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April 07, 2005

Googling my house

I tend to avoid Google if at all possible, preferring Yahoo, but when I heard about Google adding satellite imagery to their new map feature, I had to check it out. After all I did find their new map function very useful.

What I liked best about Google's maps was the ability to drag your self across the map. I was able to go from my house to my dad's (12 miles away) in less than a minute, I did the same thing with the satellite pictures. From my dad's house I dragged myself up the hill to where everyone says Garth Brooks is supposed to live. I found the hairpin turn next to the big security fence I'd seen the last time I was up there, and followed the road on the other side of where we'd seen the gate. Sure enough I found a nice big house, several larger out-buildings, what looked like a soccer field and a big swimming pool. (No, I'm not going to tell you where it is).

My wife doesn't think that that's where he lives, but then she was worried that if I mentioned it at all it would invade Garth's privacy. I doubt anyone but residence of that area would know how to find it, and they would already know, I'm not telling them anything new.

Some areas are fuzzy and you can't get a very clear picture -- my college John Brown University, in Siloam Springs, Arkansas for example. I have no idea where the legendary Area 51 is supposed to be, but I expect that would also not be very clear. I did check out Israel, but could get no clearer of an image that what I'd already seen in the maps in the back of my Bible. Other things I found: The Statue of Liberty, The White House and  Mt. Saint Helens. I tried to locate the CIA headquarters, but they don't give out the address and there were no buildings in the area it's supposed to be in that match the description on their web site. If they don't give out the address, my guess is the satellite pics have been altered to hide it. I would, if I were them.

My kids, however are having an absolute blast with it. They are traveling all over the place and exploring. I'm trying to think up some fun geography games for them using the feature.

Some have worried that this technology will be an invasion of privacy. My own house is only about thirty pixels across at the closest resolution. That's close enough to distinguish houses from cars from trees, but not to actually see people. My kids thought at first it was real time moving images from a satellite, but I explained the photos are at least several months old in some cases, and maybe much older in other spots.

Posted by Danny Carlton at April 7, 2005 09:30 AM

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