Monday, March 14, 2005

The New Mapping Service to Beat

Google Maps, which is still technically in beta (is anything at Google not in beta?), is already a fantastic tool. In fact, I've stopped using MapQuest all together. The main reasons:

Google Maps allows you to scroll around in real time

Just click anywhere on the map and drag it around. It's like having a huge map of the US on the desk in front of you.

The maps just look better

High-resolution, nicely shaded maps with wide streets (when zoomed in). The text is easy to read well-placed. Markers have a nice drop shadow effect that looks really cool.

The maps are larger
By default, Google Maps' maps are huge, taking up most of the screen, this means better printing, and
One field You don't have to tab between fields to enter an address, just type it into the search bar all at once. Google Maps figures it out.

More detail

You'll find more parks, lakes, college campuses, and all the other landmarks that help you find your way.

Less clutter
Unlike MapQuest, you won't find a ton of clutter around the page. Most of the clutter on the MapQuest page is advertising. The only advertising you'll see on Google is if you type in, say "pizza" and the name of a town. You'll see flags around the map indicating pizza places. Presumably these are pizza places that advertise with Google. This kind of advertising makes sense.

Google Maps lacks some of MapQuest's features like "Save to PDA, and Send to phone, but to be honest those features didn't work so well anyway and Google will likely add features like these eventually.

You can check out Google Maps at

Sunday, March 13, 2005

On the Radio, Whoa Oh Oh Oh, On the Radio

We bought a new car and, unlike our old car, the new one has a working radio. That's when we realized that it had been so long since we'd actually listed to a radio in the car that we had no idea where to find any of the local stations. So we used the "seek" feature repeatedly until we had a few presets, most of which turned out to be lousy. Then we wondered where on the mighty Web we might find a complete list of radio stations in the Chicago area. Turns out we found a wonderful site that allows you to search for radio stations all around the world and on the Internet (streaming). The site is called Radio-Locator and can be found at

Radio-Locator's home page lets you search for stations by city or zip, state, or call letters. You can also use the Advanced Search to search by a myriad of other categories like format, owner, and more. You can search World radio by country or streaming Internet radio by format.

We ran a search on our zip code and it brought up 53 radio stations within listening range. Listed for each station are: Info, Call Sign, Frequency, Dist./Signal, City, School (if applicable), and Format. Clicking on "Info" brings up a page of technical details about the station like Web site, owner, address, coverage map, and many other things I can't imagine I'd ever need. The coverage map is actually pretty cool, showing the point of origin and color-coded rings emanating out from it. Slick.

Back to the main search list, clicking on the Call Sign brings up the stations Web page (in a new window, thank you very much). If the entry has a little lightning bolt to the left of it, you can click on it to launch their Internet stream. Also slick.