Saturday, July 02, 2005 23:14
Google Earth for fun and games
I am having entirely too much fun playing around with this Google
Earth June Beta. (And if you haven't downloaded yours yet, I'm sure
it's still available somewhere.) This post will be about the
intricacies of geo-pr0n. (Download my "tour
of Japan" bookmark file, gearth-jptour.kmz)
Check out this picture representing the path and distance from my home
to Nipponbashi "Den-den town" here in Japan. It's about 35 km and it
takes about 65 minutes by train, one way. Kobe is on the left with
green dot. Nipponbashi is on the right near the Osaka on the path line.
Among the great features of the Google Earth is the ability to measure
a path, and though it's hard to see it, show elevation information.
Also, one other killer feature is linking information from external
sources, such as map images and photos (such as Geobloggers @ Flickr).
You may notice in this screen dump there are some overlays. I've linked
some aerial photography from the Japanese Geographical
Survey Institute (国土地理院). This is a great service but
unfortunately is incomplete and 4 years out of date. The actual pasting
of the images on the map is a painstaking process of moving and scaling
the images (there's no need for rotation since they are lined up with
North). I try to find some artifacts visible through the default Google
Earth image to line up the image, and while using the opaque slider, I
quickly check (like a hand animator) if the overlay is on the right
spot. With more detailed maps I was able to make out my home and my
I've been checking out my old haunts, and bookmarking them as well. For
example, Hirose Entertainment Yard (HEY), the shmupping heaven for
players and watchers alike which
I like visiting
, has this store front.
It's also located at around "35.698966 139.771053" (Put this in your
Google Earth search box), and looks like this from Google Earth:
Note this is the view from perhaps 1999. That colorful park on the
lower left hand corner near the station is now just another building.
According to a good friend, Google Earth is useless for Japan. I
disagree. Though it may not have up-to-date images or a way to get
directions, it gives you a general feel for the area, with names of
prefectures and colors of areas. And besides, you can add the static
and dynamic information as you want.
Here's Mount Fuji from "35.242334 138.694480", with Elevation
Exaggeration 2.0. The "Shinkansen" bullet train is the purple path in
the bottom half of the picture. That means, make sure to snag a seat on
the left if you're travelling from Kobe/Osaka/Kyoto to Tokyo.
Here's some other random thoughts and gripes:
- Did you know there's a pseudo flight-simulator mode? Press
on the keyboard or select G-Force control, and use your mouse to fly.
Unfortunately you can't seperate your view angle from your travel
angle. But it's interesting just banking around the skies.
- Save your bookmark work often by clicking on "My places" in the
Places panel and choosing Save. This program is buggy in the dusty
- It doesn't work with Japanese language at all, and leads to
- Name one top-level bookmark "default" and tweak the orientation
so you get a dramatic startup sequence.
- Read the Readme file, it's chock full of great info.
- Display the pointer coordinates in decimal form and use that
lat/long info as an easy URL-like reference. There should be a easy way
to right click and "Create URL from pointer" or something.
- Play around with the layers. There are lots of detailed
information for non-US areas. But there should be a way to select your
favorite layers as a group.
- I can't purchase Google Earth Plus! I get some kind of
"SE_ERR_ACCESSDENIED" error dialog box.
I've prepared a list of interesting
in Japan as a Google Earth
bookmark file (gearth-jptour.kmz). Ever wanted to figure out where
Comic Market is held? It's at Tokyo Big Sight. What's a good hotel for
Akihabara? Hotel Juuryaku.
Too much fun. I should have purchased this program earlier (when it