31 de Julio 2006
"Earth From Above" - Photos Matched to Google Earth
Last November I wrote about an excellent placemark collection which compared photographs from a famous French photographer to Google Earth's satellite/aerial photos. At the time, Rednick (the guy who posted the collection), had only marked about 125 photos. Now the collection has grown to over 500 photos. The photos come from a book called "Earth From Above" by Arthus-Bertrand. The book contains excellent photos of beautiful or unusual locations all around the world as seen from, you guessed it, above. (Note: there's at least one photo of a highly populated nude beach, you can probably guess where).
Once you download the collection of placemarks, open the folders in the Places pane called "Arthur Bertrand Tour" (CAUTION: do NOT turn on the contents of the entire folders as it will load all the images at once). It is best to turn on one placemark at a time and turn them off when you are done looking. Otherwise the images will take up considerable amounts of memory.
Sometimes Rednick has included the photos from the books as image overlays (make sure you double click on the placemark items to get the preset view). In other cases, he has a camera view where he has tried to accurately portray the same view as the photograph. In some of the placemarks, you can see the photo in the descriptions. The folder called "THE TOUR" contains most of the photos. He also has a folder called "CHALLENGES" which contains photos, but he leaves it to you to guess the location. This is one of the most popular collections of placemarks at the Google Earth Community, and you can see why. Great work Rednick!
30 de Julio 2006
You can see a very nice looking Saturn using Google Earth thanks to an excellent 3D textured model by a Google Earth Community member. Download this Google Earth Saturn model here . You will need to be using Google Earth 4 Beta (if you haven't already downloaded it). You can spin the model and look at it from different angles. The Google Earth Saturn file was created by 'barnabu' and posted here. He used SketchUp and Paintshop Pro to create the rings and Blender for the globe texturing. Apparently Google Earh has some problems with rendering large 3D Models like this because you see some weird rendering artifacts in the rings at certain angles. But, overall the model looks really nice. I still think Google Earth should be extended to the rest of the universe like the nice open source program Celestia.
Boys Use Google Earth to Find Bin Laden
This is a funny video of two brothers who are playing around with Google Earth and jokingly search for Bin Laden - and find him! Yes, it zooms in to satellite photos supposedly showing Bin Laden's cave. The video was made as part of Blogathon 2006. Note: the search doesn't really work. :-)
Ping Pong Ball Interface to Google Earth - Cool!
Back in May a video was released showing some guys controlling Google Earth by using lighted ping pong balls in a darkened room. Those of you who saw the movie "Minority Report" might get an idea of the type of control this might give you. Or, you could just watch this video of the demonstration. The "Atlas Gloves" system uses a cheap web camera to pick up position of the balls. You simply gesture with the lighted ping pong balls to zoom in on aerial photos, to pan the Earth, or even tilt your views. This is a really neat concept in alternative interfaces to 3D worlds. Back in my NASA days, when I was doing research in Virtual Reality, we used data gloves, which cost about $5-10K, to interact with 3D content. This is actually a much less expensive way to do pretty much the same thing. The Atlas Gloves guys have instructions on making the lighted ping-pong balls for $8 in about 5-minutes. The software, which was just released, is open software. Seems inexpensive, and easy, enough for almost anyone to try out. So, look for a report from me soon on how well it works. Via OgleEarth.
28 de Julio 2006
News Roundup - GeoRSS, Discovery, Workshop, City Life
- Geo Blog GeoRSS in Google Earth - this link will let you see the locations of stories from a number of Geo-related blogs based on automated processing of locations from their RSS feeds. In other words, the program looks for names of locations mentioned in stories and georeferences the blog entry. You can click on a placemark (if it figures out a location) to read the RSS feed of the blog entry. Includes Google Earth Blog, OgleEarth, Google Blog, and others. See the post by Valery35. Similar to NewsGlobe, but better.
- Discovery Channel Placemarks - The Discovery channel has added a few more placemarks covering more of the world with quality links to multimedia content. See original story.
- Richard Treves (who did some excellent online Google Earth tutorials earlier this year) is conducting a Google Earth workshop at Keele University (UK) from 4-7 September as part of the Society of Cartographers Summer School.
- Dr. Hudson-Smith, at his DigitalUrban blog, has published a video showing experimentation with placing real building models in the City Life 3D rendering engine. City Life is a game, it is not based on reality (no aerial photography), but it is a fun looking world to experience - and is now available to view for free. The video at Digital Urban is fun to watch - he points out that combining the interfaces of Google Earth, City Life, and Second Life would be a killer application. I agree!
27 de Julio 2006
Lava Flows in Google Earth
The screenshot you see here is depicting lava flows from Kilauea Volcano
Mauna Loa in Hawaii. The flows exposed are colored differently and marked according to the year of the flow as analyzed by scientists. Download the lava flow file to see it yourself. If you hold the Control key and click on one of the flows with the mouse in GE you will see the year of that portion of the flow (a '0' means unknown). It's interesting to compare the lava flow dataset to the satellite/aerial photos in GE. This 3D model was posted by a Google Earth Community member called 'KASSPER' who apparently is a GIS professional. The Control-key click technique is a good way to annotate models like this. KASSPER has produced other interesting applications like the Wikipedia search tool.
[EDIT 3:30PM: A reader contacted me to let me know the flows came from Kilauea Volcano, not Mauna Loa. Thanks John!]
GeoWeb 2006 Report
Stefan Lorimer writes at his blog about his experiences so far this week at GeoWeb 2006 (a conference being held at Vancouver, British Columbia which covers the convergence of web technologies, XML, and GIS). From Google were Michael Jones (CTO of Google Earth) who gave a keynote presentation, Michael Ashbridge gave a presentation on KML, Doug Ricket on Google Maps API, and apparently Bent Hagemark of the GE team also attended. My favorite comment was while Stefan was meeting with some of the Google Earth folks and "...working with the Google Maps API while Mr Jones and Mr Hagemark checked OgleEarth and Google Earth Blog loading the new content into GE".
Stefan goes on to comment on some things he learned about Google Earth developers should look into: the new KML 2.1 has features enabling large datasets to be broken down and streamed more efficiently (like the feature mentioned in the ReefBase story here yesterday); and network links have new features improving their efficiency as well. The GE team encourages developers to read the KML 2.1 documentation for tips. Thanks for the input Stefan!
26 de Julio 2006
News Roundup - Origins, Sailing, Stitcher, Pakistan Nuclear Plant
- Origins of Google Earth - Stefan Geens at OgleEarth adds another link to comments from one of the founders of Keyhole about the origins of the application which became Google Earth.
- Transatlantic Sailing Records Compared - 'skyrover' at the Google Earth Community gathered data from three different sailing record passages across the Atlantic (1990, 2001, and 2006) and combined the data into Google Earth. The KMZ file lets you run a virtual race between the three boats - Playstation, OrangeII, and Jet Servcies). This is an innovative approach to showing sailing data, especially with GE 4. Developed by by the folks at Sailblogs.com.
- Realviz releases a new version of Stitcher which allows you to create panorama photos and now allows you to export to KML so you can georeference them.
- Nuclear plant in Kushab, Pakistan - Stefan puts together some satellite photos as overlays in Google Earth from a published report showing intelligence from satellite photos of this Pakistan nuclear plant. Read more here.
25 de Julio 2006
Make US$100 from Google
Google is conducting another useability study for Google Earth and offering to pay you US$100 in American Express Gift checks if you are invited to spend 90 minutes in the study between August 1 and August 8 in the San Francisco Bay Area. This is similar to the study being conducted in Paris, France. Apparently the study takes 30 minutes less in the US so they are paying only US100 whereas they are getting 100 Euros (about US$126) in France. If you are interested in being considered for the San Francisco study go to this web page and follow the instructions to submit your name. Turn that hobby of looking at aerial/satellite photos into a profession!
ReefBase - Status of the World's Coral Reefs
Coral reefs are some of the most endangered ecosystems in the world and, with climate change upon us, reefs are at great risk. Google Earth Blog previously wrote about the work by NOAA at the Coral Reef Watch web site. Recently I was contacted by a former intern of the ReefBase project which attempts to keep track of the status of reefs all around the world. Keene Haywood has converted the ReefBase data into a Google Earth file so you can see some data about each of the hundreds of documented reefs (NOTE: Best viewed with Google Earth 4) This file is experimental and is not hosted by NOAA, but he hopes they will include it someday soon. Thanks to the big June update, many of the reefs areas now have high resolution satellite photos in GE. You can also download the current NOAA Coral Reef Watch GE file and turn on the "Sea Surface Temperature". Keene says: "I hope that this project gives people an idea of the breadth of reefs around the world and the threats facing them. If this project raises some awareness, then I will feel the project has had some impact."
Important tip: By the way, Keene has used an interesting new feature in the KML 2.1 format which allows large collections of placemarks to be placed in "hidden" folders. This means when you click on a placemark in the folder it does not cause the folder to be opened in the Places pane. This is really important with large datasets. With GE 3 this file takes much longer to open and is more cumbersome to use. Those of you creating large collections of placemarks should look into this feature.
24 de Julio 2006
My Backpacking Trip and the Lost Couple Found After Three Days
Well, my backpacking trip plans were a little thrown off. We arrived at the trailhead for our chosen hike in Stone Mountain State Park, North Carolina only to find several rangers and search and rescue teams looking for a lost couple. The couple had left their Mercedes Benz (with Florida license plates) at the trail head on Friday supposedly to go on a picnic at a nearby waterfall. We offered to help with the search, but were told we had to be trained. My friend and I were also not allowed to go on our hike in the search area. Instead we camped at the Stone Mountain campground hoping they would find the couple overnight. The next day the couple were still not found, so we took a short hike around Wolf Rock and then drove up the Blue Ridge Parkway to look for a new hike. We ended up on a short hike in Doughton Park to a campsite a few miles to the south of Stone Mountain. This morning they found the missing couple at Devil's Garden Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway - over 2200 feet above where they left their car and after three days and nights without substantial food (there was plenty of water in the mountain streams). We had a Garmin 60Cx GPS running while we were moving around. You can see our GPS tracks , overlayed on the satellite photos of GE, as we drove around the area as well as where we were hiking. Also shown is the location of the missing couple's car and where they were found. The colors represent altitude as shown in the Elevation legend. Also included is a topographical map of the area where the missible couple were located. The red path is my theory about the possible route the missing couple took to get to the top. Here is the Charlotte Observer story about the lost couple.
22 de Julio 2006
Will be gone backpacking for the next couple of days. So, if any news comes out, I may not report until Monday evening.
- NOAA expands radar data for Google Earth - the National Weather Service RIDGE radar images overlayed over the satellite photos in GE are available in a number of different sizes and composites at this experimental NOAA site. US locations only.
- "How far can Hezbollah Reach" - A image created in photoshop using GE as a mapping tool was done by Kathryn Cramer last week. She got an amazing amount of press for the image.
- Follow a Greenpeace Ship in the Bering Sea - the ship is taking note of the impact of overfishing and using GE to track and provide blog entries. This is a well done use of GE. Posted at the new Environment forum at the GEC.
- Using Picasa/GE to Geotag Photos - This tutorial from Digital Geography shows you how to use the new feature in the Picasa 2 beta to geotag photos quickly and easily using Google Earth.
- LocalWeekender.com - an online guidebook of outdoor spots and weekend trips. This website lets you post placemarks, pictures and descriptions of your favorite outdoor places and start a thread of discussion. You use GE to create the placemarks, but a normal image map to find the locations.
21 de Julio 2006
Vancouver in 3D for Google Earth
Just got an E-mail from Steven at Computamaps who has posted a fabulous 3D model collection representing most of downtown Vancouver in 3D . You will need to use Google Earth 4 Beta to see these models as they are not only colorful, but some of the buildings are textured with more details. According to Steven, the model collection has over 5000 objects, but the size of the download is only 1.2 Mbytes. They have fully modeled the Science World building, One Wall Center, Morris Wosk (site of GeoWeb 2006 where they are officially announcing this new model collection), and many more. Steven says this model collection "shows off the power of combining SketchUp and GE to render the urban environment."
Computamaps also modeled the recently released downtown Cape Town in 3D. Great work guys! Anybody can begin creating 3D models using the free Google Sketchup and upload them into Google Earth or the 3DWarehouse. Keep it up, the rest of the major cities of the world will gradually be made availabe in 3D as well.
Track of Escaped Convict in High Speed Chase in Google Earth
Sydney Morning Herald's Stephen Hutcheon used the easy-to-use Quikmaps to create a map of a convict's drammatic high speed escape attempt (he was recaptured) in his article last week: "Sydney prison escapee rams police". GoogleMapsMania highlighted the story today and laments: "Why don't more news organizations do this sort of thing?". I agree! And, knowing the Quikmaps also supports KML files, here is the same map which you can view in Google Earth. The only problem is that the placemarks are colored "black" and its hard to see them against the dark aerial photos in this portion of Sydney, Australia.
Israel-Lebanon Conflict Illustrated in Google Earth
In an excellent use of Google Earth, someone living near the scene of action has begun documenting where military actions have occurred on both sides of the Israel-Lebanon conflict. This shows how GE's ability to tie information to location can be a powerful tool for visualization. This collection of placemarks shows the locations of the military actions based on news reports. Each placemark contains details on the action which occurred at the location and the casualties or damage resulting, and allows you to view the aerial photos and see what it looked like before the conflict. Turn on the "Borders" layer to get a clear understanding of the locations. The creator of the collection posted it at his web site here and notes that this is an "very incomplete" picture of the action so far. And yet, it still gives a much clearer picture of the quantity, scope and scale than any typical news report. If you want to keep up with whether the author of the collection updates the file, you can try putting this network link in your "My Places" folder and it will automatically reload the file when you check it. via OgleEarth.
20 de Julio 2006
Huge Scale Model of Disputed Border Region of China Found in Google Earth
This is one of the most interesting finds in Google Earth in quite some time. A few weeks ago a first time poster, called KenGrok, at the Google Earth Community (GEC) discovered a very exact scale model of some mountainous region located in the middle of a desolate area in north central China. Seen in Google Earth the huge scale model is .9 km tall by .7 km wide. It is adjacent to what looks like a military base with many camouflaged vehicles. Last week, the same poster found the location the scale model represents - a region occupied by China but claimed by India near north central India. If you turn on the "Borders" layer in GE you will see they are colored red to indicate the dispute. Another GEC member showed how exact the scale model is by taking a screen shot of the satellite photo of the scale model and overlaying it over the real terrain (turn the image overlay on and off to see how exact it is). This scale model was most likely created for military reasons. Someone posted a description of why a military terrain visualization is critical for military purposes.
In the same thread above, several other interesting locations were found close to the scale model:
- Model of an airport? - Post
- Circle with fighter jets - a radar cross section range according to another post
You can also find other examples of military terrain models - see this Urban Warfare Training Center for the US Army.
Other amazing finds in Google Earth:
- KC-135 Caught Refueling C-5 Galaxy in Mid-air
- Lancaster Bomber Found Flying in Google Earth
- Google Releases 3" Resolution Aerial Photos of Las Vegas
- Google Earth Sleuthing - Story of a Burning Ship
- King Tut's Tomb in 3D
19 de Julio 2006
Battleship Google Earth
This is a really interesting application / concept being developed by Julian Bleecker at USC. He decided to perform a lab experiment blending real life, GPS, mobile applications, and Google Earth. The concept is based on the Milton Bradley Battleship Game except in this game you take your GPS-enabled mobile phone and go walking around town to search for a virtual battleship. Here is Julian's description:
One person places their ships using Google Earth and the other person goes out in the normal world with a mobile phone, a GPS connected to the mobile phone. The phone has a small Python script on it that reads the GPS and sends the data to the game engine, which then updates the Google Earth KML model showing the current state of the game grid. When the player who's trying to sink the ships wants to try for a hit, they call into the game engine and say "drop". The game reads back the coordinates at which the "peg" was dropped and shortly thereafter, the other player will see the peg appear at the coordinate it was dropped. If the peg hits one of the ships, it's a Hit, otherwise it's a miss.
You can check out a sample GE Battleship network link (NOTE: Works only with GE 4 Beta) which lets you see a battleship overlayed over the aerial photos in GE and watch the pegs being placed (assuming someone is testing the experiment). I think this is a great concept, and I can think of many other possible games using mobile applications and Google Earth. For example, how about virtual scavenger hunts? Or, virtual GeoCaches? Amazing!
18 de Julio 2006
Weather Symbols in Google Earth
Stefan Geens over at OgleEarth has been playing with weather symbols for Google Earth. First he published his experiments with some basic weather symbols using the free Google SketchUp 3D modeling tool. Then, yesterday, he published an interesting application of a little-known KML feature which lets you set the "heading" of an icon. He used it to show the heading of a wind direction for a specific location. No matter which way you rotate your view from above, it shows the correct heading for the wind direction. That's a pretty cool application of the feature, and I think weather forecasters should take note. Or at least those folks who like to show weather data in a truly unique fashion (Weatherbonk perhaps?). Great work Stefan!
Trackstick - Small USB-stick GPS with Google Earth Support
Trackstick is a GPS on a USB stick designed for unobstrusive tracking. The small non-descript unit comes with direct support for Google Earth (Windows only). It has no display, it just quietly tracks where it has gone. The idea is you could put this in a car, or something you want to track, and later download its track by simply sticking it in the USB port. I'm glad to say, the makers of Trackstick recently sent me a Trackstick to review and it not only operates well as a GPS, but its Google Earth interface works smoothly.
I ran some tests by driving around the Raleigh area. I also had a Garmin 60Cx with me to compare the tracks. The Trackstick defaults to a slow update rate (once per minute) which didn't leave a detailed track, but you can use the software to change the setting to update once per second. With the latter setting, the Trackstick was quite close to the Garmin for broadscale applications like driving. In this example Google Earth file , I drove between three shopping plazas in Cary, North Carolina. If you select "Path" in the Places pane and "Tools->Play Tour" you can follow the track. The folder has information on the speed of travel, direction, and the amount of time stopped at each location.
The Trackstick's Google Earth support is done well. The download program allows you to filter the recorded results and just display the portions of the track of interest. The unit is about one fourth the size of my Garmin handheld. One possible use would be to keep an eye on where your teenage kids have been taking the car. The unit is available from distributors for a retail price of $250.
The Trackstick is a small non-descript plastic case. You pop off one end to expose the USB stick. The current version requires a small screwdriver to open the battery case, a new version will have a snap-open case. It uses two AAA batteries. A small recessed button is used to set the modes or turn the unit on/off. A embossed logo is used to show the user which way to face the Trackstick as it must face "up" to see the satellites and get a signal.
Since the Trackstick is so small, the antenna has limited receptivity compared to the more expensive Garmin 60Cx. It needs a clear view of the skies to record accurately, so placement is important. I don't believe the unit is water proof, although it is an enclosed plastic container and I imagine it is at least water resistant. But, a protected location would be best. Putting a sticky velcro attachment might be best if its to be placed on a car dash, otherwise it would slide around.
After you get the unit, it is recommended to get the latest software off the web site. The new Fast Track mode is set by using the software's "Device Properties". It allows you to adjust the speed of recorded track points, and download the tracks after they have been recorded. You can filter according to day and time and view in a number of mapping programs or Google Earth. You can also output to a CSV spreadhseet file. For Google Earth, not only are all the points marked with placemarks and information on speed, heading, location, and altitude; but also they provide a "Path" which allows you to smoothly follow the track in Google Earth.
Conclusion: You can find lower cost GPS units which could also leave a track (for example, Garmin Forerunner <$100), but they won't be in such an unobtrusive package. Garmin units already come with software to support Google Earth, but the output doesn't directly contain the same details. The Trackstick company looks to be improving the product, and they are advertising a new product called the Trackstick Pro on their web site. I think the Trackstick has a niche market, and I like the Google Earth support.
17 de Julio 2006
New Tsunami Hits Southern Java Indonesia - July 17
Just a few hours ago a series of earthquakes, including one of 7.7 magnitude, occurred south of West Java, Indonesia. A tsunami struck the region resulting in property damage, injuries and death. Death tolls have been climbing in news reports. Here's a news report from the BBC. Initial reports of the tsunami were in Pangandaran which according to a quick Google search is located here . You can see current data on seismic activity from the USGS earthquake monitoring network link here. The earthquake data is positioned over the center of the disturbance, colored by how long ago it occurred, and the size indicates the magnitude.
New Environment and Conservation Forum for Google Earth Community
Google recently added a new "Environment and Conservation" forum to the Google Earth Community. Over the weekend, the moderators have apparently made an effort and transferred dozens of relevant threads from other forums into this forum. There are many interesting relevant posts now, including some written about here at the Google Earth Blog (see "Related" below). Also, Google says in the announcement post, that:
If you have ideas about data layers and/or imagery that would be useful for Google to publish in order to aid conservation efforts, this is the place to speak up.
Speaking of environmental issues - read this article from NetNewsAsia which shows a satellite view from Google Earth of Laguna de Bay in the Phillipines which is apparently a lake subject to many forms of pollution.
- Cape Wind Project
- Environmental Groups Leverage Google Earth
- Hidden Logging Revealed
- Sierra Club Shows Public Land Sale
- Map of Projected Sea Level Rise in Portland
15 de Julio 2006
- Disney has a promotional web site for "Pirates of the Caribbean - Dead Man's Chest" which uses Google Earth. The Google Earth file does very little but put up a custom photoshopped map of fictional islands from the movie and link you back to their web site for sound clips, movie clips, and pictures. The islands look just like normal aerial photos in Google Earth. However, they put the map in the Bahamas, not the heart of the Caribbean. But, its still fun. via OgleEarth.
- Another Tour de France live tracker is available called RouteFocus Live. This one only works if you have the latest GE 4 BETA and Windows. It requires you to install an application which runs in a separate window. I prefer the network link approach which works on all platforms and doesn't require installing an application.
- 'Gerardo64' has posted instructions on how to make your own GeoRSS newsfeed for Google Earth . This uses a service from GeoNames.org which georeferences an RSS feed by examining the content for key locations (e.g. if "Chicago" is mentioned most it would tie the story to the coordinates for Chicago) . Here is an example of an RSS feed for top stories on Tour de France from Google News. This is similar to the network link by Daden Consulting called NewsGlobe written about at GEB last fall. via OgleEarth.
- Palestinian villages that existed before the 1948 war were mapped for Google Earth and posted in February by a Palestinian at the Google Earth Community a few months ago. Recently a Jewish online news source wrote a suprisingly moderate story about the thread. See the map for yourself, and read the comments in the post thread. Thanks to Frank McVey for the tip.
14 de Julio 2006
Bus Live Tracking at USC - Research Project
A couple of weeks back someone from USC's Info Lab contacted me to tell me about his project to track moving objects and uses Google Earth to visualize the tracking. The significant part of his project is to do near-real-time queries of the nearest moving object to another location. Apparently the bus trams near USC have location trackers (they are not as active during night hours, so wait until after 6 AM Pacific Time). Load up the network link to see this in action. Make sure the "Trams" network link is turned on to see if the buses are in motion. The green circles you will see represent the trams that are closest to the 4 stations at the time the query was made to the database. You can turn off the "Tram Map" so you can see the excellent aerial photos of the USC campus while the buses are moving around. Thanks for contacting me Jeff, this looks like a fun project!
There are a number of other cool looking "GEO" projects being done at USC, check out the list here.
Related: Real-time Shuttle-bus Tracking in GE
Transportation Layer Improvements for Google Earth
New improvements to the "Transportation Layer" in Google Earth have been quietly introduced. If you open the Transportation Layer folder you will see there are several levels of information for both Airports and Rail. I had already noticed that the airports layer now have better accuracy for the "Airport Maps (USA)" which show outlines to US airports, and the color changed from white to yellow-green. Today I noticed that the Rails layer now show different colored tracks for some cities, and include train stations in some places as well. All of these layers are vector lines drawn over the satellite/aerial photos in GE. Apparently the colored tracks are for subways or local trains, and so far I have just seen them for major metropolitan areas in US cities. Please let me know by adding a comment if you find other locations. Try San Francisco, Los Angelos, Boston, Washington DC, and Chicago for examples. I suggest you turn on the Transportation layer and go exploring!
[EDIT 0835: I just experimented with all the layers and found out that Germany and Italy in particular have much better information in the the layers (like schools, community services, parks, shopping, transportation, etc.) than I remember in the past. A lot of Europe has good data as well if you zoom in.]
In Paris 25-28 July? Make 100 Euros from Google Earth!
Google is conducting a usability study in Paris, France 25-28 July. The sessions will be two hours long and you will be compensated 100 Euros if you are selected to participate. They are looking for people who have a fair amount of experience with the application. Here are the details on the dates and times. a questionaire, and an e-mail to send it to. See, you can make money if you use even the free version of Google Earth!
Google Earth Newsletter "Sightseer" for July Released
Google Earth published its Sightseer newsletter last night. It's been a while since their last issue (December), which they acknowledge. But, they say they have been busy - which is quite true. They list a fair amount of the big announcements during the last 6 months and have several other stories of interest. There's a "Where in the World" contest (a photo from somewhere on the Earth) which, if you guess right, you can win a free copy of Google Earth Plus. There are several interesting KMLs to look at, and they even link to GEB! Here is a link to the posted version of the newsletter at the Google Earth Community.
If you want to get the newsletter E-mailed to you in the future, the next time you download Google Earth, sign up for the Sightseer. Here's a link to the Sightseer forum where you can read some of the previous issues.
[EDIT 1325: Added link to the posted version of the newsletter]
13 de Julio 2006
Pronósticos del Tiempo para Sud América en Google Earth
Aquí hay algunas hermosas imágenes superpuestas sobre América del Sur y Central que fueron compiladas por alguien de la Comunidad Google Earth llamado "Gerardo64". Incluyen lo siguiente: foto satelital, temperaturas máximas y mínimas, radiación ultravioleta y temperatura del mar. Se actualizan automáticamente todos los días. Asi que revisen los pronósticos del tiempo de América del Sur y Central.
Using Google Earth Free for Education is Allowed
There seems to be some armchair lawyers out there interpreting the license agreement for Google Earth to mean you can't use Google Earth for education. To dispel this myth, OgleEarth points out that the Google Earth Help Center specifically states that it is fine for you to use Google Earth in education:
Can Google Earth be used in an educational setting?
The use of Google Earth for educational purposes in primary, secondary, and post-secondary institutions is OK.
In fact, Google has been known to give away Google Earth licenses to educational institutions, and included both Google Earth and SketchUp software for free in a large educational program for the state of Maine a month ago.
12 de Julio 2006
Tour de France Live Tracking Enhancements
After several comments from users about confusion with recent enhancements to the Tour de France live tracking capabilities, I contacted the author about the problems. He has now revamped the live tracking interface for Tour de France 2006 by having a folder which contains network links for several of the bikes in the race, and another folder which contains a list of camera network links you can turn on which give you tilted views, general views, and close up views of the racers' positions. If you are using GE 4 the list of camera views are radio buttons so you just toggle between each view. In addition, he added a feature which tells you when the next stage begins when the racers are finished with a stage. Read more about this tool in the original GEB story.
11 de Julio 2006
Google Maps Improvements Introduced July 11th
- A new cleaner image of the Earth's surface for high level zooms. You don't see the patchwork of different colored satellite and aerial images when viewed as if from space. Once you zoom in to look from airplane height or closer, you will then see the higher resolution satellite/aerial photos.
- Improved zoom features you can double click the left mouse button to zoom in, or double click the right mouse button to zoom out.
- According to reports I read, under Windows with Firefox or IE, you can use the mousewheel to zoom in and out. However, I just tried it with Firefox on my MacBook (OSX 10.4.7) and it worked for me.
These are some nice features which have been wanted for a long time by many users of Google Maps. It will be interesting to see if Google releases the new better looking Earth views for higher height zooms in Google Earth. Personally, I am hoping they will use the new NASA Blue Marble Next Generation photos (a different set of photos for each month of the year).
Today's a travel day for me, so here's a little news roundup:
- The word "google" is now official - at least according to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. You can also hear how it is supposed to be pronounced.
- Digital Distributed Environments publishes a video showing their 3D model of London. It is intermixed with some examples of their panorama photos which show their "trademark" ray-traced reflective sphere with the word London in it. What's significant about the video is the really nice quality models of London, and the following words from the blog entry: "...of course we have it in Google Earth but are still working on the licensing issues..." I hope Google will just license it from them and make it part of Google Earth! Imagine these models combined with the aerial photos of London...
- OgleEarth Links Page - has been updated. I haven't been keeping my links page up to date, but I am working on it slowly. In the meantime, check out OlgeEarth's.
- RoboGEO 4.2 - This program just keeps getting better. If you are looking to georeference your digital photos using your GPS automagically, there is really no better program. Check out the release notes on this latest version.
10 de Julio 2006
Traffic Cameras for Quebec/Montreal, Canada in Google Earth
Mike Pegg at GoogleMapsMania just let me know about a Google Earth file which shows traffic cameras for Quebec and Montreal in Canada. What is interesting about this collection of placemarks is that they put the camera shots in the icons above each location. It makes for a fast way to look at lots of camera shots. Not only that, but it is a network link which updates every 2.5 minutes so you're getting a pretty much near-real-time picture of the traffic situation in these two cities. You can see a Google Maps version of this site as well, but I like the GE version better. via GoogleMapsMania.
8 de Julio 2006
New Google Earth 4 BETA Now Available
Got an E-mail from a GEB reader (Mike from Sydney, Australia) who said there is a new version of GE 4 available. I checked, and he's right. The new version on the PC is 4.0.1657 - on the Mac is it 4.0.1658 - Linux version is 4.0.1660. If you do a "Check for Updates Online" it will NOT find this new version at the moment. But, if you download from the Google download site here you will get the new version. Here's a summary of a few of the changes and fixes from the release notes:
- Language selection can now be done from the Options/Preferences under the "General" tab. Choices are English, Spanish, French, Italian, and German.
- You can now choose which way the mouse-wheel zooms under the "Navigation" tab in the options (hurray!)
- Improved memory management, does not require as much memory
- Automatic setting of memory cache based on machine RAM (improves performance)
- Fix to a problem where search/layer/places panes were missing if you had them turned off in GE 3 (I had that problem with my Mac version)
You can see the full list if you select the "Release Notes" option under the "Help" menu after you install the new version. There are several other critical fixes and a few other features added. The release notes on the web site haven't been updated yet. For those who didn't know, there are also GE 4 Plus and Pro (beta) versions for the Mac now (but, not Linux yet). Thanks for the tip Mike!
[10-July: Here's the official Google announcement on the new beta.]
FSEarth 3.0 - MS Flight Simulator and Google Earth
Just got a tip that the latest version of FSEarth is now available: Version 3. This tool lets you integrate Google Earth with Microsoft's Flight Simulator 2004. The new version of FSEarth has some nice new features including: the ability to view your flight plan from MSFS in Google Earth, ability to see other aircraft in the MSFS world (including the AI planes), and it supports multiple configurations (two separate computers, two monitors, or just two windows). (See the earlier GEB review) This is a really cool way to use Google Earth's client/server capabilities to link applications together and see GE's unique visualizations. Watching the 3D views in GE with its real-life satellite/aerial photos and comparing them to MSFS's simulated views is very interesting. FSEarth is available to try for free, or you can buy it for a very reasonable price. If you are into GE and Microsoft Flight Simulator, you should at least try this out.
7 de Julio 2006
Magnalox Provides Live Tracking Interface for Google Earth
Magnalox is one of my favorite GPS visualization tools on the market. As mentioned recently, Magnalox provides both free and premium services to allow you to load, analyze, visualize, and share information you've collected by GPS and supports more methods for visualizing the data than any other tool I've seen. This past week Magnalox announced a new service allowing you to produce live tracking which can be viewed in Magnalox and, more importantly, with Google Earth. You can use a variety of methods to track and connect to Magnalox for the live tracking. It uses an efficient software package designed to run on many PDAs, and requires a GPS capability and some sort of communication method. It's possible to use this tool world-wide and combinations include: A fully integrated PDA phone with GPS, a PDA-GPS-Phone, Bluetooth GPS-PDAPhone, etc. The system can still upload an archived copy of the track if live communications aren't possible. Here is a simulation of how a live track would work in Google Earth. For a limited time the live tracking software and service are availble for free. More details available in the announcement.
6 de Julio 2006
Tour de France by Google
Google has just announced the Tour de France Google Earth network link they helped create for the official TdF web site (which I just wrote about this morning). This new Google Earth file includes details showing the route, beginning and end points for all 20 stages of the 2006 TdF. One thing I hadn't pointed out is that the TdF web site lets you select one of four languages and the Google Earth file is available for each language (French, German, English, or Spanish). Just go to the Tour de France 2006 web site and select your language. Then look for the link to "Tour in Google Earth".
By the way, I still encourage you to use the live tracker for the TdF I wrote about earlier which also has the stages (and in fact was used to help Google create the file mentioned above). The live tracker shows the current progress of the stage live while the bikers are racing.
- Updated Plane ID Chart - Cyclonic, who maintains the planes in flight database, has updated the plane ID chart.
- Panoramio - This really nice web site for georeferencing and sharing photos has added a cool new feature. You can "suggest new location" when you see photos which have been placed incorrectly. They also support photos which are already geotagged in the EXIF data (for example, the new Picasa beta lets you Geotag with Google Earth and stores the info in EXIF data inside the photo file). Photos already geotagged this way are automatically put on the map in Panoramio.
- Dell launches IT service using Google Earth Pro - I've been waiting for a screenshot, but it hasn't been forthcoming. Dell announced last week it will offer a way to track service calls for large enterprise accounts using GE to visualize locations.
- Plane underwater - Just thought this satellite photo showing a plane underwater (possibly a drug smuggler) was cool. Posted here.
- Proposed High Speed Rails - These new rails in northern California have been proposed by Architecture 21 according to this trainblog.
- Sharing observational data using Google Earth - Jeremy Cothran, of University of South Carolina, has posted a kind of white paper to encourage observation systems (sensor webs) to use KML. Here's a real example he did I wrote about in April.
- Google Helps Tour de France - Google is hosting and provided assistance to the official TdF 2006 web site to show routes of the 20 stages of the TdF. They borrowed work (with permission) from this effort, but for some reason haven't implemented the really cool live tracking capability yet.
5 de Julio 2006
Tribute to Canadian Group of Seven Artists in Google Earth
A nice collection of placemarks has been posted by someone called Dorseyland at the Google Earth Community. The collection provides interesting information, and pictures of paintings, illustrating the key places in the lives of Canada's most famous artists known as the Group of Seven. I recommend reading Dorseyland's post here for more background, but here's a brief synopsis of what he has created: In the early 1900's seven artists got together in their spare time to paint the Canadian north and subequently greatly influenced the art of Canada. The Group of Seven Google Earth file contains locations in the lives of these artists and pictures of their paintings. The collection also documents the life of an artist named Tom Thomson who inspired the artists before and after he died under "mysterious circumstances". There's a link in the post to a collection of scans to paintings from the Group of 7 here. This is an excellent example of putting a story tied to locations in Google Earth and documenting with information, links, and photos. Good job Dorseyland! Thanks to Hill at the GEC for bringing this to my attention.
4 de Julio 2006
Today is a holiday in the US, our Independence Day, so I will be busy lounging around the pool all day and watching fireworks tonight. Here are a few quick cool things for your reading pleasure (I figure since Stefan is also on holiday - but, without Internet - I should provide some news):
- Globe4D - a really cool video of a research project by Dutch multimedia students from Leiden University. This is a physical device which lets you turn a globe which has a projected computer image. They not only show the Earth and other planets, but also project time so you can see the continents move on the Earth over time. Definitely a must for every space science museum! via Cartography. By the way, I really hope Google adds the 4th dimension to GE as well as support for flying to other worlds like Celestia.
- Wardriving with Google Earth - At PerryGeo (Matt Perry's blog) he describes the steps, and provides the code, to take your laptop with Ubuntu Linux and Google Earth and drive around finding WiFi hotspots to map their locations. Cool idea!
3 de Julio 2006
Weather and Storm Tracking Tools for Google Earth
Last summer Google Earth Blog collected a few of the better tools for tracking storms in Google Earth. Now GEB will maintain a network link with some of the best weather tracking tools available. If you save the weather and tracking tools network link in your My Places you will automatically get the latest collection when you turn it on. The current collection contains a global hurricane tracking tool, global cloud maps, severe weather warning data and radar data from NOAA for the US, weather observations for the US from WeatherBonk, a real-time day/night viewing tool, and the global annual lightning flash rate map from NASA. The collection will grow and improve over time. Here is a list of the current contents with links to stories about the tools here at the GEB:
- Hurricanes - Live positions
- Global Cloud Map
- NOAA Severe Weather
- Weather Bonk - For Google Maps, but GE file available
- Real-Time Day and Night Earth
- Annual Lightning Flash Rate
2 de Julio 2006
Live Tracking of Tour de France in Google Earth
The Tour de France coverage in Google Earth gets even better. The author of the Tour de France Google Earth file, showing the routes of the stages of this year's race, has now added an ability to provide live tracking of race progress. Download the TdF network link , then open the "Tour de France 2006" places folder and turn on "Live TDF". You will see a red bike showing the current progress of the race, and it indicates the distance travelled and local time stamp. Read more about the TdF 2006 network link in the earlier GEB story. Here's the post by the author announcing the new tracking.
Here's what the author says about yesterday's stage and the new network link:
Saturday the prologue is taking place in Strasbourg. Today we start the first stage over 185 km, mostly flat. The network link has been updated to include the live tracking red bicycle. You should see the red bike sitting near the 5 km mark on the track. It is showing a timestamp at 1:47:30, which is the time of the last test...
[NOTE: turn off the "Live TDF" link when you are done viewing, or it will keep changing your view every 20 seconds. Save your "Tour de France 2006" network link by dragging it to your "My Places folder".]
1 de Julio 2006
Sailing Adventures and Anchorages of the Caribbean
Last summer I spent some time documenting in Google Earth the sailing adventures of my family on our catamaran PatiCat from 2001 through 2003. Check out this new version of the collection of anchorages and passages from Cape Town, the Caribbean, the US East Coast, Bermuda, and the Bahamas. Make sure you click on the anchorage placemarks. Google recently updated many of the tropical islands with high resolution satellite photos, and in many cases you can see the glorious beaches, coral, and boats at anchor. Many of the placemarks include a photo from that location, and links to the web site which documented the visit to that location with many more photos. The passages are marked with different colors indicating a particular passage between locations.
I first released this collection last fall, but with the new high resolution photos of the areas, and the addition of photos to the placemarks, it seemed like a good time to republish the collection. Hopefully some of you sailors out there will especially enjoy it. The screenshot is of one of my favorite anchorages: Tobago Cays, in the Grenadines. Here is the original post on Google Earth Blog which provides more details on how the GE file was created.