Version 188.8.131.5215 Last revised/verified: 2013-01-11. Google Earth is great fun. It lets you zoom over the surface of the entire earth with an eagle’s view. You can even see your own house. They have digitised satellite photos and some street level photos. You can swoop down the famous streets of the world seeing the building fronts and even the people as they were last snapped. There are three versions. The pro version gives you the best resolution, but after a free trial you must pay for it. You download a program that renders the 3D images. You can fly at any height and in any direction swooping around with dizzying rapidity. It is about as close being Spiderman you can get for free. You are not seeing real time images, so it is not suitable for spying on your mate. You will need a fast computer and fast Internet connection to get the full effect. It has practical uses as well. You can swoop around your vicinity and see the commercial establishments specially marked. You can easily tell forest from clearcut, from parkland from residences. When it shows you driving instructions, you don’t just get a map, you get to see what the route will look like to drive. The 3D effects work best for mountains and hills. For buildings, I gather the 3D information in gleaned from straight overhead satellite photogrammetry which tells you how tall a building is, but nothing about what its sides look like.
Google Earth integrates with maps.google.com overlaying street names on a satellite photo. You jump to any latitude and longitude by entering the latitude and longitude in decimal degrees, separated by a comma e.g.37.771008, -122.41175. Unfortunately neither google earth nor google maps will display the latitude and longitude of any given point, unless you use some third party add-in.
Google got itself in hot water. It broke the law when it sent its Google earth camera cars around Victoria on 2012-06-06, the city where I live. For some reason, they tapped into every WiFi (Wireless Fidelity) net they passed, and if it was not encrypted, sniffed about and downloaded that homeowner’s emails. Everyone in Internet cafés as the Google car passed had their laptop emails stolen too since those WiFi nets are not encrypted. What were they thinking? that no one in Canada would notice? What was the point of the theft? Did they do it just because the had the technology too?
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