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Thread: Google Earth

  1. #1

    Default Google Earth

    Anybody else a map freak???

    There is an article in today's "Times" about some the people who take the photos and lay out the 3-D cartography for the Streetview part of Google's worldwide effort to map everything: the guys from this article are floating through the Grand Canyon, describing what it's like to take thousands of pictures of everything that they see. I spend half my online time on G-Maps; I think it is one of the wonders of the 21st century, and the article nicely spells out how the photographers have gone to remarkable extents to create it.

    For years ( since 2005 when it was finally available in the format we see today), like most Google Earth/Google Maps users I've searched and found dozens of familiar places on their mapping sites and, thanks be to Sergy Brin, I've strolled streets that I thought I'd NEVER get to see in my life by simply navigating their unique Streetview tab.
    Sometimes, while reading about a specific location in a novel or a newspaper story, I'll go and find the spot on Google and gain a stronger insight to whatever I am reading, and when disaster strikes, (like the train explosion in Lac Megantic, Quebec, for example) I'm able to learn a lot of details that give a stronger reality to the circumstances by being able to familiarize myself with the surroundings.

    Places like New York, Miami, Rochester, Montreal, Ocala and other cities where I have some kind of personal connection have been explored unto boredom: I've gone into Paris and Dubai, Hong Kong and Mecca, Munich, Perth and Shanghai via Google Earth so often that I know which streets have the worst traffic jams. These are a few of my dream cities, places I'd really like to visit in life. Once I satisfied my curiosity about those spots, I sort of ran out of reasons to "go mapping".

    Eventually, having run through the inventory of Earth's Great Cities, I sought out the oddities on the planet, like cities of 4 million in Central China or coastal India that nobody in America has ever heard of, or towns like Nome or Darwin or Inuvik, where you can only fly to, or maybe take a boat. Driving there would be either folly or impossible.
    I began seeking out the LESS familiar places on the planet, most of them really remote outposts I most certainly will never get around to actually visiting. I'm fascinated by some of these places. Almost none of them have Streetview capabilities. Google just can't get there, not yet anyway.

    They're out there in Nowhere's Middle, connected by a road in and a road out, towns that have no other population centers for thousands of square miles around and have had to become totally self-sufficient settlements. They can be little distant outposts like Yellowknife, NWT, or Truxton, Arizona or Alice Springs, or fair-sized but isolated locations like Male' (an island city in the middle of the Indian Ocean that has the density of Midtown and is about the 1/3 the size of Staten Island. It's totally built up from shore-to-shore, and has 350,000 people crammed onto a coral atoll. They have to take a water taxi to get to their airport. It's on another atoll. Where, I've long wondered, do they get their water?).

    I've explored the snowy streets of Iqaluit, Canada's newest Provincial Capitol city, seen the broke-down streets of Santarem, conveniently located in the Amazon's empty midsection and I have hovered over unnamed villages in countries in Central Africa that I'd never heard of until I started doing this. Some places where you'd NEVER expect modernity are startlingly modern, others are just sandy, end-of-the-road clusters of crummy houses that cause you to wonder why the hell ANYBODY would want to be THERE all the time.

    It must be a great job, driving around in the Prius that Google uses (mostly) for it's urban camera cars while taking panoramic photos of every street in town. To make their Streetview come alive, the Prius has to go down every side street, alley, dirt track, park road and freeway that composes a city, taking 10 shots per second with their marvelous 15-lens camera as they crawl along. They go anywhere a car can easily go. (Some places, like Seagate in Brooklyn, are fiercely private and do not allow themselves to be a part of Streetview. Others, like Soweto in S. Africa, are just too hostile and dangerous.). Huge, sprawled-out megacities must take an ARMY of Prius drivers months to photograph all of it, but some of the little places I've gone to are probably a quick lunch, an hour's charge for the car and we're outta here.

    Some of Google's streetview maps hold Genuine Surprises. On a recent pixel trip through Detroit I happened on the Woodward Dream Cruise, an annual, 10-mile classic car show held along one of Detroit's main roads; it lasted for about a real-life mile, then it vanished, turning back into plain old Woodward. I reversed to try and find it again, and I couldn't. And, in an aerial off of Sanibel Island ( S/SW of the lighthouse for about a nautical mile or so) I saw what HAD to be a high-speed collision between two fast-moving boats. In some cities, they have done sections of the same street in snow and in green. Turn a corner, it's beach weather. The other way lies frosty discomfort.
    They've even caught a brown-out sandstorm somewhere in Arizona. You could watch it materialize and move towards you, slowly blotting out the foreground until it swallows up the camera car.
    They must have fun at work, these photogs.

    I wonder how often Google sends the Priuses out to update things? The G-Maps shot of my house shows a palm tree that died and got hauled away in '09. A few of the neighborhoods that I know well in cities like NY and Rochester have undergone significant change recently and Google still has the early shots on their site. I have noticed some areas of New York/NJ that were destroyed by Sandy are showing the year-old damage on the site, so Google does do SOME updating, but I wonder how often they actually send their fleets of Priuses out in an attempt to re-do a city? It's got to be a job that never ends.

    And what is the plural of "Prius", anyway?? Prii, Pria--or maybe Prium??? Toyota ha never told us...
    Last edited by Hof; December 16th, 2013 at 02:18 PM.

  2. #2

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    Earth/G-Maps is a true wonder and like you I get lost in it for hours at a time. I can roll up and down the tiny roads around my home village back in Ireland and look around at the changes since I left 13 years ago (I go back often too). One of my favorite shots is that of my parent's house where the image must have been taken in late '09 or early 2010 as it shows our old dog laying outside, he died in June of '10.

    Also, in Ireland at least, it allows for aerial exploring that was never possible before. I have found several "crannog" sites that are impossible to spot from ground level but stand out like a sore thumb from above.

    Also as a Nexus 5 and 7 user...I'm fully in the Google camp.

  3. #3
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    What's a crannog? I'm planning to go to Ireland in the spring. Should I go crannog hunting?

  4. #4
    Crabby airline hostess - stache's Avatar
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    *smirks*...

  5. #5
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    I've put crannog hunting on my travel to-do list (but I may have to go to Scotland to find one) ...

    Crannogs are a type of ancient loch-dwelling found throughout Scotland and Ireland, while one has been discovered in Wales in Llangorse Lake. Most are circular structures that seem to have been built as individual homes to accommodate extended families. Other types of loch settlements are also found in Scandinavian countries and throughout Europe.

    http://www.crannog.co.uk/docs/what_i...a_crannog.html


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