I have always been a bit of a map geek. Some would say, “John, you are being way too specific.” I liked to claim control of the old AAA triptiks from the back seat of the family wagon (green, paneled and of the station variety) following our progress as we cruised across the country on family road trips. Flash forward to my days as a junior product manager working on Microsoft Access and Foxpro when the coolest demo we could devise to demonstrate our speedy database was to plot every U.S. zip code on a blank white screen. With “Rushmore(tm) technology(!)”, eventually you could make out the shape of the U.S. after drawing something like 50,000 points. Woot!
In the heady days of CD-ROM multimedia titles, we had a terrific team working on Microsoft’s mapping products some of whom you see pictured below. It was one of those rare and coveted career times when the relationships established endure long after the team disbands.
We did a lot of great work together building new business for Microsoft including adding a GPS puck to our Streets and Trips product. Now the hardcopy AAA triptiks of old could be replaced by a blinking cursor on a scrolling display if you could somehow figure out a safe way to power and position your enormous laptop safely inside your car. Convenience was not part of the value proposition.
Fortunately technology marches on and I won’t need to lug a PC on my hike. Garmin now makes a handheld satellite device called an inReach Explorer. For a mere 8 ounces (along with a spendy satellite data plan), anybody so armed can be located anywhere on the planet with timely accuracy. In addition to the old outdoor adage of ‘staying found’, messages can be sent and received conveying everything from a daily “all is well” update to an urgent SOS. At any given time my current location will be available here.
Of course technology fails so I will also have paper maps and a compass should I ever need them. 2650 trail miles makes for a lot of paper maps. The kind stewards of the PCT (big props to Yogi and HalfMile) make it easy to obtain and organize all the trail maps so they sent in resupply boxes.
So wheeerrre’s Johnny? Asked and answered.