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Google Earth Blog
We were having a look at recent imagery (captured in late November) in Google Earth and were surprised to find a building shaped like a crocodile in Jabiru, Australia.
Gagudju Crocodile Holiday Inn, Jabiru, Australia.
So we Googled it and found this article and this article listing a number of other animal shaped buildings. We were able to track most of them down in Google Earth. We also came across a few others from other such lists.
A couple of them are modelled in the old type of 3D. A number of others have the new 3D imagery, but most are not very well done, so are better viewed from Street View.
Elephant Tower, Bangkok, Thailand.
Lucy the elephant, New Jersey.
Cat-shaped Kindergarten Wolfartsweier, Karlsruhe, Germany.
The Snail House, Sophia, Bulgaria
Larry the Lobster, Kingston, Australia.
National Fisheries Development Board, Hyderabad, India.
To find the above locations and many more in Google Earth download this KML file.
Also be sure to check out our recent post on toys in Google Earth.
We recently came across this article about a flash flood event that struck the northern towns of Sonbong and Rason back in August 2015, so we had a look at the imagery. There is quite a lot to see. Luckily, the region is fairly sparsely populated, so there is not a lot of damage to infrastructure. Almost all the rivers in the region have clearly widened dramatically due to the flash flood.
What we found interesting is that many of the rivers seem to have flooded even though they have relatively small catchment areas. Normally, floods are most common for large rivers with large catchment areas, whereas these are mostly just streams a few kilometres long. Also the floods seem to have been confined to a relatively small area around the two towns and a bit further north, as we could not find signs of flooding further inland.
A bridge washed away.
Some houses washed away (we count 6).
To see the above locations and a number of other interesting sights in Google Earth download this KML file.
With the latest Star Wars movie arriving in cinemas this Friday it is a good time to look at filming locations for the previous Star Wars films.
First, here is a nice site describing most of the locations in Tunisia. However, for a much more comprehensive list of global locations there is site appropriately called Star Wars Locations, where you can find a KML file of all the locations on that site. When exploring the locations be sure to turn on the photos layer, as for many locations the satellite imagery is not very good and most locations do not have Street View. Wikipedia also has quite a comprehensive list.
You can also explore the world via Street View as seen from the cockpit of several Star Wars vehicles using this site
We weren’t able to find out much about the locations for The Force Awakens locations. Wikipedia says filming took place in Abu Dhabi, Iceland, Ireland, and Pinewood Studios in England. We also found this article that shows some locations, but isn’t very specific.
Did you know Google Earth has a free built in flight simulator and you can fly all over the world? It has been there since 2007, and in the meantime computers have gotten way faster and the data has gotten better. In some ways, its the best simulator you can fly!
Shortly after the flight simulator mode was first released as a surprise easter-egg by Google, I produced a video for this blog showing off the feature and how you could fly in Google Earth. But, it wasn’t possible to do an HD resolution video at that time and the content for the city I flew over was much lower resolution compared to today’s new Google Earth 3D imagery. I’ve been meaning to do an HD video for a long time. Check out this super HD video below – and make sure you view it FULL-SCREEN. You’ll be amazed Google Earth can do this! The video will give you all the basics on how to fly, but I’m sharing more details and tips below the video. This video was captured at 2560×1440 at 60FPS, so it really shows off the awesome 3D data Google has been putting in Google Earth the last few years.GE Flight Simulator Tips
Inside Google Earth, look for the menu choice under the Tools menu called Enter Flight Simulator…. A window will appear (see below) which lets you choose which plane you want to fly and where you want to start. To quit the simulator hit the Exit Flight Simuator button, or the ESC key on the keyboard. There’s also a keyboard shortcut “CTRL-ALT-a” that will start the mode immediately.
- Tips for beginners – You should first read the Help on the startup window, or simply go to this Google web page to learn the basic controls for flying. More keyboard shortcuts can be found on this site.
- Start up the flight simulator as described above. I recommend you choose the SR-22 plane to start (it is a much slower plane than the F-16, and will help you learn the controls). Choose an airport, but be aware most of the provided airport choices have changed in the years since the simulator was added. Better to put yourself on a runway as shown in the video. If you don’t have a joystick, you can’t select one. Don’t worry, you can use the mouse/trackpad to fly. Next hit Start flight.
- You will see the HUD (Head Up Display) in green (click here for a guide to the HUD indicators). Make your window dimension roughly square (otherwise you may not see all of the HUD display elements, although this problem was fixed in later versions of GE).
- To get started, hold down the Page Up key briefly (this will add power to your plane). The throttle indicator is on the lower left (triangle should be at the top for full throttle).
- To control your direction on the ground, use the comma and period keys on your keyboard to apply left and right brakes. Just touch them briefly to change direction left and right. Holding them down will slow you down and that is used for landing.
- Important tip – mouse control – it’s best to use the mouse to control the plane (unless you have a joy stick). I wouldn’t bother with trying to fly with the keyboard. Simply click the mouse once in the center of the view and you should see your cursor change to a “+” sign. Don’t move your cursor outside the window or you will lose control! The mouse will only control your plane in the air, and if the cursor is inside the Google Earth window.
- Taking off – Once your plane is going faster down the runway, try moving the mouse back slightly from center. If you’re going fast enough you should take off. Remember: just make small motions with the mouse close to the center of the screen. Once you have the wings level, put the mouse in the center. A lot of first time fliers have a tendency to over correct.
- To make a turn – move the mouse slightly to the right or left and when your plane is banked, pull back slightly. When you’ve made the turn you want, push the mouse back to the center then the other direction to tilt the plane back to level. Then re-center the mouse cursor.
- Pausing – If you want to stop for a moment, simply hit the SPACE key on the keyboard and it will pause the simulator. Hit SPACE again to resume. You can look around with the CTRL and arrow keys. Re-center your view with the V key.
- 3D Buildings – Turn on the 3D Buildings layer before you start the simulator to see the 3D city data.
- Start higher – Position your view in Google Earth in the normal mode so you are at a high altitude above ground. Tilt your view so you are looking at the horizon. Then restart the flight simulator mode (use Tools->Enter Flight Simulator… menu, or the keyboard shortcut CTRL-ALT-A) so you can choose what plane to use, and other options. Choose Select your start position->Current view in the window, and then choose Start flight. You should add power by hitting the Page Up key after starting it up. Now you can practice flying a while before you hit the ground!
- Landing – it is possible to land the plane. You can watch the video above for ideas and tips on landing the SR22. For landing with the F16 jet, here’s a recent video a reader shared showing him landing it.
Get out there and try flying around! You’ll be amazed to find out how smooth Google Earth can be for exploring the world. I recommend you try areas like the Swiss Alps, the Rocky Mountains of the US, or the New Zealand mountains for some really nice terrain. All of these areas have high resolution terrain available in Google Earth. And Google Earth has added many cities with detailed 3D data, it’s definitely worth exploring to see your favorite cities.
The skies are always clear in Google Earth – so, have fun!
If you are a flying enthusiast, you might want to buy a real flight simulator. My current favorite is Microsoft Flight Simulator X (or FSX) only available now through Steam online. It works quite well on current desktops/laptops. You can find out more here (click on the image):
The post New Google Earth Flight Simulator Tips and Video 2015 appeared first on Google Earth Blog.
Following on from our post on Google Earth’s internal browser we are exploring what can be done within placemarks in Google Earth.
A very underutilized feature of network links is the ability to send the location that the user is looking at as part of the URL. We thought it would be fun to demonstrate this capability by displaying a Google Map of the location you are looking at in a placemark. If you are a programmer wanting to learn more, see this tutorial from Google.
In order to make it work, the network link must point to a server that takes the URL parameters and dynamically returns a KML file that takes into account the location the user is looking at. This means this effect cannot be achieved without an application server. This might explain why the feature is so rarely used.
To try it out, simply download this KML file and open it in Google Earth. Whenever you move the view it will move the placemark to approximately the centre of the Screen and show you a Google Map of the area.
Note that it is a fully working embedded Google Map, including the ability to zoom in and out, switch to satellite imagery or use Street View.
We were recently considering looking for imagery in Google Earth that shows Christmas trees or other Christmas related display. In order to do this we need to find imagery captured on, or around, Christmas. The best way to do this is with the Google Earth API. So we thought it would be a good opportunity to show off the usefulness of the Google Earth API before Google shuts it down (most likely sometime early next year).
So we created this Google Earth API based tool that helps find imagery captured on a specific day of the year or within a date range.
To use it, you first need to load it in a browser, such as Firefox, that still supports the Google Earth API. Depending on the browser, you may have to give explicit permission for the Google Earth plugin to run. Sometimes the Google Earth plugin does not automatically switch to ‘historical imagery’, so if you do not see the ‘historical imagery’ toolbar then try refreshing the page.
Next, select the date range you are interested in. Both dates are inclusive. Now zoom in to an area of interest. When you stop moving the view, the tool will look for imagery within the date range you selected and show the available dates. To actually find the imagery, select one of the available dates then click the ‘toggle’ button. The tool will switch between the selected date and the previous date, which should cause the image of interest to appear and disappear, making it easy to spot. Keep in mind that it may be near the edge of the view or even just off the edge. We also found that it can be very sluggish at times, especially over areas with a lot of imagery, or if you are zoomed out too far. Try zooming in a little bit if the toggle function has problems. Alternatively, or in combination with the above, you can move the viewport around and see when the date you are interested disappears or reappears.
Once you have identified an image you are interested in, you can click the “Open in Google Earth” button to download a KML file with the location you are currently looking at.
We have not done any thorough testing or added lots of features because the Google Earth API is coming to an end, so we do not expect this tool to see extensive use in the future. However, if you do find any bugs, let us know in the comments and we will try to fix them.
If you live in the northern hemisphere in a region that snows in the winter, you will probably not find any Christmas imagery for your area, as Google generally tries to avoid imagery with snow cover. Aerial imagery in particular is usually captured during summer. However, if there is a regular event that takes place in your area during the summer months, this tool may help you to find it in historical imagery.
Although the tool proved quite effective at finding imagery captured on Christmas day, we were unable to find anything relating to Christmas in the imagery, largely because the resolution of satellite imagery is a bit too low to make out enough detail. In addition, a lot of Christmas decorations are only highly visible at night. We found a number of images in Eastern Europe all captured on Christmas Day, 2013. For these and a few other locations we found download this KML file.
South eastern India has recently experienced major flooding. The floods have been caused by a combination of unusually high rainfall and a number of human factors, including unplanned urban development on former wetlands and other natural sinks and possibly poor reservoir management.
The imagery is black & white and rather cloudy, but the extent of the flooding can clearly be seen.
There doesn’t seem to be a way to view the images in Google Earth, so we hope they release a KML file as they have on previous occasions.
For more on the flooding and some photos see this article
Google has recently done an imagery update in Google Earth, but there is no recent imagery for the area affected by the floods. The update includes imagery up to November 30th, 2015.
The post First satellite imagery of flooding in southern India appeared first on Google Earth Blog.
Back in 2006 Frank wrote a post about a couple of Google Earth animations of toys being built in Google Earth. If you haven’t seen them before, try them out now:
They are both time animations so to watch them click the play button on the time toolbar.
We also looked for large real life toys in Google Earth and managed to find an enormous knitted rabbit in Italy. Read more about it here.
The knitted rabbit has been on a hillside in Italy since 2005 and has largely decayed since then (right image is from 2012)
Other large toys we looked for were either not very clear in satellite imagery or were temporary installations that had not been caught in imagery. Moving to Street View we were able to find some interesting examples:
A big rocking horse in Australia, appropriately named Big Rocking Horse
To find the locations featured above in Google Earth download this KML file
Last week we had a look at a tool called GE Grids that is based on the Google Earth API. Its basic function is to draw grids on satellite imagery and allows you to mark squares in the grid. This is useful for classifying land use based on satellite imagery.
Given that the Google Earth API has been deprecated and will likely be shut down sometime next year we wondered whether it was possible to do something equivalent to GE Grids entirely within Google Earth. To this end we investigated the features of Google Earth’s internal browser and were planning to experiment further to see what is possible.
We wouldn’t advise installing it unless you have a particular interest in either developing a Google Earth application or classifying imagery, as it is not straight forward to use. If you are a potential Google Earth developer, it is free and open source so well worth checking out.
You can also see short overview of what it is all about in the YouTube video below:
We recently received some good news. We heard from Google’s Earth team that the Google Earth API will not be shut down on December 12th, 2015 as previously announced but will be kept running a bit longer. We have been told it should remain active at least until the end of the year. This is great news for those of us who utilize it for various tasks. It doesn’t significantly affect most web applications that have depended on it, as they will eventually still have to seek alternative solutions.
To celebrate the fact that the Google Earth API will still be active over Christmas we have decided to bring back the Google Earth version of Santa Tracker.
The original creators of the Google Earth Santa Tracker, Google and NORAD, parted ways a few years ago and created rival Santa Trackers that are web based and do not use either Google Earth or the Google Earth API. You can find their trackers here: Google Santa Tracker, NORAD Santa Tracker.
For more on the history of tracking Santa see this post from last year.
We will attempt to produce a Santa Tracker that will be available both via the Google Earth API and directly in Google Earth using network links.
Thank you to GEB readers Pedro and Ecksemmess for letting us know that Street View of Uruguay has recently been released.
Street View changes (in red) between November 23rd, 2015 and December 3rd, 2015. Larger version.
The Street View vehicle takes a boat ride.
Monument to the drowned.
To see the locations above in Google Earth download this KML file.
We recently watched this YouTube video about California City, which was planned and laid out in the 1960s, but remains largely unoccupied. As you can see in the video, streets were created and named and in some cases even signposted. So we had a look in Google Earth and found that most of the Streets are marked and named in Google Earth.
Vast areas of desert all marked out with city roads make California City the state’s third largest city by area.
This reminded us of a location we found in Brazil, which, similarly, has laid out city streets that are visible in imagery dated as far back as 1970. We have been unable to find out anything about it partly because it doesn’t appear to have a name in Google Earth. The closest marker is “Sauípe de Dentro”, which we believe is actually the name of a nearby village. If any of our readers knows anything about it please let us know in the comments.
This lead us to also investigate other ‘ghost cites’ we have heard of in the past, such as Kilamba in Angola and the many ghost cities of China. It turns out though that Kilamba has since seen occupation levels rising and most of the ghost cities of China are newly built or still being built and it would be premature to declare that they will not be filled. We did, however, find articles suggesting that China is planning to build far more cities than it can ever possibly fill.
Ordos, China, is often cited as an example of a Chinese ghost city.
The central park or Ordos is quite striking from above.
If any of our readers know of other examples of cites that were partially constructed and then abandoned, please let us know in the comments.
With the end of the Google Earth API imminent we are having a look at what various sites that depend, or used to depend on the Google Earth API are doing about it. Earlier this year we did a showcase of sites that use the Google Earth API and we will have a look at a selection of those sites.
The first is Rally Navigator. It is a comprehensive online application for creating rally road books, which are a set of instructions used by rally drivers and their co-pilots to map out a course and know what is coming next at each turn of the road. Knowing that the Google Earth API was coming to an end, the developers of Rally Navigator redesigned it to use Google Maps instead. Although it now lacks 3D effects we do not believe it has lost any essential features as a result of the conversion and has gained more features with time. So if you are a rally driver (or co-pilot) then you should definitely check it out. It has both free and paid for versions.
Next up is GETeach. This site was converted to use Google Maps even before we reviewed it earlier this year, but they left the Google Earth version online and it can still be found here. GETeach is designed to use as much screen space as possible for the maps, which leaves very little space for menus or other information telling you what it does. So the first thing you should do is view the help page to get an idea of its features and how to access them.
We do feel that the loss of the Google Earth API in this case does mean the loss of a lot of useful features that simply cannot be replaced by Google Maps, notably the loss of historical imagery and 3D imagery. Although Google Maps does have 3D imagery, it is not accessible via the Google Maps API as is used for this site. Even with the loss of the Google Earth API, however, it is still a great site and would be very useful in the classroom, so be sure to check it out.
Next is Flightradar24, a flight tracking website that shows the live locations of flights around the globe. It used to have a 3D view, which used the Google Earth plugin to show a model of an aircraft in the correct location on its route. They currently have a message stating that due to the demise of the Google Earth plugin, they are currently working on a replacement 3D experience. We will have to wait till they are done to see how it compares to the old Google Earth API experience.
Last but not least is GEFS Online, a popular flight simulator based on the Google Earth API. As far as we can tell, no significant development work has been done on the site for quite some time, with the last blog entry being nearly two years old. We can only guess that there are no current plans to move to an alternative platform and that the site will die along with the Google Earth API.
Update: Thank you to GEB reader Clare for tracking down this article which lead us to positively identify the aircraft in the 3D imagery as a Boeing E-4B, tail number 31677 as seen here and here. Also there is this YouTube video of it landing in Tallinn, Estonia. It is not one of the two Boeing VC-25’s normally used as Air Force One. It is used for transporting senior politicians, amongst other things. For more on the capabilities of E-4B’s see the Wikipedia page.]
Thank you to GEB reader Ryan for letting us know that what appears to be Air Force One has been captured in Google’s 3D imagery.
Is this one of the aircraft used as Air Force One?
Technically Air Force One is the call sign of any aircraft the President of the United States is on. So, given that the President wasn’t on this aircraft at the time it can’t technically be called Air Force One. However, it may be one of two aircraft currently used as Air Force One. It does appear to be the correct model of aircraft, or at least very similar, but the paint scheme is wrong and although we were unable to read the tail number it does not appear to be either 28000 or 29000 that are the tail numbers of the current aircraft used for Air Force One.
Based on comparison with historical imagery, the 3D imagery appears to have been captured sometime between February 2013 and March 2014. We can see the same aircraft in the same spot in historical imagery dated February 11th, 2013. In the image dated March 13th, 2014 we can see, in the neighbouring spot, an aircraft that does have the correct paintwork for Air Force One.
The 3D imagery was captured at McConnell Air Force Base, which is primarily used for air refuelling and airlift and the fleet of Boeing KC-135 Stratotankers can also be seen in the imagery (both 3D and historical).
According to Wikipedia, Air Force One is usually operated from Andrews Airfield, Maryland. There, in an October, 2012 image, we can see what appears to be both the Aircraft used as Air Force One:
And other aircraft with “United States of America” painted on the side:
And going through historical imagery we can find other examples:
Aircraft that previously served as Air Force One are kept in the National Museum of the US Air Force. However, they are kept inside a hanger so they cannot be seen in Google Earth. You can, however, see them in the Google Maps version of Street View or in a Street-View-like virtual tour created by the Museum.
We can see some other interesting aircraft at the museum that have been captured in 3D:
There are also some interesting markings on the runway, whose purpose you can learn more about in this post
The USA is not the only country to designate specific aircraft for the sole use of the head of state. Wikipedia has a list of such Aircraft for a number of other countries. If you are able to find any of them in Google earth imagery please let us know in the comments.
For the locations featured in this post download this KML file.
There have been several imagery updates during the month of November, but since Google has not been publishing imagery update maps we cannot determine the full extent of the updates. However, we can, using the Google Earth API, determine the approximate locations of recent imagery, including imagery captured in the month of November. Most of the November imagery is concentrated in Australia, New Zealand, and southern and eastern Asia. There are a few patches of imagery in West Africa and Brazil. There is no imagery for North America or Europe, most likely because winter does not provide good photographic conditions in those locations. It is fire season in Australia, but we have so far been unable to find any fires or signs of burning in the imagery. There is one image in Ecuador, most likely related to a magnitude 5.4 earthquake, whose epicentre was not far from the location of the image. However, we were unable to see any signs of earthquake damage.
For a map of the approximate locations of November imagery download this KML file. If you find anything interesting in the imagery please let us know.
We had a look at a virtual flood in southern California created by a problem with Google Earth’s water surface incorrectly displaying in an area that is below sea level but is actually dry land.
The Google Earth API is set to stop working on December 12th. Because of this, Paul van Dinther of PlanetInAction kindly released two tools that he had that he had created for his own use. The first one is a Tour maker based on the Google Earth API and the second is a program that can control Google Earth via the Liquid Galaxy protocol. We also had a look at a tool called GEGrids that is based on the Google Earth API and has proved useful in mapping land use in East Africa, which is aiding in the study of wildlife in the region.
Given that the Google Earth API is coming to an end we are looking at alternative solutions. Yesterday we had a look at Google Earth’s internal browser and what its capabilities are. Today we are looking at a way of controlling Google Earth from another application.
Liquid Galaxy is the name given to a Google Earth demonstration using multiple displays to give an immersive experience. To see it in action, see the photos and videos on of various installations here. Liquid Galaxy works by allowing Google Earth on one computer to communicate with instances of Google Earth on other computers and synchronize their views so as to give the impression that there is a single instance of Google Earth running across multiple screens. To achieve this, Google Earth has a special Liquid Galaxy protocol that can be used to instruct Google Earth to show a particular location from a particular angle. It is possible to use this protocol for uses other than Liquid Galaxy installations.
See this YouTube video to get an idea of what it does:
To try it for yourself first download the program here (Windows only).
Next, you need to configure Google Earth to accept Liquid Galaxy protocol instructions. To do this you need to edit the drivers.ini file found in the Google Earth program folder. The file is typically found in the folder
C:\Program Files (x86)\Google\Google Earth\client (for Google Earth)
C:\Program Files (x86)\Google\Google Earth Pro\client (for Google Earth Pro)
We found Windows Notepad does not display the file properly so you will need a more advanced editor. We used SciTE which can be obtained from here. Edit the drivers.ini file and insert the following lines at the start of the SETTINGS section.
ViewSync/send = false
ViewSync/receive = true
ViewSync/port = 21567
ViewSync/yawOffset = 0
ViewSync/pitchOffset = 0.0
ViewSync/rollOffset = 0.0
ViewSync/horizFov = 60
It should look like this:
Windows will not let you save it directly to the Google Earth program folder so save it on your desktop and then copy it to the Google Earth program folder.
Start Google Earth and GExplorer and make sure the GExplorer window is on the same monitor as Google Earth.
Initially nothing will happen because GExplorer is broadcasting to the wrong IP address. Click on the “Get my broadcast IP” button to adjust the IP address or type it in if you have different network requirements (Such as an actual Liquid Galaxy setup with multiple computers). If all is well it should say “UDP Connected” in red.
Next click “Start”.
The Google Earth view should now leap to the start latitude and longitude location. You will also notice that the view moves around as you move your mouse. You can now control Google Earth with a combination of the WASD keys and the mouse. SHIFT and CTRL can also be used to control height. Amplify any control input by holding down the spacebar with any combination of the above keys.
The view animates smoothly based on control inputs. The responsiveness can be modified with the “Inertia” dropdown. Low numbers means more responsive.
“Tilt limit” specifies the maximum angle you can look up or down. Try changing it to 90.
As you turn left or right the camera automatically rolls like an aircraft. If you don’t want this behaviour you can turn it off by ticking the “No roll” checkbox.
You can also switch between “Earth”, “Moon” or “Mars” by changing a dropdown.
Paul also suggests the great idea of creating a mobile app with the same functionality which would allow you to control Google Earth from your mobile phone. If any of our readers creates such an app please let us know about it in the comments.
The post Controlling Google Earth via the Liquid Galaxy protocol appeared first on Google Earth Blog.
With the demise of the Google Earth API fast approaching we are looking at what alternatives are available. For some use cases, one possibility is to try and implement what you want to do within Google Earth rather than with the Google Earth plugin. In order to see what is possible we need to know more about the capabilities of Google Earth’s internal web browser.
Google Earth’s internal browser is most obvious when you open a link in a Placemark or if you click the “Earth Gallery” button found at the top of the Layers section. Depending on your settings this will open a web page in Google Earth. However, we prefer to have Google Earth open links in our normal browser. You can achieve this by turning on the setting “Tools->Options->General->Display->Show web results in external browser”.
Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; N; ; en-US) AppleWebKit/532.4 (KHTML, like Gecko) Google Earth Pro/188.8.131.527 Safari/532.4
For comparison the current version of Chrome says:
Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; WOW64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/46.0.2490.86 Safari/537.36
The important part is “AppleWebKit/532.4”, which tells us that it is based on the same layout engine as Google Chrome, Safari and Opera. However, it is an older version than the one currently found in those browsers.
Popups also support the IFrame tag, which allows you to insert any external website into a popup. This means that we can easily do a feature test with the website html5test.com.
As you can see above, it is not very HTML 5 compatible, attaining a score of only 119 out of 555, whereas the current version of Google Chrome scores 521 out of 555.
To try the above tests for yourself in Google Earth download this KML file.
Back in 2006 Frank created a Thanksgiving card for Google Earth. Today we are looking at how to go about creating your own Thanksgiving greetings cards with Google Earth.
Firstly, you need an image with your Thanksgiving greeting. The easiest is to simply find a suitable image by doing a Google image search for ‘Thanksgiving’. Keep in mind that there may be copyright restrictions on such images, so they should really only be for personal use. Alternatively, you can get a bit more personal by creating your own image. That way you can write your own unique message. Ideally, you want to end up with an image that is roughly the correct proportions for the location you want to display it and also has a transparent background. Keep in mind that to use transparent backgrounds you need to save the image as a .png or .gif. We used Microsoft Word to create the image then took a screen shot and used Gimp to give it a transparent background. We used some clipart from OpenClipart.org.
Next, you simply create an image overlay in Google Earth (click this icon on the toolbar). Adjust its size and location to suit and select your image to be shown.
If you wish to send your greeting to someone else be sure to save the image overlay as a KMZ file so that it includes the image in the file. KML files do not include images.
Frank’s original Thanksgiving message. See it for yourself in Google Earth with this KMZ file
An updated version showing how easy it is to do. See it for yourself in Google Earth with this KMZ file
Google has just released Street View for more than 30 historical sites in Jordan. Read more about it on the LatLong Blog.
It can be a little difficult to explore the locations in Google Earth. As we have mentioned before, Google Earth has some problems with the blue Street View layer not showing correct coverage at some zoom levels. When you hold the ‘yellow man’ above the map, Google Earth shows blue outlines marking areas with Street View. This is achieved by having a set of blue outline layers with different amounts of detail to be shown depending on what distance you are viewing the earth from. However, it appears that Google either fails to update some of the layers or has a problem with their algorithm for creating it. Although the new Street View in Jordan can be identified from a high altitude the moment you start to zoom in the blue disappears and it can be quite difficult to actually enter the Street View for many of the locations.
An additional problem is that once you are in Street View there are no indications as to the extent of the coverage or where you can navigate, so you just have to click in a direction and see if you can go there.
We therefore recommend exploring the new Street View in Google Maps. If you do prefer Google Earth then we have created some placemarks for a number of the sites to get you started.
Umm Qais Archaeological Site
We recently came across this interesting article about how researchers have created a land cover map of East Africa, differentiating the areas with human land cover vs areas that remain natural. The map will be useful for studying many different species of wildlife in the area, but it has already proved useful in the study of African Wild Dogs.
The map was created using a tool called GE Grids created by Andy Stanish and available here. It creates a grid over a specified area and you can select or de-select squares in the grid. So, for the East Africa map in the article above researchers looked at the satellite imagery and selected areas that showed signs of human habitation or land use. Very simple but remarkably useful. This highlights the usefulness of the Google Earth API, which Google plans to shut down next month. In this particular case the tool does not use historical imagery or other features unique to Google Earth, so it would be relatively easy to convert the tool to use Google Maps instead. However, there are plenty of other applications and tools out there which will have no real alternative after the Google Earth API comes to an end.