Computer Atlas

Harvey E. Ballard, Jr. hballard at STUDENTS.WISC.EDU
Sat Oct 28 08:50:46 CDT 1995

Noting yesterday's discussion surrounding computerized atlases and the
desire for accurate lat/long and other information, I wanted to let you know
how happy we are at the University of Wisconsin Herbarium with the CHEAP
CD-ROM called "Street Atlas USA" (the most recent version being 3.0), found
in any good local software outlet (I saw it in the nearby mall last night).
It runs about $80 with boxes presently including a $20 rebate.

The atlas, an IBM-formate software system by DeLorme, works with MS Windows
3.1 and higher and is also designed to interface with Windows 95 (for those
who really care).  It embraces ALL of the United States and also has some
geographic features for Canada and Mexico.  Particularly for the U.S., it
includes rivers and streams, lakes and ponds, highways, streets and even
many trails, all cities, towns and four-corner stops, I think railroad
lines; and has 16 levels of magnification.  When I went to Storrs to visit U
of Connecticut last week, I zoomed in and was able to make out the
university and all (labeled!) streets as well as some trails and ponds in
the immediate area.  Perhaps one of the most useful options is that the
location of the cursor tracks the latitude/longitude.  One can cut and paste
parts of the atlas (including various types of detail) onto a label one is
currently making, say, in Paradox, and can add a "balloon" with either a
species name or the lat/long.  At least the cursor position on the exact
location for the specimen gives the lat/long at that precise spot--which can
be entered into the database record one is concurrently filling out or
could be picked up later after labels are printed out and mounted with the
specimens to be accessioned.  One can also augment maps with several types
of symbols.

Other nifty options: searching for street addresses and street names, zip
codes, place names and even telephone numbers (another software program one
can purchase links it up with a U.S. telephone directory).

It's quite an amazing software program--affordable and easy to use--that can
be extracted onto labels for "mini-maps" of individual species, used to
determine lat/long and other details because the extraordinary depth of
geographic detail across the country, or to produce base maps with various
types of data.  One can also save portions of maps and add one's own data to
them (we are augmenting the skimpy Mexico map to include other major
geographic features for the state of Jalisco and the Sierra de Manantlan

The software requires a 386 or higher machine (works wonders on a Pentium)
with at least 4 mb of RAM (8 or more recommended); needs at least 4 mb hard
disk space, a VGA graphics monitor, mouse, MS Windows 3.1 or higher and MS
DOS 4.1 or higher.

Try it, you'll like it!

p.s.  Seems like one could extract and save a base map of one's choosing for
a particular use, bringing it into Wordperfect 6.0 for Windows as
a graphic, and then following the methodology of Angelo (1994, Rhodora
96:190-194) to use location data from a database to map dots onto the new
base map.  For those of us who can't afford a sophisticated GIS system but
are developing databases for particular projects and would need to map lots
of species locations onto the same base map, this would be a pragmatic
Harvey E. Ballard, Jr.
Botany Department, University of Wisconsin-Madison
132 Birge, 430 Lincoln Drive, Madison WI 53706 USA
(608) 262-2792 (herbarium office); fax: (608) 262-7509

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