24
Mar
08

A new hobby

Well, this isn’t exactly a hobby, but it’s something I’ve done a few times and I think it’s fun, so it’s kind of like a hobby. Anyway, you may or may not know that I read a couple of gadget-related sites with reasonable regularity. In particular, I read engadget and gizmodo most days and there are some other sites I keep up with on a less frequent basis. In any case, these sites often cover new GPS systems for cars (now often called PNDs (personal navigation devices)). Usually, the image of the devices shows a map of some place on the device’s screen. There is usually no city label – just roads and landmarks. So, my new hobby has become finding where the map is from.

Today engadget covered a new PND from Mio and the map shown on the device had roads named “Turkey Shore Rd.”, “Prince of Wales Rd.”, “Ffordd Tudur” and “Porth-y-Felin Rd.” In addition, a harbor was depicted along with a ferry route. “Prince of Wales Rd.” made me think that it was likely in the UK, but not necessarily in Wales. The harbor and ferry route obviously put it on the coast somewhere. “Ffordd Tudur” and “Porth-y-Felin Rd.” made me think it was, in fact, in Wales, because Welsh is just a funny-looking language with lots of repeated consonants. So, I searched the coast of Wales and found it.

A random small town on the coast of Wales seems like a strange place to choose for a marketing photo for a new GPS device, but I suppose they have to pick somewhere. I also recall finding a place in the center of Berlin that was in a picture of a GPS device. Anyway, maybe the fact that I enjoy this makes me a huge nerd, but I enjoy the challenge of it and it helps to improve not only my geographical knowledge, but it also brings a little extra familiarity with local languages.

Looking at the original image again, I noticed that the name of the city is somewhat visible.  Even if I had noticed it when I first looked at the picture, I wouldn’t have simply searched for “Holyhead”.  It’s much more interesting to use clues to find it.  Obviously, though, this only works if the city name is either not visible, or it is unknown to you.  Though, if the city name is visible and you know where it is, it’s still entertaining to track down exactly where in a city the map is from.

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