12 Step

Tuesday, August 23 2005 @ 09:03 PM PDT

Contributed by: matt


My name is Matt, and I'm a Google Earth addict.

I started playing around with the beta a few weeks ago, and today I became a paying customer.

The bad news though, is that every time I open the thing, I get sucked in. For example, about fifteen minutes elapsed between the words "paying customer" and "The bad news", during which I double checked some information on Gosnold, MA (population 86), visited the site of Ted Kennedy's famous car crash, and learned about a proposed offshore wind power project off the shore of Nantucket.

I'm one of those people that is always hungry for information, regardless of its worth, so having a bunch of terabytes of data presented in an easily browsable and contextually relevant manner... let's just say that I'm getting better at geography.

The software itself is intuitive and remarkably powerful, and for most things there's no difference between the free and paid versions. There's a huge community contributed database of things to see, and that's only one of the 44 top-level data overlays that are available, which include everything from roads to postal code boundaries to finding the nearest pharmacy.

The downside is that because of the sheer volume of data, most people aren't going to have the full experience of seamless navigation. There's a huge difference between my computer at work and the one at home. At work I've got a generic office computer hooked to a T1, and things are relatively slow to load compared to my gaming rig on a cable modem that's juiced up to the point that it rivals the office connection I had when I worked for an ISP. Overall though, I'd say that even when it's slow, the software is worth playing around with.

But then again, I would say that.

I'm an addict.