FROM THE TUSTIN NEWS, THURSDAY, AUGUST 18, 2005


THE DOC IS IN...

Technology goes to a new dimension

I could make out the Camry parked in our driveway as I looked down on our house in Tustin. It was shown clearly on the satellite image I was studying on one of the many new satellite mapping websites on the Internet.

This seems to be the latest Internet craze. Not only can we find almost any location anywhere on a conventional map on the Internet but now we can, with the click of a mouse, see a satellite view of same location. Another click of the mouse and we can see street names, close by restaurants and other landmarks.

I’ve been playing with two of these image sources lately; one by Google and the other by Microsoft.

Using “maps.google.com,” I could enter my home address and find myself on their conventional map. Clicking the “Satellite” button on the map converts the map into a satellite image on my home. Clicking “Hybrid” shows the street names.

The marker for my street address is a little off because they use a mathematical formula to find addresses, but it is close enough for all practical purposes. I can see cars in the driveway on this image and make out details of our back yard and pool. It’s a neat look at our location. However, I cannot zoom in much closer on this website. Additionally, it’s an older satellite view because it does not show some recent yard work. In the lower right corner of the Google image it does say “map data 2005”.

To get a more detailed view with some other interesting features, Google offers downloads from “earth.google.com”. The free download is Google Earth. It is a large file and you should have a high speed connection to view satellite images in a reasonable time. It is a separate program and places an icon on the desktop. Of course, they offer many variations of Google Earth for added cost. You can read about these on the website.

Entering my address now brings up an image that I can zoom in on in great detail, though it gets a little fuzzy at high magnification. Also I can tilt the image to get some really interesting three dimensional views and can ask for restaurants, roads and other features. It’s a lot of fun to use. The images are 2005 but useful. Incidentally, Google shows GPS locations for the mouse pointer position, a fun feature for us sailors.

Microsoft offers map and satellite views at “www.virtualearth.msn.com”. This is web based and does not require a downloaded program. Entering my address brings up a map location and clicking on “Aerial photo” brings up the satellite view. Double clicking on the image causes the image to zoom inward. Alt-double click and the image zooms outward.

The image is from 2004 but again O.K. for casual use. I believe the magnified image is a little clearer than Google and navigating around the screen may be easier.

Where all this is going, I’m not sure, but it’s fun to see these satellite images and I would suggest trying them.

If you would like to hear more about satellite maps, or other computer topics, visit “Coffee and Computers” at the Tustin Area Senior Center, 200 S. ‘C’ Street, any Friday morning from 9 a.m. until noon. Bring your questions or just come in and visit. And visit my blog at “drart.blogs.com”
(no “www”).

In the mean time, keep the neurons happy, synapses snapping and enjoy computing

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Additional Information:

There are many websites on the Internet that offer satellite views for commercial purposes at corresponding prices. Some of these can be found at:

www.globexplorer.com (enter your address to see image)
www.teraserver.com
www.navteq.com
www.spaceimaging.com
www.teleatlas.com

Many of these images originate with the US Geological Survey. Visit www.uscs.gov.

And, of course, the US Government has access to real time images that can show license plates from outer space, but these are not currently available for our use.

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Dr. Art Holub is a long time resident of Tustin and teaches computer and Internet at the Tustin Area Senior Center. Visit his web site at: www.arholub.com. This column is written to address the computer adventures and concerns of older adults. If you have comments, questions or suggestions for future columns, Email HIM at: doc@arholub.com.


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