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How Google Earth Images Are Made

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the it's-all-in-the-f-stop dept.

Google 122

An anonymous reader writes "The Google Librarian Central site has up a piece by Mark Aubin, a Software Engineer who works on Google Earth. Aubin explains some of the process behind capturing satellite imagery for use with the product. 'Most people are surprised to learn that we have more than one source for our imagery. We collect it via airplane and satellite, but also just about any way you can imagine getting a camera above the Earth's surface: hot air balloons, model airplanes - even kites. The traditional aerial survey involves mounting a special gyroscopic, stabilized camera in the belly of an airplane and flying it at an elevation of between 15,000 feet and 30,000 feet, depending on the resolution of imagery you're interested in. As the plane takes a predefined route over the desired area, it forms a series of parallel lines with about 40 percent overlap between lines and 60 percent overlap in the direction of flight. This overlap of images is what provides us with enough detail to remove distortions caused by the varying shape of the Earth's surface.'

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Really? Most people are? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18923381)

"Most people are surprised to learn that we have more than one source for our imagery." Must be people who never leave the US border? How can you possibly miss what a hodge-podge of a patchwork Google Earth is? It's especially apparent if you zoom in on a small island.

Most people don't think. Period. (5, Insightful)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 7 years ago | (#18923439)

Anyone who has thought about this for more than half a second, or has looked at anything more than just their backyard would realise that it is cobbled together from various sources.

Re:Most people don't think. Period. (5, Funny)

glwtta (532858) | more than 7 years ago | (#18924259)

Dude, you find the oddest shit to be all superior about.

Re:Most people don't think. Period. (4, Interesting)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 7 years ago | (#18924765)

Anyone who has thought about this for more than half a second, or has looked at anything more than just their backyard would realise that it is cobbled together from various sources.

Not only that, but the article strongly implies that Google itself is obtaining the imagery - which is not the case. They buy (or license) imagery from a wide variety of sources. (The folks who take these images tend to retain the rights to them - and resell the imagery as many times as possible.)

There's some bits around here which don't line up (2)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 7 years ago | (#18926423)

There's a road going north from here which fades out, reappears 20 yards to the left for 100 yards or so, fades out again and goes back where it's supposed to be, etc.

Then there's the difference between the terrain height and the images - big lumps in the middle of the sea.

big lumps in the middle of the sea? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18926695)

Those 'big lumps in the middle of the sea' are nothing but humpback whales, you insensitive clod!

Re:Really? Most people are? (5, Funny)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 7 years ago | (#18923467)

Not to mention those different copyright notices on different parts of the world

We? (5, Insightful)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 7 years ago | (#18923469)

This makes it sound like Google actually did this work themselves with mental images of Googlites flying kites and riding hot air balloons. That is patently untrue. Most of the images in Google earth have come from other sources (government agencies, scanned aerial photos, etc).

Re:We? (2, Insightful)

stoicio (710327) | more than 7 years ago | (#18923669)

Yes, I agree. There are huge glossing statements that make
it sound like google actually acquires data.
This engineer has only a vague idea of how airborne and satellite
imaging work.

Re:We? (2, Funny)

alisson (1040324) | more than 7 years ago | (#18923913)

Pfff, the government works for google. We allllll work for google, just with varying degrees of separation o_o

Anyway, yeah, it does sort of make it seem like that. "Oh yeah, we just take some kites with cameras on them, and set up a good delay. Ya know, like 30 seconds or so, eh? Then we launch it up real good, and when it comes down, sometimes it's a real good picture, yaknow, eh?"

Apparently they're all Minnesotan or Canadian.

Re:We? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18924097)

No, shit. The US Govt has been doing this for decades. Most of it is archived here [usgs.gov] and that's one of the sources that Google uses. It's also pretty safe to say that Google probably doesn't do any of the orthorectification either. MSFT's terraserver used data from the USGS (the first people to see it choke & die from information overload are friends of mine).

Re:We? (5, Funny)

laejoh (648921) | more than 7 years ago | (#18924533)

... with mental images of Googlites flying kites and riding hot air balloons...

My mental images consist of Googlites duck taped to the bottom of 747's holding a digital camera...

Re:We? (2, Funny)

Shadowruni (929010) | more than 7 years ago | (#18924613)

It brings a whole new meaning to "I'm a leaf on the wind."

Re:Really? Most people are? (1)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 7 years ago | (#18925011)

I thought it was all satellite mapping. (for one, the copyright notices usually say 'telesat'). The fact that a lot of it is aerial never occurred to me. However, it makes more sense that the high res photos, at least, are taken from other platforms than satellites.

Re:Really? Most people are? (1)

Gigaflynn (1008043) | more than 7 years ago | (#18925189)

"Airplane" was a comedy movie so i guess they meant that they filmed it with the same cameras that they used for "Airplane"

Re:Really? Most people are? (0, Troll)

abanathabla (1093897) | more than 7 years ago | (#18925307)

Just have a look at Sahara. I was expecting a nice view of the desert but it looks like an alien shot through a telescope. NASA makes better pictures of stuff in space.

Re:Really? Most people are? (2, Insightful)

Proofof. Chaos (1067060) | more than 7 years ago | (#18925435)

There's nothing to see in the Sahara. No wonder nobody has taken hi-res photos of it.

Re:Really? Most people are? (1)

Bazar (778572) | more than 7 years ago | (#18925587)

I think what he actually meant, was that Google uses more then 1 medium to collect the images

what does this have to do with Hillary Clinton? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18923385)

I thought this was news for nerds, stuff that matters?

Oops - my bad (5, Funny)

SpeedyDX (1014595) | more than 7 years ago | (#18923387)

We collect it via airplane and satellite, but also just about any way you can imagine getting a camera above the Earth's surface: hot air balloons, model airplanes - even kites.
So THAT'S what the creepy guy in front of the elementary school near my house was doing with the kite and camera. They need some uniforms. I called the cops on that guy. Boy, I bet he had a great time trying to explain himself.

My bad.

Re:Oops - my bad (0)

jamesh (87723) | more than 7 years ago | (#18923425)

Would it make any difference if he did have a uniform? I'm sure someone really up to no good would have access to uniforms and know how to make it look like they were supposed to be there.

I probably would have called the cops too. At least they can wander over and have a quick word to make sure everything is legit.

Re:Oops - my bad (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18923709)

No, he meant the schoolgirls should have uniforms, 'stead of those loose-fitting low-cut tops the guy was looking down.

Re:Oops - my bad (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18923979)

Things are very bad. When was it ever a problem to be taking pictures near a school? In 2000, I worked with a photographer who did freelance work for a local newspaper. He related a story to me about being "hassled" by the police a few years earlier. He parked outside of an elementary school while waiting for his kids to get out. He grabbed his camera and started photographing some of the trees in the area, as it was Autumn and very colorful in the area. Which almost always gets printed in the paper for a small sum.

When he returned to his car to wait the last few moments for the school to let out, he had a few cops pull up. They approached him. They asked for his ID, which was in his car, but they would not let him approach his car. They questioned him with a very gruff attitude. They made a few threats to him, and they were very unruly. After ten minutes they finally told him why they were harassing him. One of the teachers in the school saw him pull up and and leave his car with a camera. The cops went a bit overboard with him. They did not allow him to identify himself by allowing him to approach his car.

This "Think of the Children" thing was going to far back then, and it is out of control now.

A person can walk on the public streets with a camera and take pictures of anything they want. So what if they are near a school or a powerplant. If you want to watch that person, then so be it. But they should still have the freedom to do that. They were not infringing upon the freedom of anyone else, they broke no law. This country needs to realize that The Constitution does not grant you the right to be happy, or to not be offended or annoyed.

Re:Oops - my bad (1)

jamesh (87723) | more than 7 years ago | (#18924229)

Being in a public street with a camera is one thing, but flying a kite with a camera attached over private property (or a school, if you don't count that as private property) is another.

Sure, some cops go overboard like in your example, but I don't think a friendly policeman approaching our kite flying camera friend and asking for ID just to make sure he's not on a list of registered sex offenders or anything is going overboard.

We had a policeman knock on our door a few years ago. A car vaguely matching the description of ours was seen leaving the scene of a grass fire. He was quite friendly, explained why he was there, asked if we'd been anywhere recently (I assume he would have put his hand on the bonnet of the car too just to check), chatted about the weather, and then left. Just the way it should be.

I think the problem in your example was that the policemen were being pricks, not that they they were asking questions in the first place.

To quote HHGTTG - "It's not easy being a cop".

Re:Oops - my bad (4, Insightful)

Eivind (15695) | more than 7 years ago | (#18924595)

Perhaps, but one problem is that its the same people who are "suspicious" every time, so what may seem reasonable to all outsiders, because whatever behaviour looks fishy, may be a constant nuisance of having to defend ones own perfectly legal actions over and over and over to cops.

I know a guy, originally from Pakistan, wears typical street-kid clothing, is passionate about biking and have a $10K bike.

He *literally* has to "explain himself" once a week or more.

By the 20th time a cop pulls you over and demand that you explain how the hell you're allowed to ride a bike that you, infact, own, you tend to stop thinking that its all that reasonable.

The problem offcourse is that each individual cop doesn't know that X other cops *also* pulled the guy over this year, so to them it seems reasonable and so its hard for them to see why he can be annoyed and impatient about it.

Re:Oops - my bad (1)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 7 years ago | (#18925401)

Being in a public street with a camera is one thing, but flying a kite with a camera attached over private property (or a school, if you don't count that as private property) is another.
The question is, where does the area "above" your private property end? Planes fly over houses, and no-one complains about the infringement from that point-of-view.

Re:Oops - my bad (3, Insightful)

Proofof. Chaos (1067060) | more than 7 years ago | (#18925511)

We had a policeman knock on our door a few years ago. A car vaguely matching the description of ours was seen leaving the scene of a grass fire. He was quite friendly, explained why he was there, asked if we'd been anywhere recently (I assume he would have put his hand on the bonnet of the car too just to check), chatted about the weather, and then left. Just the way it should be.
You're right, that's "Just the way it should be."

I assume you're from the UK, because you used the word "bonnet." I've heard about your friendly neighborhood constables. Unfortunately, in the US, most (not all) cops are on a power trip, and are more interested in harassing whomever they have an excuse to harass, than gaining the respect of the (generally) law abiding public, and preventing real crime.

Re:Oops - my bad (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18927489)

list of registered sex offenders

Let's not even get into how wrong that is.

I mean if they served there time, then they should not still be treated as criminals afterwards. If they are not "rehabilitated", then they should not be let out, at least not out with the general public.

I know, I know, prison is not a place of rehabilitation. And of course, since they have been to prison they can no longer participate in elections (except as candidates), which means no one will listen to them when they could possibly help in one way or another.

One more thing: It should not be easy to be a cop. They should be more righteous than the general public. They should have to jump through a great number of hoops. All to make sure they do not go overboard and harass or infringe on an individuals rights. That is the price of being a cop.

Re:Oops - my bad (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 7 years ago | (#18924805)

I probably would have called the cops too. At least they can wander over and have a quick word to make sure everything is legit.

Maybe it is just me but if something looked fishy (and for me someone putting a camera on a kite is more geek than pervert) I would just have asked him what he was doing.

Re:Oops - my bad (5, Funny)

forkazoo (138186) | more than 7 years ago | (#18923811)

We collect it via airplane and satellite, but also just about any way you can imagine getting a camera above the Earth's surface: hot air balloons, model airplanes - even kites.

  So THAT'S what the creepy guy in front of the elementary school near my house was doing with the kite and camera. They need some uniforms. I called the cops on that guy. Boy, I bet he had a great time trying to explain himself.

My bad.


Hey, don't worry about it, dude. I'm used to it at this point. It was just nice to get out of the house and fly the kite, even if I did get hassled by the cops. By the way, you should really have that mole looked at. And, tell your wife to go with the blue one.

Keyhole was really cool (0)

Animats (122034) | more than 7 years ago | (#18923403)

I had a Keyhole subscription for years before Google bought it, and it was really cool. If all you've seen is the Javascript kludge, you haven't seen the real thing. The real Keyhole application required 3D hardware, could do smooth zooms, tilts, and pans, and showed the world with elevation.

Google still offers that as a download, but it's not used all that much.

Re:Keyhole was really cool (4, Informative)

creativeHavoc (1052138) | more than 7 years ago | (#18923415)

don't confuse google maps with google earth. They have distinct purposes, and excells at them.

Re:Keyhole was really cool (5, Informative)

dickeya (733264) | more than 7 years ago | (#18923533)

Maybe you should download and try Google Earth which....

requires 3D hardware, can do smooth zooms, tilts, and pans, and showa the world with elevation.

Google Earth IS the evolved version of the Keyhole client you referred to.

Re:Keyhole was really cool (1)

JensenDied (1009293) | more than 7 years ago | (#18923769)

speaking of keyhole, notpron [deathball.net] references this in one of the levels. IIRC the hint involved "keyhole" and coordinates to a shape which describes the user/password to the next level.

Re:Keyhole was really cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18924581)

Try USING It.

It is the most downloaded pervasive 3D application in the world.

It is FREE no subscription required anymore for the basic version. It has vastly better data than Keyhole ever had.

It has vastly more users than Keyhole's Earthviewer ever had.

It has way better features than Earthviewer had with PRO features now in the free Google Earth client.

It has grown in every way imaginable, so STFU, download it and enjoy.

My digital camera does the same thing. (0)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#18923409)

From the sounds of it, I have a digital camera that does pretty much the same thing. You take 3 pictures with some overlap and it's able to stitch them together to make a panoramic shot. It displays part of the previous shot so that you can line up the shots properly for good results.

It's very easy to see that google gets the images from many sources, because often times you'll go over by 1 KM, and be left with a blurry mess whereas it was crystal clear before.

Re:My digital camera does the same thing. (5, Informative)

kefler (938387) | more than 7 years ago | (#18923679)

Actually there's no need for a camera's "panoramic" mode any more. Check out Autostitch [cs.ubc.ca] , a free for personal use program created by researchers at UBC. Essentially you take as many pictures as you want with varying amount of overlap. Each picture can be rotated differently and even vary somewhat in exposure, and this program automatically figures out which ones go where, even throwing out ones that are not part of the scene. It takes a ton of ram and some CPU speed but the result is better than any other method I've seen. Some examples here at the bottom of this page: AZ Snow Pictures. [sabinovalley.com]

Re:My digital camera does the same thing. (2)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 7 years ago | (#18923933)

There never was as all panoramic mode does is crop the image on film to a strip rather than the full frame 35 or 24 mm. If you wanted genuine pano, you either used a panoramic camera which exposed three frames worth of film in one shot, or you took multiple shots with the help of Nikon's tripod adapter that had detents which matched up with several of their lenses (55, 110mm, and IIRC 200mm) focal length. Shoot, move to next detent, etc. I've done 360deg panoramics with that thing. It's awesome..
-nB

Way to knock down what you almost understand. (2, Informative)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 7 years ago | (#18924271)

The camera's mode, at least in Canon's case, is to show an overlay of the pictures already taken in the matrix or panorama you're taking. It's easier to get good, overlapping, easy-to-stitch images if you use the camera's framework to help you set up the shots, and be sure when you've taken enough to fill the planned matrix. As a bonus, the pictures are all tagged as to their position in the final photograph, and all the camera data is recorded for the stitching program.

IIRC, the actual stitching still happens in software on a PC.

Re:Way to knock down what you almost understand. (1)

AaronLawrence (600990) | more than 7 years ago | (#18925833)

It also sets the exposure according to the first image and holds it there, so the images are consistent.

Re:My digital camera does the same thing. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18923681)

You missed the point, genius.

Google does more than just stitch the images together. The seemingly excessive overlap is used not only to stitch, but to correct for geometric errors of perspective.

Somehow, I doubt your camera does that too.

Powers of ten? (0, Offtopic)

Centurix (249778) | more than 7 years ago | (#18923417)

If a google guy turns up asking to take photos of my neutrons he can kiss my shiney metal ass.

Re:Powers of ten? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18923571)

Actually according to our most detailed imagery, your ass isn't shiny and contains only about 1% metal, mostly calcium, potassium, sodium and magnesium ions. -Google team

Re:Powers of ten? (1)

aonifer (64619) | more than 7 years ago | (#18924573)

My ass is shiny.

But for the wrong reasons.

Text of (rather short) article (0)

djupedal (584558) | more than 7 years ago | (#18923433)

Google Earth: From Space to Your Face...and Beyond

By Mark Aubin, Software Engineer, Google Earth

Would you believe the inspiration for Google Earth was a photo flipbook?

It was 1996 and I was working at Silicon Graphics (SGI), which was then on the verge of releasing "InfiniteReality" -- hardware for the Onyx workstation that enables people to create graphics with extraordinarily realistic texture. Our goal was to produce a killer demo to show off the new texturing capabilities to maximum advantage. During a brainstorming session, someone passed around the great Charles and Ray Eames book, POWERS OF TEN -- A Flipbook, and suggested that our demo move through imagery the way the book does. After discussing a number of possibilities, we decided that we would start in outer space with a view of the whole Earth, and then zoom in closer and closer.

We'd begin by heading toward Europe, and then, when Lake Geneva came into view, we'd zero in on the Matterhorn in the Swiss Alps. Dipping down lower and lower, we'd eventually arrive at a 3-D model of a Nintendo 64, since SGI designed the graphics chip it uses. Zooming through the Nintendo case, we'd come to rest at the chip with our logo on it. Then we'd zoom a little further and warp back into space until we were looking at the Earth again.

We called this demo "Space-to-Your-Face." And after showing it literally thousands of times to people all around the world, it's clear to me that we are universally fascinated with seeing our world from this perspective. During one school group demo, the teachers actually jumped up from their chairs and started pointing to places on the screen as we "flew" over the globe. They were ecstatic. The one comment we kept hearing: I've got to have this for my classroom!

Only a few years later, advances in computer and internet technology made it possible to deliver high-resolution imagery at sufficient speeds to enable a fluid flythrough on a standard PC anywhere in the world. So I decided to leave SGI and team up with a few others to found Keyhole, where we launched the first digital globe product to stream nearly unlimited, high-quality 3-D imagery over the Internet. In October of 2004, Google acquired Keyhole and Google Earth was born - bringing the kind of content previously available only in government and industry research labs to people everywhere.
And the story doesn't end there. Once people started using Google Earth, they started asking questions. Good ones. For instance: Why are some parts of the globe blurry, and others crystal clear? Where do you get your imagery? And how often do you update it?

Most people are surprised to learn that we have more than one source for our imagery. We collect it via airplane and satellite, but also just about any way you can imagine getting a camera above the Earth's surface: hot air balloons, model airplanes - even kites. The traditional aerial survey involves mounting a special gyroscopic, stabilized camera in the belly of an airplane and flying it at an elevation of between 15,000 feet and 30,000 feet, depending on the resolution of imagery you're interested in. As the plane takes a predefined route over the desired area, it forms a series of parallel lines with about 40 percent overlap between lines and 60 percent overlap in the direction of flight. This overlap of images is what provides us with enough detail to remove distortions caused by the varying shape of the Earth's surface.

The next step is processing the imagery. We scan the film using scanners capable of over 1800 DPI (dots per inch) or 14 microns. Then we take the digital imagery through a series of stages such as color balancing and warping to produce the final mosaic for the entire area.

We update the imagery as quickly as we can collect and process it, then add layers of information - things like country and state borders and the names of roads, schools, and parks -- to make it more useful. This information comes from multiple sources: commercial providers, local government agencies, public domain collections, private individuals, national and even international governments. Right now, Google Earth has hundreds of terabytes of geographic data, and it's growing larger every day. And that's not counting the extraordinary "open source" projects people have built to enhance it.

Yes, some parts of the world are still blurry. But in the ten years since the idea for the project was planted, the momentum behind it has only grown exponentially. Personally, I can't wait to see what happens in the next ten as we turn the pages of our own "flipbook."

Text of (a different) article (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18923685)

Rating the Jack Valenti Obits
from Gawker [gawker.com]

The nation has now had a weekend to mourn the passing of Jack Valenti [gawker.com] , man who made possible the groundbreaking cultural artifact known as the special unrated DVD version of Turistas [amazon.com] . Yet, beyond such obvious accomplishments, there's still so much more to know about the MPAA [gawker.com] chief/L.B.J. confidante/ Napster destroyer. Happily, on a dreary Sunday evening like this, there's no better family activity than reading the week's obituaries [gawker.com] ! But how do we know which ones will be appropriate for the kids? Alphanumeric codes, obviously! The following obits have been submitted for review to the Gawker Weekend Rating Board; out of respect, we are following the brilliant, equivocally definite guidelines set forth on the M.P.A.A. website [mpaa.org] .

New York Times:
Jack Valenti, 85, Confidant of a President and Stars, Dies [nytimes.com]

  • Key Concerns:

    Mr. Valenti, a bantam 5-foot-7 who forever looked up to the towering Johnson, picked fights with critical Johnson biographers like Robert Caro and Robert Dallek.

    So he banned screeners altogether. A storm of protest ensued -- loudest of all from the major studios' own specialty divisions, which rely heavily on awards attention to publicize their films -- and the policy was overturned by a federal judge, who said it ran afoul of antitrust laws.

    A voracious reader, he devoured everything by Macaulay, Churchill and Gibbon, and his speaking and writing style would mix his native twang with the rhetorical flourishes of his heroes in a brew of cliché, cornpone, compelling phrases and clunkers that one critic called "a kind of Texas baroque."

    Mr. Valenti spent more time socially with the president than any other aide, often bringing along his wife and their toddler daughter, Courtenay Lynda, a Johnson favorite.
  • Comments:
    The level of violence in this obituary is not what concerns us so much as its contextual basis. "Picking fights" is a form of social discourse that we feel many, though not all, parents may object to. It is obvious, however, that "a brew of cliché, cornpone, compelling phrases and clunkers" makes impossible a G-rating, which of course allows for only "some snippets of language [to] go beyond polite conversation." The dilemma here is whether the Times deserves a PG or a PG-13. Ultimately, despite the absence of drug use or graphic sexing, the highly untraditional domestic structure of Man, Wife, President of the United States, and Toddler Who is Said President's "Favorite" almost certainly eclipses the baseline community standards of all extant communities.

  • Final Rating: PG-13 Parents Strongly Cautioned
    for pugnacity, use of non-Standard American English Dialect and reminders of the Gulf of Tonkin involving young children.

Los Angeles Times:
Jack Valenti, 85; former Hollywood lobbyist pioneered film ratings system [latimes.com]

  • Key Concerns:

    In public, his Texas-accented eloquence was reminiscent of a Southern preacher.

    He was among a dozen young men and women invited to a reception at a Houston hotel to meet Johnson, then the U.S. Senate's majority leader, who was eager to cultivate talented young fellow Texans who might help him one day.... Recalling that day during a Caltech appearance in 2003, Valenti said: "I was fascinated the way I'm fascinated by a hooded cobra or a silken panther on a hillside ready to spring. It was an animal magnetism I never got over."

    Valenti was also smitten by Johnson secretary Mary Margaret Wiley. After spotting her coming off an airplane with Johnson in Houston, Valenti asked an aide to call the Rice Hotel and order the staff to rearrange the seating so she would be placed next to him.

    Two years after taking over the MPAA, Valenti and association counsel Louis Nizer devised the ratings system so they could scrap the industry's Hays Code, which for decades placed tight restrictions on movie language and sexual content. The code had such rules as no open-mouth kissing and a requirement that a man and a woman in bed each have one foot on the floor."If you wanted to be affectionate, you had to be Nadia Comaneci the gymnast," Valenti later recalled.
  • Comments:
    A fairly open-and-shut case. No children at an impressionable age should be allowed to witness the journalistic wheat gluten-phrase "reminiscent of a Southern preacher" being used. No one has ever met a Southern preacher; there is nothing to reminisce about. Moving on, it goes without saying that the sexual content here is harsh, and quite polymorphously perverse: terms like "cultivate" and "magnetism" cross from euphemism to innuendo, and the statement regarding Olympian Comaneci — 7 years old at the time Valenti speaks of — crosses from innuendo to obscenity. However, the moment is brief enough to shield this obit from an NC-17.

  • Final Rating: R Restricted
    for crude descriptions of language, sex, balance-beam anatomy, and homosocial psychosexual scenes involving animals

Washington Post:
A Hollywood Promoter on Both Coasts [washingtonpost.com]

  • Key Concerns:

    He also was a major gateway to Hollywood's financial largesse during the campaign season. On any given week, Valenti met with actors, world leaders and newspaper editors and was regarded as a brilliant and aggressive wielder of his glamorous pulpit.

    One of the strongest critics of the MPAA's system was Nell Minow, a corporate governance expert who wrote family-oriented movie reviews for Common Sense Media. Citing examples, she told one congressional hearing a few years ago that the MPAA's system did a poor job of providing families with helpful information. Minow said recently: "He waited for me to finish, he stood up, learned over, kissed me on the top of my head and said, 'Nell, that's why we all need your Web site, because you can give parents what we can't.' There was really no way to respond to that. I thought that's why he's the most effective lobbyist in Washington."

    Yet Valenti was often described as Johnson's chief whipping post or "glorified valet," who loyally absorbed Johnson's foul-mouthed tantrums and such seemingly humiliating acts as Johnson using Valenti's lap as a footrest....Afterward, Washington Post political cartoonist Herblock drew Valenti as a slave being whipped into submission. All this brought Valenti the enduring image of a sycophant, political journalist Richard Rovere once wrote.
  • Comments: The language is at times vulgar to the point of physical revulsion, and the Board goes so far as to question whether there is any artistic value in this obituary at all. "Aggressive wielder of his glamorous pulpit"? While adding all those promiscuous adjectives, surely it should have dawned on the creator that the central "metaphor" present is, by any socially reasonable measure, obscenely mixed. The unrelenting brutality and sadism of the anecdotes, particularly "lap as a footrest," speak for themselves.

  • Final Rating: NC-17 No One 17 and Under Admitted
    for sustained anti-social content, often involving bondage and/or sadomasochism, including one scene of head-kissing and one scene of the human body used as an ottoman.

The Hollywood Reporter
Valenti had legacy of passion, respect [hollywoodreporter.com]

  • Key Concerns:

    Said Warner Bros. chairman & CEO Barry Meyer, a friend who served as the family spokesman when Valenti had his stroke: "Today, my heart is truly heavy. I have lost a dear friend and mentor -- someone who not only made a mark in history, but also had a profound impact on my life."

    Valenti never stopped fighting for free-speech rights, years later becoming the point man on the TV ratings system that was set up to work with the V-chip content-blocking device. While he fought establishment of the V-chip, once Congress approved the law, he threw himself into making something work.

    In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be directed to the Jack Valenti Macular Degeneration Research Fund at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and the Stroke Research Fund, also in Baltimore.
  • Comments: No potentially objectionable material in the usual terms of violence, sex/nudity, or drug use. However, some parents may be concerned with a plot centered on a great man's death; we defer to the M.P.A.A scripture: "The theme of a P.G.-rated [obituary] may itself call for parental guidance...Obviously, such a line is difficult to draw. In our pluralistic society it is not easy to make judgments without incurring some disagreement. As long as parents know they must exercise some parental responsibility, the rating serves as a meaningful guide and as a warning."

  • Final Rating: PG Parental Guidance Suggested
    for thematic elements, perhaps meaning something

—Jon

Some tiles too dark (5, Insightful)

Derling Whirvish (636322) | more than 7 years ago | (#18923437)

I sure wish Google Earth had a way to adjust the brightness/contrast of individual tiles or maybe the view window. Some areas are very dim and need brightness/contrast adjustments.

Re:Some tiles too dark (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18924309)

like the nw corner of of the google parking lot in mountain view. how the heck do you screw up something like that?

"international governments"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18923541)

What are "international governments"? Did I miss something? I thougth there were international companies, organizations... but governments... even EU is still a bit away from that.

Re:"international governments"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18923615)

You are perhaps confusing inter-national with multi-national?
Or perhaps it's the idea of a government that has you lost?
A government is a body for ruling a country. ie, the North American government seems to consist of a retarded God-King named George Bush who always gets what he wants and is surrounded by lackeys and sycophants.

Re:"international governments"? (1)

letxa2000 (215841) | more than 7 years ago | (#18924045)

There is no "North American" government, though there are the three independent governments of Canada, the U.S., and Mexico (and a few others in Central America which are part of North America).

Re:"international governments"? (1)

th3rmite (938737) | more than 7 years ago | (#18924469)

There is no "North American" government, though there are the three independent governments of Canada, the U.S., and Mexico (and a few others in Central America which are part of North America). That's what YOU think.

Re:"international governments"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18924163)

nternational (n'tr-nsh'-nl, -nsh'nl) pronunciation

adj. (Abbr. int. or intl.)

1. Of, relating to, or involving two or more nations: an international commission; international affairs.

2. Extending across or transcending national boundaries: international fame.

Now tell me how a government can extend national boundaries or involve two or more nations? The closest thing you've got is the EU. And maybe the Queen.

Not always so high tech (4, Interesting)

BandwidthHog (257320) | more than 7 years ago | (#18923575)

A friend of mine is a local flight instructor and has done a few flights for Google Maps crew. Perhaps they were just doing specialized by-request work, but in this case it was a dude with an SLR and a big lens shooting out the window of a Cessna.

I was skeptical too, but that’s what he tells me.

Re:Not always so high tech (5, Informative)

dickeya (733264) | more than 7 years ago | (#18923751)

Unfortunately, when working with that kind of imagery collection the high tech part is on the processing end.

You need to:
1. Correct for lens distortion
2. Correct for tilt
3. Correct for terrain distortion
4. Correct lighting imbalances across the scene
5. Assign it bounding coordinates of a known mapping coordinate system / projection

This is the basic process for making an orthophoto [wikipedia.org] . These are generally dealt with using a software package like Erdas Imagine which can deal with all the steps in one swoop. It looks at the lens info, coordinate tie down points, an elevation model and outputs a photo that can be used for linear measurements.

So anyway, it is possible to accurately georeference many sources of imagery, it just depends how much time you want to spend processing it. If you plan on covering a large area, taking photos out of the window of a Cessna is probably not the best way.

Re:Not always so high tech (1)

Vacardo (1048640) | more than 7 years ago | (#18924377)

Never forget your fundamentals:

1. Correct for lens distortion
2. Correct for tilt
3. Correct for terrain distortion
4. Correct lighting imbalances across the scene
5. Assign it bounding coordinates of a known mapping coordinate system / projection
6. ????
7. PROFIT

April Fool! (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18923597)

Did anyone look at the date attached to the article (on its URL or title?) April 1st 2006.

Nice one Zonk. Not only a year out of date, but a spoof article in the first place.

Tidbits if you're interested (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18923671)

I was one of the Aerometric-Alaska flight operators that took photography in 2006 while on-board a variety of small planes. The film we used was generally Kodak 2444, with 9' x 9' shots. After development, these prints can then be scanned at a resolution comparable to roughly that of an 11 megapixel camera. As the article states, these photos are usually taken in succession with 60% overlap. This is what has allowed people to generate topographic maps for decades, even before complex computer interpolation and computer graphics capabilities were present. Stereoscopic perspective of the same area of land taken from 2 separate angles allows people to determine differences in height, in case anyone has ever wondered how that worked. Nowdays, surveys and digital radar scanning is where most of the information that modern topography uses tends to come from.

Re:Tidbits if you're interested (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18923883)

Sorry, I meant 9" by 9" (inches, not feet) shots. Our cameras were big, but not that big! ;)

Re:Tidbits if you're interested (1)

dunkelfalke (91624) | more than 7 years ago | (#18925797)

make the mistake the other way around and your stonehenge stone will be knocked over by a dwarf.

Blurred residences on Google Maps in Lexington, KY (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18923727)

4275 Athens-Boonesboro Road, Lexington, Kentucky 40509

Seems an appropriate opportunity to ask the question: Why the fuck is this residence blurred out? It appears to be someone who is a planholder in Kentucky's state health care plan, so maybe they're a powerful state government official:

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&client=safari&r ls=en&q=4275-athens-boonesboro&btnG=Search [google.com]

BTW, why are the addresses of all Kentucky state planholders publicly available and indexed on Google? That is just pathetic data security...

Anyway, the same address is accessible (and not blurred) via Microsoft Live!:

http://maps.live.com/default.aspx?v=2&cp=q9wwps7yy j8t&style=o&lvl=2&tilt=-90&dir=0&alt=-1000&scene=2 023607&encType=1 [live.com]

And appears to show two residences with pools in the back yard. Nothing to hide. Property records indicate that they were formerly owned by a lawyer named William Hurt, who practices in Lexington but now lives at another address. Given the rather inconspicuous pictures of them at the Microsoft Live flyover, the fact that they're blurred out on Google Maps is even more conspicuous than just showing the pictures of the two houses that are blurred.

There may be a high-powered state government official living there, but how did they have enough influence to get the pics blurred out? Were they skinnydipping in the pool? I don't think the map would show enough detail to make that a problem. Any ideas?

Re:Blurred residences on Google Maps in Lexington, (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 7 years ago | (#18923853)

That's weird. Yahoo maps [yahoo.com] shows it as well, but at a lesser zoom level. That makes me wonder about california. Do they blur out barbara streisand's house? Anybody know her address? :)

Re:Blurred residences on Google Maps in Lexington, (1)

kimvette (919543) | more than 7 years ago | (#18924117)

Gov't conspiracy or smudge? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18924659)

Yes, it certainly could be a government conspiracy of some kind. Or it could be a spot of oil on the film. But the conspiracy idea is so much more fun.

http://www.boingboing.net/2006/09/28/google_maps _reveal_w.html

Or it was some crap on the lense. (1)

Snaller (147050) | more than 7 years ago | (#18926515)

tinfoil hat at the ready.

Re:Or it was some crap on the lense. (1)

emlyncorrin (818871) | more than 7 years ago | (#18926665)

But have a look at 52 4'51"N, 4 18'24"E, if that's crap on the lens, I'll eat my tinfoil hat...

Re:Or it was some crap on the lense. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18927113)

What is it there?

Re:Or it was some crap on the lense. (1)

msblack (191749) | more than 7 years ago | (#18927487)

LOL, very funny. That's just a new Microsoft Windows (tm) virus.

That's all very nice, but... (1)

hack slash (1064002) | more than 7 years ago | (#18923761)

I still can't see my house on Google Earth, all those corporations etc. complaining about how GE is showing a building site where there's now a building or wotnot and all I see when I look at the area I live in is a patch of blurry green. Sucks.

bitches (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18923829)

hey simple minded fags: linux STILL sucks them dicks.

Earth is one big billboard (5, Interesting)

BillGatesLoveChild (1046184) | more than 7 years ago | (#18923859)

Google Earth used to be cool, but it's turning into one massive billboard (perhaps one of the ideas all along). In Sydney for Australia Day, Google (and whatever the Microsoft's copy of it is called) did flyovers with huge pre-publicity. People lay out banners, .com wannabees stuck huge logos on their rooves, people picnicked and love-maked all on the hope of becoming 'famous' (with four million other people). Google put it up and at the end of the day, Sydney wasn't Sydney any more. Instead, Sydney was transformed into one big banner ad:

http://googlesightseeing.com/2007/02/27/australia- day-flyover/ [googlesightseeing.com]

Then we had the world's biggest photojournalism fakery with Google restoring New Orleans to pre-Katrina. Beyond weird. Did they think the residents wouldn't notice?

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/04/02/new_orlean s_demolished/page2.html [theregister.co.uk]

Google Earth is sponsored infotainment. If you'd like to see Earth without the Ads, there's a little mob called NASA I hear are going places: http://visibleearth.nasa.gov/ [nasa.gov]

Re:Earth is one big billboard (2, Informative)

xenn (148389) | more than 7 years ago | (#18924021)

Google put it up and at the end of the day, Sydney wasn't Sydney any more. Instead, Sydney was transformed into one big banner ad:
that's funny, in the link you provided they say this:

So, after hours of combing through the new images, we've found no real examples of private advertising or even any sign that the people of Sydney knew they'd be on Google Maps!

Re:Earth is one big billboard (2, Informative)

BillGatesLoveChild (1046184) | more than 7 years ago | (#18924195)

Maybe Google's Army of ex-CIA Photointerpreters were working to a deadline? Or maybe she just means "we looked at a few". Seriously it did happen: Here are photo blogs of expectant advertisers (and one poor sucker who blew $10,000 on a sign they didn't fly over).

http://blogs.smh.com.au/mashup/archives/009502.htm l [smh.com.au]
http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2007/01/29/11699192 56978.html [smh.com.au]

Though good luck to the guy from SOS Print+Media! Hahahahahha!

Google say they're thinking about doing the same over parts of the US on Independence Day. Don't think they'll try it over the UK though: Too many swear words and phallasus. http://www.smh.com.au/news/web/google-spots--crap- circles/2007/02/01/1169919445548.html [smh.com.au]

Re:Earth is one big billboard (1)

xenn (148389) | more than 7 years ago | (#18924307)

Yeah, ok then. Everything about this is hyperbole.

...Sydney was still Sydney that day ... and none of those images you linked to seem to have shown up on google maps...

Re:Earth is one big billboard (1)

BillGatesLoveChild (1046184) | more than 7 years ago | (#18924449)

Agreed. Didn't realize it fizzled that bad.

Except none of it was captured (1)

Namarrgon (105036) | more than 7 years ago | (#18924203)

Due to weather and difficulty getting local permissions, Google was only able to capture a small part of the Sydney area they planned, and at different times than they'd stated, too.

As a result, there's no user-created ads visible at all in the new imagery, anywhere.

Re:Except none of it was captured (1)

BillGatesLoveChild (1046184) | more than 7 years ago | (#18924353)

I stand corrected. I read about the angry $10K bannerman and thought he was the unlucky one, but looks like everyone missed out. All Google has is excited blogs about people getting ready and not one saying "look at us":

http://swiftcity.wordpress.com/2007/01/27/google-m aps-sydney-flyover/ [wordpress.com]

Shrinking flyzones: No wonder she couldn't find any ads. Maybe they'll get their act together for Independence Day?

http://blogs.smh.com.au/mashup/archives/009605.htm l [smh.com.au]

Re:Earth is one big billboard (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 7 years ago | (#18925281)

people picnicked and love-maked all on the hope of becoming 'famous'
Any excuse...

Re:Earth is one big billboard (1)

mgblst (80109) | more than 7 years ago | (#18926039)

Great pick up line tho?

Hey, so you want to be famous? Alrighty then, get your gear off.

Idiot (2, Insightful)

Snaller (147050) | more than 7 years ago | (#18926591)

"Then we had the world's biggest photojournalism fakery with Google restoring New Orleans to pre-Katrina. Beyond weird. Did they think the residents wouldn't notice?"

No, they thought they were intelligent adults instead of idiots. Nowhere in the world is the completely correct (surely not around here) BECAUSE ITS NOT REAL TIME. They get the best quality which is fairly close. Those of us with 3 digit IQ's understand that.

"Google Earth is sponsored infotainment. "

Indeed, if you want to find a pizza place you can do it fast.

"If you'd like to see Earth without the Ads,"

You just use Google Earth since no adds pop up.

" there's a little mob called NASA I hear are going places: "

Not in the real world, they could never afford to make it a worthwhile program.

This is not new (4, Informative)

ouzel (655571) | more than 7 years ago | (#18924055)

The process he described is the same process that imaging companies have used since LONG before Google Earth acquired Keyhole. And many of those companies are still doing it. In fact, many of them are the same companies from which Google is now acquiring the imagery used in Google Earth. Does this guy really believe Google is conducting their own overflights and sending up their own balloons? Does Google now have their own satellites, too?

Weighless google photographer (5, Funny)

viking80 (697716) | more than 7 years ago | (#18924241)

If you think a regular flight is boring, you have never been the pilot on a picture taking flight:
1. You fly straight (GPS and autopilot) for half an hour, then
2. turn around, and fly back.
3. Repeat this until the fuel is used up.
4. Refuel and repeat.

The only fun thing to do is when you turn: with the google photographer on his stomach with the camera, you do a Chandelle or Wing-over http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aerobatic_maneuver [wikipedia.org] This gives you a few seconds of weightlessness, and with the photographer in the back now floating in the cabin, he smacks on the floor with an "ooommpf" when gravity is reapplied.

The first few times he complains, but you just tell him you have to do this to properly align the aircraft for the reverse leg of the flight pattern.
So the routine for the photographer is something like:
1. click, click, click, click, click, click, click, click, click, click
2. "Whoooooooooo, ooommpf"
(I wonder if he reads this?)

They use a film camera??? (3, Interesting)

gsasha (550394) | more than 7 years ago | (#18924313)

I'm extremely surprised they don't use a digital camera these days. Digital has great quality, and a full-frame digital back of the likes of Mamya, while expensive, pays for itself very quickly if you shoot a lot (and they appear to be doing so continuously). Besides, there would be no need to develop the film and scan it.

Any ideas why they do so?

Re:They use a film camera??? (4, Informative)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 7 years ago | (#18924741)

Because (AFAIK) digital cameras don't exist in the large format form factor that [film] cameras for aerial photography uses. Even if they did, from typical aerial photography altitudes digital camera are inferior in resolution to existing films.

Re:They use a film camera??? (1)

barronVonBackstabber (840607) | more than 7 years ago | (#18924975)

My company have two of them and is due to get a third one.

Re:They use a film camera??? (1)

chuckymonkey (1059244) | more than 7 years ago | (#18925409)

Sure they do, they're mounted on satellites and they do a great job actually.

Re:They use a film camera??? (5, Interesting)

eggegg (754560) | more than 7 years ago | (#18924899)

I thought film was dead too (or rather, I thought it should be), until we recently had to order 40k acres of imagery at six-inch-pixel resolution, and I talked with the folks who own the cameras and fly the planes.

When it comes to airplane-based commercial aerial photography, film remains the most wide-spread capture medium. A decent camera can easily cost more than $1 million -- and you'll probably want two to capture stereo pairs, and don't forget a spare. For now, digital cameras are no less expensive and offer few benefits over their film-based bretheren.

Both require a GPS-controlled platform, capable of shooting several shots a second. After scanning, typical film-based photography is for all intents and delivers a 250+ megapixel result -- the digital alternative to such a beast is not exactly easy to find, and definately not inexpensive. Those are big files tool, and lossy compression is a bad, bad thing. Given the cost of fuel these days, redundancy is essential when it comes to data. That means being able to store four-to-twelve uncompressed (or minimally) 250+ megapixel images on two systems of one type or another, both of which must be rugged enough to withstand their environment.

Last but not least are the lenses. Outside the world of physics research, the highest quality land-camera lenses, even those in the cinematagraphic world, exhibit far more distortion than is acceptable for survey-grade aerial photography.

So, you're right. And yes, it sucks. We're betting environmental regulations will probably be the nail in the coffin over the next decade.

Re:They use a film camera??? (2, Informative)

hughk (248126) | more than 7 years ago | (#18925121)

Both require a GPS-controlled platform, capable of shooting several shots a second.
Funny that, aerial mapping has been used for a looong time and before GPS. All you needed is a reference point with coordinates and then the rest follows. The old equipment used to put altitude, speed and direction onto the film for later use. Some cameras would take frames but some would in effect take a continuous strip using line-scan techniques.

Disappearing Islands (1)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | more than 7 years ago | (#18924339)

I was on vacation in Malaysia last year. So, of course, I checked out the tropical paradise island I had been to when I came home. To my my surprise the island had disappeared in those few months, it was no longer available in Google Maps. Q: Should I have more baseless destinations in the future?

Do no evil my ass! (4, Funny)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 7 years ago | (#18924531)

So Google is basically saying that anyone willing to help them out can go fly a kite?

Hmpf.

Just a pretty picture (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18924553)

While Google Earth's pictures are fanciful I wish they would focus more on refining their geoidal datum. Plotting latidude/longitude coordinates are way off the mark, and seems to vary depending on locale. I also found a number of mistakes that I haven't found elsewhere (indicating source) such as the spelling of a park or name of a building, but Google seems content on ignoring my corrections.

Re:Just a pretty picture (1)

Proofof. Chaos (1067060) | more than 7 years ago | (#18926017)

Yeah, just turn on the bodies of water layer and you will see that it is terrible. It will show the outline of a body of water way off from what you can clearly see is the actual edge of the body of water. sometimes completely outside it.

Adding material to Google Map/Earth (1)

bananaendian (928499) | more than 7 years ago | (#18924837)

I have a 10Mpixel camera and an airplane. If I took a bunch of photos from an area not yet covered by them, would they add them to their Map/Earth for free? Cause flying around and taking photos isnt a great expense - its the processing and orthorectification...

add it your self.... (1)

cheekyboy (598084) | more than 7 years ago | (#18926985)

You can add place points, and attach net based jpegs as overlays, you can adjust the size/angle/alpha.
JUst split your images up and place them in the correct order, then publish the placeholders and any client will see your photos overlayed
at the right location, if you did it right. I did this to one ski field that was mapped poorly, so I added a plane based aerial photo of it on top. Looks real good
and great res, and png is not too large.

Earth surface distorts? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18925313)

This overlap of images is what provides us with enough detail to remove distortions caused by the varying shape of the Earth's surface

<pedantic>The earth's surface shape does not cause any distortion: it is wat it is. Your method causes distortion in the repesentation of the earth's surface</pedantic>

Sorry, couldn't resist.

I do hope they have patented this .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18925369)

amazing business procedure.

Obligatory quote... (3, Funny)

Vexler (127353) | more than 7 years ago | (#18927033)

Deckard: Enhance 224 to 176. Enhance, stop. Move in, stop. Pull out, track right, stop. Center in, pull back. Stop. Track 45 right. Stop. Center and stop. Enhance 34 to 36. Pan right and pull back. Stop. Enhance 34 to 46. Pull back. Wait a minute, go right, stop. Enhance 57 to 19. Track 45 left. Stop. Enhance 15 to 23. Give me a hard copy right there.

Antarctica is poorly mapped... (1)

cheekyboy (598084) | more than 7 years ago | (#18927257)

Antarctia is really badly mapped, I know its no amazon, but it would show of its beauty more.

Hasnt Nasa mapped it well? Buy it google.
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