Geo-tools!!!

By JEgererJEgerer (1261516526|%a, %b %e at %I:%M%p)

After finishing a day of play in BIT330 with Geo-based search tools I think I'll only feel I've accomplished something if I share my take on a few sites.

I do quite a bit of 'business' travel for poker events and below are the cream of the crop,the sites I use for my trips or will use in the future.


Kayak

This is a travel site that operates much like your Expedias and Orbitzes which makes it useful for sure but certainly not unique. That is except for one tiny little feature that will save any traveler an infinite amount of time. Below is a screenshot of the it in action.

flickr:4107208141

Basically its just a little pop-up window delineating the lowest price of tickets on each day surrounding your trip departure and return. Sure its simple, but go to Orbitz and Expedia and tell me if you can find this feature. To replicate you just have to research every departure and return combination separately, which takes loads of time.

Tripwolf

Another travel site with an edge. TripWolf does everything you’d expect from a site like Expedia but far exceeds it on filling your itinerary. Most of the tournaments I go to are in places I’ve never been around U.S. and sometimes beyond, and the nature of the beast is sometimes you are playing for 3 days straight sometimes you are out after a few hours. How to fill the time in a strange place?

That’s where TripWolf comes in; you can see some of its features below. The site goes above and beyond in telling the user about restaurants, nightlife, attractions, transportation, etc. It’s as much a one stop travel shop as you will find on the net.

flickr:4107208187

Google Maps

I can’t even begin to describe the uses of this application. It is one of those core programs that many useful sub-programs grow out of. It seems most useful for small scale mapping, and special searches; for long distance travel and routing you can find good maps and directions anywhere.

It’s the features like Subway entrance plotting, or wifi hotspot mapping, that set GoogleMaps apart. The program itself isn’t doing anything unheard of, there are ways to find these things in every city – but GoogleMaps puts them all at your fingertips integrating and speeding up your search on well, just about anything.

google-maps-track.png

Yelp

Yelp is the most useful site of its kind out there. It is a recommendation engine essentially, with user reviews and comments on everything under the sun. Conceptually this engine is one of the strongest of the Geo-based tools, but it hasn’t reached critical mass to become abundantly useful outside of the most common topics like restaurants and shows.

The same critical mass problem also keeps Yelp! from being especially useful in less population dense areas. These problems though will cure with time and the site will only become more useful as it grows.

Waze

Here is another strong idea conceptually, the site essentially seeks to harness social networking power to create real time traffic reports. After toying with the site it’s clear that it is plagued by the same problem as Yelp with regard to population density. This will improve with time, but it doesn’t seem probable that the engine will ever reach the mass needed to be reliable outside of moderately sized cities.

waze-android.jpg

Zillow

Zillow is certainly the red herring of this group, it really has nothing to do with travel at all. However, I did find it to be just too cool not to include. It is a real estate mapping site that tracks and predicts home values. This tool is part of what I think is an internet trend of popularizing professional quality, industry related tools.

The interface is clean, and the mapping feature gives you are real picture of what the overall market is like surrounding your investment. My only qualm is that the valuation tool seems to lag behind market conditions (at least looking at the homes I’m familiar with); perhaps the timeframe of selling prices included in the calculation is too long.

MapMyRun

Finally there is MapMyRun. This site is worth mentioning for the sole reason that it is superior to Google’s Pedometer site, and hey… I root for the underdog. The primary difference between the two is that MapMyRun allows you to map off and between roads whereas Google is restricting to road routing. Any serious runner seeks to avoid hitting the asphalt or pavement whenever possible so this is a key feature.

I will warn that MapMyRun is just infected with advertising and it does sour the experience some. It also has a feature that allows you to find others saved runs in your area which is not available on Google. This is really cool and also fun networking feature to find other runners in your area who are at a similar level.

mapmyrun.jpg

That's all you'll need to plan the most minute details of your next trip without leaving the desk chair.. for better or worse.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License