Monday, April 30, 2007

Overlays and Camping

While planning for the Google Earthlings mountain bike trip to Fruita, CO, I immediately turned to Google Earth to become acquainted with the terrain. So you see, you may feel like you are just playing around in Google Earth for hours and hours, but occasionally, the software can have practical applications as well ;-)

First, I used the overlay feature to place an image of a BLM map. This helped me determine a lot more about the trails depicted on the map. For example, with this overlay, I could tell how steep the trails were and how far they were from the campground and town.

Secondly, I used Google Earth to find alternate places such as Monument Canyon. To do this, in the Layers panel, I checked the Geographic Features folder.

Finally, I plan to eventually geocode photos I took in Fruita using Google Earth and Picasa. Learn more.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Change Your Language

Provided you are using Version 4 or later, you don't need to download another version of Google Earth to use another language.

To change the language displayed in Google Earth, click Tools > Options (Mac: Google Earth > Preferences). Click the General tab. Under Language settings, choose the appropriate language of your choice.

Note that System Default refers to the language used by the operating system of your computer.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Using Google Earth Offline

Google Earth uses streaming imagery over the Internet to provide you with incredible images of our world. But what if you don't have an Internet connection available at any given time?

If an Internet connection becomes unavailable, Google Earth shows you whatever imagery is in its cache. While online, however, you can effectively save imagery on your computer for offline viewing later. This works best when you increase the cache size and then browse a particular geographic area before you take the computer offline.

For example, when I was in Moab, UT last fall, I wanted to be able to show some terrain around Moab to others without an Internet connection. To do this, I first followed the aforementioned steps. To make sure that the cache included the specific imagery I wanted to display, I set up a set of placemarks of the Moab terrain, placed them in a folder and played a perpetual tour of the folder while the computer was still online. This saved the imagery in the cache.

When I arrived in Moab with no Internet connection, I was able to show high quality imagery in Google Earth.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Showing Balloons During Tours

You can set Google Earth to show descriptive balloons each time a tour pauses at a placemark. This setting is useful if you want to tour a set of placemarks that have particularly interesting descriptions. It is also helpful when you create movies in Google Earth.

To use this setting:
  1. Windows/Linux: Click Tools > Options. Mac: Click Google Earth > Preferences.
  2. Click on the Touring tab.
  3. In the Fly-To/Tour Settings area, adjust the Tour Pause slider in seconds, from 0 to 60, or enter any number in seconds.
  4. Check Show balloon when tour is paused.
Learn more about touring.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

New Layers

Google Earth layers offer fascinating visual depictions of our world. One thing to note is that Google frequently updates this information by revising layers or publishing entirely new layers. So be sure to check for new content when you browse in Google Earth.

Recently, Google published the following:

USHMM: Crisis in Dafur - (under Global Awareness) Created with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, this layer describes the genocide emergency in Dafur, Sudan. Learn more about the genocide and what you can do to help. Learn more.

Trimble Outdoor Trips
- (under Featured Content) According to Trimble, "this shows wide variety of data on fitness and outdoor adventures, including routes, GPS tracks, points of interest, trailhead directions, trail descriptions, photos, video and audio clips". Learn more.

100% Pure New Zealand - (under Travel and Tourism) This is a breathtaking collection of photos and descriptions of popular and less known destinations in New Zealand. Learn more.

Learn more about using layers.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Working With GPS Files

There are a number of different ways to import GPS data into Google Earth. You can directly import this data from a GPS device using Google Earth Pro or Plus or simply open a .GPX file already on your computer with any version of the software.

A lesser known technique: you can import a .GPX file by simply dragging and dropping the file into Google Earth.

Also, be sure to check out GPS Visualizer. This site can import and export all sorts of GPS data (including KML), draw Google Maps of your data and more. GPSBabel is another great utility that can convert various GPS data formats.

Learn more in the Google Earth user guide.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

KML Enhancements: My Maps

As reported on Google Earth Blog, Ogle Earth and elsewhere, Google today launched a new service for Google Maps whereby anyone can mark up, draw on and annotate a map directly within the Google Maps interface. It is very cool and super easy to use. You can read the user guide I wrote for this new service, which is called My Maps.

This relates to Google Earth because once you have created you map, you can export it to KML and thereby view it in Google Earth. After you create you map, click the KML link to download a KML file that contains the content you've created, then open the file in Google Earth.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

City 3D Models

The Google 3D Warehouse has collections of 3D models grouped by city. I find this useful, as I can browse models by location. You can view many of these models in both Google Earth and Google SketchUp. I am partial to the model of Fenway Park, home to my beloved Boston Red Sox, but there are a lot great user-contributed items.

If you want to view what is available in any particular area as you navigate in Google Earth, be sure to download the 3D Warehouse network link. Once you have done this, house-shaped icons appear in Google Earth that indicate where 3D models are located.

If you want to create your own models in Google SketchUp that you can add to the 3D Warehouse or just share with your friends, be sure to check out these excellent tutorials.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Navigating in 3D

Many Google Earth users still tend to view the Earth in the software using a top down view. When I attended the Macworld Expo earlier this year, again and again I found myself showing new users how to tilt terrain. The response was typical: "Wow, I had *no idea* you could do that!"

So I am dedicating today's blog post to great examples of 3D earth browsing:
  • Grand Canyon - Navigate to the Grand Canyon and tilt the terrain (or just click the link to the left). It does not matter where in the canyon you go, as it looks spectacular almost everywhere.
  • Hoover Dam - Click this link to view another amazing example of terrain in the American Southwest.
  • Swiss Alps - The high resolution imagery available for this area makes 3d browsing a fascinating experience. Read the Ogle Earth blog about this.
Learn about tilting terrain.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

SF Chronicle: Browsing the Earth

The San Francisco Chronicle has a very interesting article describing how people are using Google Earth to discover our world. It is a great introduction to Earth browsing, but also mentions lesser known implementations of this technology. Be sure to check it out.

I find the juxtaposition of these two examples in the article very funny:

"-- Art historians used Google Earth imagery to conclude that Renoir's opalescent painting "The Bay of Naples (Evening)" actually depicts a sunrise. The painting has been re-titled.

-- An excavation business in Fenton, Mo., whose owner once rode around in his pickup scouting for available land to dump fill dirt, now lets his son do the searching on Google Earth.

I suggest a new motto: Google Earth - The tool of choice for art historians and dirt dozers operators alike.