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London: a new way to find attractions, restaurants, entertainment in a given area

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May 13th, 2007, 12:42 AM
  #1
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London: a new way to find attractions, restaurants, entertainment in a given area

The official tourist authority's website puts together maps and recommendations from a number of sources - you choose how far you want to walk:

http://www.visitlondon.com/explorer
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May 13th, 2007, 05:12 AM
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that would be a great planning tool, especially for grouping sites in the same general area. The maps are good - a lot easier to read than the (lately) teensy font in my A to Z.

Thanks for posting the link.
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May 13th, 2007, 05:40 AM
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Great link and I'm sure it will be helpful.

I'm also wondering if we'll get another software lecture soon, too...
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May 13th, 2007, 05:45 AM
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May 13th, 2007, 05:50 PM
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Thanks. Mum and I leave on our annual trip next weekend. This will be helpful for the two lite days in our itinerary.
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May 13th, 2007, 05:59 PM
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That's really great! What could be better for sightseeing than a mapping program on your desktop?
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May 13th, 2007, 06:14 PM
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Very nice site.

Patrick or Robes, is there one like this for Paris or Rome?
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May 13th, 2007, 08:21 PM
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Thank you for the link. I'm heading to London next week, and this will really help!!
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May 13th, 2007, 09:03 PM
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This is a useful tool, but it has some weird limitations.

Its selection of bars, restaurants and entertainment is bizarre. In what I regard as my manor, for example, it fails to list decent independently-owned cinemas and restaurants, but does list chain-operated dumps most of us would pay good money to avoid. It's also surprisingly weak on pub theatres.

While the site is partly funded by my taxes, its selection criteria seem downright dodgy. The site's useful for seeing where things are (but then so is Multimap, which doesn't see the need to scrounge subsidies from the rest of us). But its "recommendations" don't seem at all reliable.

It's NO substitute for proper independent advice - above all from Time Out
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May 14th, 2007, 07:27 AM
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Software lecture:

One day in the not too-distant future, some kind of highly-portable electronic device that allows you to create a detailed travel plan and carry it everywhere with you will be considered as essential as a passport.

This device might be an extension of a cell phone, maybe a PDA, possibly a music box or GPS (most probably a fusion of all four), but whatever it's based on, it will have all the functionality of today's Pocket PCs - and almost certainly much more.

All of your itineraries, notes, maps, guides, and restaurant recommendations will be contained in a tiny package that fits in a pocket, ready for instant reference. It will have navigation capability and turn-by-turn walking tours referenced to stored maps. It will calculate the optimum bus or subway route from any place to any other, and it will allow you to access the latest schedule and arrivals information from the web sites of urban transport, rail lines, and airlines. You will be able to access news and sports from home, as well as email and converse anywhere in the world - all for one small, fixed monthly fee.

I've been doing all of this since 2003. What are you waiting for?
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May 14th, 2007, 09:29 AM
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Sounds like you could set it up as a web-based personal information store:

what are YOU waiting for?
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May 14th, 2007, 10:17 AM
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Sounds intriguing. Give me a quick sketch of a business model: what are we selling and who's buying?
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May 14th, 2007, 10:40 AM
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From my experience, these things are always like that: the chain stores and the junk are the only ones that get listed. If it's a commercial enterprise, it promotes the ones that pay to get in it.

And of course the real test is in a few years, when out-dated listings either do or do not get changed or removed. It's not much fun to walk into that adorable real ale pub you read about and find out that two years ago it turned into a hooligan disco with vomit on the floor.

Boring maintenance is where the vast majority of web schemes run aground.

I agree: old-fashioned Time Out is aggressively up to date, staffed by experts, and can be rolled up, jammed in a pocket, scribbled on, and you can tear the page or corner you want right out of it without penalty. Never underestimate the data storage possibilities of a shirt pocket.
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May 14th, 2007, 11:10 AM
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I wouldn't use a site like that for restaurants and such. Sites, museums, galleries, etc don't move nor seldom close up shop. For those sorts of things the map is very easy/helpful.

I'd use Time Out for food, drinks, clubs . . .
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May 14th, 2007, 11:26 AM
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There actually is a web site that constantly updates its catalog of London pubs, rates them, and groups them by location, station, name, and rating. I've used it many times to find a pub grub recommendation.

fancyapint.com

It wouldn't be a giant leap from that kind of site to one that with sit-down restaurants, shops, and tourist venues in the back-end database. Coupled with a GPS-capable phone, it could fulfill requests for "nearby traditional English restaurants," "the nearest Marks & Spencer," or "how do I get from here to Carnegie Hall?" (Practice, man.) It would make all the sense in the world for Time Out to publish their content on line.

I use www.fancyapint.mobi (the WAP version) peripatetically on my T-Zones. For free. Fits in a shirt pocket.
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May 14th, 2007, 11:36 AM
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Good point. Museums do close for renovations, though. I'd always want another source. Ideally, the online site would be constantly and reliably updated, but.....

Even experienced, reputable places like Fodor's and Frommer's can get behind. Frommer's until very recently was still listing Trials Hotel in Liverpool, which some time ago closed and reopened as 62 Hope Street. If I found one, there must be hundreds or thousands of similar cases.

One of my favorite sites is fancyapint.com, and it must have hundreds of closed or drastically altered London pubs listed. Fortunately most of these are so noted, but you have to be familiar with the site and do your research to see it.

I'm sure all of you have experienced the magic of the conglomerated hotel or B&B listing site that started off with glorious plans to list everything imaginable but ended up in a tragic tangle of disconnected phones and bad HTML. And yet they're still out there, clogging up the net, and preventing people from finding the REAL complete list for an area, because there isn't one.

Honestly, a lot of the time I think of the web as a drastically less competent, less scrupulous version of the Yellow Pages. I wouldn't live without it, though!
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May 14th, 2007, 11:44 AM
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But your mobile device wasn't free, and your connection charges aren't free, are they? Time Out's not free either, but it's pretty cheap, and you can also protect your bottom from a wet park bench with it!
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May 14th, 2007, 01:18 PM
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If I wanted my web site to be totally up-to-date, the first thing I'd do is cross-reference its name with the phone book (available in machine-readable form). Any business that didn't have at least a white pages listing would be deleted from my database.

Maybe my business model would be like Yellow Pages: pay me a modest annual fee for your listing.

Motorola RAZR: free

Phone contract: $30/mo

T-Zones: $5.99/mo
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May 15th, 2007, 03:36 PM
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Then your business model is like the site at the top of this thread, and that's why it's flawed: places that don't pay, or don't even know you exist, aren't listed. These places are MORE LIKELY to be interesting than the sorts that have a thorough marketing department on top of things like that, so, as a prospective customer, I'm dissatisfied.

I want a website that is COMPLETE. Some kind of google-maps interface to the tax records, or something, where if they're legal they're in it. Until then, a site staffed by interested and nimble experts, like Time Out, is where it's at.

The fancyapint model is also great -- notice we both mentioned it -- but seems to be limited to pubs. It would be nice to have one for laundries and sandwich shops and convenience stores and haberdashers too, but no one seems to have figured it out.
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May 15th, 2007, 03:45 PM
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My business model isn't flawed, because it doesn't exist. I'm weighing possibilities.

And what part of It would make all the sense in the world for Time Out to publish their content on line don't you understand?

When I read "If I found one, there must be hundreds or thousands of similar cases" 7-Up came out of my nose.
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