Tag: maps


Oct 2012

Unfun Map Games

I recently updated the Explore Shanghai app on my iPhone and was saddened to see this:

Maps Shift

Take note of this part:

> If you find that street maps are shifted after upgrading to iOS6, check the settings in the Help tab. Choose “Enable shift” if you use AutoNavi-powered maps for China-purchased devices, choose “Disable shift” if you use TomTom-powered maps for international-purchased devices.

Huh? What’s going on here?

I’m no expert on this issue, but essentially, the Chinese government is paranoid about the use of GPS, and screws with it. This affects Google Maps, it affects camera GPS, and it even affects runners’ watches. It’s been going on for years. Chinese companies with government approval (like TomTom) can get their services/devices working properly, but foreign devices which try to rely on good old-fashioned “satellite positioning” and maps lose out, and have to build in a “shift correction” feature if they want their apps’ GPS positioning to work properly.

This has been an annoying issue in China for years. I’m wondering if there is some kind of central resource for help on this issue, similar to this site for blocked websites in China. Anyone?

It’s really sad to see the government continuing this charade in all its forms. It doesn’t work. When developers don’t solve the issue directly, there are workarounds to the map issue for pretty much any device, if you really dig. It’s just a huge pain in the GPS.


May 2008

China According to the Chinese

Micah posts two hilarious maps of China (Chinese required):

China according to the Beijingers
China according to the Shanghainese

Sorry, I’m a bit too busy lately to translate this, but it’s quite revealing culturally, so if you’re a student of Chinese, it’s worth it to get out your China map and a dictionary.

Unkind as it may sound, I got a huge kick out of the labels placed by both groups on the Wenzhounese. (I need to blog someday about Wenzhou…)


Aug 2007

Digging a Hole to China: Fun with Antipodes

Watching the Simpsons Movie over the weekend, I was reminded of something I frequently heard as a child: “if you dig a hole straight down through the Earth, you’ll end up in China.” It’s not true, of course… you’d end up in China only if your tunnel totally missed the center of the Earth.

I asked some Chinese friends about this. Were they ever told that if they dug a hole straight down through the Earth they’d end up somewhere? To my disappointment, they said no.

Still, there has been plenty of interest in antipodes (the exact opposite point, running straight through the earth’s center, of any point on the globe). Here’s a wikipedia map showing what regions overlap:

Antipodes Map

So you can see that China mostly just overlaps with Argentina, and most countries don’t overlap with any land at all. According to another website, China gets these exciting antipodes match-ups:

1. Beijing – Bahia Blanca, Argentina
2. Shanghai – Buenos Aires, Argentina
3. Wuhan – Cordoba, Argentina
4. Xi’an – Santiago, Chile
5. Taipei – Asuncion, Paraguay

If you want to explore your own antipodes, there’s a cool “dual Google Map” Antipodes Map that let’s you do just that graphically, as well as a (more boring) online antipodal calculator for figuring out actual longitude and latitude.

Key takeaway: China is a cool place to visit, but you better do your homework before you go to the trouble of digging a hole all the way through the center of the Earth.


Apr 2007

Best Interactive Flash Shanghai Subway Map

I am very impressed with the Explore Shanghai subway map. It features:

– Instant English/Chinese language toggle
– Audio recordings of the station names (in Chinese)
– A color scheme matching Shanghai’s actual subway maps’
– Instant station locator dropdown menu
– Trippy “night mode”
– Move the map by dragging on an empty spot
– Get the fare and time estimate between any two stations by clicking on the starting point and dragging to the end point

That last feature is really killer. It even animates the path for you.

Anyway, check it out. (Flash required.)


Jan 2006

Work Work Work

It is now Year of the Dog, and I find myself working during my vacation. What am I working at? Well…

– This past weekend it was getting the site online at the new server. That’s now mostly done.
– Now it’s a big freelance translation job. Ahhh, translation… the work I love to hate. It certainly pays well over Chinese New Year, though. (Supply and demand, you have been kind to me this once…)
– Map editing. I took a freelance map editing job. Weird. I don’t mind it, but the worst part is I’m having trouble finding good maps in Shanghai! Even worse is that most Chinese maps don’t even list the scale to which the map was drawn. Cartographer fools!
– Class work. In the Chinese system, your final paper is due after the winter break. After you turn it in you get your grade. What kind of stupid procrastination-encouraging, vacation-ruining system is this?!

So that’s why posting has been light. There is proof out there that my vacation has been at least partially fun, though.

And, finally, I leave you with an example of horrible, horrible Chinese Flashmanship. I mean, really… what is the point of this crap??


Oct 2005

Maps and Chinese

I like maps. When I was younger, I especially liked looking at maps of imagined fantasy worlds. I drew quite a few myself (although I was never quite nerdy enough to actually use them to play D&D or anything like that).

In high school, fantasy writer Piers Anthony‘s map of Xanth caught my attention because the geography was clearly (mostly) Florida’s, and yet so much was not the same. I think it’s a similar charm which results in my fascination with Chinese maps of the world.

As long as I’ve studied Chinese, I often still experience a kind of initial “orthographic shock.” There’s just something about picking up a newspaper completely covered in Chinese that my brain still rebels against every now and then. Even if I can read every word in the newspaper, my brain will still pull a “Whoa, that is so not English!” thing from time to time. It probably happens more often with books. And it happens with maps. But somehow with maps the “shock” seems to translate into that fascination with unfamiliar maps, resulting in attraction rather than aversion.

So I was happy to discover an index of Chinese maps of the world on Tumen.com.cn. A lot of the maps seem a bit old, but they’ve got a lot of them, and they’re quite large. They’ve got a huge map of China (11935*8554 image size, 21.5MB), and lots of individual maps for different provinces and cities (which may or may not be outdated).

To me, the really interesting part is the maps of the world. The site has two world maps: small (2194 X 1374 image size, 537k) and large (5182 X 3887 image size, 11.7MB). In addition, it has maps of other places around the world:

Asia: Japan
(Tokyo), North and South Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, India, Pakistan
The Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Turkey
Europe: the UK (London), France (Paris), Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, Greece, Russia (Moscow)
Africa: Egypt, North Africa
North America: USA (Washington, DC, New York City), Canada, Mexico, Cuba
South America: Brazil, Argentina
Oceania: Australia, New Zealand

I find it interesting and amusing that Tampa is listed on both the world map (pictured below) and the North America map, but Orlando isn’t. (Take that, John B!)


Finally, as long as I’m on the subject of maps, I should plug Wang Jiangshuo’s Shanghai Map 2.0. It’s much better than his first one (it now has click and drag functionality!), which I wrote about a while back.


Jan 2005

Shanghai Maps

Shanghai is big and its streets are confusing, so finding an exact location can be quite an ordeal. I recently found a great new resource to help deal with that problem.

You may know of Wang Jianshuo’s online Shanghai map. I have found it quite useful in the past. Its special feature is the ability to mark any location on the map, which creates a unique URL you can send to someone so they can view the exact location. Other than that, it’s not very different from a paper map (and the map itself is Chinese only).

Now there’s something even more useful. Shanghai has its own site devoted to transportation, and has developed an interactive map. It’s zoomable, draggable (like a PDF), and when you scroll, the street names move too so that the streets you are viewing are always labeled. The coolest feature is that you can actually input full addresses (street name, number) and see them pinpointed on the map! I have used it several times and found the location indicated to be exactly right every time. Extremely handy.

Now for the drawbacks. First, it was designed for IE, so Firefox doesn’t work. You also have to install a small plugin. If you use English Windows XP, you have to have Chinese enabled for non-Unicode applications or you won’t be able to read the addresses. (Just because you can view normal Chinese websites on your English system doesn’t mean you can view this. You have to configure it for Chinese.) Lastly, the zoom can be a little tricky.

Still, if you read Chinese and you frequently need to locate specific addresses in Shanghai, this map is awesome.


Jul 2004

Being a Foreigner in a Small Chinese Town

Being a foreigner in a smallish Chinese town is quite an experience. Wherever you go, whatever you do, you’re a spectacle. Everything is difficult for you. Nothing goes as expected. If you can speak any Chinese, your (near-constant) audience will be amazed and enthralled. Frequently being the center of attention of a group of non-English-speaking people can really spur one to improve one’s Chinese. A foreigner in a smallish Chinese town who can speak Chinese fairly well can quite quickly become a local celebrity, even getting newspaper writeups and TV spots. A big fish in a small pond, so to speak.

My friend and ex-co-worker Shelley is one such big fish. After living in Beijing for a year, then Shanghai for over a year, his Chinese skills are impressive. He decided to take those skills and head over to Shandong province to direct an English school in Dongying, a town which certainly qualifies as “smallish.”

Shelley recently put up a website. Reading the Dongying section, I couldn’t help but be especially amused by what he wrote about the bars there:

> Dongying has a bar street that looks …interesting. Pick your favorite place, teach them how to make your drinks the way you like them, then walk in like you own the place. They’ll remember you because you’re their foreign regular, and they’ll be sure to treat you right because you’re better than a neon sign for attracting more patrons. If we make a bar our group favorite, we can tell them what music to play… and kick people out we don’t like. Does that sound imperialistic to you? Then get out of my bar.

Hangzhou was nowhere near as small as Dongying is, but the phenomenon is nevertheless very familiar to me (and very absent in Shanghai). It looks like I’ll be heading to Dongying soon on business, so I’ll have an opportunity to visit Shelley and then check out that bar street myself and relive the imperalism a bit.

(Also take a look at the nice map Shelley made of all the places he’s visited in China. Although he has done some traveling, a lot of the places were visited working for Melody, where I now work. I don’t think I’m very far behind him in number of places visited, and my job is sure to send me to more soon…. I need to make my own map!)