Thursday, June 30, 2005

More Google Earth

I've just been giddy about Google Earth (new name for the old Keyhole), and it seems like every time I play with it, I discover more and more of the featureset (yeah, I know, RTFM, but it's way more fun to discover features than to read about them beforehand).

Two things totally blew me away today. Actually three, but two of them are combined.

1. 3D buildings: I turned on the checkbox for "3D Buildings", and it streamed in some shapes for buildings in selected metro areas. Big whoop, I thought, as I saw these gray shapes start to cover up the areas of my map. But then I discovered that you can tilt the camera view, so that instead of just looking straight down, you get a perspective view, and then the 3D Buildings really make sense, because you get a skyline representation of a cityscape instead of just a flat map. WAY COOL!

2. Terrain: Living in NW Ohio (and that's what I've spent a lot of time panning around), you don't get the feel for what the "Terrain" option does. But, head out to the Grand Canyon (use the Sightseeing link to automatically fly out there), use the tilt mode with Terrain turned on, and you'll see why this is the best thing in the world! Pick a spot with a lot of geographic features (dramatic elevation changes), and spin around it. The underlying elevations are displayed in 3D!

TO MICROSOFT FLIGHT SIMULATOR TEAM: If you haven't started already, then you MUST implement this functionality into your scenery! This is what FS is currently lacking! There's no longer any acceptable reason for why I can't fly over an area of the country and not see real imagery (Keyhole, and now Google Earth, proved that point).