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Mr and Mrs Lili Wedding


Deleting the internet: deleting secrets about top secret hotels

Taking a break from politics (I think we all need it) I'll like to make the first post in my new internet-related hacking-for-everyone column which I have titled "Deleting the internet".

Today I'd like to show how you how to beata certain website which is popular in Europe (and elsewhere?) for finding top secret hotels at low low prices at the last minute (hint hint).

We were looking for hotels in Edinburgh last night and found a good top secret hotel - but of course, we didn't know what it was. And we really like knowing stuff. Specifically, we don't like paying for stuff and not knowing what that stuff is. Basically, get stuffed.

Anyhoo, you can sort the hotels by distance from popular locations. Laura gave me the idea by saying "oh, it's x.y kms from the zoo" and "j.k from the train station". I figured if I could find the locations in Google Earth, then draw circles of a diameter representing the distance, and if I drew, say, 3 circles, I could find the point of intersection and maybe find the hotel. And I did, and although there wasn't a hotel at the exact point of intersection, there were two close by. One didn't match the description at all, but the other did, and it was good. So we paid up, waited, and we were right! We'd used our best bestimate to guesstimate the top secret hotel (hint hint)!


  1. First find your top secret hotel.
  2. Sort by distance for 3 points and jot them down (i.e. 1.25kms to train station, etc).
  3. Open Google Earth.
  4. Find the first point (e.g. train station).
  5. Right click and choose properties to get at the co-ordinates.
  6. Slightly annoying step - you have to convert the co-ordinates from whatever format Google Earth uses to decimal format. So go here, copy the longitude and latitude out of the Google Earth property window and paste them into the textbox, select "coordinate conversion only" for the output and hit "Go".
  7. You want to get the decimal coordinates from the results. These ones:
  8. Now go to this really cool KML circle generator, stick in your coords, and the circle diameter in metres:

  9. Hit go, open the resulting file in Google Earth and a red circle will automagically appear.
  10. Now repeat steps 4-9 for the other two points.
  11. You should end up with something like this:

  12. Now just fiddle around and look at the hotels in that area (using the Places of Interest | Lodging layer!)
Not so top secret anymore.

- Tschüs web surfers.

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