Back in May, a couple hours after we arrived at the temporary apartment in Redmond, we pulled the laptop out to jump online.  Aboda furnishes their apartments with wireless cable modems, which is very nice.  We needed to pull up directions to go to dinner, and my instinct was to hit Google Maps, but since I was about to start working at Microsoft, I thought I'd give that Live Maps thing a try!

The first thing I clicked when I got to the site was "Directions."  Then, I put the cursor in the "from" box and then paused, trying to remember the apartment address, as I had just learned it 30 minutes prior.  I remembered that it was 17751 something.  I typed in "1" and got an auto-complete-like dropdown with 2 options.  The first was the full street address of the apartment, including the apartment number; the second was the full street address, excluding the apartment number.  This was a Live Maps auto-complete, not the IE auto-complete.

How did it know?  I had never typed that address in anywhere before and I had never used Live Maps from the laptop before.  I only have 2 guesses at how that worked.

  1. IP Address Geocoding, and somehow the database even knew what apartment number the IP address is assigned to
  2. The cable modem is coded with its address somehow, and the TCP/IP information carried it along to the Live Maps server

I figure the former is more likely than the latter, but I've not seen geocoding that knew a street address before, let alone an apartment number.  Either way, I was very impressed.

The alternate theory is that when you accept employment with Microsoft, they automatically start using all of the Big Brother data that they've been collecting on you but they don't use because you might dislike them if they do.  Once you take a job there though, they figure it's safe to employ their secret features.  Another story that backs this up was when I was still living in Cincinnati and decided to add another weather gadget to my Vista sidebar so that I could see what the weather was like in Redmond.  When I added the gadget, it was automatically set to Redmond, like it knew that's what I wanted!  Freaky! :-)