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Monkmap Considered Harmful

by CountZero (Bishop)
on Apr 01, 2004 at 13:20 UTC ( #341611=monkdiscuss: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

My dear Brothers and Sisters in Perl,

Recently having learned about all the nifty things you can do on your Perlmonks homepage, I wanted to include my geographical coordinates on the page, so my humble abode would show up on the Perlmonks world map. And besides I could calculate how far or how close the nearest other Perlmonk lives.

Having no access to a GPS I searched my network and I found an old friend. April, as is her name, who does something security-wise in the Army and I assumed (coorectly as it turned out) that she could get her hands on a GPS, so we could pin-point my home and I could upload the coordinates to the Monastery.

She was quite interested why I wanted to do this and was much impressed by our Monastery. On the other hand she thought it was not such a swell idea to have my coordinates available on the web.

I was surprised: "Why not", I asked and she gave me the following story, which I faithfully recite here for all to read and learn.

Not that long ago a security briefing was held in April's department and she was told that the next wave of terrorism is not going to be aimed at large buildings or public spaces. It seems the new generation of terrorists is much more technological than the "old guard" and they will target individuals in such a way that nobody can feel secure anywhere anymore, even in the privacy of your own home.

An Indonesian security agency found on one of the islands (April wouldn't tell me which one: Bali, Java, ...) a small terrorist workshop which made RC-planes which could carry about 500 gr. of explosives (or other payload) for well over 5 km at a reasonable speed. As it is quite difficult to control a plane at such a distance, the planes were piloted by a GPS receiver which was to guide them to their targets.

Speaking of a home made cruise missile!

All that you have to do is input the coordinates, put the plane in the air and make your get-away.

Plenty of time to get to safety.

So maybe it is not such a good idea to put your coordinates on the Monkmap. Who knows where those terrorists get their data? It only takes one misguided JavaJunky and the cream of the crop of the Saints of the Monastery gets to experience Paradise for real.

I'm thankful for April to be the First to alert me to the possible security risks. One cannot be too careful today.

Now if I put in the coordinates of that irritating neighbour who wakes me up on Sunday mornings with his lawnmower ...


"If you have four groups working on a compiler, you'll get a 4-pass compiler." - Conway's Law

janitored by ybiC: Retitle from "Monkmap" to avoid search-hostile single-word node title

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: Monkmap
by pelagic (Priest) on Apr 01, 2004 at 13:31 UTC
    > Who knows where those terrorists get their data?
    Do you really think they look in to find some interesting targets for their homemade missiles?

    With any reasonable precise map you can get the coordinates of almost any place in the whole world.

    Or you can buy a GPS yourself and add a couple of street maps to it; you would actually find almost any address within that map. And these maps exist of all western countries.

    I honestly don't believe the special selection of Perl monks is more interesting than anything/anybody else in the world (to terrorists).

    I can resist anything but temptation.
      I can resist anything but temptation.

      Oh dear, pelagic, perhaps you should have resisted the temptation to reply to this node!

      Psst - check out the name of CountZero's friend and the date of the post :)

Re: Monkmap
by Happy-the-monk (Canon) on Apr 01, 2004 at 13:44 UTC

    Thank you, CountZero, you made me remember the coordinates in UUCP World Map were called "Missile Coordinates" by many. Ever thought of this as a way to reroute your mail?

    Cheerio, Sören

      Back in the day when everyone had several forms of email address (Internet, Bitmail, UUCP bang path) the joke form was to have your long/lat as your "ICBM Address" (as in intercontinental Ballistic Missile). Duck and cover.

Re: Monkmap
by krujos (Curate) on Apr 01, 2004 at 16:27 UTC
    I am sad I only have on ++ to give you. This is defiantly the most entertaining thing I have read today!
Takes a lickin', keeps on tickin'
by Wally Hartshorn (Hermit) on Apr 02, 2004 at 21:48 UTC

    ++CountZero on this one, definitely. Any April Fool's joke that can still have people falling for it the afternoon of April 2 is a 100% success. :-)

    Wally Hartshorn

Re: Monkmap
by Roy Johnson (Monsignor) on Apr 01, 2004 at 20:58 UTC
    I'm thankful for April to be the First to alert me to the possible security risks. One cannot be too careful today.
    Yes, I understand that the Fedayyin Of Osama-bin Laden are particularly interested in coordinates 4.01, 20.04 lately.

    The PerlMonk tr/// Advocate
Re: Monkmap Considered Harmful
by calin (Deacon) on Apr 02, 2004 at 19:23 UTC

    Time to get yourself a tinfoil hat. It helps deflect the mind-controlling beams. You'll feel much more at ease, trust me!

Re: Monkmap
by matija (Priest) on Apr 01, 2004 at 13:51 UTC
    Well, I don't think it's very likely that terrorists are going to be targeting any monks for personal attention any time soon (unless you have "developing codes for NSA" or "using Perl for JDAM targeting" or the like in your on-line description.

    But just in case, I'm going to select a PHB, and enter the coordinates of his office. It won't affect the appearance of any of the maps, anyway.

Re: Monkmap
by b10m (Vicar) on Apr 01, 2004 at 14:46 UTC

    Although I agree that you shouldn't post too many pieces of confidential information on the web, I can't but conclude that this is a typical case of modern day paranoia.

    For centuries people didn't care about (snail) mail and to have their address listed in the white pages. Heck, it's even handy, 'cause that old friend of yours might finally trace you and return that $1000.00 he owed you! But nowadays everything is being overshadowed with this "terrorism" thing. It makes me sick, to be honest. The chances you receive an anthraxed letter in the mail is -I guess- still less than the chance you get struck by lightning and so are all the other terrorist-related acts. Please do remember that the world wasn't introduced to terrorism after 9-11. Look at Spain and/or Ireland for example. Terrorism was around for years.

    Please, oh please stop this paranoia ... then again, if we don't "the terrorists have won!". If you don't like other monks to know your whereabouts, don't post your GPS info, but please don't post them not because of the potential Indonesian RC plane with explosives...


    All code is usually tested, but rarely trusted.
      FWIW, a close friend of my parents was fatally struck by lightning a few years ago. Makes one look at the casual use of the phrase a little differently.
Re: Monkmap
by davido (Cardinal) on Apr 02, 2004 at 02:53 UTC
    With a $300 Garmin GPSMap76 and $100 worth of map software I can use my boat's autopilot to steer to within a few feet of my slip from anywhere in the world, even if I had never been there before.

    Just making my coordinates available doesn't make me less safe; my coordinates already were available to anyone with $400 worth of GPS and software equipment. The same technology I can use to find my slip in the fog can be used to automatically steer my boat into the heart of Port of Los Angeles. Terrorists aren't looking for the guy living in a home built in 1950 in Van Nuys, CA. They're looking for Port of Los Angeles, where they can make a big splash, so to speak.

    Since the target rich world is already mapped and documented within GPS software packages, a monkmap is just a redundant source of already accessible information.


Re: Monkmap
by runrig (Abbot) on Apr 02, 2004 at 00:06 UTC
    I feel no need to pinpoint my neighborhood; the coordinates I have on my home node are not where I really live; instead they are the place where I actually am far more than any normal person should be (and no, I don't work there). If I were worried about a terrorist attack though, I would be more concerned about the nuclear power plant which is closer to home...
Re: Monkmap Considered Harmful
by talexb (Canon) on Apr 02, 2004 at 15:58 UTC

    Boy, people are pretty sensitive this week.

    If you think adding your real co-ordinates to the Monk Map, don't add them. Alternatively, use the co-ordinates of the nearest Starbucks instead.

    And really, worrying about a terrorist attack from someone who gets my co-ordinates from a web site map that is a popular spot for software developers for a specific language ranks pretty low on My List of Things To Worry About.

    I've lived in the same house for 13 years, I have a bunch of domains registered to me, the banks and the utilities know where I live, hell, even Jack Layton can find me to encourage me to join the NDP.

    But maybe I worry less because I'm Canadian? Dunno.

    Alex / talexb / Toronto

    Life is short: get busy!

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