From:         Patrick Douglas Crispen 
Subject:      Tourbus - 9 Apr 05 - Google Maps


The Internet Tourbus - U.S. Library of Congress ISSN #1094-2239
Copyright © Bob Rankin and Patrick Crispen - All rights reserved

Howdy, y'all, and greetings once again from deep behind the orange curtain in beautiful Irvine, California, birthplace of the red Swingline stapler.

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On with the show...

Google Maps Audience: Everyone [kind of]

Well, it looks like the evil scientists at Google Labs [ ] have been busy over the past few months. Back in February, Google introduced "Google Maps" at

Google Maps is Google's response to other popular map sites like MapQuest [ ] and Yahoo Maps [ ]. Hop on over to, type in what you're looking for--an address, a city, a point of interest, an airport code, etc--and Google will display a really high-quality map of that location.

For example, if you search for SNA [the airport code for Orange County's John Wayne International Airport] Google shows you where I live. No, I don't actually live in an airport although at times it sure does feel like I do. I live directly north-northeast of the Duck Ponds.

Now for the cool part. Once you've located John Wayne airport on your map, click on the map with your mouse, hold your mouse button, and drag your mouse up and to the right.

That's right, folks: Google maps are draggable! Keep dragging up the California coastline and you'll end up in Los Angeles. Oh, and you can zoom in too. On the left side of the map, click on the plus or drag the slider up.

Wait. There's more. Do a search for "pizza Irvine." Not only will Google show you the location of most of the pizza joints in beautiful Irvine, California, if you click on any of the map's "push pins" or click on one of the pizza places' names on the right side of the screen, a shadowed balloon appears showing you the pizza place's name, phone number, address, website link, and even a link to get driving directions. And if you click on another company's name, the map will automatically scroll to that new company's location.

Oh, and Google Maps also does driving directions. Go to and above the search box click on the "Directions" link. Then, just key in your starting and ending addresses.

The New Stuff

Maps are cool, I guess--and I *REALLY* like the interactivity that Google has built into its map site--but have you ever wanted to see what your house or school or business looks like from space?

Well, just go to, search for a particular address, and then, in the upper right corner of the screen, click on the "Satellite" link [it's at the far right side of that orange horizontal bar.]


Oh, and all those search features we talked about before work on the satellite maps as well. Do a search for "pizza Irvine" and you'll see what Irvine's pizza places look like from space. And if you click and drag your mouse, you can scroll around beautiful Orange County.

And it's not just Irvine that is viewable from space. In fact, all- around nice guy James Turnbull has spent the better part of a week [Google added the satellite feature on Monday] finding cool stuff from space and posting it to his Google Sightseeing blog at

Make sure to browse through the archives. Turnbull has found a BUNCH of neat stuff hidden in Google's satellite images.

The bad news

Now for the bad news:

  • Google Maps is still in beta, so expect some bugs from time to
  • time.

  • You can only use Google Maps to search for locations in the
  • United States and Canada. More locations are coming soon, though.

  • There some places in North America that aren't covered by
  • Google's satellite images, especially if you zoom in all the way. A good example is the southern parts of Disney's Epcot Center in Orlando.

  • The satellite images are "current" but not exactly up to date.
  • For example, the satellite image of the closed Tustin Marine Corps Air Station [northeast of SNA] still shows base housing even though the houses were demolished last summer. [Oh, and those two really big buildings are blimp hangars which aren't going anywhere.]

  • When you zoom all the way in on a map, especially a satellite
  • map, the address balloons are sometimes about 25 feet [7.6 meters] off. For example, when I searched for my family's old house in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the balloon pointed to the house across the street.

    Still, for what you're paying for this service [NOTHING!], these "problems" are trivial. All in all, is one of the more exciting things to come along in a while.

    That's it for today. I'm off to Baltimore for the Blackboard conference, so we'll talk again in a week or so. Have a safe and happy week!

    The Internet Tourbus - U.S. Library of Congress ISSN #1094-2239
    Copyright © Bob Rankin and Patrick Crispen - All rights reserved
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