Archive for the ‘Internet’ Category

How I use Google Maps

Friday, November 21st, 2008

It was this article in the Telegraph that got me thinking about the way in which I use Google Maps.

The article itself is actually about Google Earth – a programme that can be installed on a computer to view Google’s aerial photos of the World.  I first came into contact with it a few years ago on a customer’s computer, but I have, as yet, never installed it on a computer of my own.  Instead, I use Google Maps.

Now, I am aware that Google Earth offers more features, such as being able to tilt the map and get a sort of 3D representation of the area that I am viewing, but for my daily purposes the Maps version is sufficient.

So how do I use it?  Well, the most obvious way is to look up addresses on the maps.  Whenever I have a new address to go to (usually to visit a new customer) then I look it up on Google Maps.  Knowing the area so well, that is usually sufficient for me to know where a particular street is.  Otherwise, I can print off the map of the area around the street that I have to go to, and that will normally be enough.

But if I don’t know the area that I am going to at all, such as some areas of Frankfurt, then will often take a look at the aerial view to see what the roads there are like.  For example, are there parking spaces near where I going to?  It can also be helpful to zoom in the road markings to see if there are any “no left turn” type of junctions on my route.

However, there are many more features to Google Maps that I occasionally use.  There is the ability to view photos that have been taken by other people at specific locations on the maps, so it is interesting to see pictures of places that I have visited, sometimes many years ago.  Of course, I can also look at places that I hear or read about, but will probably never get the chance to visit, such as Tristan da Cuhna in the South Atlantic.

Recently Google have been adding their “Street View” feature to a number of places that I have been to, most recently I was able to look at areas of Madrid that I visited in April.

Finally, there is a more serious side to how I use Google Maps.  Not only can I embed maps in blog posts to show where a particular place is that I have written about, but I can also place advertising on the map for the customers who’s websites I either create or optimise.

All in all, I may not be addicted to Google Maps as the Telegraph article suggested, but I certainly make good use of it.

The Mediterranean cable break

Wednesday, February 6th, 2008

I can still clearly remember the days when calling Australia from the UK meant avoiding peak times to try to get a free line, and then the delay in the conversation because the copper wires only relayed the speech at a particular speed.  You had to wait for the reply from the other end, much like talking on a CB radio.

With the increase in the number of phone calls being sent by satellite, the number of lines increased and the delay disappeared.  These days I even use Skype to call far-flung parts of the World.

But wait a moment, Skype is internet-based- does that go by satellite too?

Probably not.  The internet communications around the World are relayed from one country to another, with undersea cables playing an important part.

So having an undersea cable go wrong can be a disaster (see this article).  It’s amazing to think that so much is still relies on these cables – or in this case how much relies on a single one.  The technology has advanced so much in recent years – the cables may now carry fibre-optics and not copper and they are better protected against the salt water, but at the end of the day they are still being laid in the same way around the globe and are still susceptible to the same problems.

I wonder how much disused cable is down there?


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