Tuesday, 30 January 2007

Google Earth

In my last blog I quite rightly ranted about the distinctly unuser friendly nature of some computer programs. They freeze up your computer and give no indication of whether they are working or not. Then at the end you find out the bloody thing wasn’t working at all.

So I’m really delighted to sing the praise of a program. I found it purely by chance, often the best way. Serendipity can bring joy into your life. I was looking for a free download program to burn DVDs, when I came across reference to Google Earth.

Firstly Google Earth needs broadband connection - if you don’t have broadband, do not read further, because you will only feel disappointed and frustrated at not being able to access the program.

What does it do? Using satellite photographs the program constructs a global image of the Earth. The first image you see is the Earth rotating in space. Enter your home address into the search box, click and watch the Earth rotate then zoom in on your house.

The final image does depend on your location. London is so detailed that you can zoom in to see people walking on bridges across the Thames. While the image of East Wales is on par with that of London, West Wales is fuzzy - but nevertheless even relatively small geographical features can be identified.

Not only can you zoom in but you can also tilt the image to replicate the view of flying over the surface. 3D models have been constructed of some locations. Click on the 3D feature, then select to tour Manhattan Island- fly up Broadway dodge between the skyscrapers. Visit India then zoom off to New Zealand.

Added features which makes Google Earth a brilliant educational tool, are photos of locations posted by users. Links to Wikipedia to provide background information. A community has grown up around the program, with enthusiasts building 3D models of buildings and geographical features.

If you prefer travelling beyond the confines of the Earth, you can download Celestia which will enable you to tour the Universe.

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