Friday, December 14, 2012

Solving the holiday lights dilemma with technology

Every year, we post a map of the best holiday lights in the area.
Every year, readers are supposed to submit their favorite lights to add to our map, but every year, we get approximately three entries. 

That means, I have spent countless weeks over the past decade driving around neighborhoods in Boulder County looking for good displays to add to our map. I admit, not as bad of a job as a rattlesnake hunter or Indonesian stick fighter or a busser at Outback Steak House (I got fired from that job when they asked me to scrub the peanut grease off the steps, um, noooo). But after hour 10 in yet another KB Homes subdivision, writing down addresses in my trusty reporter's notebook to bring back and type into the system and then give to a designer to turn into a map, it became clear this had become a resource drain. 

Drain: Plugged! 

I found a free app for my iPhone called Geospike that allows me to:
1. Create a specific project, or "trip," such as Holiday Lights 2012.
2. Take photos of the best holiday lights, and enter any text/tips with it. 
3. Then, it automatically plots each photo onto a map, with the address and driving directions (if needed). 
4. Then I can share it. 

Holiday lights map: Done, in one click of the camera. 

In addition, I can open it up to allow other people to add to the map, or create additional "trips" (could organize by city). You can edit and work on the map online or on your iPad, too.

Here is the easiest map ever made in the history of holiday lights: Longmont Holiday Lights 2012.

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