Walt Mossberg

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Reporting Digital Map Errors

Here are a few questions I’ve received recently from people like you, and my answers. I have edited and restated the questions a bit, for readability.

All of the major digital maps contain erroneous information about our street in Virginia, and don’t even show several new streets near our home that were built over three years ago. I infer that there is one source of cartography used by these Web services, and also by my Garmin navigation system. But I can’t find out what it is. How can an individual get something like this corrected?

There are actually two main companies that make the underlying maps that most of the navigation-device makers and digital-map sites use. One is called Tele Atlas (TLATF.PK), and one is called Navteq (NVT). Garmin (GRMN) uses Navteq. Each mapping company has a Web page where users can report errors or changes.

For Navteq’s error-reporting Web page, go to navteq.com and click on “Map Reporter.” For Tele Atlas’ similar page, go to teleatlas.com and click on “Report Map Changes.”

In reading your review of the new Gogo in-flight wireless Internet system, I wondered about two things: Does it support “virtual private networks,” and when will it be installed on Amtrak trains?

While I didn’t test this, Gogo’s maker, Aircell, says that VPNs, which are used by many big companies, do indeed work over the service.

As for Amtrak, the Gogo system wouldn’t work for trains, because its antennas point up, into the sky, and don’t cover ground locations like railroad tracks. However, if you are on an Amtrak train in an area where cellphone towers are near the tracks, and your laptop computer or cellphone can pick up cellular data signals, you can already surf the Web and do email and other online tasks on the train.

In fact, I happen to be writing this column on an Amtrak Acela train between Washington and New York, and, using a Verizon (VZ) laptop card, my laptop is able to access the Internet with only occasional lapses.

Because of problems I had with my computer, I lost my Internet Explorer favorites. How can I save them so I can easily restore them if they get wiped out again?

There are several methods. You should, of course, be backing up all your key data, including your browser favorites or bookmarks, regularly, either to a local external disk, or to an online backup service. That would create a fairly fresh backup of your favorites. You could also use one of several Web sites that specialize in hosting, and sharing, bookmarks or favorites. They allow you to add bookmarks to your online list as you surf, and also to upload and download the favorites and bookmarks you keep locally on your computer. The best known of these sites is probably del.icio.us, which is at http://del.icio.us.

The simplest method, however, is probably to just export your favorites to a file and save it in your Documents folder, on your desktop, or on a USB thumb drive. You can then use this file to restore your favorites in case of disaster. To do this in the latest version of Microsoft (MSFT) IE, click on the “Add to Favorites” button, select “Import and Export,” click “Next,” then click “Export Favorites” and walk through the steps that follow. Detailed instructions for all versions of IE are at: support.microsoft.com/kb/211089.

  • You can find Mossberg’s Mailbox, and my other columns, online for free at the new All Things Digital web site, http://walt.allthingsd.com.

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