By Terry Wohlers
An edited version was published in Rapid Prototyping Journal, Vol. 8, No. 3, 2002, Emerald. Copyright 2002 by Terry T. Wohlers
Under the best of conditions, traveling can be an exhausting and mind-numbing experience. Getting answers to questions and preparing for what is ahead can reduce the stress and make life a little better while you are away. The following websites go a long way in helping the road warrior get the most out of the trip.
Weather. Before I travel inside or outside the U.S., I visit www.weather.com. Enter your destination in the upper left area of the screen and you will get a 10-day weather forecast. Click on one of the first three days to get a detailed forecast. The information tends to be as reliable and accurate as any forecast.
Maps. Go to geography.miningco.com/library/maps/blindex.htm to access local, regional, and national maps from all over the world. The site also provides details such as population, geographic facts, photographs, etc., on cities and regions.
Driving Directions. Visit www.maps.yahoo.com/py/ddResults.py to get directions from one address to another. Enter both addresses and it gives you a map and step-by-step directions. It also calculates the distance and approximate travel time by car. It is limited to locations in the U.S. and Canada at this time.
Exchange Rates. Go to www.xe.net/ucc to convert from one currency to another. The site could not have made it easier.
Translating Phrases. From time to time, I receive a document or visit a website that is in a foreign language. Visit www.babelfish.altavista.com and paste up to 150 words of text into a window to translate to/from many different languages. It’s not perfect, but it’s usually good enough to understand what is being said.
Searching. One the best search engines, in my opinion, is google.com. Enter your destination, name of a hotel, or some other key word or phrase and chances are good that it will produce links to some of the best websites. You can click the “Google Search” button or the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button. The later chooses and displays the website it believes you are most interested in seeing. The success rate is surprisingly good.
Before traveling, visit the above websites to help you save time, answer questions, and make you a more informed traveling engineer.