Photo Navigation

First a caveat – I try not to review or discuss specific gadgets here at RandomConnections unless I actually have the device in hand and have played with it, either having purchased it for myself, for work, or having swiped it from a friend for a test run. I don’t like to speculate on a device’s capabilities unless I’ve seen them myself. Also, especially this close to Christmas a favorable review might be taken as a “wish list”, and that’s not necessarily the case. So, I tend to stick with what I’ve actually seen.

Today I’m going to break with that policy somewhat. My intent was to discuss a capability rather than a specific device or brand, but it turns out that only one brand has this feature (so far.) I’m talking about photo navigation, the ability to navigate to a geotagged photo via GPS as an inherent capability of the device. Continue reading “Photo Navigation”

Secrets Revealed in ArcGIS Explorer



Long before Google Earth came on the scene there was ArcGIS from ESRI. There are two (actually, multiple) flavors of this. There were the professional GIS versions consisting of ArcMAP and ArcServer, and a free viewer, ArcExplorer. I attended a couple of workshops on ArcExplorer, was impressed by its potential for the classroom, but never really got into it. Along came Terraserver making free satellite imagery available, then Google Earth took the world by storm, somewhat obscuring these previous free mapping services.

While working on another project I needed to check out ArcGIS Explorer once again, and was surprised to find that it now looks very much like Google Earth with a similar user interface. Navigation is essentially the same – you can zoom in, tilt, and pan just like in GE. There are search functions and you and create placemarks. While Explorer will open KML files, it’s designed to be more compatible with ArcGIS data.

Google Earth has a much larger user-contributed base. However, there is much more accurate GIS data available for Explorer from various GIS organizations around the world. When comparing the free versions of these programs, you could think of Google Earth as being more populist, and ArcGIS Explorer as more professional. Continue reading “Secrets Revealed in ArcGIS Explorer”

Embeddable Google Earth

The functionality of Google Earth is showing up in more and more places outside of the actual Google Earth software. Much of what you could do in GE is now available in Google Maps. Maps has had the ability to read KML/KMZ files for awhile now, and for the most part the imagery is the same for both systems. Well the folks at Google have blurred the line even more with the recent release of the Google Earth COM API.

The new API allows developers to create interfaces to the Google Earth data. Probably one of the best examples of this has been done by the folks at They have created a version of Google Earth than can be embedded into blog posts, web pages, etc.

In order to take advantage of this three things have got to be in place:

  1. Google Earth 4.x or higher must be installed on your computer.
  2. You have to install the Google Earth 3D plugin for the browser you plan to use.
  3. The KML/KMZ file you plan to use must be available online, either on hosted webspace or on the user’s My Maps folder in Google Maps.

If you have at least the first two of these already in place on your computer, you can click the link below to read more, and you’ll see a demonstration…

Continue reading “Embeddable Google Earth”

Sky, Moon, and Mars

Google has taken its Google Sky functions and made them available on Google Maps as well as Google Earth. Google Sky for Maps features much of the same space imagery as its Google Earth counterpart. You can zoom in (out?) for a closer view of deep space objects and stars. There are also links that … Continue reading Sky, Moon, and Mars