Saturday, October 20, 2012

Google Maps

My favourite part about Google Maps? There is no folding required before, after, or during use.

If you haven't explored Google Maps yet you're missing out. This site does more than provide directions from point A to B, it can show you biking trails, current traffic jams and weather conditions and images of the neighbourhood using Street View. While you're always welcome to visit the reference desk for directional queries, here is a quick overview on some of the tools Google maps offers to make life just a little bit easier, no folding required.

Step one: Visit the Google Maps website

Step two: What are you looking for?

Directions
In the toolbar at the top of the website type in the address or institution name you are seeking. When you've pressed enter the location will appear as a red push-pin indicated on a map. In some cases multiple red push-pins may appear for various locations such as when you search "Stratford Cafe". Each push-pin is assigned a letter that corresponds with the point of interest listed on the left-hand side of the screen. You can click on the place you're interested in visiting on the left-hand side or on the map and a box will appear providing information including directions and a street view option (see below).

Once you've narrowed your search to a specific area such as Kitchener, Toronto or London you can select different visual aids to indicate trails, weather, and traffic in that area. The larger cities offer more options, thus, searching Stratford, ON will not offer all of the same options as I will be using in this blog.

Trails
Click on the Satellite icon on the top right of the page and you will see a drop down menu with various options such as traffic, photos, weather and terrain. Continue to scroll down to the little arrow that will provide you with even more options and select Bicycling. You can view all routes including Trails, Dedicated bike lanes, and Bicycle friendly roads.

Weather
Click on the Satellite icon on the top right of the page and you will see a drop down menu with various options such as traffic, photos, weather and terrain. Scroll down and select weather. As you move the map around, the current weather conditions of the area visible will appear over each city.

Traffic
Click on the Satellite icon on the top right of the page and you will see a drop down menu with various options such as traffic, photos, weather and terrain. Scroll down and select traffic. The coloured lines show the current volume of traffic in that area. You can adjust the settings to show the traffic volume on a particular day and time in the box located at the bottom left hand of the map.

Street View
Street view allows you to see photo-quality images of a particular area. It is an excellent tool if you are going somewhere new and want to see what a building looks like. That being said, these images were captured over time and are not current. You may have seen a Google van drive by with bunch of gadgets on top - they're busy keeping these views as up-to-date as possible but there is a lot of ground to cover! Ready to give it a try? You'll need to do a very specific search to use this function in Google Maps such as the location of the Stratford Public Library. Once the red push-pin has landed on the location of interest click and grab the yellow man from the zoom in/out bar and drop him onto the street where you'd like to view the Street View. You can navigate the area by double-clicking in the direction you'd like to view.

Step 3: Take away ~ Printing
To print your directions select the Print icon from the column on the left. This will take you to a page offering the option to include the map when printing and allowing you to type your own personal notes into the document. You can also scroll over each step in the directions to customise the information and imagery provided.

Have questions? Don't be a stranger, come visit us at the library, call, email, or leave a comment on this blog.

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