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Saturday, October 14, 2006

It's a Small World After All

Satellite technology has only been around for about the last five decades, and it's amazing what's been accomplished in that time. Ferdinand Magellan, who never lived to complete his voyage around the world, might be a little miffed to know that everyday schmucks can now circumnavigate the globe with just the click of a mouse thanks to software like Google Earth.

If that wasn't enough, there is now a site devoted to helping us learn more about this brave new world in which we live. Like the folks at Google Earth hacks. They have produed a list of "the ten best things you can do with Google Earth":
    10. Find Your House
    "One of the first things that people want to do when they fire up Google Earth is to find their house. Finding it is easy enough."

    9. Aircraft in Flight
    "A remarkably popular thing that people do with Google Earth is fly around and try to find planes that were captured in mid-air."

    8. Be an Aircraft
    "In my opinion, one of the neatest new features in the latest beta of Version 4 is the ability to use a joystick to fly around the Earth! Any kind of joystick should work. While a "flight stick" is probably recommended, I use my cheap Gravis Gamepad (similar to a PlayStation controller) and it's a blast!"

    7. Map Quirks
    "As great as Google Earth is, it's not perfect. As you're browsing around checking things out, you'll encounter some bugs here and there." (Like strange geological "towers" and UFOs!)

    6. Stange Objects
    "These are items that really exist on earth, but look strange when viewed through Google Earth (or in person, if you were to travel there)."

    5. Historical Sites
    "For history buffs and students, Google Earth is a gold mine. Not only can you fly to places of interest, people have added hundreds of overlays to show how areas used to look."

    4. TV and Movie Locations
    "While much of what is filmed for TV shows and movies takes place inside a studio, many things need to be filmed on location. Here are some files that highlight locations for some popular shows and movies." (See things like the island where Tom Hanks filmed Cast Away, the possible location of the LOST island, and the houses from Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.)

    3. Weather
    "The ability to view real-time weather in Google Earth can be quite useful. While GE doesn't yet support animated GIFs (and therefore time-lapsed radar), Version 4 now supports some time features which should allow for even better weather maps in the near future."

    2. Famous Landmarks
    "There are a lot of amazing sites to see in Google Earth that don't require overlays or network links or any of that stuff - just raw Google Earth."

    1. 3D Models
    "One of the coolest things about Google Earth is the 3D aspect of it. Almost every other mapping application (Google Maps, MapQuest, etc) is flat. Being able to tilt the screen and fly into an area sets Google Earth apart."
I'm sure all you cyber-Magellans out there will have fun with this!

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