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The Alaskan Road trip is certainly on a biker’s top “100 Things You Must Do Before You Die” list. I crossed it off my list in May 2008 when I logged 6,000 miles up there and back. I found many resources on the ‘net to help prepare me for the journey and one resource stood out above the rest for its depth and volume of information. It is a telephone sized booklet called “The Milepost.” In print since 1949, The Milepost is packed with valuable information that aided me in the detailed route planning I enjoy but its breadth of knowledge results in a volumous publication often left at home due to its bulk and weight.

For those of us who travel with a laptop, there is a solution that improves access to The Milestone’s information goldmine and is painless to haul along for reference on the road. It is the new digital edition of The Milepost.

I ordered the 2008 edition of The Milepost’s printed edition last spring and this fall I received an unexpected and unsolicited copy of their new 2008 Digital Edition. Both the print and digital editions sell for the same price $27.95.

The following is my unbiased opinions of the good and not so good aspects of this first release of The Milepost, 2008 Digital Edition.

The first thing you will want to do is copy the entire contents of The Milepost DVD onto your hard disk drive. If you don’t, I guarantee you’ll think your computer has crashed and locked up while waiting for it to load. The DVD’s contents require 931 MB on your hard drive. Once loaded on your computer, run the application file “milepost_alaskaplanner08-win32-k.exe.”

Soon you will experience the publisher’s attempt at including digital rights management (DRM) system. The publication is provided through application built upon the Internet Explorer application engine and runs full screen and it attempts to block access to other applications. Running as an application, the publisher has also chosen to block access to printer resources, the ability to save the data in a more user friendly PDF format and restrict your ability to copy and paste data into other documents. Its full screen mode does not include a means for viewing it into a traditional window that can be resized and moved around your desktop – it even blocks access to your Taskbar and Start menu. Fortunately, the most critical of these artificial restrictions is easily circumvented.

Make sure you have another application of a folder open on your desktop before launching The Milepost application. Doing so will enable you to press Alt – Tab and make that other application of folder active to restore full access to Windows Explorer and your computer’s other resources. Unfortunately, I have not yet figured out how to print selected pages other than to copy and paste them into an application such as Microsoft Word. Another option, if you have not opened something before running The Milepost, is to click its Links menu and one of the available links. This will open an Internet Explorer browser window which causes your Taskbar to be available again.

So, with these negatives, why might someone want the digital version? The digital format does offer a number of advantages including easier navigation, usability of the data and the transportability of digital data. These factors, in my opinion, offset the negatives of The Mileposts first digitization effort.

The Mileposts application provides 6 menu options, plus page forward and back controls along the top.

  • “Contents” displays a table of contents with links to each of the 9 chapters and the numerous topics within each.
  • “Pages” gives you linked thumbnail images of each page.
  • “Search” empowers you to perform a search on the entire documents. Although the title of each found section appears to be a link, none of these links works so you then have to rely upon the page number displayed to get to the target of your search. This appears to be a bug which I hope they correct through an update or at least in next year’s edition.
  • “Links” is next and allows you to view only the links on the currently displayed page(s) or you can view all the links in the complete document.
  • “Settings” gives you a small amount of control over some display parameters, but I’s mininmal.
  • “Maps” opens the Milepost’s Plan-A-Trip Maps, with maps and mileage of the North Country.

The Milepost Digital comes with both Mac and Windows applications, though I have not yet tried the Mac version. Running it under Windows XP I experienced some problems with it locking up Windows once and refusing to quit nicely on another occasion when its Close button ceased to function. I have not experienced operational issues using it under Windows Vista (32-but Ultimate Edition) and Alt-Tab allows you to access the Taskbar and other Windows resources more easily when run under Vista.

The purpose of this narrative piece is to make fellow tour riders aware of the new Digital Edition of The Milepost and inform them of its good and bad. I feel The Milepost is a “must have” item for anyone planning a ride to Alaska and if you are taking a laptop along, this new Digital Edition is still worth the money, regardless of its obvious technical flaws. Hopefully it will get better over times – it’s a move in the right direction for travel guides.

Enjoy the ride!
 

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Thanks for the report. I've read mixed opinions on the pub and it's nice to get the facts.

Is there a noticeable difference in additions, correction, features from year to year (would a 2007 or 08 be fine for an 09 ride)?

Do you have an approximate physical size of the hard copy (yes. I'm that close on space)? I can take either a small laptop or the manual, but not both and if the digital version is a pita then I'll go to plan C. ;)

I'm on a Mac and would appreciate any user comments on the electronic version on OSX. The biggest problem I see is that I don't allow IE on the Mac, knowing that Safari and Firefox are superior browsers.

While it's within the publishers rights to DRM his info, locking the system up or inhibiting common functions seems a bit draconian.
 
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