Tuesday, September 15, 2015

How to Correct Google Maps

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In July 2015, I moved to Chennai, India.

For everywhere I've lived and traveled in North America, I've used Google Maps to get around. I use it for directions. I use it to gauge distances. I use it for mapping bicycling routes. And I use it avidly to find locations of businesses.

In Chennai, a beautiful city in South India, that last one doesn't always work.

Very few businesses are mapped onto Google Maps and those that are often aren't correct.

Three times, I've tried to find bicycle shops that just weren't there. Restaurants with the exact same name will appear on the map twice within a two block radius, clearly duplicate entries but not duplicate outlets in real life. I even went to a shop this week and confirmed the street address first with someone who worked there, but it wasn't where Google Maps said it was.

I decided to do something about it. I started sending corrections to Google Maps.

To me, it's similar to contributing to Wikipedia. I feel like I'm helping to make the Internet more valuable and accurate through a series of tiny actions that aren't time consuming.

In the U.S., Canada, and certainly much of Europe, Google Maps probably doesn't need much updating. But if you live in a place where business information is often wrong  (you can't correct the locations of parks, lakes, roads, or a few other things, as far as I know), there is something you can do about it.

How to Correct a Business Location in Google Maps
1. Log into a Google account. You can't suggest edits otherwise.

2. Search for the business (it must already exist) in Google Maps. Click on it.

3. In the info tab that appears, look for the very last option in light gray: Suggest an edit. Click it.

4. Now you can drag the pin around the map and place it in the right spot. You can also change the listed hours, street address, and category of the business. You can also submit that the business is permanently closed.

5. Hit save and.... wait. You'll get an email if the suggestion is accepted. For me, it's taken anywhere from a few hours to a few days.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Productivity Report

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Channeling my love of productivity, I've been working slowly on a book that aims to bridge the gap between the research we know about increasing productivity and our practices.

To make the insights I find available sooner, I started ProductivityReport.org, a blog updated every Monday with findings from real research about what we can and should be doing (or not doing) to help ourselves achieve productivity goals.


I hope you'll check it out!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Foods of South India: Nannari Sharbath

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Nannari sharbath is a very sweet and fruity tasting drink made with sarsaparilla root syrup. Nannari is just another name for sarsaparilla. Whenever I look up individual ingredients used in Indian cooking, I almost always find theoretical associated health benefits. Nannari supposedly helps one cool down, which is what you want to do when the temperature hits 106 Fahrenheit and the humidity is 100 percent. In Chennai, that's called May and June. We only felt the tail end of the extreme heat because we arrived in early July. Most days are topping out at 100 or 98 now.

The drink pictured at right has basil seeds floating on top, which I adore. Basil seeds that have been soaked long enough to create a jelly layer on the outside are common in southeast Asian drinks. The texture feels similar to soaked chia seeds. Basil seeds also apparently have some health benefits: cooling, digestion aid, and so forth.

Sarsaparilla was popular in the United States back in the 19th Century, when people were into health tonics and elixirs. You might also recognize it from The Big Lebowski as the drink The Stranger (played by Sam Eliot) orders at the bowling alley bar.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Foods of South India: Coconut Chutney

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Coconut chutney, I believe it's unique to south India, though I have no doubt you can get it elsewhere. Coconut chutney is a dip or condiment, like any other chutney, but it's more savory than sweet, which might confuse anyone who's used to sweetened shredded dried coconut.

In southern India and similar regions, coconut chutney is commonly seen at breakfast, served alongside idlis and vada.

Coconut chutney has heaps of fresh shredded coconut, which is more toothsome than the sweetened kind that you'd find in a macaroon. When the chutney is mounded in a dish or onto a plate (which might be nothing more than a banana leaf) coconut water and cream drain to the bottom, leaving a lot of meat in the scoopable top part. Mixed into it might be a few black peppercorns or chilies, or curry leaves (not to be confused with curry powder). 

I’ve mostly had white coconut chutney, but it can have a greenish tint or be fully orange-red, depending on the other ingredients.