Saturday, July 23, 2005

Map pinsLondon Dan has just let me know about an extremely cool Google Maps hack (I say hack because I've no idea what to call electronic widgets, especially those hosted on separate sites from the source). Originally intended to act as a pedometer and calculate the Calories burnt during running, it also allows one to play in all manner of ways.

One can create epileptic spirographs in trying to recreate the course sailed in last Saturday's race (we came first; of the final third). It came out as 15 miles shore to shore, but I'm not sure that I got the scale of the course right, so I suspect it is considerably less. But I'm also not sure how the rate of Calorie use when running equates with that during arduous sailing (and it was, my brother was helming and I was acutely aware than 10 and half stone on a frame this size doesn't really leave much room for functioning muscle).

One could find out how far aeroplanes taxi before they take off (not that I know someone out there will do this the moment he discovers this technology). One could find out just how far one has to walk when changing trains (although without cartographic information on certain underground stations, some of the most prominent examples will be sadly lacking), or how much further the diversion over the footbridge is than just crossing the road.

Just think of all the scintillating conversations this could spawn: Did you know that if you used Eurostar to get from the Houses of Parliament to the Bastille, you would have walked 8 miles of the way? [This is of course completely made up as I have not been pathetic enough to measure the distances walked on various concourses. Or it might be that I can't decide if it's better to take the Jubilee or just walk it]. Just what one wants to hear as one frantically tries to remember what a velouté is.

Is it possible that I'm not very good at thinking of interesting uses of what could be very useful?

I've discovered that I walk 6 kilometres each time I go swimming and burn about 200 Calories. But does running burn more calories than walking? It feels as if it must do, yet it's the same mass displaced the same amount. And now I'm also wondering how much longer the route is because of the hills, but I'll stop before I start getting lost in a pi/sin mire.

It's also 6.66 miles to a friend's house. Ok, so proper Google Maps could well have done that, but there's something delightfully low-tech in sticking electronic pins in a conjured map, and then winding invisible wool round them to measure the total distance.

Woah. I've no idea if the proper Google maps does this, but on this liberated version, zooming completely out loops the world. It shouldn't be quite as disconcerting as it just was, and having said that, I'm now wording if I've ever seen the world that way before.

It does (even if the grid's a bit wonky), and I've also just discovered that Crewe is the middle of nowhere (or possibly everywhere); the default view for the site is centred over Crewe.

Ooooh. Me like Hybrid button.

But I'd better stop this near navel-gazing, not least because I'm wondering if that patch of skin on my thigh is week old sunburn or eczema and I can only do one bit of anatomy at a time.


PS. It's not just me (the Googleage, not the potential eczema); Dan has picked up the same theme but taken it in a different direction (which is probably better). Apparently I could eat two Mars bars for each time I go swimming. It's probably just as well I can't even finish one.

PPS. Just to complete this Dan inspired post. His mention of the news that the man shot at Stockwell wasn't a bombing suspect. He was a Brazilian leaving a house under surveillance who did not stop when ordered to by armed police. Possible points to worry about: A. The building was flats. A house under surveillance could mean the suspects have the ground floor flat, and the first floor flat would share the same entrance. B. The man did not stop when asked to. The man may not have had good English. C. He was asked by armed police. Armed plain-clothes police. Big men with guns. Now I probably wouldn't run, but maybe he had different experiences and expectations to mine. D. This could get very messy.

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