Scout for Android Switching to OpenStreetMap Today

Just two short weeks ago, we announced that we were transitioning to crowd-sourced OpenStreetMap (OSM) data for our Scout for iPhone GPS navigation app and that the same transition would happen soon for Scout for Android.

Today, I’m pleased to tell you that by the end of the day, all Scout for Android users will have access to OpenStreetMap.

Quicker Updates, More Accurate Maps

OSM (often called the “Wikipedia of Maps”) allows us to provide our users more accurate and up-to-date maps than otherwise possible using commercial map data. This is because there are 1.6 million registered OSM editors who are constantly making updates to the map worldwide. These edits are published every minute, resulting in maps that are often more detailed and more up to date than commercially available maps.

Since we launched OSM on Scout for iPhone, user reviews have been positive. Crowdsourcing is powerful!

So, if you are already a Scout for Android user, look for the OpenStreetMap logo to appear on you Scout app by end of day today (no update is required). If you aren’t already a user, go download it and let us know what you think. We look forward to your feedback and edits!

Steve

Six Options for Commuter Cars for 2014

Commutes can be long and stressful as drivers experience traffic and other obstacles that roads and freeways offer. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 87% of commuting is done by automobile. In fact, the average commute in the U.S. is about 25 minutes each way. That’s 50 minutes a day, more than four hours a week, and more than 200 hours a year. And of course, there is all the time we spend in our car outside of the daily commute, running errands and taking care of our everyday tasks.

The 2014 Ford Focus S Sedan

The 2014 Ford Focus S Sedan

With the amount of time that’s spent behind the wheel, choosing a good commuter car is crucial. What’s a “good commuter car” you ask?

“A good commuter car is one that should be economical, both in operation but also, and perhaps more importantly, in purchase price,” said Robert Sinclair, the manager of media relations for AAA New York and the test-drive editor of their Car and Travel magazine.

With that said, we’ve compiled a list of commuter cars that fit this criteria and may be good options for you:

2014 Ford Focus S Sedan
Price: MSRP from: $16,810
Fuel Efficiency:
26 city/36 mpg highway

With a 2.0-liter 160 horsepower engine, AdvanceTrac electronic stability control, side-curtain airbags and a MP3 capable 4 speaker audio system with speed-sensitive volume control, this Ford definitely focuses on power, safety, and comfort.

2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel
Price: MSRP from $24,985
Fuel Economy: 27 mpg city/46 highway

The 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel is the first diesel-powered vehicle General Motors has offered in the U.S. in 30 years with 10 standard air bags. This quick commuter car comes equipped with a 151 horsepower 2.0-liter turbo diesel.

2013 Mazda3 iTouring
Price: MSRP from $19,595
Fuel Economy: 30 mpg city/40 highway

This sporty wagon offers a 5.8-inch color touch screen navigation system, exterior temperature display, push-button ignition, and a blind spot monitoring system. With all these “bells and whistles,” don’t forget about the “Zoom Zoom” provided by the 155-horsepower 2-liter four-cylinder engine.

2014 Nissan Versa Note SV
Price: MSRP from $15,990
Fuel Economy: 31 mpg city/40 highway

The Versa comes with a 109-horsepower 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine and continuously variable transmission which means fewer trips to the pump. The Bluetooth Hands-free phone system, integrated key with remote keyless entry, and four-speaker sound system adds the icing on the cake for this commuter car.

2014 Honda Accord LX
Price: MSRP from $21,955
Fuel Economy: 27 mpg city/36 highway

The Accord is packed with an 8-inch high resolution screen with customizable feature settings, rearview camera, Bluetooth hands free link,  and text message functionality . Under the hood sits a 185-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that’s perfect for the commuter who plans on having some company with them.

Toyota Prius V
Price: MSRP from $26,750
Fuel Economy: 44 mpg city/40 mpg highway

This gas-electric hybrid displays minivan aesthetics. Providing more room for passengers and cargo, there’s no doubt it can be used for road trips and family expeditions. A 98-horsepower 1.8-liter engine will equal more time on the road and less time at the pump. Available in 3 models the “Two,” “Three,” and “Five,” buyers have the option to choose the perfect Prius that fits their preferences.

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For most of us, the daily commute is unavoidable and stressful, but choosing the right car can help reduce stress levels. The cars we’ve featured offer excellent fuel economy with reasonable prices. The numerous safety options and features can give drivers the ability to control what’s happening within the inside of their vehicle when they don’t have control of what happens on the outside.

Friday Funny: Our Top Ten Favorite Searches of the Week (Special Edition!)

It’s the conclusion of another business week, and that could only mean one thing – another edition of our Friday Funny. Each week our team huddles around in a secret location to sift through millions of Scout searches and hand pick our very favorites.

This week we noticed something particularly interesting – people seem to think Scout has all of life’s answers! Although Scout has plenty of answers when it comes to traffic and finding places, we’re afraid our crystal ball of knowledge wasn’t able to answer the below questions.

Enjoy, and Happy Friday!

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5 Hilarious Podcasts That Will Make You Lol

The average city commuter spends 60 hours per year stuck in traffic, according to Texas A&M’s annual mobility study. That’s more than entire work week! Before you drudge through the gauntlet of your daily commute, download these podcasts that will have you laughing all the way down the highway.

shutterstock_94203646No. 1 – Comedy Bang Bang: The Podcast by Earwolf
Join host Scott Aukerman for a weekly podcast that blends conversation and character work from today’s funniest comedians. While Scott begins by traditionally interviewing the celebrities, the open-door policy means an assortment of eccentric oddballs can pop by at any moment to chat, compete in games, and engage in comic revelry.

No. 2 – How Did This Get Made?
Have you ever seen a movie so bad that it’s amazing? Paul Scheer, June Diane Raphael and Jason Mantzoukas watch fan-recommended movies with their comedic friends, and report back with the results.

No. 3 – Never Not Funny: The Jimmy Pardo Podcast by Jimmy Pardo
Never Not Funny is an award-winning weekly podcast hosted by comedian and TV personality Jimmy Pardo and producer Matt Belknap. Since 2006, the show has offered comedy fans the unique opportunity to eavesdrop on freewheeling conversations between Pardo and sometimes famous, always funny friends.  

No. 4 – Judge John Hodgman by Maximumfun.org
Known by many as the “PC guy” from the “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” commercials, John Hodgman takes on the role of judge in this hilarious podcast. Each episode brings in real-life people with real-world disputes. It’s up to Judge Hodgman to hear both sides of the argument, and then issue a verdict. 

No. 5 – WTF with Marc Maron by Marc Maron
Comedian Marc Maron tackles the most complex philosophical question of our day – WTF? He’ll get to the bottom of it with help from comedian friends, celebrity guests and the voices in his own head.

 

 

Car Seats 101: Where to Go for Good Information and Help

I consider myselfshutterstock_59008999 and educated person with a certain level of acquired life skills.

But, I am not afraid to admit that car seats intimidate me.

With all the various buckles, straps and hooks, it’s like a twisted, confusing 3D puzzle – with serious consequences if not finished correctly.

And lately, it seems that recalls of car seats are only becoming more and more common, adding to the already building stress that many parents feel when deciding on which brand and which type is best for their most beloved treasures on Earth.

So where should parents – new and old not-so-new – go to find out which car seat to buy and how to install it?

Here are a few good resources for parents to consider:

  • SeatCheck is a national campaign to help parents properly secure their children in motor vehicles. This website has an abundance of information including tips and tools, and provides easy search tools for parents to research local laws and find local support (inspection). For those who just want to talk to a real human being, SeatCheck also provides a toll free number (1.866.SEAT.CHECK1.866.SEAT.CHECK) with support in both English and Spanish.
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also provides online support to help you get your child buckled in safely, including an official rating system for various car seat models. Their site also includes information on registering your car seat and a list of recent recalls for parents to cross-reference. (Note: It is important to register your car seat when you buy it so that you are informed as soon as possible when/if any recalls are required.)
  • Your local highway patrol: Each state has its own set of laws around car seats so it is always good to make sure you double-check these when you are preparing to bring baby home from the hospital and as your child grows each year. The highway patrol in your state can provide you with detailed information on your state’s laws. Many will include this on their web sites but all of them will certainly provide you with updated information if you contact them directly. For a list of all highway patrol websites by state, click here.

Beyond what you can find online, many local fire stations will perform free inspections (without an appointment) to make sure your car seat is installed properly and that your child is safely secure within it. Or, if you are an expecting parent, check with your doctor or hospital for free or low-cost options for car seat guidance/training and inspection. Classes are often offered to help those who are completely new to car seats.

While deciding on car seats can be overwhelming and intimidating, there are numerous resources available to parents to ensure they are using car seats deemed safe and appropriate for your children.

Have any other helpful car seat tips or resources? Let us know in the comments below!

Friday Funny: Our Top 10 Favorite Searches of the Week (Special Valentine’s Day Version!)

Ever wonder what people search for with Scout around Valentine’s Day? You’re probably guessing “restaurants” or “florists” or “candy store,” right?

While there is likely an increase in those types of searches, the name of this column is Friday Funny so we felt we had to overlook the traditional to provide you with a few of the not-so-traditional (Valentine?) searches users made over the past few days.

Happy Valentine’s Day and Happy Friday!

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Celebrate our Founding Father

 

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What has widely been adopted as “Presidents’ Day” is in fact the celebration of George Washington’s birthday. So in honor of one of the founding fathers of the United States, we’re taking a look back at his life and some ways you can celebrate like Mr. Washington would (or so we think).

 

 

After retiring from the presidency, George Washington turned his attention to his distillery, which produced spirits for sale. Pour out a pint and toast to our first president!

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One of the most famous anecdotes from Washington’s childhood is about him chopping down his father’s favorite cherry tree. When confronted, Washington fessed up saying “I can’t tell a lie, Pa.” What a guy! Since it’s not exactly cherry picking season, we suggest you take a trip to the grocery store in lieu of braving the elements. So in the name of honesty and integrity, enjoy some cherries!

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Two of Washington’s more favored physical activities were hunting and dancing. Whether you prefer the outdoors or the dance floor, powder your hair and find a partner to engage in some good ole’ entertainment. Just make sure you don’t do both at the same time.

HuntingDancing

It is well documented that Washington was an avid fan of Shakespeare (most usually noted in his letters). Find a play or reading and trade the movie theater for the live theatre for a night.

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Bonus: Since the man’s face adorns the US One Dollar Bill, it’s only appropriate you find a local dollar store and show them the Washingtons.

 

Three Great Spring Break Road Trips for the Family

I-40_west_near_FlagstaffSchool vacation is coming soon, and the kids are going to want nothing more than to run wild. Which makes spring break the perfect time to buckle them into the back seat for some hard miles on the highway.

Hey, vans have DVD players now. They’ll be fine! Besides, road trips are bonding opportunities, and these itineraries are created to begin with thrills and stimulation, so the hours between stops may conveniently become naptime.

Whether you’re heading out from the East Coast, West Coast, or somewhere in the middle, we’ve got you covered.

East
Your East Coast road trip actually starts on the water, as a vacation is no excuse for missing a learning opportunity. Millions of dollars went into the recent renovation of the Boston Tea Party Museum, where you can now board replica ships and throw your own crates of English Breakfast overboard. For more exciting education, less than a tea bag’s toss away is the Boston Children’s Museum, where each day offers a variety of events, from Pint-Sized Science to Creature Features.

From Boston, follow the coastline north, maybe with a stop in Kittery, Maine for a meal at Chauncey Creek Lobster Pier and shopping at the Kittery Outlets.

Finally, trekking further upstate brings you to Mount Desert Island. Home to Acadia National Park, MDI has miles of seaside wilderness to explore. Or you can just hang out in the town of Bar Harbor, once an exclusive retreat for the well-heeled and now a family destination with everything from Air Tours to some of the country’s best ice cream (even the President thinks so).

Central
It’s an arch. It’s very tall—630 feet, to be exact. Can you picture it? Perfect. You nailed it. That’s it exactly. So I’ve saved you the trip.

But you’ll go anyway. The Gateway Arch has a particular gravity, so as the structural line rises up and must come down, the attraction pulls in any St. Louis visitor.

The City Museum, St. LouisBut I also encourage you to see a place you could never even imagine. St. Louis’ City Museum is like a strange nursery rhyme about recycling come to life, as artisans use found objects to create sculptures and structures throughout a 600,000-foot former shoe factory (including a Ferris wheel on the roof). At the center is MonstroCity, Tim Burton’s ideal of a jungle gym, combining slides and ball pits with fire trucks and airplane fuselages.

All that activity calls for enough calories to fell of pride of lions, which is why you and fam will now head south on Interstate 55 to Memphis. Try the local favorites by digging into brisket on the Central BBQ patio, ribs at A&R Bar-B-Que, and barbecued game hen at Cozy Corner.

West
Las Vegas has a wealth of family entertainment options, from performances to pinball museums, plus, hiring a babysitter for an afternoon gives the kids a chance to splash around in the pool while you win that entrance-fee money back at the tables.

When you’re ready for some fresh air and natural light, make the drive out to nature’s playground, Zion National Park. After a two-and-a-half hour ride, everyone will be geared up to stretch their muscles by backpacking, climbing, horseback riding or bird watching. (Hey, extraocular muscles are still muscles).

For a hike that’s more scenic that strenuous, Bryce Canyon National Park is a couple hours further down the road. At a much higher elevation than Zion, Bryce often has a dusting of snow, which makes a walk through the hoodoos that much more magical.
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