Google Earth on Earth Day

Earth Day in Google EarthOnce again it’s Earth Day. A time to sit back and think about our wonderful planet, and some of us will be out picking up some trash, or just enjoying nature.

While researching thoughts for this post, I had a chance to talk to David Levine from Geostellar for a few minutes yesterday. They’re doing some great work in developing systems to allow you to view the solar potential of any building on earth. They generate the data using LIDAR and other techniques, then export it for viewing in Google Earth and the Google Earth Plugin. Android and iOS apps are due out later this year. To get an idea of what they do, check out the video below.

For those of you stuck inside due to weather, work, or other reasons – perhaps you might want to spend the day exploring our wonderful planet through the power of Google Earth. Here are a few links of stories from Google Earth Blog (GEB) in the past year describing environmental related content available for viewing in Google Earth:

The Home Greenover Project — A neat way to show off eco-friendly homes.

Diving Deep with Richard Branson — A new expedition to explore the “last frontiers of our own planet” at the deepest parts of the ocean.

Visualizing the vast problem of marine debris — Exploring the issue of trash in the world’s oceans.

Flooding Google Earth — Visualizations of Earth if sea levels experience significant rises.

Predict how much solar power your house could generate — Based on your area, predict how much solar energy your home could generate.

The WaterAid Point Mapper, helping find fresh water — A great tool to help sub-Saharan organizations map rural water points.

Google Earth Engine, an amazing tool for scientists and researchers — Released at COP 16, this tool helps scientists analyze massive amounts of climate-related data.

Sea Ice Extent Animation updated for 2010 — An animation showing the changes in the size of the ice cap.

A climate change tour of cold places — NSIDC released this project to show the snowy and icy regions of the world covering sea ice, glaciers, ice shelves and permafrost.

Tour of the proposed Belo Monte Dam Complex — A great visualization of the high-debated proposed dam complex in the Amazon.

New weather features in Google Earth 5.2 — Some cool enhancements to the weather layer in Google Earth 5.2.

Interactive multi-layered Google Earth map of 4 degree temp rise — A map showing the potential impact of a 4 degree rise in global temperature.

Soil Moisture Animations — A worldwide map showing soil moisture levels, and important tool for people in a variety of fields.

The art and design of Uncharted 2

When I joined the SketchUp team a few months back, I did what most people do when they want to learn about something new: I plugged “SketchUp” into my favorite search engine. It wasn’t long before I found my way to this wonderful interview of concept artist Robh Ruppel done by our friends at

Robh was the Art Director on the massive PS3 hit Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. In this interview, he discusses how he used SketchUp to help conceptualize and design the video game’s look and feel. For those of you who aren’t gamers, Uncharted 2 was big—really big. Think Avatar.

Concept Art: From SketchUp models to tonal drawings to production

Driven by cutting edge graphics, dimensional characters and a gripping story, Uncharted 2 was a runaway critical and commercial success. To date, the game has sold over 3.5 million copies worldwide. It’s the fastest selling first-party title for PlayStation and was named by Metacritic as the most critically acclaimed game of 2009. Uncharted 2 won over 100 awards, including Game of the Year accolades from publications like IGN, Eurogamer, Game Informer, Joystiq, Kotaku, AIAS, Game Developers Choice Awards, and the Spike Video Game Awards.

Robh uses SketchUp to determine the size and major shapes of the game’s environments.

Needless to say, Uncharted 2 was an instant classic; having spent more Saturday nights playing this game than I care to admit, it was pretty exciting to read about how Robh used SketchUp to work out the game’s aesthetic, and so I thought I’d reached out to Robh to see if he’d be willing to talk to us on camera about how he used SketchUp on Uncharted 2. He agreed, and with the help of the good folks over at Naughty Dog Studios, we put together this case study:

One of the hardest parts about this project was distilling Robh’s many pearls of wisdom about concept art, designing in 3D and SketchUp into a YouTube video, so we’ll follow up with another post in the coming days that has a transcription of our entire interview.

One more thing: If you found this video compelling, check out the trailer for the upcoming Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception. I’ve already pre-pre-ordered my copy.

Joseph on Better Listening

“If you’re going to help a man, you want to know something about him, don’t you?”

–Joseph to Clarence, Angel Second Class

from the film, It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

Sales questions…

The key to learning more about a prospect, customer, or colleague is asking more open-ended questions (questions that cannot be answered by a yes or no) and then listening – really listening – with complete attention.

No leading. No prompting. No interrupting. (You can do it.)

Get some more insight and a list of the top 30 open-ended questions from JustSell. Then, put together a small group and practice delivering the questions to one another (while also practicing your listening).