Google Earth 5.0 is Under this World

Google Earth 5.0 has been released with some pretty amazing features added to an already great program.  My favourite – I am an avid diver and water lover – is the new ocean features.  Previous versions of Google Earth did amazing things on the terrestrial side, now the ocean part of our planet is getting some need attention.  You can now plunge in under the water to get a great view of the formations around islands.  Check out the Hawaiian Island chain for a great example. Also they are pulling in data from many other sites to provide a wealth of information about different parts of the ocean.

Another really interesting tool is the ability to see an area in different times. For example you can see the areas around New Orleans before and after Hurricane Katrina. You can also see urban sprawl happen right before your eyes.

Other thing to check out are the sky and Mars views.

Happy earth viewing.

Google Finance

I was complaining to a coworker the other day about stock sites. They seem to have not caught on to what the web is good at, giving data to people in useful ways.  For example stock charts.  Most sites have the standard 3 month, 6 month and year charts.  They are pretty static and down right old school. Not much different then what gets printed in a paper.  While complaining I said this is an area the Google would probably do right.  They have in the past changed how users interface with maps, email and calendars. Well my wish has been granted in Google Finance which features the very slick interfaces you would expect form a Google product.

Google Trends: Election 2008

Polls have become the addiction of the election world and I am hooked. After last nights debate I found myself scouring the web looking to see if there was any change. A few points shift here or there but nothing yet that indicates the debates had a major impact on the election.

So with polls not showing much I went looking for something else.  If you have yet to see Google Trends let me explain.  It allows you see graphs of what people are searching for on Google.  You can chart search terms against others, for example cat vs dog, and see the trend of searching over a period of time. You can even narrow it down to a specific country or region.  The amazing thing is the sample size compared to polls that usually only ask a few hundred people.

What can Google Trends tell us about the election?  Well take a look at the data that compares the 4 main national parties.  Interesting to see NDP and Greens well above Liberal and Conservative. Not really sure what it indicates.  Maybe people no less about the two smaller parties. The parties attract more young people then the other two, I figure more young people get there news via the internet then traditional sources.  It won’t probably help predict the winners but I find it interesting.

Google Trends: “Conservative Party”, “Liberal Party”, NDP, “Green Party”.

Google Trends: Harper, Dion, Layton, May.

Google Maps

Google Maps I believe has constantly set the standard for online mapping sites.  I stopped using all the rest simply because they could not keep up.  Thought I would point out some cool new features.

Street Numbers

When looking at streets in a city (works for Ottawa), once you zoom in enough, you will see the starting and ending house numbers for every block.

Bus Stops

You will also see bus stops displayed on the map (again works for Ottawa).  Clicking on an icon brings up route information and departure times.

Leave The Car Behind

Now when getting directions from Google Maps you can select your mode of transportation: car, walking and public transport.  A few tests on the public transport option showed that it even had updated routes based on road closures.  One thing missing would be a bike option.  If your city has a lot of bike paths then this would be very useful.  Currently if you select walking it does not seem to have information about walking or bike paths and instead sends you marching along the roads.