2006/08/12

Online Maps

It would be a bad thing if the interenet crashed permanently. One reason that would be bad is we could no longer use online maps.

For many people, online maps and map tools are used daily. Luke W uses them to find myDigitechnician clients' houses. He also used it to plan his route to the campsite this weekend where he is currently ensconsed in his sleeping bag under the Perseid meteor showers. We used Google Maps to look at an aerial photograph of the campground and surrounding area. Then we used Topozone to look at a topographic map of the area around his campground. In the pre-internet days (actually, only a few years ago) we would have had to buy those maps and aerial photos unless we were lucky and found them at the library.

Yesterday my cousin Dan called and invited me to visit him at his cabin in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He started giving me directions, and since the internet was only keystrokes away at the desk, Mapquest popped up on the screen and the route could be followed as he described what roads to take and where to turn. His cabin is off the main roads, so having the map right in front of me was helpful because it was possible to follow his directions and know exactly where his cabin is located. As with Luke's campground, the road map session was followed by a look at aerial photographs and the topo map for the area around the cabin. He mentioned the cabin was on a river, and with the aerial photograph, not only could the river be seen clearly, but the cabin itself was also visible! Because Google Maps and Microsoft Maps sometimes have different resolution aerial photographs available, both of them were checked to see if either gave a better view.

Andy M at NEW NET is a big fan and user of Microsoft Streets & Trips. He uses it frequently, and in some respects it is better than maps available online. For one thing, he doesn't need an internet connection to be able to use Streets & Trips. The program also has more detailed information in some instances. At the NEW NET gathering this week Andy showed how Streets and Trips gave precise information as to which side of the street a particular house number is located and other helpful tips.

For more details on uses of Google Maps, check out Google Maps Mania, Essential Resources for Google Maps, and Cool Google Maps. Googling for a specific map topic in which you are interested will usually give a few sites that can help out on your particular topic.

If you know some other good online map resources or uses, please send links.

If you haven't yet signed up for BarCampMilwaukee, now is a good time to do that. A page was added to the wiki for Campers, so go there and add your name to the list! While you're on the barcamp site, add your suggestions for sessions you'd like to participate in, and put your name on any you'd like to lead. If you haven't edited a wiki before and want help, let me know (there's also a link to a wiki User Guide at the bottom of the Main Page.

The initial list of topics for the 15 August 2006 NEW NET gathering is below:
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