Archive for the 'maps' Category


Photoblog Take 2

In September 2007, I set up my first photoblog.  After about a year and half of existence and very little activity, I decided to pull the plug.  In its place now stands a better one.  Instead of using a photoblogging plug-in on top of WordPress like the last one, the new one uses PixelPost, which is a dedicated photoblogging platform.  I’m excited about this new photoblog for a number of reasons: Continue reading ‘Photoblog Take 2’


Mapping Pittsburgh Neighborhoods

Hopefully I’ll be graduating sometime in 2008 and depending on whether certain funding comes through, we may be moving back to Pittsburgh in the not-too-distant future. So, we’ve started looking at potential places to live. If the funding comes through, I’ll be working at CMU, so we’d like to live somewhere close. Although both Heather and I lived both on and off campus during our undergrad years at CMU, we (I especially) don’t know the nearby neighborhoods very well. In particular, I don’t have a good sense of where, for example, Squirrel Hill ends and Shadyside begins, or where Friendship is. I had certainly heard the names of neighborhoods like Point Breeze and Regent Square, but I didn’t have a good idea of where they were. So, I set about to educate myself about these things.

What I wanted was a Google Map with colored overlays defining each neighborhood. However, I could not find such a thing. So, I decided I should make one. I get my data from this site, operated by the City of Pittsburgh. If you click on a neighborhood, it’ll bring up a map of that neighborhood. That page also contains a link to a pdf file of the map, which you can zoom in on if necessary. It’s a little tedious, but I’m copying a neighborhood at a time into a Google Map using the “My Maps” interface.

It’s been interesting so far and some things have been a little surprising. For example, did you know that CMU is technically in Squirrel Hill, not Oakland? Despite having spent 4 years at CMU, I did not know that. I would have said that Squirrel Hill starts immediately to the east of CMU. However, as far as the City of Pittsburgh is concerned, that is not the case. Also, there are a bunch of neighborhoods that I had never heard of, like Terrace Village.

My map has existed for less than 24 hours and has already been viewed almost 300 times, so I’m hopeful that people are finding it useful despite its incomplete status. If anyone would like to help me in this endeavor, let me know, and I’ll invite you to collaborate, which will give you the necessary permissions to edit the map. I think you may need to have a Gmail account for it to work, but I’m not sure.


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.


January 2020
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