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Google mapping, Kindle lending

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I wrote a few weeks ago about the occasional problems with online mapping services and GPS appliances putting things in the wrong place.

Well, Google -- for one -- is now doing something about this, by crowdsourcing its maps. The Google Map Maker feature, which had already been active in some other parts of the world, has now been turned on for the U.S. I learned about it from the excellent site lifehacker.com.

If you go to www.google.com/mapmaker, you can look for the red dots representing businesses and other points of interest. Click on a dot and then click on the word "edit." You can now make changes to existing listings, or add a new listing for your business, church or other facility. The changes are reviewed by other users to ensure accuracy before they take effect; you can, while you're at the site, look at other recent changes made in any given neighborhood and vote on their accuracy.

Many of the dots appear in the middle of a road, as if Google wasn't sure exactly which side of the street they were on. If nothing else, you can (using Google's satellite view) drag the dot so that it sits at the actual location of the building.

Even if the dot is in the right place, you can take the opportunity to add information like your website, a description and operating hours.

Given how many people use Google Maps, on their phones and their home computers, it would behoove anyone to make a quick check and be sure their business or organization is listed correctly.

Kindle lending

Argie Cooper Public Library director Pat Hastings doesn't yet know whether the local library will be part of a program, announced last week, in which libraries will lend e-books to owners of Amazon.com's Kindle devices or software. Hastings says the library has already been interested in getting into e-book lending, and the Amazon program may be one way to do that, but Amazon hasn't yet released specifics to libraries and won't until later in the year.

The program will allow Kindle users to check out books temporarily from libraries. If they use Kindle's note-taking features to annotate a borrowed book, those notes will be preserved in that user's account and will reappear the next time a user checks out (or buys) the same book.

The program will apply not only to the actual Kindle devices but also to Kindle software on desktops, laptops, tablets or mobile phones.

I have been seeing more and more Kindles and Nooks (Barnes & Noble's e-reader) in the community in the past few weeks.

And that's not even counting those who may be using their iPads as book readers, either with Apple's own iBooks app or the Kindle app.

The other night, as Bedford County Board of Education was discussing (among other things) the possibility of someday moving to electronic versions of its textbooks, the spouse of one of the school board members sat in the corridor, just outside the standing-room-only meeting room, reading a Nook. I thought it was strangely apprpriate.

--John I. Carney is city editor of the Times-Gazette and covers county government. He is also the author of the self-published novel "Soapstone." His personal web site is lakeneuron.com.


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I assuming that Google Earth uses Google Maps overlays. If so, may be when Google Maps get straightened out, that will fix Google Earth.

-- Posted by Tyger on Thu, Apr 28, 2011, at 5:06 PM


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John I. Carney
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John I. Carney is city editor of the Times-Gazette.