28 de Febrero 2006
The Missions of Baja California in Google Earth
One of the members of the Google Earth Community has been working on a project to document the missions of Baja California. TommyAfrika, a GEC Oracle (an attribute given because he has posted over 1500 posts), has worked long and hard to achieve accuracy and thoroughness in this collection. You can see the collection here . The author noted he has done his best to place the missions in the correct locations in the satellite photos of GE, but is open to feedback. Note that for each mission placemark there are usually links to more information on web sites, photographs, and each placemark has a different icon depending on whether it is Jesuit, Franciscan, or Dominican. Tommy has tried to get accurate dates for the missions as well. If you look in the Places pane you after clicking on a mission placemark you will often see a map available. If you turn this on an image overlay showing a map of the area around the mission will be shown.
This is a good example of using Google Earth's features to document geospatially oriented historical information in a concise and easy to understand manner. You can see Tommy's post at the GEC here. Great work Tommy!
27 de Febrero 2006
Image Overlay Creator for Google Earth
Creating accurately scaled and placed image overlays from other mapping and satellite photo resources is not always a simple process. GPSVisualizer.com has just released yet another tool for Google Earth allowing you to automatically create such image overlays. The form will automatically locate and overlay the map or image you choose and allows you to choose the resolution of the resulting image. For adding a topographical map, or adding better resolution for areas with lower resolution satellite photos, this can be a valuable tool. Here is a link to the image overlay form. The screenshot here is a topographical map of Kitt Peak overlayed over the mountain using the GPSVisualizer form.
What's interesting is the...
What's interesting is the unique method for choosing a site. In addition to giving a simple center-point coordinate for a location, you can also upload a GPS track or even a KML file to determine the location for the overlay. If you upload a GPS track it will determine the boundaries of the track and create an overlay covering that extent. Similarly, if you have a KML with placemarks or paths it will use the extent of those points for the overlay extent. Very slick!
As usual with GPSVisualizer, you can use the form to choose from a variety of images and maps including: USGS aerial photos, USGS Topographical maps, NASA Modis satellite photos, NASA Landsat, and others. Some of the data is only good for the US or Canada, and some cover the world. The program will automatically tell you if you've provided a location not covered by the database chosen. GPSVisualizer is one of my favorite tools - here are some other stories I've written about it: here and here. Great work Adam!
Windfarm Proposal as Geography Lesson
A proposed wind farm (large modern windmills for wind-powered energy) at Batsworthy Cross in England has become the subject of a Geography lesson available to teachers on the web. This lesson uses Google Earth to model the proposed wind farm at the actual site, and also has placed the 3D models in a retouched photo at the site to show what they would look like. In addition, a map overlay showing the region is provided as well. The lesson plan and Google Earth file are available at JuicyGeography, an excellent resource for geography teachers I've written about before. Unfortunately, probably because the region is less populated, the proposed location only has low-resolution satellite photos. The lesson plan calls for students to reach a conclusion about the proposed plan based on a variety of resources including information from the company proposing the site, and the Google Earth file from JuicyGeography.
26 de Febrero 2006
Vietnam Medal of Honor Winners in Google Earth
The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration awarded by the United States. It is awarded "for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life, above and beyond the call of duty, in actual combat against an armed enemy force."
This is the announcement of a collection of US Medal of Honor winners starting with all those who received the medal from the Vietnam War. The collection shows the placemarks of the birthplaces of each winner and the descriptions show date of birth, rank, organization, location of deed, and the citation. Photos are also available. The collection was developed by 'Up_The_Spurs' from the Google Earth Community who also did the recipients of the Victoria Cross. He says in his post at the GEC that he plans to do all 3461 medal recipients and organize them according to conflict and military organization, and that this will take him several months. I will keep you posted here as he adds others.
FSPilot Connects FS2004 to Google Earth
Mircrosoft Flight Simulator 2004 can now output to Google Earth via FSPilot V1.4. FSPilot is an add-on application for FS2004 which is an enhanced autopilot, navigation, and flight planning utility which works with all planes and helicopters for the simulator. This new version can export your flight path (in a fashion very similar to a GPS track), and other flight plan information, to Google Earth directly from the application. You can export the location of nav aids (NDBs, VORs, airports, etc.) as well.
This application is different from the application I wrote about last summer which allows you to follow locations of planes in FS2004 in Google Earth using network links. FSPilot V1.4 is more like a "GPS" output for flight paths or flight plans to Google Earth. You can download FSPilot V1.4 for free here. The application is donation-ware (meaning they expect you to donate some money if you use it beyond a test). Here is the announcement they made at the GEC.
25 de Febrero 2006
Dinosaurs Walk the Google Earth
In this satellite photo, you can clearly see the above-view, and especially the distinctive shadows, of a Brontosaurus and a T-Rex walking along in the backyard of a manufacturing plant in Alpha, New Jersey. It turns out someone found these in Google Earth last July. GoogleSightseeing wrote a blog entry about the dinosaurs a couple of days ago, and found out more information. For one thing, there is also a cave man between and slightly to the north of the two dinosaurs. And, there's a triceratops on the premises as well, which someone who commented on the story found. Check the dinosaurs out in Google Earth here , and here's a link to Google Maps to the area.
According to GoogleSightseeing's post, these dinosaurs were built by Woody Hauser who works at the G J Oliver Company which manufactures and designs lube oil systems, and fabricates steel for industrial use. In his spare time, Woody designs and builds dinosaurs out of steel. Here are some ground-level photos of the dinosaurs.
By the way, here are some other dinosaurs found near the McDonnell Planetarium in St. Louis. I was just visiting this excellent planetarium a couple of weeks ago, and highly recommend it. The guy who runs the planetarium, Gregg Maryniak, formerly ran the Ansari X-Prize project when Burt Rutan won the $10 Milion prize with Space Ship One. You can see a life-sized model of Space Ship One in the lobby, and many other awesome space and aviation related exhibits. The planetarium is part of the excellent St. Louis Science Center. Digg it!
24 de Febrero 2006
Movie Locations in Google Earth
A horror film buff by the name of Mark Allen recently published the locations where several of his favorite films were made at his blog. He uses screenshots from Google Earth and gives coordinates. I have no idea why he didn't also put placemarks at the locations so you could easily view them in Google Earth. Anyway, a number of other movie shooting locations placemark locations for Google Earth have been released as well. Here's a story from GEB last summer showing the locations of where The Lord of the Rings were shot in New Zealand. Someone at the GEC posted several of the locations from the Back to the Future movies. And finally, here's a collection of several famous locations from American TV shows and some movie locations with details in the post at GEC.
China's Secret Underground Nuclear Sub Base in Google Earth
The Washington Times wrote a story recently about some declassified satellite images made public by Imaging Notes Magazine of secret bases in China. Of particular interest is the location of a formerly secret underground nuclear submarine base which has a tunnel entrance for the subs, as well as a tunnel for landbased equipment. The image came from Digital Globe, one of the providers of satellite photos for Google Earth. Stefan at OgleEarth took the images from the story and created image overlays for Google Earth so you can see the exact location and the detailed images with the annotations provided by Imaging Notes.
23 de Febrero 2006
Avian Flu Preparedness Using Google Earth
A Time Magazine writer just contacted me to let me know she had written an article today involving Google Earth at time.com. Christine Gorman, a Senior Writer at Time, wrote about how a poultry veterinarian at the University of Pennsylvania named Sherrill Davison is using Google Earth's satellite and aerial photos for the poultry industry to prepare an avian flu response plan (in case it is needed in the US). Christine says in her article:
Preparation includes computerized databases that contain information about every major commercial poultry farm in the U.S., where it is located and the placement of its buildings. Knowing these locations in advance, along with other information, allows you to figure out where to cull the animals, if need be. And if you need to set up a quarantine area, it helps to know what other nearby farms or buildings should be included.
That is where Google Earth comes in. Starting about a month ago, Davison says, she and others began using Google Earth to double-check their maps of poultry farms. The resolution is so good that they were able to pinpoint where the poultry houses are and update their information.
The Skylon in Google Earth
Dr. Smith has added a new 3D model of a London structure to his collection at his Digitally Distributed Environments blog. This time he is interested in modelling some buildings which had contributed to the London skyline in the past. He started with an interesting structure called The Skylon which looks like a skeleton rocket. According to Dr. Smith:
The Skylon, designed by Philip Powell and Hildalgo Moya, became the centre point of the Festival of Britain on the South Bank of London in 1951. ... The Festival of Britain and the Skylon became a centre piece on the South Bank of London, similar to the way the London Eye is today. Sadly it was demolished in 1952 by the Conservative Government and the site is now occupied by the National Theatre.
In order to improve the screenshot, I changed the color of the model to rust. So, that's the version you can download above. I also forced my graphics card to do anti-aliasing to improve the screen shot (eliminate jaggies). The model sits on top of an aerial photo of today's buildings at the site. You can turn on the provided overlay which shows the layout of the festival in 1951. You can download Dr. Smith's original model at his blog which is gray in color.
By the way, I turned up this Wikipedia entry on the Skylon that says the structure was closed down due to fears of lightning strikes (the structure was steel).
22 de Febrero 2006
Touch and Gos
Just thought I would share a recent practice flying trip I made down to Pinehurst, Golf Capitol of North Carolina (home to many US Opens). Maybe you can learn how easy it is to share your GPS use with Google Earth. I flew a few touch and gos in a Cessna 182 and then headed back to the base airport at Sanford, NC. As usual, I took along my GPS and after the flight was able to quickly produce this nice Google Earth illustration of the flight.
The GPS track is in 3D so you can see the altitude changes as well as the track over the satellite photos of the area. The color of the track represents the range of altitudes (purple the highest, red the lowest). You can view three different preset views I stored to illustrate the touch and gos and the takeoff and final approach and landing (they are in the Places folder, double-click and it will fly you to the new view).
How did I do this? After flying...
How did I do this? After flying the flight with my GPS turned on, I connected the GPS to my computer (my GARMIN 60Csx uses a USB cable for this). Garmin's Mapsource program lets you transfer your tracks and waypoints quite easily. Simply select the menu choice "Transfer->Transfer from device". Since last fall, Mapsource can generate a Google Earth file as soon as you have your track loaded (just select "View->View in GE"). But, I wanted the fancy colorized track. So, I used GpsVisualizer.com.
Here are the steps:
- First, I saved my track in Mapsource as a GPX file type.
- Next, I simply went to this form at GpsVisualizer.com and clicked on the "Browse" button for File #1 and pointed it to my GPX file.
- Gave it a document name
- Selected "Altitude Mode:" of "Absolute" (so it shows altitudes),
- Selected "Colorize by:" "Altitude/Elevation" (so you see the colored tracks)
- Simply selected "Create KML File".
It literally takes just a few seconds to do the whole thing. I then added some camera views to the Places folder to make it a little more snazzy. Then I uploaded the file to the web site here so I could share it. The key to getting a GPS file into Google Earth is getting your tracks into a GPX file. Which is a standard file format supported by almost any GPS. And for those GPSes that don't. someone has probably written a free converter.
21 de Febrero 2006
Emotion Map in Google Earth
What happens when you merge art, science, volunteers for an experiment, GPS, a Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) device, cameras, Greenwich and Google Earth? An emotion map of people living and working and what they see and feel. This is one of the most amazing multifaceted applications of Google Earth I've seen yet!
I found this last night through this blog entry. The blog called the Westcombe Society says it is a local amenity group which aims to foster community spirit and protect the character of the area between Greenwich Park and other nearby areas. Apparently they have a very innovative sub-committee which produced the emotion map. They have created the emotionmap.net web site which describes the progress and provides the Google Earth network link of their emotion map . The key to the project is the Biomap Device which allows the wearer to record their Galvanic Skin Response (GSR), which is a simple indicator of emotional arousal in conjunction with their geographical location. The volunteers also use a GPS, a digital camera, and somehow take notes of their feelings at particular points as they move about the environment of Greenwich, England. It's nice that Greenwich has particularly high resolution aerial photos in GE.
Once you load the emotion map , you will see a lot of information. You are seeing all the data for a dozen or so people. The camera icons show the photos they have taken, if you tilt the view you see the "graphs" in different colors showing the emotion indicators for each participant. You can reduce the clutter by going to the Places area and right clicking the main folder "Greenwich Emotion Map" and selecting "Hide Contents" (this turns off everything). Then I suggest you select a particular person and turn on their photos and Bio Mapping Walks. You can also turn on all the waypoints. As you turn on each person, you can follow their Emotion map. Amazing! Digg it!
(By the way, they used RoboGeo to merge the GPS, photos, and maps.)
Cheney Shooting in Google Earth
Someone at the Google Earth Community who calls himself 'DickCheney' took the time to create a rather graphic 3D model of Vice President Dick Cheney shooting his friend in a hunting accident which happened a little over a week ago. I'm not sure if you call this political commentary, or crime scene investigation. But, it's interesting to see Google Earth used in this way.
You may have difficulty when you first load the GE file. I had to raise my eye level a few feet because the camera was so close that the models weren't visible.
According to posts at the GEC, the poster of the model placed his model in the location given in the news as the site of the accident (although there have been hints in the media that the information is questionable). Digg it!
19 de Febrero 2006
Follow Volvo Ocean Race Leg 4 in Google Earth
The 4th leg of the Volvo Ocean Race round-the-world yacht race started today. They left Wellington, New Zealand for Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 6700 nautical miles away. This is the longest leg of the race, and goes through the perilous roaring 40s of the southern ocean, around the treacherous Cape Horn, and through the tricky southern Atlantic.
You can see other 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 and see the history of the previous three legs and watch the LIVE race in Google Earth right now. You might want to load the current global clouds as well.
You also might want to install the excellent official free 3D application - Virtual Spectator = for watching the race with more detailed information and excellent 3D rendering of the boats, their wake, sail changes, the weather, night and day, and the weather conditions. It runs on Windows 98 and up.
17 de Febrero 2006
Giant Frog Attacks Chicago
This is an unretouched aerial photo of a giant frog about to leap into a major intersection in Chicago. Ok, maybe it's not going to jump, but it really is there. You can see the frog in Google Earth here , or in Google Local here. Using the measuring tool in Google Earth, the frog is over 25 feet long. You can also see the cars nearby for size comparison. I found out about this amazing frog at GoogleSightseeing.com.
According to one of the readers at GoogleSightseeing, the frog is actually a statue for the entrance to the Rainforest Cafe. He provided a street-level photo of the entrance showing the frog over the front door. Like this story? Digg it!
Nice Collection of 3D Buildings for Google Earth
This morning someone posted at the Google Earth Community (GEC) that he has released a new blog showing a number of very nice 3D models of buildings and other structures all designed for viewing in Google Earth. The new blog is oddly called ZNO, and today contains models of some of the world's tallest buildings (or proposed buildings), the Millau Viaduct in France, and a number of buildings from Christchurch, NZ. Jason Mill is the name of the author of the blog, and I suspect from the focus on Christchurch and the blog URL (znonz.blogspot.com) he is from New Zealand.
Here is a sample of the models to be found (you can visit his blog to see screenshots and links to all the models):
- Heritage in Cathedral Square - Christchurch, New Zealand
- Milau Viaduct - engineering marvel in France
- Christchurch Cathedral - Christchurch's most famous landmark
- Christchurch, New Zealand - an aerial image overlay for Christchurch
Great work Jason! In honor of this nice collection of 3D models, I've added a new category at Google Earth Blog for "3D Models".
16 de Febrero 2006
Update on Nature Magazine Google Earth Stories
- Think Global - an article about the importance of scientists to begin thinking spatially with their data using tools like GE for visualization
- Mapping disaster zones - an article about how Google Earth was used during the Hurricane Katrina and Pakistan Earthquake disasters
MLB World Series Winners 1903-2005 in Google Earth
Someone at the Google Earth Community (GEC) called 'LuciaM' has produced a collection of placemarks showing the winners of Major League Baseball's World Series from 1903 through 2005. Open the collection and you will see placemark icons showing the logos of the winning teams. Go to the Places folder and open the folder to see each year from 1903 to 2005 and who won the World Series. Click on the year and you will get a link to the Baseball Almanac which has more details. The placemarks show the home stadium locations for the winning teams (where possible) and in most cases you can see the actual stadium in the satellite or aerial photos in Google Earth.
Convert Maya 2 Google Earth
Eyebeam's Production Studio has developed a free open-source tool for converting models from the popular computer animation modeling program Maya (now from Autodesk which bought Alias). They call the tool simply enough Maya2GoogleEarth. Since Maya has been used by TV and movie production studios for special effects, this means all kinds of interesting models could be made available for viewing in Google Earth. The folks at Eyebeam had previously released a tool called OGLE (Open GL Extractor) which allows you to take models from Windows 3D Applications (for example 3D games) and extract them into a model which can be used in Google Earth (see story at OgleEarth). The example here (5.7 Mbytes) is of some replicated giant female "gnomes" in a park in New York City.
Highly detailed models like these...
Highly detailed models like these take up a fair amount of memory. And my experience with GE is that it is not optimized for these kinds of models at ths point. In other words, it can slow down the use of the application. But, you could certainly set up some interesting screenshots. The Maya2GE tool was developed by Theodore Watson, Cathy Shive and Evan Harper, with help and inspiration from Michael Frumin and Rob O'Neill. Great work guys!
I would have written this sooner, but the examples Eyebeam had posted were not downloading properly due to a minor glitch in server set up. Which they promptly fixed yesterday when I contacted them. You can also read interesting comments by Stefan at OgleEarth on this.
15 de Febrero 2006
Nature Cover Story on Google Earth
Nature Magazine has just published a new issue with a cover story on Google Earth and other Virtual Globes. The announcement was made by one of the primary authors of the stories Declan Butler (who has appeared here for his excellent Avian Flu Outbreak Map for GE).
[EDIT: 7:30PM - it turns out the cover screenshot was done by Kathryn Cramer when she was doing work on the Pakistan Earthquake efforts to provide high resolution satellite photos to help rescuers. She says at her blog that they had to get a special version of GE to make a 300dpi resolution screenshot suitable for the Nature cover. Her blog has a link to the higher-resolution versions of the screenshot.]
You can read the ...
You can read the cover story "Virtual globes: The web-wide world" at the Nature magazine web site now. The article is currently available for online viewing. The other articles you have to pay for, or buy the issue when it hits the stands. In the cover story, there are some interesting interviews with Brian McClendon, VP of Engineering of Google Earth and with Jack Dangermond, founder and president of ESRI. I particularly like the quote from Jack Dangermond: "Google Earth is just the most fantastic thing I have ever seen". He goes on to say the increased exposure Google Earth (and other mapping applications) has given to the GIS world has been great for his business. There are also several interviews with scientists who are using Google Earth for visualization. There will probably be several follow-on stories here at this blog as a result of this issue.
Declan Butler is also in the process of doing a major update to his Avian Flu Outbreak Map and will be publishing it in a few days.
Remote Controlled Plane and Guy Controlling in Google Earth
Very cool! You can actually clearly see the shadow of the guy flying this remote controlled aircraft east of London, England in Google Earth. Yet another example of very high resolution aerial photos to be found in GE. The wingspan of the model plane is about 5 feet, so this is a pretty large model plane. The model plane is about 190 meters from the guy controlling it. You can see the two placemarks here . (By the way, the weird shaped "hair-looking" thing east of the guy is probably some lint or hair on the aerial photograph.)
I found out about the model plane and controller at Google Sightseeing which is a web site showing interesting sites in Google Local. Here are links to Google Local views of the model plane and the controller. Notice that you can see them much more clearly in Google Earth than in Google Local. Digg it!
Data Update, Ferry Routes
Google has release a minor data update, and one new feature to their roads maps. The new feature now shows ferry routes for the Roads Layer for maps in North America. The example in the screenshot here includes ferry routes around Vancouver. The other part of the update includes placemarks posted within the Google Earth Community Layers (this means all the thousands of new placemarks posted at the GEC since the last update have been added into the layer). NOTE: there is no update this time to the satellite or aerial photos. ALSO NOTE: the update to the ferry routes is available in Google Local as well.
Another part of the update is to the Google Earth Community Showcase layer. The Community Showcase layer now includes updates to UNESCO World Heritage and the World Wide Panorama. Both of which I've written about here before. Another collection in the layer is the Confluence Placemarks which is one I somehow haven't written about (even though I knew about it - I will write about it soon).
14 de Febrero 2006
Google Earth World of Wine
A wine professional from Portugal named António Rocha Graça has been working on a collection of placemarks about the world of wine. He has so far marked all the wine regions in California, Portugal, Spain, France, Germany, Belgium, Canada and Australia. And he has marked at least two regions for every other wine-producing country. He tried to place each placemark over one vineyard belonging to a particular wine apellation. Look at the world of wine collection yourself. Sometimes the vineyards are very clear depending on the resolution of the satellite or aerial photos in GE.
António says he used reliable sources, and carefully reviewed the data for accuracy. But, he says this is only a work in progress. Next he plans to complete the rest of the wine regions. Later he hopes to add links and bibliographical references to each region. You can read his more detailed notes on the collection in his post at the Google Earth Community. I'm sure those who are avid wine collectors or enthursiasts, or even professionals, will find this collection interesting. I suggest you go to António's post if you would like to give him some feedback.
13 de Febrero 2006
Trimensions 3D Photogrammetry in Google Earth
A company in France called Trimensions has developed a technique using photogrammetry to convert photos of buildings into highly detailed 3D models and, of course, can convert them into Google Earth models. They recently posted an example at the Google Earth Community (GEC). You can see their example (730 Kbytes), which is a 3D Building called Quartier de La Madeleine in Paris, France. The model has an amazing degree of detail showing all windows, ledges, and even railing on a balcony. You can also compare it to the satellite photo of the building underneath the model. Trimensions does not provide any details on their technique at either their web site or in the post. But, they do have some pictures of other buildings there.
GEB has previously shown examples of highly detailed 3D buildings here and here by Dr. Andrew Hudson-Smith at his blog Digitally Distributed Environments. Andrew has already published a number of buildings in London, England. Perhaps he inspired these guys at Trimension? Anyway, it's nice to see these really cool 3D building models!
12 de Febrero 2006
Follow Volvo Ocean Race Leg 3 in Google Earth
The 3rd leg of the Volvo Ocean Race round-the-world yacht race started today. They left Melbourne, Australia for Wellington, New Zealand. You can see other 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 and see the history of the previous three legs and watch the LIVE race in Google Earth right now. You might want to load the current global clouds as well.
You also might want to install the excellent official free 3D application - Virtual Spectator = for watching the race with more detailed information and excellent 3D rendering of the boats, their wake, sail changes, the weather, night and day, and the weather conditions. It runs on Windows 98 and up.
11 de Febrero 2006
Why Google Earth and Prime Meridian Don't Line Up
One thing several people have noticed since the Google Earth application was released is that the Prime Meridian (0 degrees in Longitude) does not line up with Greenwich, England like they expect. So, if you go to Greenwich in GE, and turn on lat-lon lines by going to the menu "View->Lat/Lon Grid", you will see the Meridian line is about 100 meters east of the Greenwich observatory (viewable quite clearly in the satellite photo). This is not a mistake on Google's part. The developers of Google Earth (originally known as Keyhole) chose to support the same coordinate system as that used by GPS technology known as WGS-84 World Geodetic System. Here's an excellent post by one of the GE developers at the Google Earth Community which explains this in detail.
So, if you go to Greenwich, England with your GPS, it will in fact require you to walk about 100 meters to the east of the observatory before you will reach the GPS prime meridian. And don't believe anyone who tries to tell you Google is trying to realign the planet.
Google Earth Beta 2 - Mac OSX 10.3.9 Supported
Google released a new beta for the Mac OSX which now supports OSX 10.3.9 as well so many more Mac users can now use this fantastic application. Here's the announcement at the Google Earth Community (GEC) which includes the differences between this beta and the last. Google was kind enough to recognize the considerable help it received from GEC members. MacWorld has already written a review of the new release as well. If you have any issues with the new release go to the GEC forum for GE Mac OSX Support.
To get the new Mac Beta you can go to earth.google.com. If you are already using the first beta, simply select the "Check for Updates" option in the "Help" menu.
[EDIT: 9:40 PM - By the way, reports are that beta 2 runs on the Intel Mac as well.]
10 de Febrero 2006
Heritage Trees of Scotland
A "labour of love" he says, this is a collection of the locations of unique trees which are candidates for Heritage Trees from the Treefest Scotland web site. You can download the Heritage Tree collection and see these wonderful trees yourself. Each placemark has the name of the tree, information about the tree-type, a photograph, and usually links to more information. I never realized the amazing diversity of tree types in Scotland. It's unfortunate that most of Scotland only has low-resolution sateliite photos so you can't actually see the trees themselves.
9 de Febrero 2006
New High Res Torino Olympics Photos in Google Earth
Google has just announced at their Google Blog that they have released new high resolution satellite and aerial photography for the Torino, Italy area - site of the 2006 Winter Olympics. You can also view the new photos in Google Local. As part of the announcement, Google has included a Google Earth KMZ file which gives details on the 2006 Torino Olympic events including the locations of the Olympic villages, venues, and the events themselves. The events even have links to the official Olympics schedules for those events
Make sure you turn on the "terrain" layer and then tilt your view so you can see the mountainous terrain where the skiing and other events will be held. This is a very nice addition to the GE database by Google. Check it out!
Follow Steve Fossett/Global Flyer in Google Earth
Steve Fossett departed yesterday in his attempt with the Virgin Atlantic Global Flyer to break the record for the longest distance flight in history. Now, thanks to the efforts of the guy who has been doing the network link for the Volvo Ocean Race, we have a way to track Steve Fossett's flight around the world using Google Earth. The position updates about every five minutes, you can click on the icon to see his current speed and altitude as well.
Here's the official web site for the Steve Fossett attempt. And here's the post where 'lucifer666' posted his network link. By the way, this would have been posted earlier today, but I was doing my own "long distance" flying in a Cessna Skylane from St. Louis back to Raleigh today.
"Spy's Eye View" by Atlantic Monthly
Google Earth figures prominently in an article by the well-regarded Atlantic Monthly called "Spy's Eye View". Not only that, but Google Earth Blog appears in the article as well! The article is written by James Falllow who will be writing a regular technology column at the Atlantic Monthly.
This article is well-written and interesting. I had a feeling of deja vu when I read how he had the same feeling using Google Earth as he did when he first used Mosaic in the early 90s. (Read my About section for my own similar remarks). The article includes mini-interviews with John Hanke - head of the Google Earth project at Google and Jack Dangermond - founder and president of the world’s leading GIS company, ESRI. He also gives good representation to the contributions of the large and growing Google Earth community.
I highly recommend reading this article. Via OgleEarth which is also mentioned in the article.
8 de Febrero 2006
Pilot World-wide Weather in Google Earth
The National Center for Atmospheric Research's (NCAR) Research Applications Program (RAP) (a US Government program) has released a prototype for showing weather data used by pilots for use in Google Earth. The weather data, known to pilots as METARs, report weather conditions at airports including winds, atmospheric pressure, clouds, temperatures, and basic weather (rain, snow, fog, thunderstorms, etc.). The NCAR network link updates directly from the database which comes from Aviation Digital Data Service (ADDS) [this is the government, they have acronyms for everything]. This weather data is really for pilots, most non-pilots will find the data cryptic.
Once you download the NCAR weather network link you will see icons indicating current weather at over 3000 airports around the world. A legend is shown at the top of the screen showing what the icons mean. If you click on a particular airport, you get more details on the weather for that airport. The data in GE is automatically updated every 3 minutes. The ADDS data is used by pilots at their official site weather.aero which is quite useful to pilots (I've been using ADDS for years now). Also, you can check out the satellite or aerial photos in Google Earth for getting to know the airport before you land there. Here is the post by the NCAR specialist who is responsible for the application at the Google Earth Community.
This is actually a quite useful tool for pilots. I just made a trip from North Carolina to St. Louis and being able to quicly check conditions at nearby airports was good verification for the weather I get from normal official sources.
7 de Febrero 2006
Earthquakes are happening around the world all the time, we just can't feel all of them. The US Geological Survey (USGS) is constantly monitoring the Earth with sensitive instruments and for some time now has offered ways of sharing their data on the web through their Earthquake Hazards Program. In addition to RSS feeds, they introduced Google Earth KML network links which allow you to continuously monitor the status of earthquakes around the world. You can zoom in and look at the areas in the detailed satellite or aerial photos of GE. But, since most of the photos in GE are one or more years old, you won't see evidence of that recent quake.
You have two main options off the USGS Earthquake Hazards page, plus a third option I found for just bigger quakes:
- Magnitude 1+ earthquakes, colored by age
- Magnitude 1+ earthquakes, colored by depth
- Magnitude 2.5+ during past 7 days
This is real-time data which can help you determine whether that shaking you felt really was a quake. One Google Earth Community member wrote how he experienced the earthquake data first-hand.
Lots of interesting Google Earth-related news items in the last week. Here are the highlights:
- MacWorld reviews Google Earth for Mac (beta)
- Wired talks about companies forming to sell Roof-top Ads in response to Google Earth, Live Local, etc. making it easy to look at things from above.
- Forbes Magazine gives Google Earth/Maps/Local a B+ (only real ding was monetization strategy)
- Volkswagen and Nvidia team with Google to develop Google Earth for cars. This Autoblog coverage of the story has lots of screenshots. The VW partnership was announced at the CES Keynote last month.
- NASA Post-Hurricane Katrina Images Available on Google Earth from GISuser. See other Hurricane Katrina resources.
6 de Febrero 2006
Visualizing Controversial New Buildings in New York in Google Earth
A talented illustrator named Jon Keegan, who is a concerned citizen, wrote me over the weekend to tell me he had used Google Earth to create 3D buildings representing a proposed large building project in his community in New York. The proposed site is in Brooklyn, and is called Atlantic Yards. Apparently the developers are trying to entice the community by saying the New Jersey Nets would be located at the site along with a new fancy stadium. But, the size and scope of the development is much larger.
This 3D Atlantic Yards illustration in Google Earth shows how big an impact it would have on the community, just from a size and scope perspective, quite clearly. Turn on the "3D Buildings" layer in GE to see the other buildings nearby. Jon posted the GE file and his comments here at invisbleman.com. The local community has already been opposed to the new project and has even filed a suit against the local governent for already approving destruction of some existing buildings. My understanding from the articles is that the project is not yet approved.
Jon's Google Earth file includes...
Jon's Google Earth file includes links to a PDF document which specifies the location and size of the buildings and other details. He seems to have properly located each building in the correct locations according to the maps and aerial photos of the area. And I checked the heights of the buildings and they look correct. This is obviously a huge project. One of the links indicated the developers would be spending $3.5 Billion.
This is an excellent example of using Google Earth for visualizing a real estate project. It gives everyone an opportunity to see how a project fits in not only to the location on streets, but how it literally might change the landscape.
5 de Febrero 2006
Maps of Torino, Italy - Winter Olympics Site - in Google Earth
GoogleMapsMania recently discovered that Google quietly added a more detailed road map for the Torino, Italy area for Google Local. What is interesting is that in Google Earth we have already had these more detailed road maps. But, not just for that small area. Google Earth's more detailed road maps cover most of Europe now.
To see the roads, you just turn on the "Roads" layer, wait for them to load, and start zooming in. Another big difference in GE is that the road maps adjust their level of detail according to your zoom level, and you can adjust your view dynamically including your tilt and see the 3D terrain. You can go to Torino, Italy now and see the mountains where the Olympics will be held. Also, in Google Earth you can see the detail of the satellite and aerial photos so much better than in Google Maps.
4 de Febrero 2006
95 Seas of the World in Google Earth
Another one from 'H21' of the Google Earth Community who points out there are more than seven seas as is commonly believed. He has marked 95 seas of the world . Once you download the file, I suggest you turn on "Borders" to clearly show which countries are nearby.
Unfortunately, Google Earth shows the bathymetric subsurface land instead of showing satellite photos of the seas. Maybe future versions of GE will have a layer that lets you turn on either satellite views or show the undersea surface. Near the shore of some major port cities you can find high-resolution satellite photos or even aerial photos of near-shore seas. There you will find all manner of boats and ships and even planes flying.
H21 asks in his post whether there are even more seas, but so far no one has suggested any. I imagine there are many historical and political differences over the naming of seas. Here's the Wikipedia entry on "Sea" which lists quite a few seas.
3 de Febrero 2006
Gliders "Crashing" in Google Earth
This scene captured in a Google Earth satellite photo in a field northwest of London shows two gliders which, from this perspective, look like they are about to crash. In reality, they are probably several hundred feet apart in altitude. This is the first case I've seen of two planes in flight captured in the Google Earth database directly on top of each other. It's possible the two planes were flying together in practice for acrobatic display and they are actually closer than normal. I found this via GoogleSightSeeing, and they say this location is near the London Gliding Club.
One of my favorite pasttimes in Google Earth is to look for pictures of airplanes in flight. You can read some stories I've written about the official collection of all planes in flight (150Kbytes) found so far in the Google Earth Community here and here. You might even find a few of the planes found by me.
Stereo 3D Anaglyph Movie Made with Google Earth
I was recently contacted by a guy from Sweden called Jan Melin. Several people have done anaglyph stills for Google Earth, including one I've written about here. Jan has produced a stereographic anaglyph movie (use red/blue glasses to see the 3D effect) using Google Earth. His movie shows a mountain in Google Earth and you fly closer towards the mountain in his short 5 second movie. Jan recently posted an announcement of his movie at the GEC and he posted detailed instructions on how he made the movie. Here is the movie (Large file: 9MBytes - Quicktime), and here is the placemark showing where the movie was made.
Great work Jan!
2 de Febrero 2006
CNET Superbowl Guessing Game in Google Earth
In the spirit of the upcoming Superbowl Sunday, CNET has announced a new contest to see if people can guess the correct team which calls home the given football stadium location based on a satellite or aerial photo from Google Earth. They provide a list of photos, and a list of teams. It's up to you to match them. A couple of weeks ago CNET did a contest on technology company headquarter buildings. Apparently the contest was such a big hit, they decided to do this stadium thing.
If you use Google Earth, then perhaps a Google Earth file showing the locations of the NFL Football stadiums might be of use. :-)
London Fitzroy Square in 3D in Google Earth
Another really nice Google Earth 3D building for London from Dr. Andrew Hudson-Smith at his Digitally Distributed Environments blog. This one is of Fitzroy Square and is a very detailed 3D model of the building (1Mbyte). Andrew has properly scaled the building and if you view the model from the right tilt and postition and compare it to the aerial photograph of its location in GE the 3D effect is more pronounced. Notice the excellent detail in the facade of the building and the streetlights.
According to Andrew:
Fitzroy Square is one London's hidden treasures, designed by Robert Adam it is dedicated to Charles Fitzroy the fourth Duke of Grafton. It was also famously home to Virginia Woolf and George Bernard Shaw.
Here's some other 3D buildings in London from Andrew. Great work!
1 de Febrero 2006
Win a Fiat Sedici in Google Earth
Fiat has announced a Fiat/Google Earth contest where you try to guess a location near the winter Olympics where they've hidden a pass for a Ferrari 360 Experience. The winner with the closest guess wins the pass and a Fiat Sedici 4x4 car. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th place winners get a Fiat Sedici as well. You have to agree to their terms which includes allowing them to use your personal data for marketing purposes, or you can enter fake data and just try it out. Once you load their network link, you are taken to the location. Zoom in close enough to the satellite/aerial photos of an area to see green (or red) circles appear. Red circles are spots already chosen. You have to pick a green one and select it to enter the contest. It's really simple to enter. Go to the contest link and follow the instructions (Flash is required).
This is the second mainstream company to use Google Earth for marketing purposes. The first was Adidas at the end of last year. The number of GE users is growing enormously, certainly a good avenue for marketing.
Of course, if you select the right spot and win with fake data you don't really win. Reading further down into the rules, they provide 1 million spots of which you can enter just one. So, your chances are about 4 in a million of winning apparently. There's always the chance the 4 closest choices will be people who enter with fake data. Oh well, guess they get to keep their cars then.
Real-time Shuttle Bus Tracking in Google Earth
One of the PhD students at Johns Hopkins University's Wireless Communication Lab contacted me to let me know they have been experimenting with wireless location and network connectivity technology. They have an interesting project in which they are providing wireless Internet access while simultaneously tracking the position of 6 shuttle buses (more buses on the way).
[NOTE: the buses only operate between 1700 and 0300 EST - New York - time - so don't expect the buses to move except during those hours.]
You can watch the buses move in real-time by downloading the JHU shuttle bus network link . (The network link may give you an initial "Netork Link Fetch" error message. Just click the "Ignore" button if this happens.) The bus positions update automatically every second. The JHU area is in high resolution aerial photography, so you can see a lot of detail on the bus locations. If you watch the Places folder for the bus placemarks you will notice the speed the bus was last moving. If you were on the bus with your laptop, you could load up Google Earth and track yourself!
The JHU Wireless Communication Lab Shuttle Bus web site explain more about the project. There is also a web site explaining the details of the mesh network layout and how they set up the antennas. Thanks to Herb Rubens who brought this to my attention. He assures me the server can handle the load for those of you checking this out. (Digg it)
BatchGeoCode - Convert Addresses into Placemarks for Google Earth
BatchGeoCode,com is an easy-to-use free web-based application for converting a file of addresses (and other information) into either a Yahoo Map, and now also into a Google Earth KML file. The program does a lookup for the addresses you provide and converts them into latitude/longitudes (it currently only works for addresses in the USA or Canada). With the GE capability, it generates placemarks with the converted data. You can then zoom into the satellite/aerial photos and see how close the converted address appears to the actual building. You will probably see some discrepencies (just like when you put an address into the GE search form). Most postal addresses do not convert to the actual building's location.
BatchGeoCode could be a useful tool for many things including business applications. The built-in example file is for a list of Apple Stores in New York. Here is the resulting KML file for the built-in example. The web interface is simple to use and it shows how you can even put details in your descriptions, including photos, in your batch file.
Google Earth Plus and Pro have similar capabilities built-in (with limitations to the number of entries you can import at a time). BatchGeoCode has no apparent limit, and works with the free GE. Thanks to the author Phillip Holmstrad for bringing this to my attention. He says he plans to do a Google Maps version as well. Good work Phillip! You can also look up a single address.