Posts Tagged ‘San Francisco

19
Dec
12

Apple + Maps needn’t = a crappy holiday gift.

This blog has something of a history of being slightly cynical about map-shaped things. Or at least reporting them in a cynical way. If anybody DID want to send us a skillet in the shape of Texas it would not be returned to sender.

One of the craftiest members of our team (and by that I mean artistic crafty) has been customizing iphones using old maps and we have to say the results are wonderful. The process is simple and looks equally good whether you are using maps of South Africa or San Francisco. Indeed, if you are seeking a gift for your favorite  couple you could even refer back to one of our recent stories using maps from Scotland and the American North West and wish them a Dull and Boring Christmas from the bottom of your heart.

Get the full story – including a detailed ‘how-to’ in the following video.

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03
Oct
12

Maps for the Blind: From 1837 to today.

Recently a group of Maps.com representatives head to San Diego for the ESRI User Conference.

They absorbed a ton of information covering wide and varied topics in the mapping and spatial data arena. One of the main themes of the conference and a recurring one in Cartographic arenas is how we gather, process and present the amazing amounts of data now available via the internet. 3-D terrain data, publicly sourced cartographic data, Landsat imagery and collaborative imagery management are all topics that were discussed and reviewed at the event.

Using a tactile map

When creating maps for the blind, less is truly more. For a product to successfully convey spatial data it must be limited to the most vital information and avoid data ‘clutter’. This most disciplined branch of Cartography has actually been around for over 180 years and  is addressed in this recent Strange Maps article. Those with visual impairment and blindness are required to be more spatially aware than most of us as they negotiate the hazards of everyday life, but when it comes to the bigger picture cartography frequently comes up short in trying to deliver ‘the Google Maps’ experience to this audience.

In 1837 the New England Institute for the Blind published 50 copies of the ‘Atlas of the United States printed for the use of the Blind’. The maps are produced in a Braille-type print that embosses the various lines of the map for touch reading. The text was not produced in Braille (an alphabet consisting of raised dots in various configurations) but in standard Latin characters. The ocean is distinguished by horizontal cross-hatching and the major cities are identified using a key. There are 24 state maps which included numbers for latitude and longitude and illustrations for mountain ranges.

Each map is accompanied by a descriptive piece outlining points of note about the region covered, again using Latin characters as opposed to Braille.

Despite being a pioneering innovation, with such limited circulation it is difficult to regard the atlas as a major commercial success, however parallels can be drawn  with some of the innovations in contemporary cartography as we attempt to use our maps to solve very specific problems and address the difficulties of presenting complex data in a user friendly format. This atlas also represents the first instance of touch operated maps – an altogether more common attribute since the advent of the iPad.

Jump forward to today and there several approaches to providing mapping for the blind. A German project, The Look and Listen map, is attempting to crowd source data that we naturally absorb and process and adapt to as we walk down the street. For example locating street crossings that have tactile paving and sound or vibration alerts can be a vital part of safely negotiating a busy downtown. In France, researchers have used stereo cameras mounted on glasses to record and render 3D imagesthat are then translated through an electronic tactile device that instantly produces embossed maps similar to the ones Lowe produced, but with greater detail and accuracy.

Maine Map for Blind Readers

Map of Maine, S. Howe 1837. C. David Rumsey Collection

“The ability to wander around and get  lost on a map is so much better than getting lost in real life” said Josh Miele, a scientist at the Smith Kettlewell Eye Research Institute, himself blind, in an interview with NPR. The maps they have developed are printed by the Lighthouse for the Blind in San Francisco using an automated version of Lowe’s embossing process, which enable blind people to build up a strong cognitive understanding of an area before they have visited it.

The report reveals a change in the attitudes of cognitive scientists who have long believed that blind people could never understand maps because they are visual representations of spatial concepts. While tools such as the Trekker Breeze – a GPS device that gives voice prompts regarding current locations, intersections etc offer a detailed view of immediate surroundings, tactile maps give a much broader relational view of an area. Interestingly the concept of all maps being a ‘spatial’ tool as much as a visual tool is reinforced when one considers the pros and cons of the Breeze-type device versus the Braille print version.

Smith Kettlewell have been attempting to bridge the gap with its Audio Tactile maps which include a detailed audio component activated when using a tactile map. They have produced a version for the BART stations in San Francisco including street, concourse and platform maps for each station.

Much more of the atlas can be viewed here in the David Rumsey collection.

24
May
12

5 ways to travel the united states and end up 100 miles (or less) from where you started

This article by Eric Wilder from our Local, National and International Travel Desk.

Have you ever scored tickets to the big game in the city over the weekend and been stuck without a car? Ever wanted to fly back home for the weekend to visit the ‘rents, rather than battle through traffic or miss the train? Ever needed to hop on a quick flight upstate to help your brother move out?

Winged Wonder

Someday I’ll fly away.

Sometimes, catching that 1-hour nonstop flight is no problem. Other times, you may want to bring your collection of USA Lonely Planet Travel Guides to kill time with some joy reading.

We researched 5 ways you can fly to a final destination that is less than 100 miles away and end up seeing much, much more of the country than you bargained for. How did we do it?

We picked a hypothetical travel day at random and went search-happy on various air travel booking websites to find some of the more absurd connections you could make on your next flight!

Live in Manhattan and need to catch a business meeting at your company’s satellite office in Hartford, CT, but don’t own a car and can’t use public transportation to get there? If you need to fly, you could book a flight that departs from NYC, touches down in Orlando and Atlanta, and finally, makes its way over to Hartford.

What if there are no nonstop flights to your destination? Take this one, for example: if you live in Ontario, CA and need to fly into LAX, you could get a flight that has layovers in Dallas and Chicago, en route to your Los Angeles destination. Sure, the Ontario and LAX airports may only be 57.1 miles apart in driving distance, but anything is fair game in air travel.

Trying to get from Daytona Beach to Orlando, FL? If time is a concern, we recommend that you avoid booking the flight with the layover in Atlanta, followed by the layover in Washington, DC, followed by the layover in Detroit. That’s a whopping 14 hour, 45 minute flight itinerary when all is said and done.

“Hurry, only 200 left at this price”.

Madison to Milwaukee, WI? Hope you enjoy Dallas-Fort Worth Airport and Denver International Airport. San Jose to San Francisco, CA? Better plan to pick up lunch in Salt Lake City and take a cat nap in San Diego.

Which of our routes gets you traveling the greatest distance, you ask? The Ontario to Los Angeles itinerary comes in victorious, traversing nearly 4,000 miles of American air. Being that we all enjoy a good map, we of course had to plot these routes. Below is a map that displays the simple straight-line distance of each of these ludicrous flight paths, for your cartographic viewing pleasure. More bang for your buck? More airline miles? More crying babies? Maybe, but one thing is for sure – if you are a crazy cartography geek and travel lover, there is no better way to fly the United States and end 100 miles from where you started.

Eric contributes regularly to Maps.com’s social media output. If you have suggestions, comments or ideas for new articles, or you have some of your own  ridiculous travel itineraries, let us know in the comments. Eric will have plenty of time to read them during his daily commute,  from Santa Barbara to Goleta, by cruise liner, stopping  at Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, en route.

Crazy air routes from a to b

Get quickly from A to B. Via F, D, R, S and Y.




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