Update: Google has updated Keyhole. The new version is called Google Earth. To update Google Earth with the latest overlay images , go to the Google Earth home page here: http://earth.google.com/.
Google recently bought up a program that is way cool if you're into GPS type programs. Although, in truth, their new offering, KeyHole, isn't really a GPS program per se. It's more of a wrapper program that provides a very cool experience to the user and allows them to quickly view stored satellite images from all around the world. And although the technology is just a bunch of photos in a database, the experience to view these images through the KeyHole software makes you feel like you can zip around and view just about any location in the world. And if you purchase their upgraded version, you can even visit distant planets...all from the comfort of your computer desk chair.
You can download and sample KeyHole, from Google, for a week using their Trial version. To purchase a 1 year subscription to the software, you need to pay about $30 USD.Why a subscription? Well, as they explain on their web page, because it's a database service that offers updated images as they become available, you are logging into their web application to use the service. So you're not purchasing software that is fully installed on your computer. And you'll need to be a user who has quick access to the web to take advantage of the online time required to use the interface.
When you sign on, you see this image of the globe. Enter an address or city and suddenly you begin to fly into that location. Granted, at first I thought...boy, this image is terrible! Then I realized that it was streaming down the image, so as I waited it got much clearer.
Of course, the first place I had to spy on was my own house. So here you have it. In the neighborhoods of Chicago, amongst the piles of houses with their garages behind the house and the alley in the back of the house, here is a bird's eye view of our neighborhood. Looking like a million other neighborhoods in Chicago and other large US cities. But then, you can see our pool, which makes our house easier to spot! That blue circle that takes up most of our little city backyard is our pool. And I'll lay odds there's a dog running around in that shot, too!
By the way, it's funny how we grow up with various terms regarding our lives. We don't even think about it. When Greg came here to the big city (from a very small town in Southern Ohio), I remember he would say "the street" when he was referring to the "alley". (And how many of you know what a gangway is?) The street is in the front of the house, the alley is in the back. Yup, we lost Greg a few times when he'd say he's going out to the street and go out to the alley while we'd be looking for him out front!<grin>
(Oh, and if you come to Chicago, be sure to get an Italian Beef sandwich...tell them to "dip it" and get it with hot peppers....then grab a dozen napkins and plan for a gastronomical feast! It was only recently in my life that I realized everyone in the US didn't grow up on beef sandwiches as we have here in Chicago! Sheesh...you poor neglected souls! Chicago may not have it all...but we do have the best food around! But I digress...)
After checking out my own house, I just had to relive the wonderful visit we had to Boston last year. Greg's main office is in Boston. So while he worked, I got to walk all around the city. I spent a day walking the Freedom Trail. There's a red line on the sidewalk that you follow throughout Boston with a walking tour map to tell you about all the historical locations you'll visit along your walk. It's very cool! I didn't make it all the way, but I did make it from our hotel all the way to the Old North Church, as you can see in the image below.
That's it! One of the few building still standing built by Christopher Wren, which is where Paul Revere watched for his signal...one if by land, two if by sea!
One of the most amazing things I discovered in Boston is the fantastic job the city does to preserve some incredibly old burial grounds. Rather than moving these graves out of the prime locations within the city, they take gentle care of them. If you're as intrigued about those who came before us, who are entombed in the ground before your feet...as I am...you've got to visit the Boston area. Grave markers as far back as the 1600s!
And here, in the image below, you can see the area I've marked. An ancient cemetery, who, among it's eternal residents, you'll find Paul Revere. Right in the heart of the city! Surrounded by office buildings, hotels and shopping. Very cool and a bit eerie.
And when we pull back from Boston, a few miles, you can even see the continental shelf. Very cool. You can easily spend hours and hours exploring all facets of this planet we call home.
Of course, there are the practical sides of using an application like this, too. Below is a look at O'Hare airport. Greg is a pilot and, although I don't see him flying our little Cessna into this monster any time in the future, it's both interesting and helpful to him to get a look at the airports he plans to visit before he's in the air.
Although, the image below is quite familiar to Greg as it's his airport. Westosha airport is not only where he learned to fly, but where we fly out of. In fact, if you've spent any time viewing our flight photos on MouseTrax.com, you've seen close up shots of us taking off and landing here.
When it comes to business, this application is a great tool for the road warrior. One of my clients recently moved their office. I haven't visited their new building, but by plugging in the address, I was able to zoom into their new location to get an idea of where they are now situated so I won't get lost next time I head over for a visit.
And if you've ever wondered what Microsoft Campus looks like, well here's what you'd see if you were overhead flying by.
But, obviously, there's millions of other places of interest besides Microsoft and my backyard! Although I'll need one of my friends from across The Pond to confirm whether I know what I'm talking about or not, I believe the image below...a building I found just outside of London...appears to be Buckingham Palace. I'd need an actual photo to compare and confirm that fact. But I think it looks like what I remember?
Or maybe you'd prefer to explore the cracks in the Earth! Yup...it broke!
You can add markers to find those special places again, and lots of points of interest are already tagged for you, including many high res locations, such as Mt. St. Helen's.
And Niagara Falls.
For just $30 and a few hundred hours in front of your computer, you can investigate the world from your livingroom. It's quite interesting and very easy to lose yourself in your explorations.
Do know, however, that not every location on the planet has been photographed enough from space to give you a clear image. We attempted to zoom into St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands. But I guess that's not important enough to warrant close shots, since we could barely make out the roads on the island. On the other hand, if you want to see downtown Baghdad, you can practically see in the windows!