Google Earth in Ubuntu 11.04

Installing Google Earth in Ubuntu 11.04 turned out to be as easy as downloading the latest version from here and double-clicking it, but not until I had already tried to download the source and build an install package manually. I’m not sure how this would have worked, but I gave up when Ubuntu barked that it was a “bad package” and instead of continuing on, I decided to look for an official package instead. I had, by that time already installed lsb-core though, and I don’t know which version I had or if that matters. The first time Google Earth ran, the fonts looked terrible. This is a common problem (and I’ve had it before on other Linux installs, but installing the core Microsoft fonts package fixed up the problem immediately.

sudo apt-get install ttf-mscorefonts-installer

Once trying to use the program I noticed that it was running *really* slow, pausing every few seconds or so, basically unusable. I got kinda worried that maybe I wasn’t set up to use my Intel on-board graphics card correctly (that maybe I needed to use a different driver) and started poking around. Armagetron, another program I run that needs serious graphics horsepower runs fine though. glxgears gave me just under 60fps which seemed really low but was suspiciously exactly the frequency of the monitor so perhaps thats just a red herring. I was starting to get discouraged when I noticed I had a bunch of updates to do. I did those and rebooted and Google Earth was running as slick as ever (glxgears fps numbers didn’t improve). Not sure if something got updated that needed to be, or if I really just needed to reboot after installing lsb-core or google earth itself.

So I started poking around for cool things to do in Google Earth and came across:
USGS Real-Time Earthquakes KML which is just so Geo-geek awesome I had to share.

Google Street View car

Its been more than a year since I first wrote that Street View had quickly turned Google’s otherwise slick and useful 2D web-based mapping into a 3D street-level peep-show par excellance. Since then I’ve had an image in my mind of a white van with the Google logo on it cruising around imaging all those streets for some reason. I guess if I had been really interested I would have found some stories like this one that revealed early on that they were actually using a VW bug, but I didn’t know that. When I discovered a couple street view images with the car still in the image, I thought I had discovered some big secret…
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Google Steet View is Live

update: Nov 2008 – this is one of the most popular stories on the blog (if the stats are correct) so I thought I would update it a little bit. Google Street View is a nifty web mapping application that allows you to view actual 3D photos taken from the Google Vehicle Cam of any place the car has imaged. Since Google Street View went live, Google has done its level best to keep potential lawsuits to a minimum by scrubbing out pictures of bikini clad sunbathers, and by removing or air-brushing out anyone who complains that their privacy has been invaded. There are still a lot of cool things to be found using Google Maps or Google Earth and there are several sites that provide a place for folks who are interested in this stuff to collaborate. Google Sightseeing is one such. Back in September, I discovered that the Google cam just happened to image Coopers Lake campground during Pennsic!

Original post (May 31, 2007)
Noticed tonight on Wired that Google Street View is now live on Google Maps, so go check it out. True, it’s not new – Microsoft already had a beta test of their version of this type of thing out. It’s also a bit Orwellian in that it seems like a bit of invasion of personal privacy – allowing voyeuristic users to zoom in on images of real folks caught about their daily business by clicking here and there on a web-based map in a browser. I don’t really like the way it all works so much – you have to look for roads or places that are outlined in BLUE, and then drag a little avatar guy onto that outlined portion of the map. Once you perform this rather cludgey manipulation a video window akin to those 3D Quicktime mov files appears with which you can interact and ‘move’ about the real images of a ‘street view’.