Now, before we get started, I’m by no means a Microsoft shill (the Ubuntu sticker on my laptop should indicate that, that’s another discussion entirely however so let’s not go there). But, one thing I do like though are the pockets of resistance within Microsoft’s ranks; one such division is the development team who work on stuff like the Live project – Live Maps being one of the jewels in the crown. Obviously tons of money was poured into the project to make it a competitor for Google Maps, but it’s actually got some pretty standout features.
Someone told me that they’d revamped the interface, and he has – it’s now got far more “bird’s eye” views for the UK than it did previously. More interestingly, it’s got quite comprehensive bird’s eye views for all over the centre of Brum – but they’re at least two years’ old 😉 Still, if you’ve never been to Birmingham, it’s an easy way to get a much better idea of what the city looks like. I even did my route from my house to the Bullring in a spare five minutes 🙂
To get you started, here’s a link which’ll zoom you right in to the former Birmingham Eye (in front of the ICC, on Broad Street) – if you move left, you get to a large roundabout, also the location of UCE’s Birmingham Conservatoire (well, now BCU’s Conservatoire, but I still don’t acknowledge last year’s namechange) and, to the left of that, Victoria Square – but the beauty is you can always switch to overhead mode and get the street names! Top tip with Live Maps: you can change your orientation too, so you get a completely different perspective which can also help you look round tall buildings – click the N, S, E or W letters to rotate your view.
I’ve also collected together some of the city centre landmarks into a collection on Live Maps called Christopher’s Brum Landmarks, so you can spend a while browsing round and seeing what’s what and what’s where, as such – there are far more comprehensive listings and I encourage you to search around the subject (the ‘Explore Collections’ feature in Live Maps is your friend here!) but these landmarks should get you started. There’s a really comprehensive compilation of landmarks which someone has uploaded onto the Keyhole forums (and Live Maps has spidered, and can display) – to view it, click through to Birmingham Folder.kmz on Live Maps, or click here to load it directly.
I put loads of landmarks into my own Google Earth collection, but as I couldn’t get them to save in a single .kmz file I just kept them in Google Earth’s temporary files – but then lost them all when I upgraded Google Earth. I’ve not gotten round (as yet) to fully recreating this list, so apologies for the awful gaps in the Live Maps collection (I’ve not even put a pushpin into my own University faculty building! (it’s the TIC inside Millennium Point on Curzon Street)). However, I’ll add more landmarks to my own collection as I get time to do so, but as I’m avoiding doing work right now you’re all quite lucky – that’s an hour of quality time I just put into aggregating that list of landmarks!