Sunday, May 1, 2011

Google Earth: Present and Future Tense

All indications are that Google Earth is about due for another Richter 7.0 shake-up – at least if you can believe the scuttlebutt at "Where 2.0" last week. I wasn't there myself, but lurkers in the "blogosphere" sure are all a-buzz about it.

"Where" is the massive conference started by Google last year to showcase their product and draw "groupies" from all around the globe who want to learn about and show off and network their projects that they are developing – notably those that use Google Earth and Google Maps. Using their familiar nomenclature, this, the second "version," is 2.0.

Upcoming Update to Google Earth - Log in feature?

Unfortunately, we are all too well experienced with the "hype" and "spin" big companies inflict on us in order to "social engineer" us into doing what they want. It is COMMON for companies, even Google, to claim that a NEW UPGRADE is for our benefit; when, in reality, what they really are doing is getting us to submit to a new software version that then keeps us out of their product unless we submit to even more advertising or LOG IN or tell them some kind of other personal information.

For years - there have been whiners all over the net who have wanted to take all the free work that Google has done, use it for free and make money for themselves by SELLING their maps (never mine they wouldn't work at all without Google). I must admit that many times even I have wished there were a more locked-down way of securing the maps which would prevent plagiarism (like I've even seen done with my maps in Mesquite).

Making money off of others work seems to have become a favorite scheme of lazy-but-greedy, untalented people everywhere. The scuttlebutt from "Googlers" (the eponym Google employees use for themselves) seems to be that they have begun comparing the Google Earth's security models to that of Google Docs; namely: that you can choose to keep data private, make it fully public, or grant access to specific users via their Google Account credentials.

What that means is, if they go through with it, there will be a future so-called "upgrade" for us to load which will change GE and make it PREVENT you from seeing certain content UNLESS you have gotten "permission" from Google servers to do so, by logging in. As long as you keep your old GE version it should work the same (until they turn off complete support for it); so, that should make you just a bit careful of what you choose to download from them in the future. I've long since turned OFF the "automatic update" from Google, having been burned by their all too frequent bugs they carelessly introduce.

If you want to check back here from time to time, I'll post about what any new GE version will actually do to your computer and whether or not you will still be able to obtain "free" maps. Or, those of you who are computer-savy can email me and tell me what you have found.

Japan's Photographs

Japan is rapidly becoming the most completely photographed place in the history of satellites. Hundreds of earthquake maps have sprung up all over the web, if not thousands. And, it is not at all surprising that land photographers would plug themselves in to Google Earth's new "street view" or "360 view" system.

To give you an example, I've extracted just one of the 360-views Google Earth Trail File for you to look at. It was taken recently in Kiri-Kiri, Iwate Prefecture – in the middle of a housing district, not a junk-yard like you might surmise from the photograph.

To use this file you should click on the link and watch as your computer first opens Google Earth, then opens the file and shows you the inside-look at the 360-view. That is, if your computer and Google "talk" nice. If they don't, just download the file onto your computer, then "open" Google earth and "open" the file (from wherever you put it).

To open the 360-view directly, all you need to do is double-click on the icon and your screen will zoom into the inside of a sphere with the 3-D view visible all around you. Use the pan-right and left controls up in the top-right corner of your screen to look all around you.

When you are done looking, you can click on "Exit Photo" (top-right) and you will un-zoom back out to the normal Google Earth view which will enable you to see: 1) where the blazes you are, on the earth; and, 2) all the other possible 360-views that there are in the same locality. You can switch over to any one of them as well, any time you want. [Just make sure that you have the "Photos > Panoramio and 360-cities" turned on, over in the "layers panel" – lower-left of your screen. And while you are there you can also click a check mark in the "3D-buildings" box to see all the trees and buildings that are (used to be) there.]

And, speaking of pretty earth images: They have also given Mount Rushmore a "face-lift" and they look real pretty now! Mount Rushmore, USA Google Earth Trail File.

And speaking of disasters: The University of Michigan (Perry Samson) has published a new map file of "12 tornadoes" Google Earth Trail File which is interesting and poignant - if not very up-to-date.

Environmental Activism

It is clear that the "Earth" product has become a substantial arrow in the quiver of environmentalists everywhere – both for humanitarian and political purposes. You can both take a tour of the processional route for the recent "Royal Wedding," Google Earth Trail File or become more immersed in all the "save the earth" rhetoric and data than you thought you'd ever be over at the newly announced "Earth Knowledge Portal." Google Earth Trail File

The Earth Knowledge Portal is about the most complete collection of earth environmental activism in one place – anywhere! Ostensibly, they "invited" leading organizations with "data" to "reposit" them on Google and at the same time constructed a new "overlay" system to plot them on the Google-globe. A neat idea for scientists; however, you'll need to wade through mountains of "pat-em-on-the-back" pages of how wonderful certain world leaders are to find anything actually "scientific" and even then it's presented in such a heavy-handed, agendized way that it makes you wonder how far it can be trusted. Still…

The Royal Wedding link is, well… a bit of fluff; but, geographically speaking, is an interesting way to learn about world events and geography. You can even show-and-tell your kids/grand kids what you've found to show off. All you have to do is click on any of those above links next to the "Google Earth File Download" icons - Google Earth Trail File

Learn A Little More

Today's video find came from a search of classical music. I was suprised to find a whole series of videos someone had posted from a classically-trained-pianist-turned-comedian: Victor Borge. But, given the times, not suprised that he had done a segment with the characters from one of our favorite set of flannel-people: Jim Henson's Muppets – the adult set, not the toddler set. Enjoy…

Victor Borge - Muppet Show - Beethoven


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