My Google Map Blog

Archive for July, 2017


This Google Earth Fan Site Ending Daily Blog Posts Starting Today

by Frank Taylor on Jul.31, 2017, under 3D Models, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, California, Denmark, England, Germany, Google Earth News, Google Earth Tips, Google Sky, Google maps, Hawaii, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Natural Landmarks, Netherlands, Sightseeing, Street Views, USA

This is a post I have been reluctant to write. I started this blog 12 years ago to bring news and share enthusiasm about one of the best software applications, and datasets, I have ever seen. Still to this day, I am amazed when I use Google Earth and the incredible wealth of data that Google has shared with everyone for free. I am going to start this post with a short statement and explain what our readers should expect. In a more lengthy background dialogue below, I try to tactfully describe what has lead me to this action. This decision was reached after a few months of consideration.

Announcement

I have decided, after a dozen years of publishing this blog, it is time for me to stop. As a fan, writer, and publisher, I really care about the Google Earth product, and our readers. But as a person, I need to focus my life on other things. It’s possible, if Google produces something really notable, I will write another post or two about amazing things of Google Earth. But, I will not resume daily posts. I plan to continue running the GEB server because many of the thousands of posts are found useful by Google Earth’s millions of world-wide users.

I will be directing readers to communicate with Google’s online help forums to try and obtain answers to questions. For a while, I will try and address some of the many comments and questions we get on the blog. But, those will stop soon. I will continue to respond to long-time GEB readers and friends by E-mail for a while as well.

I want to give special thanks to Mickey Mellen who took over writing this blog from 2009 when I left to sail around the world, and to Timothy Whitehead who took over in late-2014 when Mickey had to focus on other business. They both worked hard to maintain the Google Earth Blog purpose and style, and I greatly appreciate their efforts. We hope the readers of this blog enjoyed what we produced, and the help we gave in E-mails and comments, as much as we enjoyed doing them.

It’s been an amazing 12 years. I hope Google Earth, or superior successors, will continue for a long time to come.

Background Explanation

A lot has changed at Google in the 12 years this blog has been documenting Google Earth’s evolution. Many of those changes were good – the Google Maps and Earth division staff grew significantly, and new features like Panoramio photos, Street View, Google Earth Outreach, Google Mars, Moon, Ocean, and countless other features and layers were added to the product.

But, in recent years, Google Earth development languished. Staff was reduced, and during the last three years all of the top staff who were involved with its original creation have left (John Hanke left Google with Niantic – which created Ingress and Pokemon Go, Brian McClendon left to join Uber, and Michael Jones left to be involved with tech startups and investment groups). I enjoyed greatly working with these guys, and they were very supportive of Google Earth Blog and my efforts to document the enthusiasm of all things Google Earth. They were all peers of mine in the computer graphics and Internet development fields in the decades past. But, there were many concerns when they left.

I tested most versions of Google Earth over the 12 years, and gave many suggestions from both myself, and GEB readers. Google often listened and implemented many of the requests. Fortunately, a little over two years ago an effort to revive development efforts at Google for Google Earth was made, and a next generation version began development with a smaller staff.

Google as a corporation has changed, and, as often happens with publicly traded companies, their priorities with how they manage their products and relations with outside parties has changed. While they still cater to the big online and traditional news sources and pubications, their attention seems to have shifted away from standalone fan sites like GEB. Our blog is not the only fan site that has experienced this. Blogs like Google Maps Mania, for example, changed their focus and became just “Maps Mania” – a multi-product online mapping focused blog instead several years ago.

As Google eliminated most of the software developer hooks into Google Earth, most of the mapping developers have stopped, or greatly reduced, efforts related to Google Earth as a tool. The elimination early this year of support for the Google Earth plugin was the nail in the GE developer coffin – at least for now. The Google Earth Community forums, which once thrived with over a million members, has also dwindled in activity. It was the home of the biggest fans of Google Earth.

The new Chrome-based/and mobile app, version 9 of Google Earth, is the basis of the next generation future from Google. It was released in late April of this year. The new development team, headed by long-time Google Earth developer Sean Askay, has grand plans to implement many of the basic capabilities of the classic pre-version-9 Google Earth applications. As a first release, it shows great promise in terms of graphics performance and its ability to run well in the browser or on a mobile device. But, the web and mobile app version 9 only supports a subset of the Google Earth content, and is missing many of its better features. But, Google has committed to continuing support for the older version while they work on implementing more capabilities in the new generation. They have even recently added some nice tweaks to how the desktop graphics perform on version 7.3 of Google Earth. However, they demoted the better, desktop version, of GE to a link called “older versions” with the release of the first version 9 on the Google Earth official web home page.

In recent months, the new version 9 development team has presumably listened to feedback from GEB and its readers and either implemented, or indicated they will address, some of the requests and suggestions. But, responsiveness and feedback has mostly been slower and more cryptic compared to the past. Much feedback went without reply. In part, I think due to smaller staff, but also I think because Google has changed as a corporation and how it communicates publicly, and even privately, with testers. Their priorities with dealing with the public, and fans of their product, have changed. So much so, that the fun and joy of dealing with Google has disappeared. At least for me.

I realize all too well that many of the people who were die-hard fans of Google Earth 10 years ago, are no longer the fans of the product they once were. Many people have told me they can’t believe I have held on so long. As a long time entrepreneur, former CEO of multiple companies, captain of the seas and air, I am more persistent than most. Believe me, you have no idea. I have tried extremely hard to keep Google supporting Google Earth and its fans over the years.

In a rare occurrence in my life: I give up.

Maybe Google will one day again realize that their fans are important to the longevity of their products.

But, now that I’ve reached this decision, I want to turn my eyes to more optimistic pursuits for myself.

The post This Google Earth Fan Site Ending Daily Blog Posts Starting Today appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

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Explore Nigeria on Google Maps Street View!

by StreetViewFun.com on Jul.29, 2017, under 3D Models, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, California, Denmark, England, Germany, Google Earth News, Google Earth Tips, Google Sky, Google maps, Hawaii, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Natural Landmarks, Netherlands, Sightseeing, Street Views, USA

The capital of Nigeria, Lagos, is now available on Google Maps Street View. If you find any funny images from Nigeria, let us know! Larger
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Pictures from the ISS: Photos by Thomas Pesquet in Google Earth

by Timothy Whitehead on Jul.28, 2017, under 3D Models, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, California, Denmark, England, Germany, Google Earth News, Google Earth Tips, Google Sky, Google maps, Hawaii, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Natural Landmarks, Netherlands, Sightseeing, Street Views, USA

We recently came across a site called “Thomas Pesquet in Google Earth”. It features a KML file that includes over 620 photographs of Earth form the International Space Station (ISS) by French astronaut Thomas Pesquet that were shared through social media. The site and KML were created by Jean-Daniel Cesaro who has painstakingly geolocated them and put them in placemarks in Google Earth.

The photos range from relatively close up shots to sweeping vistas and night time photos. The site is in French, but the KML file is easy to find, so head on over there and download it.


Houston Texas.


The Soyuz Capsule seen over Southern Africa.


Aurora over North America.

To explore the inside of the ISS, see the recently released Street View.

The post Pictures from the ISS: Photos by Thomas Pesquet in Google Earth appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

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Seconds from launch? A prepped rocket on the launchpad

by Timothy Whitehead on Jul.27, 2017, under 3D Models, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, California, Denmark, England, Germany, Google Earth News, Google Earth Tips, Google Sky, Google maps, Hawaii, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Natural Landmarks, Netherlands, Sightseeing, Street Views, USA

Yesterday we showed you a video created by satellite imaging company Planet of the launch of their most recent flock of Doves using a series of images they had captured from orbit. As we mentioned in that post, it was almost certainly a first for satellite imaging. After writing that post we were having a look around various Spaceports (also known as Cosmodromes) and came across this sight:


Space Launch Complex 40, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on December 4th, 2010

We can see a rocket on the launch pad with vapour streaming off it as if it has just been fuelled and the support structure (known as a strongback) is tilted back as if it is about to launch. However, after some research we discovered that it is, in fact, a test firing and not the actual launch of SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft. The actual launch took place four days later on December 8th, 2010.

For more SpaceX related sights in Google Earth see this post.

Wikipedia lists the world’s Spaceports on this page but does not give coordinates. Those are provided as part of a longer list of rocket launch sites. We put the information into a KML file for you to view in Google Earth.

Of special note is Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia, which is still under contruction:

before
after

Vostochny Cosmodrome, Russia, under construction. 2007 vs 2016.

Japan’s Tanegashima Space Center features this rocket on display:

Unfortunately, some of the locations we were interested in do not have recent imagery. For example, the European Space Agency (ESA) launches from the Guiana Space Centre, French Guiana in South America. The most recent image of the key launchpads is from 2001. Also, SpaceX is building a private spaceport near Brownsville, Texas, but the imagery is from January 2016 before serious construction started.

The post Seconds from launch? A prepped rocket on the launchpad appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

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