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Genealogy - Is DeLorme Street Atlas 2009 Suitable?
marusian
I think the customizations in DeLorme Street Atlas 2009 PLUS version will be very helpful for adding names of kin to places in and around Toronto where I have tracked ancestors and their descendants who remained in Canada when my direct ancestors moved to Niagara Falls, New York.

If I get a chance to visit Canada and locate the towns (Mara, Rama, Orillia etc.), do you think I should buy a less expensive car unit also, so I am not hampered by some of the problems I have read about from Canadians?
Ken in Regina
Quote:
Originally Posted by marusian
If I get a chance to visit Canada and locate the towns (Mara, Rama, Orillia etc.), do you think I should buy a less expensive car unit also, so I am not hampered by some of the problems I have read about from Canadians?
What problems have you read about, specifically, that concern you? (I'm Canadian so perhaps I can help.)

...ken...
marusian
Ken:

I will need to review the numerous forum threads that I printed and marked up and get back to you on that question. I may be confusing Canadian complaints about maps not finding places with other complaints about the GPS hardware not tracking properly.

(I have noticed the Ontario map across the border from my birthplace in Niagara Falls, New York appears to me to have much less detail than the New York State map has. Also, I was unable to locate some of the towns around Lake Simcoe above Toronto where my ancestors were born in the 1800s. I remembered others complaining about that and the suggestion that they hover the mouse in the vicinity and read what is there, but it did not prove fruitful for me.)

(I have printed the 405 page User Guide for 2009 PLUS and am slowly reading it and trying to get familiar with the software, so I have not actually installed the LT-40 GPS unit on my PC yet. Being retired after 40 years as an IT Applications Development Analyst, I read a lot before I attempt any hands-on experiments - and I have the patience and time to do that.)

I will be visiting my folks in Niagara this summer, but probably not traveling to Canada until the following year - so I have time to prepare what I need to help me tour the Canadian home towns of my ancestors. I think some of the forum participants may have suggested one might use a hand-held GPS and its built-in software as an emergency aid in case DeLorme's application did not provide adequate guidance in some circumstances.

The 2009 PLUS software appears to be jam packed with great aids to preparing for my trips, if everything actually works as described in the user guide. I am already impressed with how easily I was able to get address, phone and maps for some relatives in Niagara Falls and link them to the map - and I want to do as much for others in my family tree as I continue my genealogy searches for kin both alive and deceased.

I will continue to use this forum both to provide feedback on this newest release from DeLorme (my first use of GPS hardware or software), and to ask questions when I need help. Thank you, and others on this forum, for being so willing to help.
Marvin Hlavac
You must be referring to the comments about issues involving some Canadian address searches in the new DeLorme Street Atlas 2009. It is difficult to predict if your trip to Canada will be affected by this. I don't think I would suggest spending money on a PND (personal navigation device) because of this. If you (ever) experience such problem, you could just quickly check a particular location on-line in Google Maps, Live Maps, Yahoo Maps, etc (if Internet is available), or you could, just in case, take with you a copy of another inexpensive trip planner, such as Microsoft Streets and Trips 2008. It will make a great back up solution, as it uses a completely different source of map data - if you cannot locate something in one of the two programs, you may locate it in the other. It's only about $30, and it will serve your purpose better than any portable device would.

P.S. If you keep on reading the 400+ pages of the manual you printed, you will soon know a lot more about DeLorme Street Atlas than the rest of us combined! I hope you will stick around this forum for a long time!
marusian
Marvin, thanks for the suggestion of Microsoft Streets and Trips. Although I use Google Maps frequently, I will not have any online access during my trip. In just a few searches using names of towns from 1800's around Orillia, I found some in Google Maps that I did not find in SA (not even by hovering all around Lake Simcoe. (Perhaps it is because of boundary or name changes since before 1900, as I have been trying to link ancestors to places found in online genealogy records.)

I am only on page 37 at the moment, am highlighting as I go, and will go back and read the highlighted parts later as my Cliff Notes. Expect some questions from me as I try things out and begin to learn yet another new topic in my Retirement years. No rest, but lots of fun - thanks to great help like this forum, whose threads convinced me to get the LT-40.

However, I recently noticed you have reviewed lots of laptop GPS navigation software, and wonder if I had asked you earlier, would you have recommended another solution than 2009 PLUS? (Just curious!)
Marvin Hlavac
While any GPS will get you from A to B, if you are planning a genealogy vacation you want more than a simple navigation aid. In my humble opinion the two best mapping programs for you are either DeLorme Street Atlas or Microsoft Streets and Trips. Each has thousands of loyal users. Neither of the two is a clear winner, but each has a few things that it does better than the other.
Ken in Regina
marusian,

There are other products that might be more helpful in Canada but you might not want to invest in them.

First some context. Both Delorme Street Atlas USA 2009 and Microsoft Streets and Trips 2008 are best used in major urban areas. That applies in Canada and in America. Both of them are somewhat limited when you get into small cities, towns and rural areas of both countries. This is especially true in Canada. I have both and as Marvin said, each has its strengths and weaknesses. Both are excellent for trip planning, less so for navigation at this stage of their development.

I have some Garmin map products. The one that might interest you most would be Metroguide Canada. Unfortunately Garmin has abandoned it. Although it is still for sale it was originally released in 2005 and contains mainly 2003 data. For rapidly developing urban centres it is getting badly outdated. But it is still superior to anything I've seen on the market for small centres and rural areas of Canada. For the sort of thing you are doing, you need information that is rather old from what was at the time rural areas.

Rather than suggest that you purchase Metroguide Canada I will make you an offer. If you wish to tell us the names of the towns you are looking for in Canada I will commit to looking for them on the resources I have (Metroguide Canada and a couple of Canadian topographic products) and provide you with the GPS coordinates (lat/long) for their locations if I can find them. You can use the coordinates to make Waypoints (favorites, POIs, pushpins, whatever) in your own map programs.

...ken...
marusian
Ken, thanks for the offer, which I may accept when I get back to my genealogy research in Canada. My mother was born in Saltfleet, a suburb of Hamilton, ON. Her parents come there from England around 1900 and I am currently researching that side of the family before I visit her in Niagara Falls, New York in July. My father's family all settled around Lake Simcoe in about 1850 in the towns of Mara, Rama and Orillia. Some of that family moved to the Toronto area when others moved to the US.

I have acquired maps from 1880 showing the plots of land some ancestors had in these towns, and thought I might visit them some day - perhaps when I set up a visit with remaining kin living in Toronto. As some of my kin have been living in Canada over 150 years and married into numerous other Canadian families, I could end up eventually wanting to map them to numerous other Canadian towns as I determine those. For now the lookups of the towns I gave you would not be a huge burden on you, but I wonder if I would be better to buy, say, MetroGuide Canada v4 for $60 on a web site I found, or perhaps find a way to use the web to get GPS coordinates in the future? (I have been using web searches by town name and snipping portions of maps using Windows Vista built in Snipping Tool. This is my first foray into using mapping software or hardware.)


I followed Marvin's advice and bought Microsoft Streets and Trips at Sam's Club for under $24 to augment SA maps that came with my LT40. I could return it and buy the $60 MetroGuide Canada or decide to use both. (S&T 2008 is currently unopened, until I decide my next step.)

Thanks for all your help.
marusian
Marvin, I saw your reply to my post after I had replied to a reply posted by Ken (below yours in the thread). After reading your reply, I will go ahead and open the $24 S&T that I bought today - whether or not I later buy a Canadian mapping program. Thx.
Ken in Regina
marusian,

I checked the three locations you mentioned. Orillia is easy to find in pretty much anything, of course, because it's a sizable place. Metroguide Canada doesn't find Mara. The closest it comes is "Marathon". And it doesn't find Rama, just Rama Road on the other side of the lake from Orillia.

Street Atlas 2008 also finds Orillia. Marathon is also the closest it comes to Mara. But it finds Rama, just on the other side of the lake from Orillia near Longford Mills, beside a little lake called Mud Lake. So score one for SA 2008. The only problem is that it has no street names on the street grid in that area.

Streets and Trips 2008 finds Orillia. It has no luck with Mara .. doesn't even offer Marathon like the other two. S&T finds Rama but it's in the wrong place. What it is really showing is Rama Road .. County Road 44 .. same as Metroguide Canada finds. S&T has the best street level detail in that area by a slight margin. I think part of that is just that it has a more pleasant way of displaying maps on the PC than the Garmin products.

Metroguide Canada and Street Atlas 2008 both come up dry for Saltfleet. Streets&Trips 2008 finds a Saltfleet Secondary School in Hamilton so that might be close. Score one for S&T.

Google Maps finds Orillia correctly, as expected. It finds Rama but it's really Rama Road again, like S&T. It shows a Mara Road on the east side of Lake Simcoe, so it did the best find of the bunch on Mara. Score one for Google Maps. Unfortunately it really falls on its ... face ... with Saltfleet. Instead of either something useful or nothing at all, it offers an ad for the Aurora Youth Soccer Club. What's that about???

So they all have their pluses and their warts. Based on this quicky test I would say that with SA, S&T and Google Earth you would be wasting your money on any of the other products I'm currently familiar with. If I find anything that comes up with a better score than 1 I'll let you know.

...ken...
Marvin Hlavac
I separated the genealogy-related portion of the original discussion into it's own thread, as it became a very interesting mapping products comparison topic, but unrelated to the original post.
marusian
Ken: Thanks loads for all the checking you have done. I now own SA and S&T, have loaded SA but not the LT-40 yet, and am still studying the User Guide and getting familiar with the software. I have also looked more at other threads on this forum and may look into Google Earth Pro or the like by the time I actually come to Canada (I read somewhere GPS devices might work with GEP and cached info might be available on my laptop even if I am not getting online during my trip). I will keep watching these threads to continue learning.
As far as Rama and Mara go, wikipedia says they are now joined together as Ramara - but I could not find that through SA either. I could direct you to the web page with the 1880 map, if you think that would provide anything to help determine coordinates. (I will need to search through some of my research documents to find map segments I snipped after doing some web searches for Mara and Rama and Ramara, because I cannot remember whether I used Google Maps, MapQuest, Yahoo or what (and I just zoomed in where I wanted to print something meaningful for the relatives I was sharing ancestral info with - so much for not correctly documenting my sources like a real genealogist would do). I have been trying to get as much interesting family info as fast as I can for my 82 year old uncle, who has cancer and is the last of my father's siblings.
Ken in Regina
To put this into its proper perspective, we (customers) constantly harrass the map suppliers for our GPS applications because they don't keep their maps current enough to satisfy us. Eg. new subdivisions and street/highway changes don't appear nearly quick enough to keep us happy.

In that context, it seems rather unfair to criticize those same map products for not having the old places, especially when they may have merged or disappeared altogether in the nonce.

As you mentioned, sources like wikipedia and more conventional online genealogy research sources will be a better place to get an idea where things are located. Find references to their location in relation to other, better known and more current, places.

Before you decide anything about Google Earth Plus or Pro, mess around with Google Maps online and/or download the free version of Google Earth. Perhaps one of the more useful things will be the satellite images if the high resolution ones are in place for the areas you are interested in. The high res images would let you look around the area for old farm buildings and stuff like that.

I have Google Earth Plus. It works with a USB GPS on my laptop but it's not anyone's idea of a good navigation program. At least not if you've ever used anything of Garmin's or equivalent quality. It does hold information in its cache. The maximum cache size for Google Earth Plus is 2GB. It's the most recent 2GB. For it to be useful you must have looked at the areas of interest, while connected, at the level of detail you require. If the area of interest is fairly large, that can be a tedious process. But if you think you can just fly over an area at a fairly high level and then have anything useful when you get there, you'll be really disappointed. If you haven't looked at it at the detail level you need, it won't be in the cache.

I think Google Earth Pro has a larger cache, but given the tedious nature of browsing the area you need at a detailed zoom level I can't imagine going through the painful exercise of loading an even bigger cache.

...ken...
marusian
Thanks, Ken. I will look into those products, after I first learn to use my Delorme Street Atlas USA 2009 Plus and Microsoft Streets and Trips 2008, along with my LT-40. Lots to learn before I make the trip to Canada next year. (Do you think the LT-40 that came with SA2009 will work well with S&T2008? Could I maybe have them both running at the same time on a trip? These are theoretical questions right now, as I am a long way from actually trying that.)

As I learn these two products, are there any suggestions of which features are better to learn in SA and which better in S&T? I recently noticed Marvin stating that he uses S&T almost daily, yet I first bought SA2009 due to his review and am deep into learning it before I go on to S&T - at the same time I am looking at many different GPS glossaries to get a better understanding of this subject that is new to me.

I will say that the SA2009 User Guide glossary lacks many of the terms I have come across in their detailed instructions (I guess they assume anyone using the product already knows much more than I do?). I really only bought into GPS because my son has a car unit and thought it would help me at night when I could not easily see street signs. But, I did not like the screen sizes of GPS units in the price I was ready to spend, so I looked at PC based products. Immediately I saw how SA2009 would help me in my ancestry research and recording, and perhaps planning trips to relatives I locate and places where kin have lived. I like the expandability and ease of upgrading and customization PC products provide.
Ken in Regina
Quote:
Originally Posted by marusian
... (Do you think the LT-40 that came with SA2009 will work well with S&T2008? Could I maybe have them both running at the same time on a trip? These are theoretical questions right now, as I am a long way from actually trying that.)
The answer is absolutely Yes. The next question is whether you need something else to help with that. The something else will be a port-sharing utility like xport or Franson's GPSGate. I did some messing around on my laptop and at one point I had both SA and S&T running but I can't recall if I had my copy of Franson's GPSGate running in order to do that. Some of those who play with their laptops more will be able to provide the definitive answer.

Quote:
As I learn these two products, are there any suggestions of which features are better to learn in SA and which better in S&T? ...
I will leave that to the others with more experience. I'm really a dilletante when I comes to using the PC-based programs. My use of them is really very trivial.

I have a lovely Garmin iQue 3600 that I've been using for a few years and I still just love it to pieces. It's a PalmOS-based PDA with integrated GPS. Garmin did an incredible job of integrating the GPS functionality with the PDA features. When I create waypoints it sticks them in the Palm address book. Or I can do a "find" from the address book and turn any standard address book entry into a waypoint. By sync'ing the Palm address book with my Outlook Express address book, I can have all my regular contacts (phone/cell numbers, land addresses, etc.), all my email contacts and and all my waypoints in a single address book on both my PDA/GPS and my PC. I even found an open source utility that lets me export my address book to my cell phone. One database; no duplication of effort. Happiness is...

I bought myself a laptop last year. My brother uses Microsoft Streets and Trips on his laptop for both trip planning and navigation in his 3/4ton Dodge diesel when he's on the road. It looked neat so I thought I would try it out. He has lots of room for his Ram mount in the cab of the truck so that nice big bright screen on his laptop works perfectly for him. I have a mini-SUV (Honda CR-V) so my reality is that a laptop just doesn't work. No room. I will likely continue to use handheld devices for car navigation for the foreseeable future because of that.

But I like having SA Plus on the laptop for it's huge phone book. And I like having the laptop along with a GPS capability for planning along the trip. My wife and I rarely follow a fixed route when we travel. My wife says that travelling with me is like following a cat ... we have to check out all the interesting looking side trips. It's so much easier to check out what the sidetrack will cost us in distance and time on the laptop rather than the little handheld. So I'm quite interested in these products, but since I never use them for navigation or serious advance route planning I'm not nearly as deep into them as many on here are.

My thirty years as an IT professional and a few years with Garmin's handheld navigation devices helps me very quickly understand the basic stuff and find the features I'm interested in, that's all. Once it gets deep, I get lost, or lose interest, quickly.

...ken...
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