Thursday, June 28, 2007

Customizing Tours

Did you know that you can play a tour that follows an invisible path? This is useful if you want create a tour or a movie of a tour that follows a very specific route, but do not want to show a path or any placemarks. Just create a path with the color opacity set to 0% and play a tour that follows that path. Learn more about touring places.

Using the G-Force navigation mode in Google Earth Pro, you can also record a movie that follows your exact horizontal and vertical movements on or above the globe. For example, Frank Taylor of Google Earth Blog created this very cool video that simulates a fighter jet flight in the Swiss Alps (read more).

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Google Earth Outreach Tutorials

As widely reported, Google has announced the debut of Google Earth Outreach. This service offers a set of great tools for users who seek to publish immersive, exciting Google Earth and Maps content. Though Google Earth Outreach targets non-profits, there are great tools for everyone there. Be sure to check it out.

What I find most exciting is the set of tutorials, some of which contain video-based instruction. Though some of the tutorials cover advanced topics, they describe techniques that most anybody can figure out and use. A great example is the Building Better Balloons tutorial.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Playing Tourist with Panoramio

I just can't help myself. I am having too much fun playing virtual tourist with the Panoramio layer in Google Earth. If you are not familiar with this feature, be sure to check it out.

Simply navigate to a favorite destination (say Venice, Italy). In the Layers panel, check Geographic Web > Panoramio. Just start clicking the icons in the 3D viewer:

Panoramio icon

The location of each icon represents where the photo was taken. I've used this layer to scope out potential summer vacation destinations with my family. Since I've begun to use it, I've noticed that the number of photos in this layer have grown tremendously, so it is worth it to check this layer frequently.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Plotting a Trail

I spend a significant portion of my free time as a volunteer planning and building trails. I've found Google Earth and Maps to be terrific tools for sharing information about such projects. Example: for years, I have worked with the BLM and local volunteer groups to create a new trail near the South Yuba River in Northern California. Using a GPS device, image overlays of topo maps and a lot of scouting in the field, I was able to create a visual depiction of our planned trail. You can see the preliminary route here:

Google Earth:

Same data in Google Maps:

Friday, June 15, 2007

Searching for User Content

You can search for content created by Google Earth and Maps users. This KML-based content offers some of the most exciting material you can see in Google Earth. For great user content, you can also visit the Google Earth Gallery and of course the Google Earth Community.

To search for user content, navigate to an appropriate location and search. User content appears at the bottom of your search results in a folder entitled Web Results and in the 3D viewer as blue markers (see below).

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Borders and Parks

The default view in Google Earth displays nation borders. But you can display many kinds of borders and hide others. Almost all borders are enabled or hidden in borders folder in the Layers panel. If you expand this folder, you'll see a variety of borders that you can display.

Also note that you can display parks and US national forest borders by enabling the Parks and Recreation layer folder. I am particularly fond of the USDA Forest Service data we've published, as it also displays campsites, national forest information, trailheads, picnic areas and more.

Remember that if your view in Google Earth become cluttered with too much information, you can simplify it.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Off to the Races

The Google Earthlings will race again! After last October's weather debacle in Moab, the Google Earthlings mountain bike race team will once again participate in a 24 hour relay race. This time, we will be racing down the road from the Googleplex at Laguna Seca. Follow our (mis)adventure on our team blog!

My teammate Dave tracked the course using his GPS device. You can see the course in Google Earth by opening this KML file. And yes, that is me jumping on that rock. I won't be nearly that perky by the end of this race.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Google Earth Gadgets

As reported by Frank Taylor on Google Earth Blog, Google has authored an iGoogle gadget whereby you can view interesting places right on your customized iGoogle page. Browing other gadgets, I came across additional interesting items that may be worthy of your home page:

Earthquake Watch - Earthquakes in the last 24 hours as reported by the USGS.

Google Earth Hacks - The latest files for Google Earth that have been added to Google Earth Hacks.

Google Earth Community - Content from the Google Earth Community.

Google Map Search - Find places with Google Maps without leaving your homepage.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Using Screen Overlays

You may be familiar with Google Earth image overlays. Somewhat less popular but no less cool are screen overlays. These are images that appear in a fixed location in the 3D viewer above imagery of the Earth. In other words, as you navigate or fly across terrain, the screen overlay graphic remains visible in the same location of your screen. Screen overlays also work in KML files viewed in Google Maps. Some users have used screen overlays to brand KML with logos or to provide a map legend to their KML content.

Note that you cannot add a screen overlay directly in Google Earth; you must edit the KML directly. However, this is a simple process as described in the KML Sample document and reference guide.

Google Earth Lessons has a few interesting examples of this.