Recently, a good friend of mine (hopefully she will still be a good friend after reading this story), was doing a very nice thing by taking some pie to a few friends as a birthday treat. Unfortunately, when getting out of the car, she dropped the pie, getting it all over her shirt and shoes. Yikes! So now she needs two things: a replacement pie, and a clothing store. (for the sake of the story, lets just go with the idea that she would rush out and buy a replacement pie and a new outfit). Back in the day, the first thing you would do is pull out the Yellow Pages and start shuffling through the book to find what you want. However, this is the computer age, and we no longer use the Yellow Pages. The day will come, or maybe already has, when kids wont have a clue what a phone book is (I don’t have kids, remember?). This is where Google Maps comes in. http://maps.google.com/ . (OK, for the sake of the story again, just assume she has a George Jetson car with an onboard computer with Internet access). Google Maps, in my opinion, is the best online map program around. I like it for several reasons. 1. The maps are draggable – click and drag a map to view adjacent sections instantly. No waiting to download additional sections. 2. Scroll wheel zooming – use the scroll wheel on your mouse to zoom in and out of a section on the map quickly. 3. You have the option of several views:
Maps View – typical Thomas Guide like map of the streets in your search. From here you can also get driving directions from one address or point-of-interest to another.
Street View – when in Street View, all streets outlined in blue allow you to see actual photographs of the street and surrounding areas. Click on a blue street and a screen will pop up allowing you to look at a full 180 degree picture of the buildings on the street.
Terrain – will give you the map, but also shows hills and elevations.
Satellite view – actual satellite photos that allow you to see the view of the streets from above. Really cool.
Traffic – allows you to see what the traffic is like on major highways in your area. Green means the traffic is flowing well, yellow a bit slow, and red of course means you are going to sit on the freeway for a while, so don’t even bother going out there.
So, back to our pie story. Assuming that after you spill a pie all over you, you would immediately rush out and replace the pie and the outfit. Use Google Maps to find the nearest bakery and trendiest boutique (not that I shop in trendy boutiques. . . I avoid them at all costs).
With Google Maps, you can click on the Find Business link, and you are given two fields. In the first field, you type in what you are looking for. So in our case, we would type in Bakeries. The second field you type in the location you want to search. This can be a city and state, or even a zip code. Once you click on Search, you are given a list of all matching results, along with a map showing where each result is.
So, seconds after spilling the pie (and taking a moment for a deep breath and a muttered curse word), my friend hops back in her George Jetson car, uses the onboard computer to get on the Internet and surfs to http://maps.google.com/ She clicks on the Find Business link, and types in Bakeries in Portland, Oregon. She gets a listing of dozens of bakeries. She chooses the one she wants, and clicks on Get directions. Once she puts in the starting address, or even landmark, the driving directions to the bakery are displaying on the screen.
She then clicks on Add Destination, and in the field that appears, she types in Clothing Store, Portland Oregon. A list of available shops appears. She clicks on the one she wants, and driving directions to the clothing store, from the bakery, are added to her driving directions.
She darts out of the parking lot, heads for the bakery to get the pie, and then off to the clothing store to buy a new outfit. Breathing a sigh of relief, she surprises her friends with a pie, wearing a clean trendy outfit.
All made possible by Google Maps!