|Practical Computer Advice
from Martin Kadansky
|Volume 9 Issue 9
|How to Drive from Here to...Halfway There
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Years ago I discovered "map and driving directions" web sites like http://www.MapQuest.com and Google Maps (http://maps.google.com). They're great! You enter your starting and ending locations (street addresses, intersections, or just the city and state) and they'll generate turn-by-turn driving directions, along with time estimates of your travel time. Since they're computer-generated, the directions aren't perfect, but they're usually helpful.
Sometimes directions are just the beginning
For most of my driving, getting driving directions from a web site or GPS unit is good enough.
However, sometimes I'm arranging a meeting with a friend or colleague who is far enough away that it's worth the effort to find a place about halfway between us. Until now my technique has been a little laborious but very straightforward:
Could there be a more specialized tool out there?
- I use MapQuest or Google Maps to calculate driving directions from my house to the other person's location.
- I look at the route on the screen and visually estimate where the halfway point is.
- I zoom in (double-click) and note the names of the towns around that halfway point.
- I use Google or Yelp.com (or a specific vendor's site like DunkinDonuts.com or PaneraBread.com) to search for restaurants or coffee shops in those towns.
- Then I talk to the other person and we settle on a place and time to meet.
Recently, instead of applying my usual technique, I tried something different. I figured that I couldn't be the only person who has wanted an easier way to find a restaurant halfway between my location and someone else's. So, I did a Google search using these keywords: find halfway driving
Not only did I find some web sites that do exactly what I wanted for free, I also found some that do even more! Here are the two most useful sites I've found so far.
http://www.MeetWays.com - You enter two locations, pick a few options (avoid toll roads and highways, etc.), and then click the "Get Halfway Location" button. It then displays a map with the route, the midpoint, and a number of "pushpins" for nearby Points of interest (restaurants, etc.), plus a list of their names, addresses, phones, and links to more information, supplied by Google Maps.
It does not supply any driving directions, so you'll have to get them elsewhere.
WhatsHalfway.com: Packed with features
http://www.WhatsHalfway.com - Like MeetWays.com, you enter two locations, pick the type of Venue you're looking for (hotel, food, nightlife, etc.), and then click the "Submit" button. It then displays a map with the route, the midpoint, and "pushpins" for nearby Venues, along with their names, addresses, phones, and links to more information, supplied by Google Maps.
- It displays the name of the town at the midway point, and the driving distances and times from each location.
- You can change its route calculation between shortest Time and shortest Distance, and also choose to avoid toll roads and highways.
- You can adjust the Search Radius around the midpoint; choices are 2, 5, or 10 miles.
- You can add additional starting locations for get-togethers of up to 10 people.
- If you select a venue (restaurant) from its list, you can then click "Email directions" to have it send each person an email with their particular driving directions to that venue.
Keep in mind that the restaurants you'll see listed on these web sites are drawn from online databases, so you're not likely to see every local place. If the choices don't appeal to you, you should search on your own to find more options.
In my searches I also found references to smartphone and tablet Apps with similar abilities, so if you want this ability on your mobile device, search for Apps using two or more keywords like these: meet halfway driving directions
If you're confused or frustrated by something on your computer, I like to say, "You can do it!" You might just need a little encouragement, or information, or change of perspective, and that's where I come in.
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I love helping people learn how to use their computers better! Like a "computer driving instructor," I work 1-on-1 with small business owners and individuals to help them find a more productive and successful relationship with their computers and other high-tech gadgets.