's a win-win situation, and the social media business plan is "Crazies of the world unite!", since those create way more traffic than your aunt's gardening tips for instance.

    7. Spacedinvader
      Holmes

      Re: 21st century lamp columns ... incorporating sensors that can receive and transmit

      make a donation? sell me the weed you smoke!

  5. Alan1kiwi

    It is also bad in Ireland........ https://waterfordwhispersnews.com/2021/08/13/unvaccinated-pregnant-teachers-told-to-wing-it-be-grand/

  6. Dr_N Silver badge

    La Quequetterie

    "ZiZi Top" would have been funnier.

    1. Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

      Re: La Quequetterie

      Good suggestion. And they could name one of the flavours "Willy Gibbons".

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: La Quequetterie

      Yeah, two guys with massive beards and the one without a beard is called Frank Beard :-)

  7. Flightmode

    A couple of things:

    > "In addition to Allow All Cookies and Disallow All Cookies buttons, I would like websites to include a third option: Install A Lifetime Cookie To Remember You Clicked Disallow All Cookies."

    For the love of God, THIS! I don't mind choosing to reject cookies, it's that I have to do it EVERY TIME that annoys me.

    > "...sending the arse end of my personal profile stored in Google's data dungeons into an uncontrolled twerk"

    That's the second keyboard you owe me from this year alone. (The first was for career pyromaniacs making the best IT managers.)

    Oh, and, just because it's Friday:

    > "London, Belgrade, Paris, Chicago, er... Herne Bay..."

    ...everybody talk about Pop Music!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      >> "In addition to Allow All Cookies and Disallow All Cookies buttons, I would like websites to include a third option: Install A Lifetime Cookie To Remember You Clicked Disallow All Cookies."

      >For the love of God, THIS! I don't mind choosing to reject cookies, it's that I have to do it EVERY TIME that annoys me.

      I find that they usually do. but you still have to click on 'set preferences' and 'accept my preferences' because anything else will 'allow all'

      Bastards.

    2. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker Silver badge

      "For the love of God, THIS! I don't mind choosing to reject cookies, it's that I have to do it EVERY TIME that annoys me."

      Forget the cookies, I'd like the "never ask again" option for all the various sites I visit to pay bills (mortgage, other "finance", utilities) who ask every. expletive. time. if I want e-billing to my email instead of paper in the mail.

      Although, with the US Postal (dis-)Service at an all-time low, it might be time to reconsider my long-held preference.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "[...] if I want e-billing to my email instead of paper in the mail."

        Barclays Bank regularly sends me an email saying that my statements will in future be available only online. Each time I have to go to my online account to set the status again for paper statements.

        A bit like Eon - who virtually demand I make an appointment to have a smart meter fitted. They register the "NO!" - and then say they will ask again in a few months.

    3. Andy A

      And there are a huge number of sites where, although you have clicked Deny All, have an extra twiddly bit hidden in a corner labelled Legitimate Interest.

      That is where you find that their "Legitimate Interest" means selling you to as many scammers as possible in exactly the way you objected to earlier on.

      1. ibmalone Silver badge

        Particularly when all controls are defaulted to "No" and unless you know to hunt for "legitimate interest" it looks like the defaults are fine.

        Don't get me started on colour choice and other UI design to try to hide opt outs or make it look like they're not available.

        1. sev.monster Bronze badge

          One site I visited used those godawful mobile app sliding switches for its cookie notice, and the color scheme was bright baby blue as the disabled color, with a grey as the enabled—and they slid to the left when enabled. And of course, all the switches were by default enabled. The only way to tell the switches' true settings was to look at the barely-visible "on/off" text on the button that changed with state, in tiny font with a similar color to the switch knob.

          Suffice to say I bailed so fast I don't remember what I visited it for.

  8. Howard Sway Silver badge

    go beyond street lighting by incorporating sensors that can receive and transmit information

    Great, and once they've done that all the anti-5G conspiracy lot will roam the streets shooting out all the lights and turning everywhere into a mugger's paradise................. Mind you, I'd be kind of agreeing that turning the street lighting into a huge council run spy network is maybe going a little bit too far. Can't we just have them lighting the streets?

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: go beyond street lighting by incorporating sensors that can receive and transmit information

      Can't we just have them lighting the streets?

      Even that seems to be beyond them in several places around here, without trying to get them to do anything else...

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: go beyond street lighting by incorporating sensors that can receive and transmit information

      "Can't we just have them lighting the streets?"

      No, the lights will be turned off to reduce the carbon footprint.

      1. ThatOne Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: go beyond street lighting by incorporating sensors that can receive and transmit information

        > turned off to reduce the carbon footprint

        Carbon footprint being an accounting problem, it can and will be solved by some simple creative accounting, like buying "carbon points" from someone who didn't need them all. It has worked like that for years and is a perfectly streamlined system by now, allowing people to make big money and still pollute as much as they want.

        As for street lamps, they aren't there to give light, but to reassure the registered voters that there aren't bad people hiding in the shadows. So there is no chance they will be turned off, at best they might be coupled to presence detectors so they might dim off on empty streets (and even that is questionable, since residents will hate the all-night light show on windy days, or when wildlife passes through to check the garbage cans).

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: go beyond street lighting by incorporating sensors that can receive and transmit information

          "So there is no chance they will be turned off, [...]"

          Our English council switches of all the street lighting from midnight until about 06:00. They leave the dual carriageway lights on - which accentuates the inky darkness on the parallel cycleway footpaths. Heaven help anyone arriving by a late train without a torch to guide them when walking home.

          1. ThatOne Silver badge

            Re: go beyond street lighting by incorporating sensors that can receive and transmit information

            > Our English council switches of all the street lighting

            Surprising. Most radical thing I've seen in Europe was switching off one streetlight in two, and that was in the boonies. How big/dense is that town of yours? Is there any night life to be expected, or is it a place everybody is supposed to go to bed early so he can be in the fields at sunrise?

            (Anyway, I'd be ready to bet they did it more to save money than to save the planet...)

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: go beyond street lighting by incorporating sensors that can receive and transmit information

              Google "England street lights part night lighting". Most (all?) councils in England now switch off some lights from either midnight-6am or 1am-5am. A common phrase from the council websites is "lights in selected roads" are switched off, rather than one light in two.

              It's done to save money, and the councils admitted as much when they started doing it, but various people trumpet the benefits to wildlife

              1. ThatOne Silver badge

                Re: go beyond street lighting by incorporating sensors that can receive and transmit information

                > switch off some lights from either midnight-6am or 1am-5am.

                I see, so it's indeed similar to what I've seen elsewhere in Europe. Well, it usually makes sense, at least at the place I saw it (rural northern Germany): At midnight, when half the street lights were switched off, nobody had been using that road anymore for hours (country road in the fields, nearest village a couple miles away), neither on foot nor even in any kind of vehicle. And even then, they only switched off half of them, so if you were to go for a walk at 2 am in the freezing cold, you would still be able to see enough to not break your neck. I guess in your case it's just a tuning issue.

                Yes, indeed, the reason is (as always) money, not carbon footprint, benefits to wildlife, or to please amateur astronomers...

  9. Herring`

    Red Guitars

    Bloody hell. I thought nobody else remembered that song.

    Talking of songs, the woman in the Flake advert, she has Dickie Davies Eyes

    1. tiggity Silver badge

      Re: Red Guitars

      Was she doing the Len Ganley stance too?

  10. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    I would like to add...

    "This Web site would like permission to send you notifications."

    Has anyone at all in the history of time ever clicked Yes?

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: I would like to add...

      Has anyone at all in the history of time ever clicked Yes?

      My younger son at an unsupervised moment and before he learned to read.

    2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: I would like to add...

      I think the true answer to that question would probably drive you to the brink of suicide so ... Of course not!

    3. Trubbs

      Re: I would like to add...

      "Has anyone at all in the history of time ever clicked Yes?"

      Yes just once for something I reckoned in a moment of madness that I needed, but perhaps rather predictably it didn't work...

    4. Lost in Cyberspace

      Re: I would like to add...

      Yes, my customers frequently allow notifications. Then complain about all the 'viruses' and driver update / warnings / fake news pop-ups that got in. I delete them and switch off the feature completely.

  11. genghis_uk Silver badge
    Joke

    Flake Ad

    That brings back some memories - but the girl in the canoe going through the waterfall was always my favourite...

    Of course that could be because I was 14 and full of hormones at the time! Some things tend to stay with you :)

    To be honest, I think the flake ads were more about the enjoyment women get from chocolate than the titilation the men were getting from watching them - who knows what the lizard symbolised... probably something emotional that we don't understand, lol

    (better add the joke icon in case people take this too seriously, sorry Dabbsy, no beer for you this week)

    1. gerdesj Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Flake Ad

      "Of course that could be because I was 14 and full of hormones at the time! Some things tend to stay with you :)"

      Ease ... springs!

      too late -->

    2. John 110
      Joke

      Re: Flake Ad

      Thanks for the Flake ad, couldn't you find the bath one? (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mEZ2ax2-O2A)

      ...the one with the "happy ending"...

    3. Daedalus Silver badge

      Re: Flake Ad

      My favourite was the one where the Dona taking tea and Fry's Cream with her friends stuck a piece in the mouth of the hungry hangdog musician serenading them on the Spanish guitar.

  12. Franco Silver badge

    Outlook

    The one that really gets me for location badgering is Outlook, specifically the calendar. Its job is to tell me where I need to be, not where I am.

    1. John Miles
      Joke

      Re: Outlook

      Maybe it wants to check whether you need to leave for your appointment, it could check Bing Maps for traffic delays and tell you you better start if you want to make the 200 mile/320 km trip via ferry to the meeting room the other end of the building ;)

  13. Andy A
    Flame

    "We need to know your location"

    Why on earth would an app designed to allow the flash on a mobile phone to be used as a torch REQUIRE rights to your location?

    Turn the right off, app worketh not. Flight mode? App worketh not.

    No, it didn't have an option to turn on every street lamp within a half mile radius.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: "We need to know your location"

      That's because most of those barely-deserving-of-the-name-apps are purely money makers. They want all the access so they can sell the details on. There's plenty around with only the required permissions to do the job. F-Droid is a good starting place to find stuff that doesn't take the piss over permission grabbing.

  14. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    The Creme Caramel product...

    Who, apart from a medic well versed in the relevant symptoms, would want that in front of them?

    Where's the crossed legs icon?

  15. Daedalus Silver badge

    Inspiration from the Secret Policeman's Ball

    My typing helper says I've posted this before, but whatever: inspired by the "Top of the Form" sketch in said stage show, I have been known to make all the answers to annoying verification questions be "Pork!".

    Another possibility is to give all the answers as the name of the company asking the questions. At least you won't easily forget that.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Inspiration from the Secret Policeman's Ball

      I think it was my previous ISP who went through a Q&A verification. Unfortunately the help desk didn't realise I was expecting them to ask my submitted unique question - which would trigger me to the appropriate personal answer. They wanted me to give them both the question and the answer as the verification.

      We had to play Twenty Questions before I guessed which question I had used for them.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Inspiration from the Secret Policeman's Ball

        Use KeePass (other camel case options are available) to hold the questions and answers.

  16. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    Location data is useless...

    ...in many case for me. Click here to find your nearest branch, the website says breathlessly. It then highlights the nearest three branches, all less than one mile away and helpfully shows a map indicating they are all across the river, about a 10 mile drive to get to, while not bothering to mention the one 1.5 miles in the other direction that really is just 1.5 miles drive away. And that is EVERY site I've every come across that indicates "nearest" locations for ${thing}. Considering that many if not most large cities, ie the largest population centres, are almost all on one side of a river or the other (or straddling one) in most countries, you'd think that these locator algorithms might have been tweaked to take rivers into account by now. Where is the much vaunted AI when it could actually be useful? Oh yeah, it doesn't actually exist yet. We'll just have to carry on assuming everyone has flying cars.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Location data is useless...

      Routing algorithms can be strange. Almost all route-finding sites want to take me through a notorious bottleneck for any destination to the SW. Almost anyone local will take an alternative route. I'd turn right out of my gate for either their route or the right one but that variation of their route goes over a weight-limited stretch of road. Their version would have me turn left. Taking that option I'd have to turn right at the end of the road. That's a sharp reflex angle. They have me turn left and then do a reverse turn at a side road a few hundred yards further on.

      Clearly they're coming up with an HGV route which I suppose is better than coming up with a car route for an HGV driver.

      None of that, however, explains the situation some years ago where at least one site came up with a route which turned off their preferred route, headed of to a rad with a dead end a few miles further along and a few hundred yards later turned in what is, in fact, a private yard to head back to pick up their route again.

      A few days ago we went to the Black Country Museum in Dudley. All the sites recommended a route for the last few miles leaving the dual carriageway and going through what looked like some sort of rat-run. It worked as a route but it's difficult to say why. Can anyone who knows the area explain why they would recommend turning off the A463 onto Vulvan Street etc rather than carrying on to the end and then taking the A4123?

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Location data is useless...

        My experience with my SatNav is choosing Fastest, Shortest or Eco routes. I've never used the Eco route option, but the SatNav will choose one route over another based on the slightest apparent benefit, eg it's 20 seconds quicker (Fastest) or 20 yds shorter (Shortest) assuming perfect conditions. I assume the Eco route option will try to avoid too many junctions, roundabouts and traffic lights, ie minimise the times you need to stop and start.

        I have known it, on occasions when set to "shortest route", try to send me down a back lane because it's one side of a triangle, the other two sides of the triangle being the main roads, saving me about 70 yds of distance. That was in the early days, maybe 10 years ago when I first bought it. It's had multiple firmware updates and many map updates since. (Which reminds me, it's time to check for the latest map update!)

    2. DoctorPaul

      Re: Location data is useless...

      Don't get me started!

      I live on the north Kent coast near Margate - if I list items by distance on a well-known auction site, most of the results are located in Essex :-(

  17. viscount

    I use Google services a lot, and I am consistently impressed with their bad ad targeting. Crypto trading sir? Definitely not. Pointless nutritional supplements? Definitely not. Would you like to buy ANOTHER air conditioner? Definitely not.

    Honestly do not understand how they make money.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      "Honestly do not understand how they [Google] make money."

      By lying. If they collect thousands of datapoints, which they can prove, and hire a ton of machine learning experts, which they can also prove, then they must be able to use that to send ads to those who will most benefit from them, right? In the meantime, they just use the same crap algorithms based on browsing history and search term if applicable. Who knows what all the collected data is for, but eventually the guy who's responsible for thinking up the evil plan will come out and they'll do that.

      This works for three reasons:

      1. Google runs the ad system as a black box, so it is difficult for someone who pays for advertising to figure out who is really seeing the ads.

      2. Companies are really bad at figuring out how useful their advertising budget is. Here's a good two-part summary of people who tried doing the research and all the problems they found, both in advertising itself and in advertisers' approach. It's a podcast but the pages contain transcripts for those who prefer to read text: Part 1 (mostly television advertising) Part 2 (online advertising)

      3. Google has purchased almost all of their competition, and the others are either basically the same (Facebook) or didn't claim to be that smart in the first place (Bing ads). So you can't try out other advertising platforms to see if they can track better or don't need to, because you have no choices. Google's is biggest, so they get a lot of business.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      You have to realise that the likes of Google don't sell you anything. They sell advertising to advertisers. They have collaborators in their customer firms: those in the advertising departments who wouldn't have a job if they weren't buying advertising. The advertising industry as a whole is, therefore, very good at selling advertising. They can produce some rather one-sided figures to allow their collaborators to "prove" what a good job they're doing because one or two adverts sell something to those who were actually searching for whatever it was that was being sold.

      The figures are one-sided because they have no way of counting (and no intention of trying to) those who are so annoyed by having ads this or that product shoved in their faces that they'll go to enormous lengths to seek out an alternative should they want something in that category.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google seem to have a good algorithm for guessing a location. My variable ISP geographical network exit points confuse a lot of services. If I need to give a website my location - eg weather forecasts - then I indicate a nearby town. That noise doesn't seem to have fooled Google.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021