Caught In The Web

Never Get Lost Again!

Navigation Made Easy

by Laura Emery, Associate Editor

If you’ve ever had anyone try to give you directions using expressions like, “turn just beyond the light,” or “it’s not too far up the road,” then you know you can’t always count on another person’s directions to get you where you need to go.

That’s where the World Wide Web comes into the picture. There are a variety of Web sites where you can get directions and maps that meet your specific needs. You can get reverse directions, and tailor your directions to the shortest route or the most direct route.

There are a number of Web sites out there that will allow you to obtain driving directions from point A to point B without having to ask someone who knows. These Web sites provide directions, interactive maps, and satellite/aerial imagery of the United States.

While the major map services are correct and helpful a majority of the time, they are not going to be correct all the time. There is always a chance that the service has not been updated to take into account new roads or roads under construction. It is recommended that you use more than one Web site to get directions, in order to be sure the directions are consistent. Most of the major sites also offer a feedback form for users to report inaccuracies in any of the maps or directions.

Google Maps

Get it right with Google Maps. Google Maps (http://maps.google.com) is a Google service offering powerful, user-friendly mapping technology, including business locations, contact information, and driving directions to anyone searching for results in the United States, Canada, and the UK.

With Google Maps, youll enjoy a variety of unique features. You can click and drag maps to view adjacent sections immediately (no long waits for new areas to download). With satellite imagery, you can view an aerial image of your desired location that you can zoom and pan. Integrated search results help users find business locations and contact information all in one location. For example, if you search for [pizza in San Jose], locations of relevant listings appear on your map, and their phone numbers appear alongside.

Detailed directions are at your fingertips. Enter an address and let Google Maps plot the location and/or driving directions for you. Click any part of the driving directions to see a magnified map or satellite image of that part of the route. There are also keyboard shortcuts. Pan left, right, up and down with the arrow keys. Pan wider with the Page Up, Page Down, Home and End keys. Zoom in and out with the plus (+) and minus (-) keys.

MSN Maps

The new release of MSN Maps & Directions (www.mappoint.msn.com) includes an enhanced user interface for finding addresses, expanded geographic coverage, and a new way to find businesses that are close to your location. You can also copy or build links to Web pages containing MSN Maps & Directions maps.

There are enhanced options for finding addresses. You can now copy and paste the address you want to find into a free-text field instead of typing the address into a structured form. But if you prefer to use the form, it is still available. There is also expanded geographic coverage. You can now find addresses and places in Australia, Brazil, and Athens, Greece, in addition to Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland (Helsinki only), France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

After you find a location on the map, you can find nearby outlets for your favorite coffee shop, hotel, rental car agency, and more. Just click the icon of the service you’re looking for to see nearby locations on the map. For detailed information about a business or to get driving directions, you can point to the pushpin that marks its location.

MapQuest

With MapQuest (www.mapquest.com), you can learn how to create, interpret and even customize MapQuest maps. There are also new options for using MapQuest maps on the go with your PDA or cellular phone.

MapQuest is the leading provider of online maps. It has a 30-year history in providing high-quality cartographic services and works with the best-of-breed data providers to provide accurate online maps and directions. MapQuest now also features images of road signs along with detailed directions to help you navigate. Plus, if you’d prefer not to travel heavy-traffic highways, simply click on the option that says “avoid highways.”

Yahoo! Maps & Directions

With Yahoo! Maps and Directions (http://maps.yahoo.com), you can enter the starting address and destination in the appropriate boxes on the address-entry page, and then click the “Get Directions” button. A written driving route will then appear, along with two maps. The map on the left will show the full route, while the map on the right will show the destination in detail. You can interact (pan and zoom) with the full-route map to customize it to fit your needs. If you would like more detail for your route, you can enable turn-by-turn maps that will display a zoomed-in view of each maneuver.

RandMcNally

Get on the road with RandMcNally. At RandMcNally (www.randmcnally.com), you have a few more options than with other maps-and-directions Web sites. You can use this Web site to plan a road trip, with helpful sections on places to stay, best of the road, road construction, weather, and things to do.

According to their Web site, “Get quick, accurate online directions from the most trusted name on the map.” You can use any U.S. address, intersection, airport, or latitude and longitude, and the site will even save your last five starting points and destinations.

Multimap.Com

MultiMap is a good resource if you’re planning a trip abroad. Multimap.com is Europe’s most popular mapping Web site, offering a range of free, useful services to assist with everyday life. Key features include street-level maps of the United Kingdom, Europe, and the U.S.; road maps of the world; door-to-door travel directions; aerial photographs; and local information.

It requires you to type in a street name, postal code, place of interest or map-grid reference, click “Search,” and then it reveals a map of the location you are looking for. If there is more than one location with the same search criteria, it will give you a list of options to choose from.

Once you have the map of your chosen location, you can zoom in or zoom out to see more- or less-detailed maps of the surrounding area. You can even print the page, so you have a hard copy of the map to carry with you.

Once you figure out which of these Web sites is best for your specific traveling needs, you’ll never have to get lost again.

 

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