Like a lot of people, I'm on the road traveling from client sites to business appointments and, in the middle of the day, running one of my kids to the doctor’s office. And like many of you, I use a navigation system in my car. I generally use one that runs on my PDA, but recently I bought a Garmin StreetPilot i5. Although it’s not as user-friendly as my PDA, it's almost as accurate, and it contains nationwide maps, making it indispensable when I travel for business.

One thing that my various navigation systems lack is the ability to store and reference routes while I’m at my desk. Often I’ll need to plan a couple days' travel, but these systems don’t easily plan multiple-destination routes according to factors beyond the basic options such as quickest or shortest route. For planning these driving trips, I've recently been using the mapping and routing capabilities of Windows Live Local (http://local.live.com). Its ability to store multiple collections of end points lets me get a feel for travel time between locations, regardless of the order in which they're arranged, and doesn't require me to program the trip into one of my GPS devices.

Windows Live Local also lets me share both public and private collections of these end points and travel directions with other users on the Internet. For example, recently I set up a meeting in a fairly rural location (the type of place where roads might suddenly become unpaved and often lack names). I used Windows Live Local's mapping capabilities and aerial-photo maps to find the actual building the meeting was being held in and set that as a location. When I created a set of directions from a common location to that endpoint, the directions included information on turns and travel distances on unnamed roads, including the gravel road that leads to the building from the unnamed road on which it's located. I then sent these directions as email to the meeting attendees, and by clicking the link in the provided email message, they were able to get a map and detailed driving directions to the final location.

I’ve just started digging into the capabilities of Windows Live Local (currently still in beta). If you find existing Web-based mapping solutions lacking, give Windows Live Local a try. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Tip--Handling a Windows Update problem

I get a fair amount of email from readers experiencing problems running Windows Update. They're either looking for ways to reinstall updates or are getting error messages when they try to run upgrades.

A recent error message readers have queried me about is error number 0X800B0109 being returned when users attempt to access the Windows Update Web site. This problem occurs because malware has infected the client computer. To solve this problem, follow the directions in the Microsoft article at the URL below. http://support.microsoft.com/kb/916260/en-us