Date: Tue, 19 Sep 95 22:37:29 CDT
From: Patrick Douglas Crispen 

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     \___/ \___/  "Why Surf When U Can Ride The Bus?"  \___/

TODAY'S STOP: The Geographic Name Sever
TODAY'S ADDRESS: telnet://

One of the true joys of living in Alabama is being able to watch
the Alabama evening news (by the way, this is Patrick -- Bob and
I sort of swapped days to confuse you).

One recent story on a local newscast involved the impact that
the Phillip Morris cigarette recall was having on Alabama.
(Phillip Morris USA recalled about 10 billion cigarettes --
and no, that is NOT an exaggeration -- because, if I remember this
correctly, the cigarette filters contained some really nasty chemical).

So, the TV news crew decided to interview a clerk at a local
conveinience store. The clerk was asked, "In light of the recall,
have you been pulling Phillip Morris cigarettes off of the shelves?"

The clerk responded -- and I swear I am not making this up --
"No ... I heard that the recall only affected Morris, Alabama."

That's where today's TOURBUS stop come in :)

The Geographic Name Server at the University of Michigan will
tell you everything that you could ever want to know about a
city -- even Morris, Alabama.

We already know how many cigarettes Phillip Morris recalled
(10 billion).  Let's see how many people there are in Morris,
Alabama :)

To get to the Geographic Name Server, we need to start up
our telnet client and then enter the address 3000

The following then appears on our screen:

#Geographic Name Server, Copyright 1992 Regents of the U of Michigan
#Version 8/19/92.  Use "help" or "?" for assistance, "info" for hints.

Now we can enter in some information about the city that we want to
find out about.  We can enter:

     1. The name of the city that we want (e.g. "Morris"), or
     2. The name of both the city and state of the particular
        particular city that we want (e.g. "Morris, Alabama"), or
     3. The US postal (zip) code for the city that we want
        (e.g. "35116")

I would strongly recommend that you use either the second or third
option, as the first will return a heck of a lot of useless data
(for example, typing in just "Morris" will get you a screen full
of information on 16 different cities named Morris).

So, since we want to find out about Morris, Alabama, let's type
"Morris, Alabama" (without the quotes) and see what happens.

The following information appears on our screen:

     0 Morris
     1 01073 Jefferson
     2 AL Alabama
     3 US United States
     A 205
     F 45 Populated Places
     L 33 44 53 N  86 48 31 W
     P 623
     E 414
     Z 35116

Here is what all of this means:

     0 Morris                        The name of the city
     1 01073 Jefferson               Actually, I don't know what the
                                     number is, but the second part is
                                     the county that the city is in.
     2 AL Alabama                    The state (both abbreviated and
                                     spelled out)
     3 US United States              The country (both abbreviated and
                                     spelled out)
     A 205                           The city's telephone area code
     F 45 Populated Places           I have no idea what this means ...
                                     so, I usually ignore it :)
     L 33 44 53 N  86 48 31 W        The city's latitude (DD MM SS X)
                                     and longitude (DDD MM SS X)
     P 623                           1980 census population
     E 414                           Elevation in feet above sea level
     Z 35116                         Postal (zip) code

I'll let you do the math and figure out how many cigarettes a second
the folks in Morris smoke (off the top of my head, I would guess that
it would be about 1 cigarette every two seconds for a year).

Seriously, there is some important information here.  The Geographic
Name Server shows the city's area code (which can be helpful when you
can't remember the area code of Tulsa, Oklahome (918)).  The latitude
and longitude come in handy on Macintoshes (Macs have a "Map" control
panel that allows you to enter the exact coordinates of your town or
city on the map). And I can't begin to tell you how many times I have
used the zip code search function :)

Unfortunately, the GNS does not have a whole bunch of non-US cities
in the database -- yet.  Also, the load on the GNS can be so great
that you won't be able to get in.  Have patience.

And, the next time you hear about the huge hole in the ozone layer
above Morris, Alabama, you'll know the real story :)


HOT - noun. A blood-pumping organ.
HOD - adverb.  Not easy.
Usage: "A broken hot is hod to fix."

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