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31 de Enero 2006

Panoramio - Photos of the World

Panoramio Photos in Google EarthA few weeks ago, a new photo browsing network link was introduced which is filling the gap left by the currently non-functional Flickr Photos network link for showing georeferenced photos in Google Earth. Panoramio not only provides a Google Earth network link for browsing photos all over the world, but also allows you to quickly and easily mark a location on a Google Maps mashup where you took a photo(s) and upload the photo(s) to their database with a description. The service is free to use and was created by two guys in Spain named Joaquín Cuenca Abela and Eduardo Manchón Aguilar.

Once you download the photo browsing network link, just look at an area of the Earth you are interested in, and after pausing a few seconds, it will load photo icon placemarks from their database for that area. They currently have over 8000 photos in the database. Click on a photo placemark to see a larger version of the photo and description. You can even play with GE to try and find the exact position where the photo was taken by looking at the satellite or aerial photos and 3D terrain in GE. Panoramio is fun, and I highly recommend it. - (Digg Story)

Enviado por FrankTaylor at 8:52 AM | Comentarios (2)

More Satellite Environmental Data in Google Earth

Night Land Temperature in Google EarthAs promised, here are some more environmental time-progression satellite data which were posted by Valery35 at the Google Earth Community during the past few days. In this collection, we start with the corresponding data to the Day Land Temperatures of the Earth now with the Night Land Temperatures. In addition, Valery posted data on the Biosphere, Leaf Area Index, and Vegetation Index. Once again, all of this data came from NASA's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) satellites Terra and Aqua. The data is shown here as image overlays draped over the satellite photos on Google Earth. Open each Google Earth file and then open the folders for each year and you will see the months which contain each image overlay. If you turn on an entire folder it will load all the images in that folder at once - it is better to turn on and off each month. You can see the progression of temperture, the biosphere, and vegetation during the seasons. You may even notice how the environment has changed during the past few years.

  1. Night Land Temperatures - Credits, and NASA's Page
  2. Enhanced Vegetation Index - Credits, and NASA's Page
  3. Biosphere - Credits, and NASA's Page

Valery hasn't created videos to show the time progression like he did with the Day Land Temperature data. But, someday Google will hopefully release a time-progression feature in Google Earth. We will then be able to look at this data as an animation.

Enviado por FrankTaylor at 8:19 AM | Comentarios (1)

30 de Enero 2006

NASA Annual Day Land Temperatures of the Earth

NASA Day Land Temperatures in Google EarthMy friend Valery Hronusov from Russia's Academy of Science in Perm, Russia (aka Valery35 at the Google Earth Community) continues his prolific output of cool Google Earth files. He has been converting a variety of data sources about our environment from NASA into cool Google Earth visualizations. Today Valery will share with you this collection of overlays showing the progression of day time land temperatures for the Earth for entire years starting with year 2000 until 2005. The data comes from NASA's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) satellite project. These are not satellite/aerial photos, but are images of temperature data overlayed on top of GE's satellite photos.

(NOTE: this is another example of data which would be great if GE had a feature for allowing you to animate placemarks based on time - a feature Google has been considering implementing. Michael Jones, take note!)

Once you download the Day Land Temperatures file, you will see some sub-folders for each year. You should open these sub-folders and turn on each month to look at the data. On my system, if I just turn on an entire year, it kind of animates the overlays while loading them the first time. But, a better way to see the progression of the data is to use the movies Valery has created: small movie (1.2 Mbytes) or larger movie (3.7 Mbytes).

Great work Valery! I'll be sharing some other similar stuff Valery has done later this week.

Enviado por FrankTaylor at 8:33 AM | Comentarios (0)

KML Writer - Linda Herramienta de Dibujo para Google Earth

Elevador Espacial en Google EarthAlguien ha puesto una linda y gratuita herramienta en una mashup de Mapas Google llamada KML Writer que permite dibujar una ruta o un polígono que luego puede ser traducido a KML y ser visto en GE. Simplemente muevan el mapa, elijan una ubicación donde quieren que aparezca vuestra línea o polígono y comiencen a dibujar. Luego elijan un nombre y una descripción y seleccionen "Add to KML". Cuando esté todo listo, elijan "Open KML". El archivo debería entonces abrirse en Google Earth.

Por ejemplo, creé un elevador espacial (una idea propuesta por Arthur Clarke en su libro de ciencia ficción "Las Fuentes del Paraíso").

La herramienta funciona bien, pero no es tan conveniente de usar como Google Earth Plus (US$20/año) que permite crear y editar caminos y polígonos dentro de Google Earth. GE+ permite editar los colores y textos, cambiar la extrusión del polígono y con GE+ se accede más rapidamente a la base de datos de GE. Recomiendo GE+ a los usuarios profesionales o a aquellos que ncesitan este tipo de característica de manera regular. Pero si sólo necesitan hacer algo rápido, utilicen esta herramienta gratuita y fácil de usar llamada KML Writer como alternativa. Fué escrita por Simple Spatial Solutions. Via OgleEarth.

Enviado por FrankTaylor at 7:55 AM | Comentarios (2)

28 de Enero 2006

Highest Points in 177 Countries

Highest Points of Countries in Google EarthLet's do a little fun sightseeing for the weekend. This collection of placemarks was done by "H21" from the Google Earth Community. H21 shows the highest points geographically in 177 countries. You can go to each location, checkout the satellite or aerial photo, and try tilting your view so you can see the height and shape of the 3D landscape at an angle. Turn on Google Earth Community layers to see other interesting information about the area.

The post for H21's collection is here in case you want to tell H21 about the locations for other countries, or have a correction to send him. H21 has done a number of interesting collections including those I've written about here: "Around the World in 80 Days", "Places Quoted in Shakespeare", and "Castles in Highres"

Enviado por FrankTaylor at 9:28 AM | Comentarios (0)

27 de Enero 2006

Speculation on Microsoft Plans for "Google Earth killer"

The first time I saw Google Earth and wondered about similar applications, I thought about Microsoft Flight Simulator (MSFS). As a pilot who frequently uses MSFS to maintain flight skills, I am quite familiar with the flight simulator. Even though MSFS uses a more programmatic approach for showing scenery detail, the views of the Earth can be amazingly realistic and, with some add-on satellite and aerial photography, MSFS can look more real than Google Earth's views. I worked for 20 years in the computer graphics field doing work for NASA and the DOD primarily doing simulation (space, robotics and flight simulations). The evolution of computer graphics technology and how flight simulation and gaming technology have advanced the field is fascinating to me. You see, my passion about Google Earth is not just because it looks cool. I've been watching for signs about what Microsoft would do to compete with Google's 3D application.

Well, an Alan Glennon from the University of California at Santa Barbara has just released his observations. Alan works at UCSB's Department of Geography and has his own blog called Geography 2.0: Virtual Globes. Alan has written an interesting article called "Will Microsoft have a Google Earth?". He points to a job post at Microsoft for a "program manager to lead a project integrating their flight simulator engine with Virtual Earth". Alan speculates how Google can compete with Microsoft when it combines its gaming development skills with its dominance in the operating system software domain. He speculates whether Google might buy its own gaming company. Alan also says he's watching the evolution of KML which is a crucial component of what makes Google Earth so valuable. Those of you interested in the strategic positioning of Google Earth verses future competition from Microsoft should definitely give this one a read. Alan gives some insightful thoughts about possible directions.

Enviado porFrankTaylor at 9:08 AM | Comments (0)

South American Trade in Google Earth

South America Trade in Google EarthGoogle Earth is not only useful for sightseeing and looking at your house. For some time this blog has reported on serious business applications of Google Earth (see the business category for examples). Brian Timoney of Timoney Group provides professional services helping companies use Google Earth for visualization oriented applications. I wrote about an example he did for Jonah Gas. Now Brian has combined his efforts with another company called Eicher GIS (which specializes in ESRI GIS software and data) to produce an excellent visualization showing international trade between countries in South America.

To see this example simply download this GE file . Contained in the Places folder will be instructions and background information. But, all you need to do is maybe turn off layers and placemarks not related to reduce clutter. Then move your mouse over the gold icons hovering over each South American country. You will instantly see red circles representing the amount of trade exported to other South Amercian countries based on data from the United Nations COMTRADE database. If you click on the gold icons you will get a breakdown of the trade which you can further drill down to and see the numbers. You can read more details within the Places folders, or here is the web page describing the example in more detail.

This is only the tip of the iceberg of business applications in Google Earth. Now that GE is out of beta, we should begin seeing many more businesses taking note of the powerful combination of global visualization with a large and growing user base bolstered by the top brand in the world (Google). Via OgleEarth.

Enviado porFrankTaylor at 8:19 AM | Comments (0)

26 de Enero 2006

Global Fire Data in Google Earth

Global Fire Data in Google EarthAnother interesting Google Earth network link from those guys in Russia (see credits below). This time they have collected data from NASA and other sources to share with you interesting environmental data showing the status of global-wide fires which rage in various parts of the world throughout the year. The data was collected by NASA's MODIS environmental satellites Terra and Aqua and superimposed on the NASA Blue Marble satellite images of the earth (more credits below). Each sample of data is for a 10-day period, and the Google Earth file can show you any 10-day period since the middle of year 2000 to the present.

So, our friend Valery35 from the Google Earth Community posted this new network link for Global Fires. Operating this network link is a little tricky, so follow these instructions:

  1. Download the Global Fire network link
  2. Turn on "Global Fire Maps" in the "Temporary Places" folder. This will load the first "level" of folders
  3. Look for a folder labeled "600*300" (which is the resolution of the data I believe) - open the folder by clicking on the little triangle -> DO NOT turn on the folder though as you will load all the data at once
  4. You will see folders for each year since 2000. Click on a year to load it, then open the folder (again, DO NOT turn it on)
  5. You should see a reverse chronological list of images for ten day periods of the format 'year''daynumber'. So, for example 2005001-2005010 is the first ten days of the year. You can turn and off these different images to see the fire data.

By the way, this is another case where a time-lapse animation of placemarks would be VERY valuable in Google Earth if it were available. But, you could make a movie of the various files, which is what Valery35 has done. He published a Global Fire Movie you can watch in Windows Media Player which shows the fires over time in Google Earth. Very cool!

The fire maps were created by...

The fire maps were created by Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Rapid Response System at NASA/GSFC and collected by the Geography Department of University of Maryland. Other credits can be found in the original post.

Valery 35 is with the GIS department at the Russian Academy of Sciences in Perm, Russia. I've previously written about Google Earth network links he's done tracking birds, World Designer, KMLer, and his very useful Tranportation network link. Yet another great one Valery35! You can see their Google Earth site with lots of interesting applications.

Enviado porFrankTaylor at 8:38 AM | Comments (4)

25 de Enero 2006

Best of World Wide Panorama 2005 in Google Earth

One of my favorite collections of placemarks for Google Earth is the World Wide Panorama which shows the locations of Quicktime viewable panorama photographs taken by photographers all over the world. You can view the satellite or aerial photos of the location, plus the 3D terrain in Google Earth. And, you can compare them to a "3D" photograph of the same location in much more detail. Earlier this month they updated the WWP collection and included a list of the Best of 2005 panoramas. After you downlaod the GE file, turn off the entire collection in the "Temporary Places" folder by clicking on "Worldwide Panorama". Then, turn on the "Best of 2005" subfolder to just see those panoramas first. Afterwards, you can turn on the other folders and continue to explore.

You must have Quicktime installed to view these pictures. The photos are not really 3D. They are more like pan/tilt panorama photographs than 3D. Some are just panoramas, but some show photos in a complete 360 degree sphere you can pan/tilt as if you are really there. I especially like the ones taken from airplanes or kites. Here is the official Worldwide Panorama web site.

Enviado porFrankTaylor at 8:19 AM | Comments (0)

Arctic and Antarctic Ice Floes in Google Earth

Arctic Ice Floe satellite/aerial photos in Google EarthLast week I was contacted by some scientists (credited below) who had some interesting data for Google Earth showing the movement of ice floes in the northern Arctic region showing satellite photos, motion tracks and vectors, and more. They also informed me they were getting ready to release some data for the Antarctic region as well. Well, today they informed me both are now available and new web pages describing them as well. (By the way, OgleEarth reported on the Arctic data last week). Here's the full story...

Near real-time data of ice floes in the Arctic region are being made available thanks to efforts by scientists at Ørsted DTU (Technical University of Denmark) which is participating in a project called DAMOCLES sponsored by a European Commission. Project DAMOCLES is an integrated ice-atmosphere-ocean monitoring and forecasting system designed for observing, understanding and quantifying climate changes in the Arctic. The team at DTU have had a Java application for viewing the ice floes for some time, but recently released a Google Earth network link for looking at the ice floes and the data showing their movement. The data comes in part from the European Space Agency's environmental satellite called ENVISAT ASAR, and from devices attached to the ice which broadcast their position. Here is the web page describing the different data sets and the link to the Google Earth file. Very interesting data!

AntArctic Ice FloesSatellite Photos in Google EarthThe Antarctic Google Earth network link is even more interesting. Here they have included details on the overall development of ice in the Antarctic, details on the sea-ice conditions as well as iceberg locations, satellite photos of the ice, locations of drift buoys, locations of selected research vessels, and locations of a selection of more than 120 Antarctic research stations and bases. Full details are available from this web page, which is part of the International Polar View project.

I was first contacted by...

I was first contacted by Pierre-Philippe MATHIEU of the European Space Agency, who then put me in touch with Leif Toudal Pedersen of the Danish Center for Remote Sensing, Oersted*DTU, and the lead contact person for the project DAMOCLES at DTU and for the Antartic project as well. Leif had this to say about the Antarctic project:

The application features large scale ice cover from the US/JAP AMSR-E instrument and a number of subsections of high resolution ENVISAT ASAR data from ESA. All data are updated regularly (the images several times per day when new images are available). Use the ENVISAT ASAR image of "Pacific Ocean West" to follow the disintegration of the B15a iceberg as well as the (I think) worlds largest iceberg C15a.

Thanks to both Pierre-Philippe and Leif for contacting me with this interesting information. My apologies if I've described the projects incorrectly. These mutlinational projects can be complex to properly credit. Anyway, great work on the Google Earth network links!

Enviado porFrankTaylor at 12:11 AM | Comments (0)

24 de Enero 2006

Sundance Film Festival "Event Map" in Google Earth

Sundance Film Festival in Google EarthConference event planners should take note of this. Someone posted a really excellent "event map" for people attending the Sundance Film Festival which lets people use the power of Google Earth to plan the locations they will be visiting. Both the satellite and aerial photographs of the area, and the 3D terrain are quite useful for getting your bearings in the Salt Lake City, Utah and Park City, Utah areas where the events are being held. The person posting the map, who calls himself 'smcq', provides details on getting around at the airport, the route and directions to Park City, bus routes and stops in Park City, parking areas, locations of the theaters, and even information on nearby ski options.

t's a shame I didn't see this one last week in time for people planning to attend the Sundance Film Festival (the event is more than half way over now). This event map is an excellent example of using the power of Google Earth to help travellers understand what to do and see while visiting an event. Tourism offices of major events take note! 'smcq' used some very clever techniques for showing different types of information. For example, at the airport he used a transparent GIF to show labels and directions for the area, he used different colored paths for bus routes, and drammatically different shapes and colors for icons of locations. Excellent work!

Enviado porFrankTaylor at 7:59 AM | Comments (0)

23 de Enero 2006

New Data For Google Earth/Google Local

Google has just announced new satellite/aerial imagery data for Google Local - data that has already been in Google Earth for a few weeks. Google Local now sees the more up to date data already in Google Earth, and they have added TWO EXTRA ZOOM LEVELS for Google Local! You can still zoom in farther in Google Earth, but it's nice to have the two applications come closer together.

Here's the blog entry at the official Google Blog.

I just wish this meant there were an update to the primary Google Earth database for some new satellite/aerial imagery...

Enviado porFrankTaylor at 7:55 PM | Comments (2)

Flying Car? Not Really

[UPDATE 23-November-2006: Google updated the aerial photography for this area and the "flying car" is no longer there. This rules out some of the theories in the comments that it was a permanent structure.]

flying car  in Google EarthThose guys at The Register have done it again. Someone sent them an interesting Google Earth placemark which shows a satellite photo of what appears to be a flying car near a parking lot in near Perth, Australia. The Register, in their usual sensational journalistic style, have written a story which hypes the idea this is a flying car, and doesn't bother to speculate on alternatives.

There's no question this satellite photo described with the "Flying Car" title certainly looks like a flying car. However, if I described the photo as "Black car parked next to white car in parking lot", what do you see? Here's the placemark of the location in Google Earth.

I have written about other visual anomalies before. Sometimes its just a matter of how you look at a picture.

Like this story? Digg it!

Enviado porFrankTaylor at 10:38 AM | Comments (44)

Enhancement to GPSVisualizer for Google Earth

GPSVisualizer GPS track for paraglider  in Google EarthIn previous stories, I have mentioned one of my favorite applications for looking at GPS tracks is GPSVisualizer. It is a free web browser application with a simple form-based interface with many capabilities for showing GPS tracks with satellite/aerial photos, street maps, topographical maps, and more. In November, after I E-mailed him, Adam Schneider, the author, implemented a capability to generate Google Earth files from GPS tracks. However, one of my favorite capabilities in the pre-GE version of his application was the ability to colorize the tracks according to various parameters (such as altitude changes, speed, course, etc.). Unfortunately, his initial GE form didn't support this colorizing feature.

Well, Adam wrote me this weekend to let me know he had implemented colorization for his Google Earth form. I immediately tested it with flight, and other GPS data, and it works very well! By the way, GPSVisualizer supports a variety of input file types in addition to GPX. For example, I tried an IGC file format which is the format used by paragliders because it supports certified data for establishing records (longest flight, highest flight, etc.). I went to the Leonardo database of paragliding flights and downloaded an IGC file. Then, I used the new GPSVisualizer form, and uploaded my copy of the IGC file. I then selected "Absolute" for "Altitude Mode", and "Colorize by" -> "Altitude/elevation". Then I selected "Create KML File" which resulted in this Google Earth file . You need to select the absolute mode for altitude so it keeps the elevation data from your GPS track.

If you have GPS tracks of a...

If you have GPS tracks of a hike, a drive, a flight, etc. I highly recommend you try converting your track to a supported format (GPX is probably the easiest). Then try out GPSVisualizer and its new "Colorize by:" feature. The "colorize by" feature supports: altitude/elevation, speed, course, slope, distance, and more.
Adam had to do something clever to make this work. His application breaks up the track into little peices and changes the color for each segment according to the parameter you chose to color it by. Great work Adam!

Enviado porFrankTaylor at 8:00 AM | Comments (0)

Victoria Cross Recipients in Google Earth

Victoria Cross in Google EarthOne of the Google Earth Community members who calls himself "Up_The_Spurs" has just completed an excellent collection of placemarks related to the Victoria Cross. The Victoria Cross is the highest award for gallantry, on the field of combat, for all British & Commonwealth Citizens. There have been 1351-1355 VC's awarded, and they are all included in this collection. The collection shows the placemark of the birthplace of each recipient and provides details on the recipient including when they lived, why they received the cross, and sometimes even pictures.

Much of the data came from the Wikipedia. But, he also used other sources. You can read details about what was done in his post here. This was quite a big task which took Up_The_Spurs at least 3 weeks to complete. Great work! See his Boxing Champions collection as well.

Enviado porFrankTaylor at 7:50 AM | Comments (0)

21 de Enero 2006

Endangered Frigatebird "Lydia" Tracked in Google Earth

Lydia the Frigatebird in Google EarthRight before the holidays a critically endangered species of Frigatebird, which breeds on Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean, made the news. Scientists had tagged a female of the species (Fregata andrewsi) and using satellite tracking (similar to GPS) watched in amazement as she completed a 2500+ mile journey around southeast asia returning with food for her young. One of the Google Earth Community members, a Gary Hodges of Kentucky, decided to create an informative Google Earth file about the journey of Lydia and the background about these unique and beautiful birds. His file includes image overlays of satellite photos for the islands, the path of the flight, placemarks with pictures and text describing the birds and breeding grounds and locations along the journey, and maps describing the areas in more detail.

Gary also created an interesting "table of contents" of placemarks, in a column viewed with north up, which give an organized list of links providing background information on the bird, its endangered status, and the environment it lives in. This is an excellent method of using a Google Earth file to present a documentary of a subject. Great work Gary!

Another example of this documentary technique is the story of Sir Ernest Shackleton.

By the way, when I first started to write this story earlier this month, I discovered Gary had used a satellite photo of a different Christmas Island. The other one is located in the Pacific south of Hawaii and was used as a testing ground for Nuclear Bomb tests by the US. This was an easy mistake as my initial searches came up with the same satellite photo. Gary was quick to correct this mistake and added some other enhancements to his collection as well.

Enviado porFrankTaylor at 8:07 AM | Comments (0)

20 de Enero 2006

High Resolution 3D Eiffel Tower for Google Earth

3d Eiffel Tower in Google EarthSomeone at the Google Earth Community, who calls himself 'Sanga', recently posted the highest-fidelity 3D model of the Eiffel Tower yet. He used SketchUp (a 3D modelling program which has excellent conversion tools for Google Earth). He posted two versions of the Eiffel Tower - the larger one has a huge number of polygons, the smaller one still looks very good (and you may want the smaller one if you have less graphics memory). Turn off the "Terrain" Layer as this messes up the view of the base of the tower. Here they are: Eiffel Tower (1.8 Mbytes) and Eiffel Tower (1.04 MBytes) .

By the way, Sanga also developed a very detailed 3D model of the Taj Mahal (2 Mbytes) . Here's his post for this one.

For other 3D models...

For other 3D models written about in the Google Earth Blog, check these stories out:

Enviado porFrankTaylor at 8:35 AM | Comments (0)

19 de Enero 2006

Enhanced Road Layers for Google Earth

New Road Data in Google EarthGoogle just announced new enhanced road layers within Google Earth. The enhancements cover at least the US, Canada, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands - according to the brief announcement at the GEC here:

Jan 18th, 7pm (PST) The road layers have been updated in a number of ways. Have a look in the US, in Canada, in Puerto Rico, and in the US Virgin Islands to see some of the enhancements.

To see the new roads, turn on the Roads layer. The colors are now different for the roads, and look more like those found in Google Local. Also, the roads declutter as you zoom out, and the lines for the roads disappear when you're close enough to see the roads themselves from the aerial/satellite photography. Some of the road data seems more accurate than before. And, the road data was a bit more up to date at least in one place I looked at.

The decluttering effect seemed to apply to the UK and Italy when I looked, but I didn't notice a lot of different data for those countries. Anyone else notice something else new?

Enviado porFrankTaylor at 10:17 PM | Comments (3)

KMLer for Converting ArcGIS for Google Earth

Mount Everest GIS elevation in Google EarthThe guys at the Russian Academy of Sciences in Perm, Russia have released an application for converting ArcGIS 9 data into KML for use with Google Earth. KMLer is a commercial application costing US$20, they also have a free conversion application for ArcGIS called Typeconvert. You can view their samples page of Google Earth files. (Russian versions of these pages are available as well.) Here is an example of topographical elevation data for Mount Everest in GE.

One of the guys from this lab has written and published numerous interesting Google Earth files at the GE Community, including ones I've written about: Tracking Birds, and World Designer. Both of these applications probably used earlier versions of these conversion applications. Once again, great work Valery35 and the Perm GIS team. Cpacibo!

Enviado porFrankTaylor at 8:45 AM | Comments (1)

3D Planes for Flight Tracking in Google Earth

3d plane tracking in Google EarthFor a couple of weeks a guy called Sven from the Netherlands has posted his attempts to add 3D planes to the FBOweb real-time flight tracking application written about here before. Well, Sven has succeeded in creating a new version of a network link which places 3D airliner models in the correct 3D position from the fboweb application. NOTE: when you download the 3D plane flight tracker , make sure you turn on only one airport in the Places folder (ORD, LAX, BOS, or ATL) at a time as these network links use a lot of bandwidth. Also, you can double click on a flight folder to position yourself over a plane, then open that folder to find "Points of View" which allow you to select other views including different angles from the pilot perspective, directly above, or directly toward the plane. The network link updates every few seconds, so you may have to change your views often.

The application doesn't actually know the orientation of the plane in flight, but I believe he takes the short track from the previous position report and computes an angle of orientation accordingly. The orientation does look correct most of the time, or just off by a few degrees. Sometimes the flighttracker position data looks messed up, I saw one position report with planes on obvious collision courses. So, please don't expect the position reports to represent actual real-life situations. Despite the anomalies, this is a really cool addition to the flight tracker. This is great work Sven! Thanks for telling me about it.

Enviado porFrankTaylor at 8:24 AM | Comments (10)

18 de Enero 2006

Transatlantic Sailing Adventure Using Google Earth

Sailing adventures of Mussulo in Google EarthThree men in Brazil decided to sail across the Atlantic Ocean in a 40 foot long sailboat (monohull) named "Mussulo". The reason is apparently based on at least one of them having always dreamed of returning to Angola, a country he had left 30 years ago. They chose to take full advantage of Google Earth both to allow people to follow the trip, and to provide and anaylyze weather data. They have been using amateur radio for communication, and I presume GPS for navigation. Most significantly, Mussulo completed the journey to Angola and they have begun the trip back to Brazil.

The crew of Mussulo have been posting updates to the Google Earth Community (in both Portuguese and English translations). The Google Earth file they have posted not only provides the track and weather information, but also shows placemarks with "log" entries (also in both Portuguese and English - make sure you scroll down to see the English). The file is a network link so it automatically updates when they provide new entries.

The crew of Mussulo have...

The crew of Mussulo have a blog which shows lots of screenshots of how they have been using Google Earth to document the trip and analyze weather.
The name of their web site: "Abraço à Vela", loosely translates (according to Babelfish) to "I hug to the candle". From what I can gather from the posts their objective was to join hugs across the ocean. It is surprising, considering my passion for sailing, I have not noticed this interesting sailing adventure. My only excuse is that the posting was in Portuguese, which I don't speak. Anyway, my congratulations to this valiant crew for having made it across the oceans, and I wish them fair winds for their safe return!

Enviado porFrankTaylor at 8:50 AM | Comments (1)

17 de Enero 2006

New Book Covering Google Earth

This is the first book covering Google Earth I've seen announced (not yet available, but you can pre-order it at Amazon). The book is titled "Hacking Google Maps and Google Earth" by Martin C. Brown at Extreme Tech. From the description I don't think it has a lot of real new stuff on "hacking" Google Earth, most of the focus in the description seems to be focused on Google Maps. However, the listing says the book is 500 pages, so maybe there is more to it. Perhaps a listing of some of the best Google Earth KML files, with screenshots? Or, perhaps he covers how to use your GPS, do image overlays of your own satellite photos or weather radar images, or write your own KML and network links?

I expect this will be just the first of several new books we'll hear about covering Google Earth in the next few months. I'm curious how many of my readers here would be interested in a book about Google Earth?

Enviado porFrankTaylor at 2:08 PM | Comments (4)

Edificios 3D de Londres en Google Earth

Torre Euston Londres en Google EarthHay varios excelentes modelos 3D de varios lugares de Londres que están siendo compartidos en el blog llamado Digitally Distributed Environments. El autor principal del blog es el Dr. Andrew Hudson-Smith, y bien vale la pena ver su sitio web si les gusta conocer acerca de nuevas formas de visualizar espacios citadinos. Estuve leyendo sus posts durante los meses pasados y por alguna razón pensé que ya había escrito algo sobre su interesante blog. Se enfoca en modelos 3D de edificios, pero también publica algunas buenas fotografías panorámicas. Pueden comparar el nivel de precisión de sus modelos con las fotos aéreas de Google Earth. La cosa es que recientemente publicó varios nuevos edificios 3D para Google Earth. Aquí están los vínculos a varios de ellos (desactiven la capa de Edificios 3D antes de descargarlos para no ocupar mucha memoria):

Hoy, el Dr. Smith publicó un imagen estereoscópica (una foto que viéndola con anteojos rojo/azul se puede apreciar en 3D) de uno de sus edificios.

Enviado porFrankTaylor at 9:18 AM | Comments (3)

16 de Enero 2006

Environmental Groups Leveraging Google Earth

Sierra Club Artic Wildlife Refuge in Google EarthLast week the San Francisco Chronicle published an article - called "GREEN Eyes in the Sky " about how Google Earth is leveling the playing field for environmentalists by providing a powerful visualization tool. First, GE provides them with a powerful way to look at high resolution satellite and aerial photography of pollution, waste, industrial growth, and encroachment to natural areas (see example here). Second, GE is also a powerful presentation tool allowing them to not only see the ground in close detail, but also allowing the presentation of pictures, data (for example, waste sites, oil wells, etc.), highlighting rivers and waterways, showing deforestation , and more.

The SF Chronicle story highlights some examples of environmentalists using Google Earth. For example, the Sierra Club have put together a GE presentation on the encroachment of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska (here is the web site). Once you download it, make sure you look through the many options in the arctic.kmz folder you will find in your Temporary Places folder to see photos, movies, oil well placemarks, and other information they have provided.

Another excellent GE presentation was put together in response to some proposed logging in the Santa Cruz mountains of California. A concerned citizen put together a model showing where the logging would be done and the effects on the watershed. This presentation resulted in the proposed logging plan was withdrawn.

Enviado porFrankTaylor at 8:17 AM | Comments (4)

Google Earth Plus - Faster Network Access

lightningWhen Google Earth for Windows went out of beta last Tuesday, a new item was added to the features list of Google Earth Plus (GE+): Enhanced network access. That's right, if you buy the Google Earth Plus version ($20 per year subscription) you not only get the ability to draw paths and polygons, GPS integration support, greater printer resolution, and data import capability. But, also you get faster network access. Apparently this feature already existed for some months, but just wasn't documented. So, if you already have GE+, you have already been getting faster access.

According to the Google Earth development team, the feature enhances the download speed of the databases compared to the free version of GE. Here's a comment from one of the team members at the Google Earth Community: "Upgrading to Plus should improve network performance at least a little and in some cases a large amount (especially if you have a long latency to our servers). "

So, if you've been thinking about getting GE+, here's another reason to consider it. Those of you who are real addicts (like me) might want to give it some thought. :-) Anyway, if you want GE+, just select "Upgrade to Plus" in the Help Menu of Google Earth.

Enviado porFrankTaylor at 7:20 AM | Comments (1)

14 de Enero 2006

Real Estate for Google Earth by Re/Max - Again!

Re/Max Quebec Real Estate in Google EarthReal estate applications are probably one of the most obvious uses for Google Earth. Combining house listings with actual location information and viewing the satellite or aerial photographs of the property and nearby amenities is just the beginning. Just a few months after Google Earth was released last June, I wrote about a serious real estate application which was done for Re/Max for listings in the State of Colorado, USA. Now, Re/Max in Quebec, Canada has also done their own network link for Google Earth showing real estate listings in Quebec (NOTE: many of the listings' descriptions are only in French).

You can go to their web site (English version) to download the network link, or you can download the network link here .

Once you download the network link, zoom into Quebec and...

Once you download the network link, zoom into Quebec and pause a few seconds. The network link will automatically pull in more data as you get in closer - after you pause for about 4 seconds. Once you zoom in to a neighborhood, you will see actual listings (they will have dollar values in their placemark's label). Then, if you click on a placemark for a house, you will see a picture of the house, details on price and specs, and a link to the web site with further details and who to contact about buying.

One could speculate Re/Max wouldn't do another application if the first one wasn't successful. I know if I was looking for a house, I would definitely use Google Earth to help me determine the best location, and determine what businesses and schools were in the area before visiting the location in person. By the way, I also wrote about another real estate company in Florida which created a network link like this.

Enviado porFrankTaylor at 6:22 PM | Comments (10)

13 de Enero 2006

CIA World FactBook in Google Earth

CIA World Factbook in Google EarthA few months ago I wrote a story on a collection of placemarks which provided all sorts of details on countries, their flag, and links to other sources of information on the countries. This collection does something quite similar except it uses the flags as the placemarks, and uses the CIA World Factbook as the basis of its information. The CIA World Factbook is a nice collection of public information on countries of the world made available by the US government on the Internet for many years now. When you click on the country flags, you will see an excerpt of the background information (usually a historical/political perspective) from the Factbook, a link to the complete information, and links to both Google and Wikipedia information on that country. I recommend you click on "Borders" on the left, in the navigation window of GE, to show country outlines.

This collection was put together by the GEC community member known as 'Herrminator' who also published the excellent collection of World Heritage Locations written about earlier. Nice work Herrminator!

Enviado porFrankTaylor at 8:29 AM | Comments (2)

12 de Enero 2006

New Forum, Details on Google Earth for Mac

The beta version of Google Earth for the Mac released on Tuesday, 10-Jan-2006, is version 3.1.0527 and runs on Mac OS X 10.4+. This version does not quite have a complete set of the features seen on the Windows version. There are just a few uncompleted features for the Mac version:

  1. No browser internal to GE
  2. No full-screen mode
  3. No Gmail support
  4. No Plus or Pro version for the Mac yet

Google Earth onf the Mac also won't be capable of running specialized applications like the Globe Glider which uses Windows-only IE scripts to perform its magic. But, almost all standard Google Earth files and network links reportedly work just fine. All other features seem to work quite well, and only a few people will miss the features not yet implemented.

Google has created a "Google Earth for Mac OSX" Support Forum at the Google Earth Community. If you want to see what current problems people are experiencing, or want to report your own, go to that forum.

Google reportedly plans to support OS X 10.3.9. If you want to read a review of Google Earth by a real GE Mac fan, try OgleEarth.

Enviado porFrankTaylor at 7:57 PM | Comments (1)

Solar Eclipse Paths in Google Earth

Total solar eclipse March 29 in Google EarthRecently someone contacted me with some interesting Google Earth files which show solar eclipse paths (where the eclipse is viewable on the ground), both total and annular (for information on solar eclipses see this Wikipedia article). His web site contains a few historical ones dating back to 1961, but is mostly focused on near-term (those in this century) future eclipses. The next total solar eclipse is only 76 days away on 29-March-2006 and crosses over a lot of land mass from southern Russia, across Kazahkstan, Turkey, and right across north-central Africa. Here is the [EDIT: typo corrected] 29-March-2006 Total Eclipse path for Google Earth. Now you can plan your trip with Google Earth for the best location to view the Eclipse, find an airport, make hotel arrangements, figure out which geocaches are nearby, etc. Thanks to Xavier Jubier for creating the GE files and informing me about them. Also, his data came from Fred Espenak, at NASA/GSFC.

By the way, last October someone at the Google Earth Community, calling himself 'yaohua2000', posted a huge repository of all the solar eclipses (4.7 Mbytes) since the year 1001 for GE. WARNING: this might take a while to load (4.7 Mbytes), and your Earth will look like a yarn ball after it loads (he defaults with all the eclipse paths turned on). I recommend after it loads you find the placemark folder in your Temporary Places folder called "Eclipses" and turn it off. Then open the folder and turn on the type and year of eclipses you want to see (it is well organized hierachically). This is a very interesting collection of data. I was able to find a total eclipse I saw as a child (a long time ago).

Enviado porFrankTaylor at 8:11 AM | Comments (2)

11 de Enero 2006

FBOWeb Flight Tracking Revisited

Flight tracker Flying in Google Earth screenshotThe guys at fboweb.com, who brought the amazing near real-time flight tracking in Google Earth of planes flying into Los Angeles (LAX ) airport, have added several other major US airports you can watch. You see all the planes currently in the air inbound to the airport, and they show a short GPS-like track of their recent 3D path in the air. The tracking updates once every 10 seconds, so if you zoom into the aerial photo of the airport, and tilt your view, you can actually watch the approach and landing (or takeoff) of the aircraft.

The list of new airports includes: Boston (BOS), Chicago (ORD ), Atlanta (ATL ), and New York (JFK ). I highly recommend you turn off one airport's network link in the Places folder before you turn on the other (otherwise there is too much information). You can view the fboweb.com web site for these Google Earth files here. Also, make sure you tilt your view so you can see the 3D view of the plane tracks.

Enviado porFrankTaylor at 8:52 AM | Comments (7)

10 de Enero 2006

Important Basics for Google Earth

Mount St. Helens in Google Earth[EDIT 12-Jan-2006: After you read this story, check out the new Google Earth Basics page here at GEB for a list of helpful stories for beginners.]

For the many new users of Google Earth (GE), here are some important tips for getting the most out of the application. Learning to manipulate the mouse and keys to control GE is crucial to getting the most out of sightseeing the Earth.

For those of you with multiple mouse buttons: using a mousewheel is the easiest way to raise or lower your viewing point (or you can hold the right mouse button and slide forward and back). Alternatively, you can use the CTRL-UP ARROW or CTRL-DOWN ARROW keys on your keyboard. Finally, you can use the visual controls on the Nav panel with the + and - symbols. All of these methods adjust your altitude above the Earth's surface. You can see your height above sea level in the lower right of the GE viewing window. You can move the Earth to position it where you want to see by clicking a point with the left mouse button and slide the cursor to the middle of the viewing window. This way you can learn to zoom in and see the closest possible view of the aerial and satellite photo views of the Earth.

At first, many people don't realize...

At first, many people don't realize Google Earth is much more than a map with aerial and satellite photos attached. GE uses data from NASA Space Shuttle missions which provides 3D terrain data for the entire land surface of the Earth. Let's demonstrate this.

Click on this link to go to GE and fly to Mount St. Helens. Beautiful view right? But, try this: hold your PAGE DOWN key on your keyboard and watch GE tilt your view so you can see Mount St. Helens as a 3D mountain. Very cool right? PAGE UP will tilt your view back up. You can also use the controls on the right side of the navigational control panel for tilting. You can hit the "u" key to tilt back straight up automatically. The "r" key will reset to north and tilt up.

An easier way to tilt and pan your view is to click and hold the middle mouse button or scroll wheel button (those of you who have a Mac with one mouse button have to use the above key or navigational control techniques). While you're holding the middle button if you move your mouse forward and backwards it will tilt the view. Side to side will pan your view around the point you are looking at. Holding the SHIFT key will constrain your tilt and allow you to rotate your view about a point.

Check out other tips for using GE in the Google Earth Blog tips category. If you haven't seen it, read Google's basic tour as well.

Enviado porFrankTaylor at 11:01 PM | Comments (6)

Google Earth is Official: Not Beta Anymore

Google has finally made Google Earth official - it's not a beta product anymore. Now even more people will be able to use Google Earth for sightseeing, business applications, GIS applications, sports, planes and flying, and more. Welcome to all the new Google Earth users downloading GE for the first time. Read Google Earth tips as you learn more about the program.

The announcement was made at the Official Google Blog. Also part of the announcement, the Mac version of Google Earth is now available (see this story). Google Earth version 3.0.0762 for Windows XP, which was released in November, was deemed worthy enough for the announcement of official release.

The Google Earth team has worked very hard in the past 6 months, since GE first went into beta, with several public updates addressing problems and adding features to the program. For some time now I've been predicting they were about to make the product official, and after the announcement of the Google Pack at the CES Keynote last Friday, I knew it had to happen soon.


So, now, as an official product, maybe Google will put even more PR muscle behind this really awesome program. I expect the media will be writing more about Google Earth in the coming weeks and months. If you haven't downloaded Google Earth yet, you are missing out on one of the most amazing free programs ever made available on the Internet. Congratulations go to the hard-working Google Earth team (with a little help from a few million beta testers).

Enviado porFrankTaylor at 3:58 PM | Comments (3)

Google Earth announcing Mac version today!

This is the one many people have been waiting for! Today, in time for MacWorld, Google has announced the availability of a version of Google Earth for the Mac! There's a link off the home page for GE at http://earth.google.com/ to the Official Google Blog announcement. There's also a screenshot of the new release. Also, the word "Beta" is missing from the Google Earth logo! The version released is for Mac OSX 10.4 and up, so upgrade if you aren't there yet.

[EDITED: added the link to the blog announcement, and the OS version.]

Enviado porFrankTaylor at 3:48 PM | Comments (1)

Lancaster Bomber Caught Flying in Google Earth

Bomber in England in Google EarthThis is the Placemark of the day! A lot of folks are publishing this one around the web, so I should make sure all of you get a chance to see it as well. A first time poster at the Google Earth Community posted a placemark to this incredible sight of a fully restored Lancaster Bomber which just happened to be flying just about over his house (which is why he found it). According to other posters in the thread, this is the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Avro Lancaster, normally located in the City of Lincoln, England (see website). But, it happened to be flying about in this Google Earth photo. As someone said, this would be an incredible 500th post in the GEC, but a historic first post. Another vote of thanks for finding this one SergioL.

Enviado porFrankTaylor at 9:43 AM | Comments (22)

9 de Enero 2006

GeoTag Your Flickr Photos WITH Google Earth!

Geotag photos with Flickrmap in Google EarthLast November a new web site called FlickrMap was announced by Mark Zeman which is an excellent tool for viewing geotagged (tying earth coordinates to a photo) Flickr photos in a Flash map (a small US$5 subscription is required to have your own map, but it is free to just geotag). FlickrMap was already cool in its interface for viewing geotagged photos on an interactive map, but you still had to use a variety of tools and steps to geotag your photos. Well, Mark just contacted me to say he has written an AJAX application which allows you to quickly and easily geotag your photos using Google Earth for the interface. This is the fastest and best method I've seen yet for geotagging. Not only that, but Mark produced a really excellent video tutorial showing you the steps for using his application with Google Earth to Geotag.

Here is how you use the FlickrMap geotagging tool with Google Earth:

1. You need a free account and your own uploaded photos at Flickr
2. Download the geotagging GE network link from Flickrmap
3. Find the first location for your photo(s) in GE and click "Refresh" on the network link
4. Click on the placemark and click on "Geotag Flickr Photos with this location"
5. You will then go to Flickr and select the photos you want for this location. The ones you select are now geotagged.

After the first time, all you do is turn on the Flickrmap network link and start geotagging. It's really that easy. A very nice capability! Thanks to Mark for both writing this excellent application, and letting me test it.

This is another example of integrating other applications with Google Earth creating whole new capabilities never expected by Google themselves. A few days ago I wrote about Globe Glider which lets you use Google Maps within Google Earth. When Google improves the API and KML with new capabilities we will see even more exciting integrations like this in the coming months and years.

Enviado porFrankTaylor at 10:10 AM | Comments (0)

Off Road Races in Dakar and Baja

Dakar2006 Race Track in Google EarthAn off road enthusiast from the Google Earth Community (who calls himself TommyAfrika) forwarded me some forum threads dedicated to off road races. The first is for the Dakar 2006 which is probably the most grueling off road race in the world from Lisbon, Portugal to Dakar in Senagal in western Africa. The Dakar race goes through some of the most inhospitable terrain on the planet. Unfortunately, the Dakar 2006 did not choose to publish GPS coordinates for the positions of its racers. So, all we have so far is an image overlay and waypoints of the course. Here's the forum thread which includes some good links to videos describing the course - here's a documentary video (English - other languages available in the forum) about the Dakar 2006. The Dakar 2006 is currently in day 9 out of the 16 days it is estimated it will take to complete the course.

Another off road race held in November, 2005 was the Tecate Baja 1000 rally. Here's an overlay showing the course of the Baja 1000 rally , and here is the GEC forum thread about it.

These races need to publish their GPS data so you can follow them in Google Earth like the current round-the-world sailing race called the Volvo Ocean Race.

Enviado porFrankTaylor at 8:31 AM | Comments (1)

7 de Enero 2006

Google Earth for Cars

Google announced during the CES Keynote last night that they have begun working with at least one car manufacturer (Volkswagen) to explore putting Google Earth/Local as an embedded application for car navigation. gpsreview.net has written some interesting thoughts about this announcement saying Google has all the makings of a good car navigation system now, except you would need $26,000 in equipment to store the entire Google Database in a car, since broadband connections to cars are not available yet. He was just speculating on what it would take to put the whole thing in the car of course.

Actually, you wouldn't need the entire database since cars rarely travel the entire surface of the Earth. In fact, existing car navigation systems usually get by with just a couple dozen Megabytes for maps and points of interest (POI - things like restaurants, addresses, hotels, etc.). You would need more space to store satellite/aerial photography though. I suspect a 200Gbyte hard drive could store all the data needed for Google Earth for an area covering several states in the US.

The other thing to consider is that with a WIFI connection in the car, the car could do literal "war driving" and pick up data as it moves from location to location from the Google database. A better solution would be legitimate WIFI connections placed in locations entering and leaving cities or states. Rest area WIFI maybe?

By the way, there are people already using Google Earth in cars today. You can read about people hooking up their GPSes to Google Earth if you go to the Dynamic Data Layers forum at the GEC and search for "+GPS +Navigation". And, someday a streamlined Google Earth for embedded car systems may be quite practical.

Enviado porFrankTaylor at 11:40 AM | Comments (7)

6 de Enero 2006

Updates on the Live Google Keynote at CES


(image from Engadget)

The CES Google Keynote just started 5 minutes ago. It started out with Google Earth being shown flying over the Eiffel tower, then to one of the Africa Megaflyover images, then to the Grand Canyon, and then to Las Vegas (where the CES is being held). Next, Larry Page (co-founder of Google) shows up in a lab coat on the stage on top of one of the robot SUVs which raced in the Darpa Robot challenge! (see live reports from the show at Engadget).

Larry said they are working with VW to put a live version of Google Earth in your car dashboard. They did a demo of it showing an aerial view of where you were driving. Very interesting!

Both the...

Both the Google Video Store deal and the Google Pack mentioned earlier have been announced in press releases at Google (Video and Pack). The Google Pack includes Google Earth. You can download the Google Pack now at Pack.Google.com. As far as I can tell, it is the current beta version of Google Earth, nothing new.

Apparently Robin Williams was invited up and has the audience rolling on the floor. :-)

Google Local Mobile was shown on a Blackberry earlier in the presentation. Here's a link to the new Google web page for downloading GLM. It reportedly works very well on the Blackberry.

They are doing the Q&A now, so it looks like there's no chance for any mention of new Google Earth stuff. From the comments being posted at Engadget it looks like Google's going to get a beating from a lot of analysts (especially Mac and Linux users). The Google Pack contains no real new products, and the Video Store won't really compete with the iTunes videos because they don't support the Mac. Apparently some people think the GLM thing is the biggest new product released at the keynote. I'll wait until I see the video of the presentation before I make any further observations.

Apparently the audience at the keynote thought it was the most entertaining keynote ever. Michael Jones from Google Earth told the Engadget guys they were backstage downloading their blog updates the whole time. :-)

Here's a link to a portion of the keynote on video from CNET. This part covers the Google Video Store announcement.

Here's a link to the entire keynote as a podcast (audio only) in two parts from the San Francisco Chronicle. (Caution, the Robin Williams parts are probably not appropriate for children)

Enviado porFrankTaylor at 7:21 PM | Comments (2)

Lawsuit Asking Court to Shut Down Google Earth

Just couple of hours from Google's big keynote address and I've just read a blog entry that a company is trying to have Google Earth shutdown due to patent infringement. Here's the article in the Arizona Republic newspaper (Arizona is where the case is being heard). Let's hope Google is able to settle this case before a shutdown is necessary. According to the story, Google has until January 18th to respond to the motion.

Enviado porFrankTaylor at 5:36 PM | Comments (3)

All Eyes on Google Keynote at CES Today

Google's Larry Page (co-founder of Google) will be presenting a Keynote address at CES today at 4PM PST. The rumors have been flying about what will be announced from a new Google PC to a software package called Google Pack. The Google PC rumor was shot down by Google themselves. The Google Pack, if this is true, will include a number of packages like Firefox, Norton AntiVirus, RealPlayer, and a number a Google packages like Google Toolbar and of course: Google Earth. You can read some interesting speculation about the Google Pack at the blog Inside Google.

It's my hope they will announce Google Earth is out of beta and/or even more forthcoming updates to the Google Earth databases. As soon as I find out what is announced, if it applies to Google Earth, you can read about it here at Google Earth Blog.

Enviado porFrankTaylor at 10:30 AM | Comments (3)

Volvo Ocean Race Leg 2

Pirates of the Caribbean Sailboat Volvo Ocean RaceLeg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race (an around the world sailing yacht race) began on January 2nd. You can get the details about the race and Google Earth network link in my earlier stories here and here. Or you can just download the network link now.

By the way, two of the boats have turned back to South Africa due to damage near the start of leg 2. Team Ericsson stopped racing and turned back with a failure of one keel actuating ram, and then Brasil 1 turned back with structural failure in the region of the cockpit. These boats are very powerful, but the southern ocean is very menacing. The boats have to be very careful in these dangerous seas, winds, and ice. In order to win, you have to finish! The two boats returning may be able to effect repairs and return to the race.

Enviado porFrankTaylor at 8:52 AM | Comments (1)

5 de Enero 2006

Aurora Viewing Map in Google Earth

Aurora viewing map from NOAA in Google EarthAurora picture by Time Tomljanovich from www.nsaclub.org/photos/aurora/ A few months ago, a Google Earth Community member called 'Core5' proposed an idea for showing maps using data produced by NOAA which can show the areas where viewing aurora might be likely. Core5 wanted to present those maps in Google Earth. It took a while, but he finally got in touch with the NOAA people who produced the data, and they helped implement maps in the GE format (KML). Core5 recently posted this automatically updating Aurora viewing map at the GEC. NOAA has developed a preliminary "user guide" which you can read here (the file is not officially published yet).

From the NOAA site, the data is described briefly as this:

Instruments on board the NOAA Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite (POES) continually monitor the power flux carried by the protons and electrons that produce aurora in the atmosphere. SEC has developed a technique that uses the power flux observations obtained during a single pass of the satellite over a polar region (which takes about 25 minutes) to estimate the total power deposited in an entire polar region by these auroral particles. The power input estimate is converted to an auroral activity index that ranges from 1 to 10.

Core5 is to be commended for his persistence in making this happen. And, NOAA is also to be commended for implementing this visually powerful tool which may help many people see an aurora who had never seen one of these awe-inspiring natural firework events. NOTE: there is no guarantee you will see an aurora based on these maps. They are like a weather map which shows you the probability that an aurora might be viewable from a given location. Weather itself could also be a factor since you can't see Aurora through clouds.

Enviado porFrankTaylor at 8:57 AM | Comments (1)

Nature Updates Avian Flu Outbreak Map

Avian Flu Outbreak Map in Google EarthA few months ago Declan Butler, a Senior Reporter for Nature Magazine, began publishing work he was doing to provide data on the Avian Flu outbreak using Google Earth. Declan has continued to work on the data, and recently announced an update on his blog. The update includes a greatly improved look and even more recent data on the outbreak of avian flu. As you would expect from a Senior Reporter of a scientific magazine, Declan includes details on the data, how he compiled the data, and issues with presenting the data within the Google Earth file. He also provides details on how he implemented the Google Earth KML, and credits suggestions given to him which helped him improve the data presented.

[EDIT 1245pm EST: The article which...

[EDIT 1245pm EST: The article which mentions the Avian flu outbreak map as well as the GE file is published now (subscription required) at the online Nature Magazine. Declan Butler was nice enough to forward me a copy of the article. The article however is not an article on the flu or the flu map, but an article about how mashups can mix databases from a variety of sources and viewed easily by wide audiences. Hopefully Declan will write a future story specifcally about his Google Earth/Avian Flu project.]

Stefan Geens at OgleEarth wrote about this today and he points out some of the issues Declan (and others) encountered in the GE user interface presented by large datasets like this. In particular, Stefan mentioned the need for a time-based animation feature in GE and points out that Google's Michael Jones recently demonstrated an in-house capabiility to do exactly that type of feature (so, we can only hope that feature will be availiable in a future release). Being able to show the spread of the flu over time with an animation would be quite powerful.

Enviado porFrankTaylor at 8:19 AM | Comments (0)

4 de Enero 2006

Tropical Storm Zeta

Tropical Storm Zeta was one of the only Atlantic Tropical Storms in recorded history to cross over into a new year (since tropical storms are so rare in the winter in the north Atlantic). NASA occasionally releases high resolution enhanced satellite photos, and I've created an image overlay for Google Earth of one for Tropical Storm Zeta . The image is a 1km resolution photo courtesy of MODIS Rapid Response Project at NASA/GSFC.

You might want to try this automatic Hurricane Tracker to keep track of this and other storms around the world. Read this story for more information on this hurricane tracker.

Enviado porFrankTaylor at 4:35 PM | Comments (0)

Geography Teachers and Google Earth

Ever since Google Earth was first released, I've thought teachers of all sorts would find it an indespensible tool for teaching. In particular, I'm sure geography lessons are being transformed by Google Earth. It turns out there are some web sites to help teachers use Google Earth for Geography.

There is a site dedicated to tools on the Internet for enhancing geography called JuicyGeography (www.juicygeography.co.uk) which is written by a teacher in Somerset, England. The teacher has a growing resource for teachers for using Google Earth to teach geography. Included are suggestions for lessons and resources (GE Files and placemarks) to build lessons. One of the most interesting lessons is a decision making exercise letting students evaluate the hazards in an earthquake in San Francisco. Ideas also include doing image overlays, using GIS data, mapping, using GPS, and more.

Another useful geography site from the UK is called GeographyPages.co.uk. The teacher responsible for the site recently was awarded Royal Geographical Society - Institute of British Geographers Innovative Geography Teaching Grant. He has also developed an extensive collection of notes and references for using Google Earth to teach.

Looks like the UK educators are first to see the opportunities with Google Earth and start writing about it on the web. Are there other similar web sites for educators who want to use Google Earth? Leave me a comment here, and I'll write about them in future stories and add them to the Reference section.

Enviado porFrankTaylor at 8:23 AM | Comments (1)

3 de Enero 2006

Globe Glider - Integrated Maps within Google Earth

[UPDATE May 2007: Read about the new version of Globe Glider and see a video of it in action.]

Globe Glider Google Maps in Google EarthEvery once in a while, someone does something truly groundbreaking with Google Earth. Globe Glider is an awesome new application which integrates web mapping within Google Earth. The application is used within Google Earth as a network link. When you install the application, you must have IE 6 installed (sorry Mac users), and you must enable scripting for it to work. You also need the most recent version of GE. This is all explained in the simple three-step installation instructions at globeglider.net.

Globe Glider allows you to:

  • See an interactive Google Maps within GE, the map can be zoomed using the scroll-wheel on your mouse just like GE
  • Search for locations, click on links to nearby cities, or click on the map or GE for a new location
  • When you move to a new location, the map and GE re-align themselves
  • Globe Glider lets you get more information on a new location from several sources: Answers.com, GeoURL, a custom Guide, or Hotels
  • You can save Favorite locations
  • You can also create overlay maps for the current view using either Topo maps, or Google Maps

The author...

The author, called 'BernhardMuc', posted an announcement at the Google Earth Community, but I first heard about this at OgleEarth. This is the type of integration with Google Maps I expect we will be seeing in the future from Google themselves. In the meantime, make Globe Glider a part of My Places in your Google Earth.

[This story picked up and mentioned at GoogleMapsMania.]

Enviado porFrankTaylor at 9:13 AM | Comments (5)

2 de Enero 2006

Heavy Weight Boxing Champions in Google Earth

Boxing Champions Muhammad Ali in Google EarthAnother entry for the sports category. One of the Google Earth Community members who calls himself 'Up_The_Spurs' recently posted a collection of placemarks for the birth places of all the heavy weight boxing World Champions. His collection goes from John L. Sullivan in 1882 to Nikolai Valuev on December 17, 2005.

The collection of placemarks shows not only the location of the boxing champions' birthplace, but also provides details on the boxer. Included are date of birth, reign, a photo, and background on most of the champions. I've included a screenshot of Muhammad Ali for example. Nice work 'Up_The_Spurs'.

Enviado porFrankTaylor at 10:05 AM | Comments (0)

Using Google Earth on Linux with Wine

Using the Wine (Windows Emulator) it is now possible to use Google Earth on Linux. Here are instructions on how to do it at the Gentoo Linux Wiki. The instructions do not seem too difficult, but seem to require Gentoo Linux. Reports are that it works well. This came out over the weekend through Digg and several other blogs. I first read it via OgleEarth.

Enviado porFrankTaylor at 8:17 AM | Comments (7)

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