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Google Earth Mac!


Many Mac users have been waiting with bated breath for the promised Mac version of Google Earth. Now it's here. Just go to the Google Earth home page and click the "Get Google Earth" link to download. And it's free! (Though there are also higher-end versions you have to pay for.)

In case you don't know what I'm talking about: "Google Earth combines satellite imagery, maps and the power of Google Search to put the world's geographic information at your fingertips." (So says the main page.) Among other things, it's a 3D world satellite map that lets you "fly" from one location to another, and zoom in to varying levels of detail, and so on. It's way cool.

Oh, and Google Earth for Windows is officially out of beta today, so those of you who've been using that may want to upgrade to the latest version.

Unfortunately, not all computers have enough processor power or enough graphics capabilities to be able to use Google Earth; check the FAQ for system requirements. (And ignore the sentence that says there's no Mac version.)


Alas, it is Tiger-only.

Alas indeed. Having experienced Tiger at work, I find I like it a lot less than Panther, so I'm unlikely to upgrade my PB (even though it came with a free set of Tiger CDs), unless someone on geek-chat offers compelling reasons when I have time to pose the question there.

But I can play with Google Maps at work now.

Hmm, and now that I've tried it, I don't see what the buzz is about. It's like the satellite views in Google Maps, but ten times as slow. I must be missing something.

Google Earth: on my 3-year-old PBG4, Google Earth is decently fast; not as fast as Maps, but definitely not a tenth the speed.

I use Maps way more often, because I have more use for it. (Though I rarely use satellite view.) But Google Earth is awfully cool. Some of the features of Google Earth:

It appears to have much higher resolution than Maps (I can zoom in a lot closer on my house and still have a pretty clear image), and does really cool smooth animation from point to point (perhaps this is less impressive if you're getting 1/10 the speed of Maps), and I think has more detailed coverage of the world outside of North America (but I could be wrong). Perhaps the coolest thing to me about Google Earth is the smoothly animated zoom-in: you can start from viewing the whole world and zoom in to viewing your house, with pretty smooth replacement levels of details the whole way. (Though if you zoom too fast, it sometimes gets blurry along the way.)

There's also the whole points-of-interest thing--a whole lot of geo-information embedded in layers that you can turn on and off. Lots of National Geographic low-flying aerial photos of Africa that you can zoom in on from space. A tilt function so you can see the height of things and get the impression of flying over mountains and into the Grand Canyon. A "grab-and-throw" interface where the animation keeps animating after you let go of the mouse, like a globe that you spin with your hand. A system that lets you fly along a route after getting directions from one place to another. A way to annotate locations and share them with others. Etc.

As for Tiger:

Huh--it hadn't occurred to me that people might not have upgraded, 'cause I'm among those who always upgrade to new OS versions. And I pretty much always consider the newer versions to be improvements or at least not unimprovements.

I can imagine someone not feeling the need to upgrade to Tiger, but I'm surprised to hear you actively dislike it. What do you dislike about it?

I haven't yet used Automator, but I love the idea, and have some uses for it. I'm not fond of the Widgets (or rather, of the fact that they have their own separate layer so I never use them), and have turned off most of them; but then, I never used Sherlock for a long time, preferring to use a web browser for all those functions. I do rather like Safari RSS. Spotlight has some pros and cons. Tiger overall is faster than Panther (I love that Mac OS versions get faster over time). I love the fact that Safari can now display PDF in the browser window; makes me far more likely to view PDF files.

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