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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

How did we live without this?

OK, it isn't cold fusion in a juice glass... but I found this to be 'slap your forehead' incredible:

'Book of Joe', my frequent source for such nifty things, recently posted about a handy site called 'openstreetmap.org' where you can create maps for just about anywhere in the world and customize them for just about any use imaginable.

In their own words:

"OpenStreetMap creates and provides free geographic data such as street maps to anyone who wants them. The project was started because most maps you think of as free actually have legal or technical restrictions on their use, holding back people from using them in creative, productive or unexpected ways."

OK, I know the legal restrictions probably weren't holding most of you back.  But still, it is nice to have a nice, public domain source for such things.

You can use place names, GPS points or just use your mouse to drag the world map until you zoom in on the place you want to map.  Once you have the desired area and resolution you can customize the map with place names and landmarks... add colored lines and symbols... just about anything that will make the map fit your needs.

I'm sure your imagination is already racing at the possibilities this powerful (and free!) tool can provide.  Directions to parties and events for inclusion in invitations... bike routes... newly discovered shortcuts you want to share with friends... accident reports... the possibilities are endless!

The best part is that people like my wife, who normally give directions like "turn left two miles before the red barn on the right", or "You'll want to make the first right after you pass the place where the 7-11 used to be", can now include those kind of 'special' landmarks on the map.

Here's a quick map of one of the places I'd like to be on a sunny day like today:


... and another one over which I could overlay meeting points (in case Jack wanted to meet me in Boston some day and hand over the sausages he owes me!).  :-)


I'd like to offer my standard 'Don't thank me... I'm a giver', but the truth is that Book of Joe did the giving this time.

Posted by David Bogner on May 28, 2008 | Permalink


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Hm. The only interesting feature it offers is the export function. This is something which isn't really live on Google maps yet (my preferred map service, for a number of good reasons). But it's another web service that requires a unique login/account, which is cumbersome.

Posted by: a | May 28, 2008 3:01:37 PM

I'd be happy to meet you there. Perhaps after the Lakers kill the celtics. That should take place around the same time Manny and company go in the toilet.

As for your sausages, they are a coming. Just need to make a couple of arrangements. I had a buddy who was supposed to head out to Israel for business and then he lost his job. This little recession is messing with your meal.

Posted by: Jack | May 28, 2008 6:01:56 PM

That neighborhood is awfully familiar...spent lots of time there when Elder Daughter was in school, attending BU. Riding the Green Line, buying books at the Barnes and Noble under the giant Citgo sign...slipping into Cambridge (across the river) for a cup of hot chocolate at Burdick's near Harvard Square...

...yep, that'd be a great place to be right about now.

Posted by: Elisson | May 28, 2008 7:55:33 PM

"Manny and company go into the toilet"? Hmm, somebody seems to have lost track of what decade this is.

Posted by: Drew | May 28, 2008 10:08:44 PM

"Manny and company go into the toilet"? Hmm, somebody seems to have lost track of what decade this is.

Nah, I know about those steroid poppin folks.

Posted by: Jack | May 29, 2008 5:24:48 AM

Hey you are favoring a lot of BU territory - what about us NU folks? If you were to go a little South and to the East you would be smack in my old neighborhood.

Posted by: Boston 87-90 | May 29, 2008 7:44:48 AM

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