Being male I have a weakness for gadgets. This is good, as technology evolves it directly effects our day to day lives and the world around us, but as a history geek as well as a gadget one I was amazed when a friend showed me Linesman.
This programme gives access to somewhere in the region of 750 First World War trench maps, good in itself, but allows data to be combined with the modern day French IGN mapping. A wealth of other options allow for a contoured view of the landscape, a fly through view and exporting data to GPS/GPS enabled PDAs.
So now, with a bit of work, you can stand on the (military) spot of your choice, find trenches etc. But I've been having a lot of fun with laying my own tracks.
Using the grid references from the Assistant Director Medical Services (ADMS) war diaries from various divisions, I've been plotting the casualty evacuation routes of field ambulances at Arras, Ypres and Cambrai from 1917. This could be an extreme example of a geneologist trying to track "Uncle Albert's" war, but in my case it is an attempt to understand the casevac chainas part of my dissertation research. I'd started doing this on paper, but the ease with which Linesman allows this is amazing. By tracing the route of a trench the distance is measured, but the contoured/3d view helps get an appreciation of the ground, something which becomes paramount when carrying a stretcher.
I'm not claiming that I now understand all that was happening, I've just added another layer to the onion.