Saturday, June 6, 2009

Hello Kitty and Google Maps: Thing #25 Assignment 1

Hello Kitty is alive and well! After playing with lots of the features in Google Maps, I clicked on the link in the Nebraska Learns 2.0 for a random street in Japan and there was Hello Kitty on a huge billboard in the Street View. I've had an attachment to Hello Kitty ever since my son was a toddler and latched onto a little stuffed Hello Kitty toy in a store. My son is 27 and married now. When I visited Japan in both 1994 and 1999, Hello Kitty was very prominent as a toy, on dishes, on clothes, and more so I shouldn't really be surprised. Anyway, so much for unrelated trivia about my life.

I really like Google maps and enjoy using the expanded features. It has become my mapping program of choice for getting directions as I've found it to be fairly accurate in its time predictions and I like the ease of changing the route. We used it in May to play with several routes to and from Ohio and added desired towns as additional destinations to see what Google suggested. Then we further drug the white dots on the suggested route to customize it further to check travel time. On another trip a couple of weeks ago, I took a slower route, thinking it surely couldn't take that long-well, Google was correct and I wasn't! There was too much traffic to fudge the speed limit. Oh well. I discovered that Google maps will actually suggest more than one route. I put in a search from Omaha to Phoenix and it pulled up 3 options to choose from. It can show 2 of the routes on the map at the same time by selecting both, but wouldn't show all 3 routes.

Searching Nebraska libraries, it brought up the area closest to North Platte first. Is Google smart enough to connect our computer IP address with our general location? Elkhorn Public library however, is oddly misplaced into our area. Its marker was round unlike the balloon markers of the others.

My views on views:
I like working with the different views on Google maps. I hadn't noticed the terrain view before and plan to explore that further. I have utilized the satellite view in Google and other mapping programs several times. Traveling in rural Canada, we actually had checked the satellite view to locate a cousin's farm, since their verbal directions were a little unclear. I used it before traveling to Boston to recognize buildings along the walking route from the subway station to my hotel. (Did I mention that I am very directionally challenged in cities, especially.) I did discover that the satellite view isn't always up-to-date. The view of my daughter's UNMC apartment building shows construction going on in the lot next to hers. The apartment building currently in that lot has been there over three years now. I did locate the Nebraska capital and could see the colors of the cars along the street. I have found that satellite views in cities allow you to zoom in closer than in our rural area. I liked the added little icons in the satellite view of Japan. It's always important to know where the nearest KFC is!

Street view is an interesting tool and also controversial, although Google does blur parts of images and gives people the opportunity to object to the view. Over the past year, I have read several articles of cities objecting to Google street view and actually prohibiting the vehicles with the Google cameras from filming their streets. I think both articles I read were cities in Europe. It was no surprise when I looked at Moscow Russia and found no street view. We discovered street view by accident (pulling zoom to the maximum) in May and found the home we were going to visit in Ohio. That actually did help us locate it on our trip since house numbers aren't always prominent.

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