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Must-Haves For The Linux Road Warrior - page 2

Calling Home For Peanuts

  • August 21, 2006
  • By Rob Reilly

Prior to my family's recent yearly summer pilgrimage to visit Pappy in Southern Indiana, I discovered the Linux version of Google Earth.

With this client/server application you can look at landmarks, roads, and zoom along you're route, with satellite photo precision.

For my trip to Indiana, I set a push pin (a handy Google Earth feature) at my home location (from) and one at my father-in-law's house (to). The route was then automatically spelled out in a list in the left hand window. Without any input on my part, it mapped out the exact route we traveled last summer. Granted, it's all interstate and four-lane highways. Nonetheless, I was impressed, even when it got down to the street level. Once the route was mapped, I clicked the "play tour" arrow and started flying over my route. The animation gives you the feeling of flying along in a helicopter, at about 2500 feet.

I also used the program it get a birds-eye view of the Nashville Zoo and find out how far off of I-24 I'd have to go. You need to stay on schedule, on road trips... you know. The accuracy of the ruler function seemed to be good down to a couple of feet, although most portable professionals probably won't use that level of resolution. Choose the multi-path tab and you can measure from stoplight to stoplight, if you want.

Google Earth can also find businesses in the US, although the algorithm seems a little flaky. Sometimes I'd get a items in the list that were totally unrelated to what I was looking for. No doubt this will get better over time, as the database is expanded and refined. The Linux version is a beta release, with the production release coming out shortly.

In another case, the application quickly found my hotel (the CoEx Intercontinental), in Seoul, but couldn't find one of the robot companies that I visited, while in town.

Google Earth works anywhere you have a broadband connection. For businessmen that want to know the "lay of the land," it's a great tool to take along.

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