Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Cyclone Nargis and GDACS

I've added a few new datasets to EarthBrowser's "Featured External Layers", which is below the main dataset element in the EarthBrowser control window.

I'm temporarily putting in a high resolution MODIS overlay of Cyclone Nargis from earthobservatory.nasa.gov. It's a really large image so be patient, it takes a little while to download. Due to a bug in Flash for large images scaled to be small, it doesn't look very good far away, but looks better as you zoom in. Hopefully they've got a fix for this in the works.

I've also added the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System kml dataset which is updated with real-time information for ongoing disasters and recovery around the globe. To view the information for each disaster, you have to navigate through the list of elements in the control window, I wish they would put in placemarks to view the great information they have more easily.

Finally, the Europe Media Monitor layer is a news aggregation service that plots global news stories on a map and provides an overview and link to the geo-located story.

I'm also hoping to have an update out later this week with a timezone fix for sunrise/sunsets and also a global grid overlay feature.

Monday, May 05, 2008

EarthBrowser 3.0, 5 days in

Version 3 is doing very well over the past 5 days. It's selling better than I'd hoped for, the django based system I am using for the main website and for the separate data server have held up incredibly well with just a few hiccups. Amazon S3 really helps me to take the load off of my servers. I've got a handle on the tech support emails over the weekend, there are still a lot left however. I try to answer each and every person with a question or problem with a personal message. I think that kind of respect and care for each customer has really helped the business over the years. My goal is to have no unhappy customers, if I can't fix your problem or you are still not satisfied, you get a refund, it's pretty simple.

Thanks for the mention James, Mickey, Lxnyce and Bull.

Some people are wondering why would they should support EarthBrowser as shareware when they can get Google Earth, Microsoft's Virtual Earth and NASA WorldWind for free. Well you get EarthBrowser for free too, you are just reminded to help support the future development of the shareware if you like it enough to use it. Google Earth is great but it isn't your computer's operating system, you CAN use more than one virtual globe at the same time.

EarthBrowser may not have 2 inch resolution datasets, but the weather layers really blow away anything the other globes offer, in fact the weather forecast layers blow away most of what I've seen from the major weather providers offer. I'm talking with CustomWeather to see if we can do some sort of exchange of data for perhaps exclusive use of EarthBrowser on their website. I think that would really make them stand out from their competitors.

KML is great! New datasets are being added to EarthBrowser all the time, if you only know where to find them. Today I noticed from one of my favorite blogs Frank Taylor's Google Earth Blog that there is a new dataset available from NASA showing the total electron count in the earth's ionosphere. I like it so much I think I'll add it to the Featured Datasets in EarthBrowser. The red areas indicate a large concentration of electrons which may cause problems with communications. It is neat to see that the electrons build up on the daytime side of the earth and disperse shortly after darknes.

If you want to see the animated link of the ionosphere for the past 24 hours in EarthBrowser just drag this link onto the EarthBrowser window. Or if you are reading this blog with EarthBrowser's embedded web-browser, just click on the link. There is also a light weight version of this file that just shows the current condition.