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Google's Satellite Map Gets a 700-Trillion-Pixel Makeover (theatlantic.com) 70

An anonymous reader writes: On Monday, Google Maps has received a makeover with 700 trillion pixels of new data added to the service. The Atlantic reports: "The new map, which activates this week for all users of Google Maps and Google Earth, consists of orbital imagery that is newer, more detailed, and of higher contrast than the previous version. Most importantly, this new map contains fewer clouds than before -- only the second time Google has unveiled a "cloudless" map. Google had not updated its low- and medium- resolution satellite map in three years. The new version of the map includes data from Landsat 8, the newer version of the same satellite (Landsat 7, the U.S. government satellite which supplied the older map's imagery data), letting Google clear the ugly artifacts. Google's new update doesn't include imagery at the highest zoom levels, like the kind needed to closely inspect an individual house, pool, or baseball field. Those pictures do not come from Landsat at all, but from a mix of other public and private aerial and space-based cameras, including DigitalGlobe's high-resolution satellites. The image processing for this most recent map was completed entirely in Google Earth Engine, the company's geospatial-focused cloud infrastructure. In fact, the entire algorithm to create the cloudless map was written in Javascript in the Earth Engine development interface."
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Google's Satellite Map Gets a 700-Trillion-Pixel Makeover

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  • Google Make-Over
    • "Celebrity Earth Apprentice", "Survivor - Map Edition", and "The Pixlerette". We'll have to wait for Google Sky Map to upgrade before we see "Googling with the Stars".
      • and "The Pixlerette".

        Good grief - someone else who knows who Pixler was, and what his work suggests. That's a surprise!

  • Shouldn't this be... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Actually, I do RTFA ( 1058596 ) on Monday June 27, 2016 @05:17PM (#52402123)

    US government releases new 700 trillion pixel images with fewer clouds. Groups using old US government data (including Google Maps) upgrade to new data.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      US government releases new 700 trillion pixel images with fewer clouds. Groups using old US government data (including Google Maps) upgrade to new data.

      No... the US government released a bunch of individual, cloudy images. Google took them and make a cloud-free image out of them.
      Apparently your name is misleading.

      • The Government also calibrated each image, so each pixel represented the same location as that same pixel on every other map. So, that was the hard part. The fact it, it was a 3D image (3rd dimension being time) and Google compressed it down to 2D.

        Look, I mean, I guess Google doing that is nice. But, given the whole "what's the government ever done" attitude, highlighting when they do the heavy lifting seems important.

  • Java Script? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bobbied ( 2522392 )

    Seriously? This was done in Java Script? No wonder it took so long. Just sayin'.

    I have a nagging feeling that where parts of this where written in Java Script (as in the user interface stuff that displays this shiny new data) the actual image processing to find and edit out the clouds was written in something else.... I don't work for Google so it's just a hunch...

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Any shitty language can be halfway usable if you throw enough computing power at it.

      • Yes I know.. Java is a prime example of that.. Not that it is a bad language, but that byte-code interpreted thing is kind of a performance killer over the likes of C/C++ (And I'm only talking about performance here youngsters...)

        • http://blog.carlesmateo.com/20... [carlesmateo.com]

          Check the difference in performance between compile once and jit compiled languages. A bunch of people here sound like theyre repeating what was true 15 years ago in very different conditions.

          • Still, a *properly* written C++ program will run circles around the same Java program. It will consume less resources and run faster.

            What's added to the speed of Java over the last decade? Mostly, it has come by re-coding parts of what used to be in Java using other languages and making it part of the JRE, creating more parallel threads and leveraging the improved multi-core, multiple thread execution of today's hardware. Java still consumes more CPU and memory resources, it is just easier to spread it

            • by hattig ( 47930 )

              CPU is cheap. Memory is cheap.

              Developer Resource (especially that which knows how to write efficient decent C++ code) is expensive.

              This is why most code is really a shim over a massive framework (e.g., in Java that framework would be Spring), even developing a better (i.e., better suited for the task at hand) framework would take too much time.

              And Java bytecode is just an IL, a mature IL with legacy, usually running a legacy runtime and frameworks on top. So what if the final step of compilation occurs on t

    • Maybe this will ease your nagging feelings: http://lmgtfy.com/?q=earth+eng... [lmgtfy.com]

    • Seriously? This was done in Java Script?

      Oh yeah, Google is all full of smart people, don't you know. Saved the $10K of intern salary it would have taken to recode the algorithm in C++ in order to burn $100K of datacenter power.

      • by guruevi ( 827432 )

        Sadly, these days, most people graduate with engineering degrees without knowing how to actually program. I work with grad students and student interns all the time, it's a very poor, sad situation in Collegeville. Only a few decades ago, when I graduated, we at least knew how to program a Z80 and a good portion of TurboPascal (and in some situations even C/C++). Engineering students I interact with see exactly 1 week per programming language (Verilog, C, MATLAB, Java...) and that is supposed to teach them

  • In fact, the entire algorithm to create the cloudless map was written in Javascript in the Earth Engine development interface."

    Good to know Javascript is still relevant. The other day, I read some post here on Slashdot, about a fella who said TypeScript is better because it's "Java that scales." True or not, I have no clue!

  • The assholes at my city hall have been using Google Earth for years to hunt down domestic terrorists who put up temporary sheds and carports, so that they can be taxed into safety.

  • by matthewd ( 59896 ) on Monday June 27, 2016 @07:46PM (#52402825)

    In my neighborhood, it looks like Google Earth was processed through some kind of bad Instagram filter designed to make things look blurry. I can tell the images are new because of the solar panels on our house. And I noticed that all of the trees have had geometric shaped boundaries applied, all sharp edges and precise angles, curiously not applied to the shadows cast on the ground! Nearly everyone's lawn looks like a patch of dirt. It honestly looks like something out of a 10-15 year old video game.

  • How many Libraries of Congress is that?

  • I thought the google maps imagery is based on aerial photography.
  • Priorities (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hackertourist ( 2202674 ) <hackertourist@x[ ]et.nl ['msn' in gap]> on Tuesday June 28, 2016 @02:37AM (#52404143)

    So they can afford to buy new satellite imagery to replace three-year-old images, but they can't afford to consult a human interface expert to get the UI back to a usable state?

    • Re:Priorities (Score:4, Insightful)

      by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Tuesday June 28, 2016 @05:47AM (#52404541)

      So they can afford to buy new satellite imagery to replace three-year-old images, but they can't afford to consult a human interface expert to get the UI back to a usable state?

      Human interface experts is how we got into this mess in the first place.

      • Those are human interface "experts". I'm talking about someone who actually knows what he's doing, not someone who only thinks he knows what he's doing.

    • by dave420 ( 699308 )

      Or maybe most people like it, and your UI desires are not representative of most people? Naaaah that can't be it!

      • Given the number of complaints I've seen about Google's UI changes in Maps, that seems unlikely. Removing features while making the site much slower to load is not a way to endear users.

      • by Trogre ( 513942 )

        Right, it's time to settle this silly debate once and for all. Slashdot poll time!

        Please?

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