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One if by Land, Two if by Sea

The New York Times just published (February 11, 2016) an opinion piece about using the GPS: Ignore the GPS. That Ocean Is Not a Road. By Greg Milner.

Milner gives us some great examples of people who have been led astray by faithfully following their GPS directions for hundreds of miles, across countries, to wrong cities, and into oceans.

Why do people unquestioningly follow their GPS device into the ocean or off a cliff?

Their use weakens our mental maps.

Most of us use GPS as a crutch while driving through unfamiliar terrain, tuning out and letting that soothing voice do the dirty work of navigating. Since the explosive rise of in-car navigation systems around 10 years ago, several studies have demonstrated empirically what we already know instinctively. Cornell researchers who analyzed the behavior of drivers using GPS found drivers “detached” from the “environments that surround them.” Their conclusion: “GPS eliminated much of the need to pay attention.”

The GPS is a great tool. So is a printed map. They complement each other. I like to use both.

I am not alone in that view. Over on the Practical Sailor Facebook page, they published an article from the Coast Guard News, announcing the approval of the official electronic chart.

“The Coast Guard will allow mariners to use official electronic charts instead of paper charts, if they choose to do so. With real-time voyage planning and monitoring information at their fingertips, mariners will no longer have the burden of maintaining a full portfolio of paper charts,” said Capt. Scott J. Smith, the chief of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Office of Navigation Systems. This technology will also allow mariners to take advantage of information and data to enhance situational awareness during voyage planning and while underway.

They ask, “What’s your opinion on digital vs. paper charts?” The comments  say it all! The sailors want printed paper charts to use with their electronic navigation systems.


One if by Land:  Be sure you take a look at your map and check put the big picture before you jump in the car, program your GPS, and tune out.


Two if by Sea:  Keep an updated paper chart for backup!

As always, Williams & Heintz would be pleased to give you a quote on your map printing project or print a NOAA POD Chart for you.

Soil Maps

2015 is the United Nations International Year of Soils

The 68th UN General Assembly declared 2015 the International Year of Soils (IYS 2015).  In honor of this, here are two soil maps from the Williams & Heintz Map Vault.

Soil map of Talbot County, MD 1929

Soil map of Talbot County, MD. Printed by Williams & Heintz  Co. in 1929.


Section of a SOIL MAP Printed by Williams & Heintz Map Corp. in the 1980s.

Why International Year of Soils?

Soils are a finite natural resource and are nonrenewable on a human time scale.  Soils are the foundation for food, animal feed, fuel and natural fiber production, the supply of clean water, nutrient cycling and a range of ecosystem functions.  The area of fertile soils covering the world’s surface is limited and increasingly subject to degradation, poor management and loss to urbanization.  Increased awareness of the life-supporting functions of soil is called for if this trend is to be reversed and so enable the levels of food production necessary to meet the demands of population levels predicted for 2050.  Soil Science Society of America

You can find interactive, digital soil maps on line at and at the USDA’s Web Soil Survey.

The FAO/UNESCO Soil Map of the World  has published soil maps of continents and large regions at 1:5 000 000 scale. They would look great as print maps! 😉





Have Lithographic Print Nautical Charts Gone Down With the Ship?

The Maryland Cruising Guide, published and printed by Williams & Heintz Map Corp., is based on NOAA Nautical Charts.

The Maryland Cruising Guide, published and printed by Williams & Heintz Map Corp., is based on NOAA Nautical Charts.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has announced  that to save money, the government will stop printing the traditional lithographic paper chart, that has been NOAA’s signature product, trusted by mariners, since President Thomas Jefferson asked for a survey of the coast in 1807.

Effective April 13, 2014, the federal government will no longer print lithographic nautical charts.

Are we hastening the demise of printed maps and charts?  We often jump to new technology and online mapping without adequately considering the effect on the public; it’s like everybody running to one side of the boat to see what’s going on and making it capsize.

For example, the US Geological Survey used to have a very good printing plant that produced maps not only for USGS, but the Bureau of Land Management as well, not to mention collaborating with numerous state geological surveys to produce printed map products.  Unfortunately their leadership with their crystal ball foresaw the demise of hard copy maps back around 2000.  Their printing plant with decades of expertise and experience is now gone.  Ironically, the only thing that is not gone is the demand for hard copy maps.  Last year they were compelled to solicit a contract for the printing and distribution of their topo products, of which they still sell about 350,000 maps a year.  That’s not too bad, for a product that the publisher has tried to discourage people from using.

NOAA is a scientific agency within the United States Department of Commerce focused on the conditions of the oceans and the atmosphere. With respect to producing maps and charts, NOAA’s core job is to provide charts for commercial shipping.  It continues to meet this requirement through the POD’s.  A NOAA authorized Print on Demand (POD) chart is printed within a day or two of the date it is ordered and contains all the published critical chart corrections.

The recreational boater, however, has been abandoned.

“There is no question that many boaters and tourists will miss the days when they could drop by a shop to pick up a traditional nautical chart that was printed by the government. Stores offer more than convenience… They are a valuable resource for local information, marine expertise, and friendship.” (FAQs PDF)

The good news is that, while the federal government will no longer print lithographic nautical charts, they are now testing a new product: during a trial period from Oct 22, 2013 to Jan 22, 2014, they are making about a thousand nautical charts available in printable PDF format for free download.

The new printable PDF charts, at 400 dpi, continue the traditional look, with the same colors. Charts printed from the PDF file, are suitable for planning and public display. Here is where Williams & Heintz Map Corporation comes in.  We have been printing nautical chart books based on the NOAA charts since 1969. We are all set to step up and offer the public the same high level of service they’ve provided over the decades. While anyone can download a PDF, not everyone has the capability to print them at chart size. Williams & Heintz is the printer who can reproduce the colors and image resolution on the paper you select, including wet strength.

So while you will no longer be able to purchase NOAA nautical charts printed by the government, we welcome the new opportunities for printing and distributing charts made from PDF files for you, whether you want one digital print of a NOAA Nautical Chart with your house centered on the map, or thousands of lithographic charts featuring your marina and logo to hand out to your customers.

Update: Oct. 28, 2013 Edited inaccurate content.

Update: May, 14 2014  Williams & Heintz Map Corporation is pleased to announce that they are now certified to print the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Print-on-Demand Charts, (NOAA POD Charts).

NOAA has authorized Williams & Heintz Map Corporation to sell NOAA’s paper nautical charts that are printed when the customer orders them — or “on demand.” The information on the charts is still maintained by NOAA, and the charts are corrected with Notices to Mariners up to the week of purchase.

Williams & Heintz Map Corporation Joins Two Sides to Help Promote the Sustainability of Print and Paper

Williams & Heintz Map Corp. joins Two Sides U. S.  Print and paper have a great environmental story to tell.

Williams & Heintz Map Corp. is now a member of Two Sides U.S., a 501(c)6 non-profit organization that promotes the responsible production, use and unique sustainable features of print and paper.

People depend on paper maps for many purposes, not the least of which is to get them where they need to go.  We want everyone to understand the renewable, recyclable nature of print on paper and have the confidence that a printed map is not only very useful, but also highly sustainable.   Williams and Heintz is pleased to join Two Sides in getting that message out and in promoting the medium’s responsible production and use.

We know the importance of building and maintaining a cleaner environment and aim to contribute in as many ways as possible throughout our map production, map printing, and map folding.

Two sides U. S. has an excellent blog, where Phil Riebel, President and COO, Two Sides U.S., Inc. does a great job examining the issues and providing  factual, accurate, and science-based information on the sustainability of print and paper.

With respect to maps it’s a mistake to see it as a print vs mobile media competition. The greatest result is achieved when the two are used together. The printed map provides the “big picture” and the resulting spatial awareness shows you where to crunch down for detail using the mobile device. Without the mobile device you lose the enormous resources of the internet. Without the printed map you don’t know what to do with the mobile device. A salesman once explained it to me as follows: He had covered sales territories using both printed maps and using his gps. In both instances he could get from point A to B and back again, but when only using gps, he never really knew where he was. That sounds to me like missed opportunities.

Two Sides

Yesterday SI Live published an article titled: Paper trail: Staten Island lawmakers push legislatures to go paperless”.  It contains several misleading environmental arguments on going paperless in favor of electronic communication, including this statement by the author:

“Whole forests are destroyed to comply with this quaint and, in this day and age, entirely unnecessary tradition. It’s a colossal and, frankly, shameful waste in a time when government is supposed to be more environmentally conscious. “

Below I address the main points, but I would also encourage people in the print and paper industries of NY State to voice their concerns to:

As a private forest owner who has made his living in the forest and paper industry, this type of misinformation really disappoints me.  I wish that more people…

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Map of the Maryland Faerie Festival at Camp Ramblewood 2012

A map can be an artistic expression and a marketing tool. Going to press today, the Maryland Faerie Festival Map is a fun map, where the authors, Michael Wuyek and Ren Rick, sign it with their self-portraits. Can you find them?

Maryland Faerie Festival Blog


Come Celebrate the Year of the Goblin with Us!

Three Full Days! May 11-13, 2012  Lots of Faerie Festivities!   Three Stages with Storytelling, Puppet Shows, Music, Magic,  Faerie Tea Parties, Craft Cove & Glamour Glen,  Food, Fine Arts, Games, & Fun for All!

The Maryland Faerie Festival
Friday, May 11 – Sunday, May 13, 2012
Camp Ramblewood
2564 Silver Road
Darlington, MD 21034

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From the Map Vault – National Geographic Society’s 1930 Map of Florida

Florida Map Printed by Williams & Heintz in 1930 for National Geographic Society

Florida Map Printed by Williams & Heintz in 1930 for the National Geographic Society

Williams & Heintz Map Corp. has been printing maps for entrepreneurs, government agencies and map publishers since 1921.  We printed this 1930 map of Florida for the National Geographic Society.  Back then we did business under the name of Williams & Heintz Co., Lithographers.

Williams & Heintz Co., Lithographers, Washington, D.C.

Sure was a lot more swamp land then!  And no major interstate highways to travel. I am intrigued that the insets all show railroad hubs.  Back in the thirties, an employee at Williams & Heintz took a road trip south, to visit with a long lost relative, and was gone for six months!

What would it look like today if  the interstate highway systems had not been developed?

Spencer Fleury  has an interesting blog post about abandoned rail roads in Florida, and their use.

Mapping the Metrics of Mapping: Putting Africa on the Map

Screen Shot WordPress Top Views by Country

Screen Shot WordPress Top Views by Country

One of the things that I like about the WordPress platform is the statistics that it provides for me to see who is reading my blog.  I love stats: if you can measure it, then you can make it better.

Kind of like I like our ISO certifications at Williams & Heintz Map Corp. The processes make us keep track and measure everything:

  • We are ISO 9001 certified for “Cartographic Production, Large Form Cartographic Printing and Specialized Map Folding” to provide better product with greater consistency and quality.
  • We are ISO14001 certified; we have developed, and maintain an environmental management system to continually improve our environmental performance. The processes and materials that we use to create quality maps and charts are continually monitored to reduce our environmental footprint and to decrease the pollution and waste.

Anyway, about the WordPress stats, I can be pretty obsessive. I am pleased to see that WordPress now has a view by country panel.  The best thing about this view is that it is in the form of a map! So far the MapPrinter blog has been viewed by people from 40 different countries.  No views from Africa or China yet.  How can I fix these big holes in my map?

UPDATE:  One week after posting about Africa, tagging and using Africa in the title of the post, I now have views from 5 countries in Africa:  Egypt, Ethiopia, Morocco, South Africa and Uganda!  I even received a request for a map printing quote 🙂

Paper Charts vs. Electronic Devices-True Story

Virginia Cruising Guide at the Richmond Boat Show

Williams & Heintz Cruising Guide at the Richmond Boat Show

Got a story for you.  My sister, Robin, goes to boat shows to sell our Williams & Heintz Cruising Guides, nautical chartbooks of Maryland and Virginia waterways.  This last week she was in Richmond.  Her booth was right next to a vendor of electronic navigation equipment.  At the end of the show, he bought a case of chartbooks, to give to his customers, who purchase expensive electronic navigation systems for their boats.   He wants them to have them for planning and as a backup.

Just goes to show that electronic devices are not replacing printed products, but  they complement each other, and make each more effective.

Maps and QR Codes – “Look! They’re putting those on girls now!”

W&H Cruising Guide QR Code

You can scan this code with your smart phone to learn about the Williams & Heintz Cruising Guides, chartbooks of the waters of Maryland and Virginia.

“Look!  They’re putting those on girls now!”  This quote is just one of the entertaining reactions we got when I made sweatshirts, with the QR Code®  (Quick Response, 2D Codes).  I made them to wear at the boat shows, where we sell our chartbooks.  The QR Code, on the back of the shirt links to the chartbook website.  The QR codes work well as a conversation starter on my daughter’s sweatshirt, and they put the link directly onto the phone of our customers.

As a printer, I see a lot of information about the QR Code, as I search for new ideas to add value to map printing. And I see so many ways to use them.   Now, I realize that most people are not specifically going out to buy a smart phone for the QR Code reader, but as a printer, this was the tipping point that gave it value to me.  QR codes are a link from print on paper to the digital world.  Scan the code to get more information.  It is easy to download the app, if your phone doesn’t have one.  My kids get new apps all the time, what’s the big deal?

I know that we printers, publishers, and marketers are jumping on this opportunity to add value to our printed piece, and sometimes are putting them all over the place where they don’t make sense, like the last few seconds of a TV commercial, or a billboard that you are speeding by.  (I want to put one on a bumper sticker that takes you to “If you can scan this, you are too close”)

But QR Codes on sweatshirts have also made me the cool and popular mom with my teenagers and their friends.

Using the QR Code, on shirts and in show displays, has worked out well because it is still new to many consumers.  People stopped to ask about the codes and try out the new technology on their new phones.

Maps are a great place for QR Codes.  QR Codes on maps have got to be, hands down, one of the best uses.  As I have said before, a map is not just to get someone from one place to another.  That information is readily available in numerous formats and media.  Maps communicate lots of information about the location being mapped.   QR Codes quickly and easily connect you to more information.

Here are a few examples of maps with useful QR Codes we have printed:

QR Code on the Pennsylvania Tourism & Transportation Map

The Pennsylvania Tourism & Transportation Map uses QR Codes to highlight places to go and things to see on the map.

QR Code on the Ohio Scenic Rivers Map

The Ohio Scenic Rivers Map uses a QR Code to direct people to the donation page.

QR Code on the West Virginia Official Highway Map

The West Virginia Official Highway Map has a QR Code that links to the West Virginia Department of Transportation.

Here are a few more blogs about QR Codes that I like.

QR Code ® is a registered trademark of DENSO WAVE INCORPORATED

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