Page T1.1 . 24 May 2006                     
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    Google's Globe

    by Evan H. Shu, FAIA

    In the fall of 2004, Google acquired Keyhole, a global satellite imaging program that offers users anything from an astronaut's view of the earth down to a bird's eye view of a taxi double-parked in a city street. But unlike some computer software that stagnates after being acquired, this product, now dubbed "Google Earth," has only become better.

    There is a free version that is capable of useful architectural functions such as creating a vicinity map of a building site and making a bird's eye perspective of the surrounding landscape. You can obtain the positional coordinates of nearby buildings, roads, and highways with names neatly labeled.

    A US$20 upgrade to "Google Earth Plus" gives you some drawing tools, the ability to import spreadsheets, and higher-resolution printing. And for $400, "Google Earth Pro" supports collaborative work.

    Google Earth operates with most image graphics cards. (If you can run CAD on your computer, you can run Google Earth.) But it does require use of Windows 2000 or XP, or Mac OS 10.3.9 or higher. It takes 400 megabytes of space on your hard drive. And don't even start it unless you have a broadband Internet connection.

    When you first open Google Earth, you get a dashboard interface, and the screen simulates a view from space, hovering over planet Earth. After you type a location into the "Fly To" box, the feeling is indeed almost like flying. You can enter an exact street address, an intersection of two streets, or just a city, state, zip code, or country. You can also type the name of a famous landmark, such as the Eiffel Tower.   >>>

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    Google Earth opens with a control dashboard and an "astronaut's view" of the earth.
    Image: Courtesy Google

    ArchWeek Image

    Hovering over Manhattan, with 3D blocks representing New York architecture.
    Image: Courtesy Google


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