Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Making online connections more personal

Filed under
Web

The two Chicago residents lived three blocks from each other, but they had no idea. They were on their PCs, at home, when they figured it out. Today they're dating.

Two childhood buddies, now in their mid-20s, hadn't seen each other since they were students at Wheaton Warrenville South High School. Since "running into" each other while online last month, they are rekindling a friendship.

All four individuals were using an innovative new application called Meetro, which combines instant messaging with your physical location to connect you with others who are nearby.

It's the brainchild of 27-year-old Paul Bragiel, who for the last six years has been running a video game software company called Paragon 5 (www.paragon5.com).

Along with a partner, he started developing Meetro because "we thought it would be cool to use."

The tool, which launched last month, is available as a free download at the Meetro Web site (www.meetro.com). Once opened, Meetro figures out where you are.

But it does not use global positioning technology to do so.

It uses ordinary wireless network, or Wi-Fi, signals.

"It's called triangulation," Bragiel said. "We can figure out where you are based on the Wi-Fi signals around you. You can find out within a couple-hundred-foot radius where the person is located."

Usually, more than one wireless signal is needed for the technology to work, which is typically not a problem in Chicago.

"In the city of Chicago, almost anybody who has a laptop that opens it up around a public place, or in an apartment building where a lot of people have Wi-Fi, we can pick it up," Bragiel said.

In the suburbs, where things are more spread out, users can simply enter their address "so the next time you use Meetro in your house, it will recognize your router and your location. This way, desktop [PC] users can use it as well."

Once Meetro knows where you are, it looks for other people who are using the application nearby.

"It does all the mathematical calculations and determines your general radius. Then the face pane comes up," Bragiel said. "It shows you all the people who are around you using Meetro and the pictures they put up of themselves."

From there you can click on each person's photo and read their "profile."

"It'll tell you what their favorite books are, where their blog is, and you can also view who their friends are," he said.

Bragiel said it's this last aspect, the one he calls "social networking," that further separates Meetro from anything else that's available.

"You can see how these people are connected to you," he said. "So if Janice down the street is a friend of this person's, and Janice is friends with your friend, you'll know how you're connected to this person. It's the six degrees of separation thing."

You can also exchange instant messages with any of the users who are displayed. Meetro has its own proprietary instant-messaging tool built in ("it's completely encrypted and secure") and also supports AOL and ICQ.

Within a month, support will be added for MSN and Yahoo instant messages.

"You can say, `Hey, what's up, we're really close, let's meet up.' Of course, we have security built in too. You can block anybody if they're being annoying."

To protect the safety of users, exact addresses are never available for others to see. Neither are specific distances between users.

"We only tell people relative distances, like you're within a quarter-mile or a half-mile," Bragiel said.

Further, Bragiel suggests you use the same precautions on Meetro as you would on any other online community: use extreme caution before revealing your real name (use a nickname or code name instead), your address or any other personal information.

As for photos, the security conscious can use a cartoon or even a photo of a pet.

There are about 2,000 Meetro users, with more than half in the Chicago area.

Although Meetro hasn't made any money yet, Bragiel has big plans.

He hopes to license the tool to conference organizers to help attendees meet one another. And he believes many Web sites can benefit from the kind of location-based services Meetro provides.

"It's an alternative GPS," he said.

"Imagine opening up ESPN.com and immediately being localized to the Chicago, or Japan, version of the site."

By ALEX L. GOLDFAYN
Chicago Tribune

More in Tux Machines

Red Hat News

  • Building MySQL DBaaS on OpenStack And Ceph Clouds
    With a properly configured OpenStack deployment and Red Hat Ceph storage backend, DBaaS clients merely go to a self-service interface and request the number and configuration of databases they require. OpenStack dynamically provisions the required storage capacity from the appropriate Ceph storage pool. No more manual placement of these database instances on MySQL clusters of various shapes and sizes. This manual exercise was a bit like playing the old Tetris game, trying to fit new database instances into fixed-sized clusters, followed by moving or rearranging them to new clusters when they outgrew available capacity.
  • Now available: The Open Organization Leaders Manual
    Available now, The Open Organization Leaders Manual is a community-produced companion to Jim Whitehurst's The Open Organization. With contributions from more than 15 authors, it explores new attitudes and practices leaders should adopt when leveraging the power of transparecy, meritocracy, inclusivity, sharing, and collaboration to build the workplaces of the future.
  • Red Hat Inc (RHT) Stake Maintained by Verde Servicos Internacionais S.A.
  • National Pension Service Purchases 12,387 Shares of Red Hat Inc (RHT)

7 cool little open source projects that stood out in 2016

In the early days of the open source movement, a lot of the attention was on operating systems, and later on large content management systems. These days, containers are mentioned regularly even in mainstream news outlets. The big tech stories are great, but they miss the other great activity in the niches of the open source space. I've rounded up seven interesting lesser-known projects from the past year. You can see more articles about projects like this in my Nooks and Crannies column. Read more

RaspArch, the Arch Linux Remix for Raspberry Pi 3 SBCs, Now Shipping with Yaourt

After announcing the release of a new version of his Ubuntu-based ExTiX Linux operating system for Intel Compute Stick devices, Arne Exton has announced today the availability of RaspArch Build 161205. RaspArch is a remix of Arch Linux ARM for Raspberry Pi 3 and Raspberry Pi 2 single-board computers, and the latest release is shipping with the long-term supported Linux 4.4.35 kernel and the latest package versions released upstream as of December 5, 2016. "When you have installed RaspArch to your Micro SD Card you can use the system like any other Arch Linux system, i.e. install new programs, etc," said Arne Exton in the release announcement. "Arch motto is KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid). RaspArch uses kernel 4.4.35-1-ARCH and the LXDE Desktop environment." Read more

Gentoo-Based Porteus Kiosk 4.2 Released with Linux Kernel 4.4.36, Firefox 45.5.1

Porteus Solutions, through Tomasz Jokiel, announced today the release and immediate availability of Porteus Kiosk 4.2.0, the latest stable version of the free and open source Gentoo-based kiosk operating system for web terminals. Powered by the latest long-term supported Linux 4.4.36 kernel, Porteus Kiosk 4.2.0 ships with some of the latest and greatest GNU/Linux technologies and Open Source software projects, including the recently released X.Org Server 1.18.4 display server, as well as the Mozilla Firefox 45.5.1 ESR and Google Chrome 54.0.2840.100 web browsers. Read more