Monday, June 24, 2013

Google Earth

I mentioned in my previous post that I was taking a Google Mapping Course and was just about to start with the Google Earth portion. Well, it has been a long and bumpy road since then, but I think I finally accomplished what I set out to do. I decided that I should start out with a brand, spanking new copy of the Google Earth software version (beta).

For my final project, I decided to create a narrated tour of lighthouses on Cape Cod and the Islands. I also wanted to include my own photos in this tour. In order to put the photos into the tour, they first needed to be uploaded and have a URL, so the first step was to find the ones I wanted and then edit them in Photoshop and upload them to my site. I could finally add them to my tour bubbles.

Next I wanted to write a script to record so I did a little research for background details and began writing in Pages. When I finished writing, I wanted to print it, but alas Pages and several other applications had frozen and I had to force quit them. Naturally, I hadn't saved yet, so I had to reboot and start all over. (I found out that someone else at the Elementary Tech Teachers' Ning had a similar issue).

At last I got a relatively smooth recording (It's tricky to read and click buttons and come back and find your place). When it played back, however, the bubbles with the photos did not show up in the tour. I discovered in the forum that others were having the same problem and it seemed to be an issue with the latest version of Google Earth. I tried to find the 7.0 version of Google Earth but was unsuccessful. I even downloaded a file that was labelled 7.0.3 but turned out to be 5.? (Today I found that someone posted a link to 7.0.2 and other older versions that is a real Google link). Finally, I decided that I would just upload my project as is with a note to click the markers to see the missing pictures.

Someone posted that they liked my ideas but they didn't hear any narration or see any markers. I re-watched the tutorial and discovered that I hadn't uploaded the correct file so I fixed my error. I asked my husband to check the new file on his computer. We discovered that he actually had 7.0.3 on his computer. Once again (okay, three more tries), I recorded the tour on his computer and lo and behold, all of the bubbles showed up in the tour with photos just the way they were supposed to! So now, I uploaded this successful file to the project uploads.

Well, now that my project was working the way I wanted it to, I decided to embed it in my website. I had earlier found the embed code for a Google Gadget to accomplish this and saved it. The only problem was that I didn't know where my own file went in the code, so I had to find the instructions again. I followed the instructions and my project appeared but there was no play button so I went looking again.  It turns out there is a separate player for a narrated tour so I got the embed code for that and loaded it onto my website. The pictures get cut off, so I uploaded the file and added a download link so people can open it in Google Earth on their own computers. You can see it for yourself on Cape Cod Photo Album.

As I said, this has been a long and winding road, but I'm pretty happy with the final project and I learned a lot along the way.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Google Maps and Google Earth Course

I learned about a self-paced course from Google called Mapping with Google. Certificates are available for both Google Maps and Google Earth but projects must be completed by June 24 to earn a certificate.

The maps course uses a preview version of a new Google Maps as well as Maps Engine Lite which is used to create customized maps which can then be embedded into your own website, as I have here on European Photo Album. I also created a map of things to do and see in Sandwich, MA. I think this would be a great product to use with kids.

I have not started the Google Earth portion of the course yet, but I am looking forward to working with this product.