blog: How to waste time on Google Earth 101

By moonparkmoonpark (1261427808|%a, %b %e at %I:%M%p)

Introduction

This morning, I was determined to complete some of my on-going projects for work, but instead I wasted two and a half hour navigating through Google Earth. Wow…Ray, you fail at life…Anyways, I thought it would be nice to talk about the features that make this program sooo addicting and why it has captured many audiences. Therefore, this blog will focus on the different aspects of Google Earth, and conclude with brief summary of why Google Earth is evil…

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What is Google Earth?

Google Earth is a program developed by Google Inc. and focuses on the virtual globe aspect. It features a geographical map of the world in 3D while providing articles and photos of different locations. The images were taken through satellites, aerial photography, and GIS 3D globe system.

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The program allows users to search for particular location such as Las Vegas or look at particular houses. In the old days, the surfers could only see the oblique angles of the earth, but not there is a 3D feature for most of the locations (does not apply to the entire world). The topography of the Earth looks real as Google has implemented NASA’s radar vision to map out the world. Furthermore, users can contribute to the program by creating their own 3D building models, and submitting them to the site.

With the number of users growing at a drastic rate, Google has introduced numerous version of the software and has also incorporated the program in 37 different languages.

Features/Experience

Internal Features

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Google Earth has partnered up with Wikipedia and Panoramio to post their articles and photos on different parts of world. This creates a unique experience compared to other similar programs. I frequently use Google Earth to plan out my trip by examining the location for interesting spots. For example, before I went to Egypt last spring, I carefully looked through the areas of Cairo, Alexandria, and Luxor for some potential tourist attractions that I can visit. Google Earth maintains thousands of photos, which helped me narrow down specific attractions that I wanted to visit. Furthermore, I was able learn different geographical layouts of each area, which helped me tremendously when I had to navigate through the city. By clicking on the wiki-symbol, I had access to the summary of the site I was interested in. Through reading the article, I had a firm understanding of the region, and the information seemed to be reliable.

Besides planning out vacations, there are other uses for Google Earth. Users can plan out their traffic direction through this program by using more the aerial photographs and the traffic map structure. In addition, surfers can just waste time and look at some random stuff (just like what I did – some cool photos of Google Earth seen in a video below). If you are curious about certain areas, you could use Google Earth to virtually surf through that region. The attached photos and Street Views help the user to understand the area in detail.

Some other useful features are locating specific business in a region. Users can also mark the areas they frequently visit or are interested in, which helps them have a quick access to the location. There is also an option to have an internet browser attached to the Google Earth screen so that users can search for different things while examining a certain location.

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Interesting Features (for your amusement)

Flight Simulator: This is a hidden feature that can be accessed by pressing Control+Alt+A. Once the feature is unlocked, it will appear as a feature on the tools menu. Currently, the program only supports two types of planes: F-16 Fighter and Cirrus SR-22. I tried out the feature and it is really cool. However, it doesn’t run well on my system, and it seems like the program requires a lot of memory to run this feature correctly.

Street View This feature gives the user 360° panoramic view at the street level. This is an awesome feature since I never get lost anymore. Before visiting a new location, I always examine the Street View to understand where the building is located. After I get familiar with the place, I have no trouble finding it when I leave the house. Users can also virtually be at a location they might have an interest in, which provides a unique experience that no other program offers.

Other Features
Sky Mode – allows users to view the sky from the position they have located.
Ocean View – Google has mapped out the ocean floor, which can be accessed through this feature (it is in 3D)
Historical Imagery – allows users to go back in time and look at certain geographical area from past perspective
Mars View – This feature mapped out the entire mars surface, and the users are able to surf through Mar’s geography
Users can also see the traffic flows and weather of a certain location

Conclusion

Although there has been a lot negative press regarding privacy violation by Google Earth, the program itself has provided both useful and entertaining features for the users. The unique experience and features has attracted numerous visitors everyday. However, Google Earth has been labeled as “evil” as people have wasted so much time navigating through this program (just like me) while satellites have taken inappropriate photos (violating privacy – photographed naked people and secret military facilities). Overall, the negative aspects, in my opinion, outweigh the benefits of the program. Therefore, I would definitely recommend using this program sometime in everyone’s lives.

Google Earth Tutorial

New Features of Google Earth 4.3

Some interesting spots on Google Earth

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