I did the month webmaster review of Google. Google’s Peter Norvig explained how not necessarily the most relevant.
Enipedia is a wiki-based source for energry and industrial information. They have quite a comprehensive site, and they’ve just added some Google Earth tools that are very impressive.
The icons on the map represent the fuel types used at each power plant, and the size of the circle around each plant is a representation of their electrical power output (MWh). Much of the data has come from sources such as carma.org, eGRID and E-PRTR.
An especially interesting piece of this is that it’s wiki-based, meaning anyone can edit it. As they mention in the Google Earth Community, they run a script that is continually updating the KML with the latest information. This is a great way to take crowd-sourced information and display it for all to see. The KML that you download is actually a network link file, so it can always be updated with the latest information.
Hot on the heels of the release of Google Earth 6.1, Google has released new imagery for various areas all across the globe.
As is usually the case, you can use Google Maps to determine for sure whether or not a specific area is fresh. This new imagery isn’t in Google Maps yet, so you can compare Earth vs. Maps to see what’s new; the fresh imagery is already in Google Earth, but the old imagery is still in Google Maps. If you compare the two side-by-side and they’re not identical, that means that you’ve found a freshly updated area in Google Earth!
[UPDATED - 22-September, 10:08am EST]
- Germany: Baden-Württemberg, Rheinland-Pfalz, Schleswig-Holstein — thanks ‘Andreas’ and ‘hhgygy’
- Greece: Areopoli, Gravia, Lefktro, Milia, Pelasgia — thanks ‘Andreas’
- Spain: Berlanga de Duero, Lerma and other areas — thanks ‘Andreas’ and ‘Anton’
- Turkey: Konya — thanks ‘Andreas’
- United States: Colorado (Grand Junction), Iowa (various) — thanks ‘Munden’ and ‘Tony’
Some of you out there are running brand new, amazingly fast machines that can handle anything you throw at it and Google Earth consistently runs well. For the rest of us, though, we need to balance features vs. speed in order to keep things running smoothly.
With that in mind, here are some tips to help Google Earth run more smoothly on your computer.
DirectX vs. OpenGL (Windows only)
On Windows computers, you have a choice to run Google Earth in “DirectX” or “OpenGL” mode. You can change the setting from inside of the [Tools] –> [Options] menu, or start them separately from your main Start menu. There may not be much of a difference, but play with them and see what happens.
Disable some layers/places
If you’re running with a whole bunch of Layers and Places open, try turning a few off. I enjoy keeping the Blue Marble overlay on quite often, along with a handful of other layers (roads, borders, 3D buildings, etc). However, things speed up considerably if I turn all of that off.
3D buildings are one of the biggest performance hogs, simply because they generate a lot of data to be displayed, so turning them off will help quite a bit. On the other hand, if you’re wanting to find ways to improve 3D building performance, then disabling as many other layers as possible is your best move.
Anisotropic filtering is one of those cool features in Google Earth that most people don’t understand. In short, it helps keep things sharp when you’re viewing imagery from a low angle. Here is an image from the anisotropic filtering Wikipedia entry, comparing it turned off (on the left) and on (on the right):
You can see that it certainly helps make things look better, but it also costs a bit of performance. Turning it off can help speed things up.
Anti-aliasing is a technique used to smooth the edges of features in an image. In Google Earth, this is particularly noticeable on 3D models. For example, here is part of the Georgia Aquarium with Google Earth’s Antialiasing set to “medium” on the left and “off” on the right. You can clearly see how much it improves the appearance of the building, though turning it off will help things to run a bit more smoothly. You can turn it off in the main [Tools] –> [Options] menu.
The entire globe in Google Earth is covered with a 3D terrain mesh. But adjusting the quality of that mesh, you can improve performance. Simply go to [Tools] –> [Options] and move the Terrain Quality slider further to the left.
When zoomed out, Google Earth has a cool blue/gray atmosphere surrounding the earth. You can disable it by clicking on [View] –> [Atmosphere].
When Google Earth 5 was released, one of the big new features was the 3D ocean. Part of that new feature includes a realistic looking surface on the ocean. To disable that surface, go to [View] –> [Water Surface].
Google Earth keeps imagery in two types of caches to help improve performance. The Memory Cache holds imagery in your RAM, and is cleared each time you boot up your computer. The Disk Cache holds imagery on your hard drive for easier access. Incresing those numbers can help your performance. However, if you have a low amount of RAM or are low on hard drive space, you may be better off to decrease them a bit to give your computer a little more to work with.
None of these tips will make a huge difference by themselves, aside from any massive “Place” that you may have enabled, but added up they can make quite a difference. Play with some of the settings and see what happens.
Google Earth 6.1 has just been released, and it comes with a handful of very nice features. You can download the new version here.
Changes to “Places”
With our ever-growing collections of saved Places in Google Earth, they’ve added a few tools to help us keep them organized. If you have a folder full of places, you can now click on that folder and sort them all from A-Z. In addition, there is now a small search bow at the bottom of your “places” window that allows you to search within your saved places to find items.
Changes to Street View
Late last year, Google added some big improvements to the Street View mode in Google Earth 6. They’ve now refined it a bit further by allowing you to single click to move to a new location (instead of requiring a double-click) and they’ve improved the zoom feature. Now you’re able to use the slider control on the right side of the screen to zoom in and out with much greater control. Street View in Google Earth also has a slightly wider field of view, similar to that found in Google Maps.
New lengths in ruler
We just showed you some great ways to use the Google Earth ruler a few weeks ago, and it had a minor change with this update. When using the “line” tool, instead of just telling you the length of the line, it will show you the “map length” along with the “ground length” of the line, which can vary slightly.
New fonts for street/place labels
It’s hard to tell exactly what they’ve done, but it appears the fonts have been reduced in thickness (un-bolded, sort of), but also increased slightly in size. In any case, they’re a bit easier to read.
Minor tweaks in the sidebar
Along with the changes to the “Places” section, they’ve revamped some of icons over there, and turned the (+) folder expansions into soft arrows, to make it look a bit less harsh.
New settings in “Tools –> Options”
You can now set the “Units of Measurement” to use your system default (rather than specifically choosing feet vs. meters)
“View –> Reset” menu option
This is still accomplished more easily with the keyboard, but you now have some options to reset your view with the menu. If you’d prefer to reset with the keyboard, you can press “n” to face north, “u” to reset to a top-down view, or “r” to reset both.
“Help –> Upgrade to Google Earth Pro…” menu option
A very minor addition; another bit of encouragement to upgrade to Google Earth Pro. Clicking this simply loads an informational page on what you’ll get in Google Earth Pro.
Updates in Google Earth Pro
Speaking of GE Pro, 6.1 has brought some nice updates to that product on top of the updates listed above including enhancements to the printing layout, movie maker and better support for proxies and SSL certificates. They also tied the elevation profile into the ruler tool, saving a step when working with paths, as shown in the screenshot here. More details about the Google Earth Pro updates can be found on the Google Enterprise Blog.
All in all, it’s a solid update. Nothing groundbreaking, but lots of little enhancements to make the Google Earth experience better for every user.
Google Lat Long Blog