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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Mike at TechDirt noticed a New York Times article (may require registration) on the transportation strike that noted that many hearty New Yorkers who could telecommute chose not to do so. He cites the reasons from the article: the need for face time and separation of home and work. He also notes that the choice may be generational.

I suspect there’s a good deal of truth in that statement. When I graduated from college (1986, if you are counting) my favorite geography professor explained that soon the geography of work would be completely different; we’d all live in really cool places and work from there. That’s certainly happening, but more for my generation and below, not for his. Part of the shift, I’ll offer is that today’s generation lives in a “bring me” world, whereas many before lived in a “go to” world. That’s simplification, but today’s generation gets pizza delivered, carries iPods everywhere, and has movies piped into their houses. In my house growing up either my grandmother made pizza (yep Eastern European woman made pizza!) or Dad drove the Bellinos to get it. Movies were an excursion (and a big deal).

Why should work be any different from our day to day lives in this respect?

by Adena Schutzberg on 12/27 at 08:11 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Monday, December 26, 2005

The Rocky Mountain News gets a lot of coverage due to its strong online presence. Some 42 “hubs” cover local news and encourage citizen journalism. So, it was quite interesting to read editor, publisher and president John Temple’s discussion of attempting an interactive map of Christmas lights in his editorial from December 24 higlighting the paper’s accomplishments.

I hope you feel it in this newspaper and on our Web site every day. A passion. A passion for trying new things to serve you better. A passion for telling stories.

Take our new mapping service for Christmas light tours. This year, instead of just printing maps in the paper, we’re offering personalized maps on our Web site.

In the newspaper, we have to give everybody the same map. On the Web, you can create the map that best suits your needs.

Go to com and click on “Holiday Lights” and you’ll find an offer to “Get directions to light displays in your area.”

It will take you to a page where you can enter the address where you want to start your tour. Click on “Find Nearest” and you’ll get a listing of the best nearby displays. In my case, there were 16 within three miles. Choose the ones you want to visit and click on “Find Route” and you’ll get step-by-step directions and a map of the entire route. Print it and you’ll have a guide for a fun excursion.

We developed this service as an experiment with ESRI, a Boulder company that specializes in Web mapping. We wanted to see what was possible.

It wasn’t as easy as we had hoped. For example, I’d love - yes, love - for people to be able to post their own pictures of their lights on our Web site and to have them show up with the addresses when others call up a map. I’d like for you to be able to e-mail the light show creators. And, of course, you should be able to get our maps and photos on your cell phone while you’re driving, maybe even with a soundtrack to make your journey more fun. And how about coupons or special offers from coffee shops or gas stations for participating? But those ideas will have to wait for future years.

This mapping effort, believe it or not, is linked to our plans to help you decide how to vote in the 2006 election. We’re going to build our deepest election Web site ever, where just by punching in your address you’ll be able to find links to all our stories and data, such as campaign finance reports and information about the candidates and issues you’ll find on your ballot.

We hope you’ll walk into your polling place next November with a printout from RockyMountainNews.com as your sample ballot.

Of course ESRI is based in Redlands, California. I’m sure that the local office worked their butts off in developing the app. Still, he’s right - the hodgepodge of voting for lights displays (which linked to PDF maps???), routing by RouteMap IMS, and a grid to find local displays were quite challenging to navigate.

Perhaps I need to reconsider my criticism of the Microsoft’s Live Local-based offering and the Google Maps one. Both offered a similar sort of mapping of holiday lights.

by Adena Schutzberg on 12/26 at 07:48 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

An article already tipping off Santa on what he wants for Christmas 2006, in the New Jersey Express Times. It’s from freelance auto writer, Scott Wasser.

Navigation systems that make life easier, not more difficult: I’m a huge fan of GPS-based navigation systems and their potential, but unfortunately too many of them are too difficult to use or just plain inefficient. I’ve tested very expensive vehicles in which the navigation system interfaces were so clumsy or the mapping software so incomplete that the systems weren’t worth using.

GPS technology is accurate enough to track a vehicle within a few feet of its actual location just about anywhere on the globe. GPS manufacturer Garmin makes portable units that sell for a few hundred bucks that are easy to operate, have up-to-date maps, and provide dead-on accuracy. The same is true of mapping company DeLorme, which sells a $100 software/hardware package (Street Atlas USA/Earthmate) that turns any current laptop into a similarly accurate and easy to use guidance system. So tell me Santa, would you happen to know why automakers can’t provide similarly effective navigation systems in their vehicles?

 

by Adena Schutzberg on 12/26 at 07:33 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

ITAR-TASS the Russian news agency reports that Russian President Putin wants to see his country’s GLONASS satellite navigation systems up and running earlier than planned. The system was expected to be completed in 2008, says the article, but Putin put the challenge forward to finish in 2006 or 2007. He wants to see commercial revenue from the system which provides similar accuracy to GPS.

Even as Putin made the plea Russia celebrated the launch of three new satellites into orbit on Sunday. The AP published unconfirmed reports that two of the birds were not under control and offered that the system was not expected to be complete until 2010.

by Adena Schutzberg on 12/26 at 07:26 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

It appears the Associated Press is doing a series of articles on data collection for mapping. First off, “Four-wheeled cartographers make digital roads match reality” , an article similar to the dozens run in the past year about GPS-enabled NAVTEQ and Tele Atlas cars roaming around the U.S.

The next part (no idea how many are expected) covers: “How mapping companies make sense of the data - and seek out more for new features.”

Perhaps the timing on this reflects that many people recieved GPS devices for Christmas and explaining why the data are not perfect may cause fewer returns?

by Adena Schutzberg on 12/26 at 07:22 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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