News Roundup – FreeGeoTools, Sprol, Subsurface, conferences, Magnalox

  • is a blog started last month by Leszek Pawlowicz. The blog is dedicated to writing reviews and tips about free software tools for GIS, Google Earth, mapping, etc. His first series of posts was about free tools enabling you to do things in GE Plus, and Pro. He also has written a series on converting shapefiles to GE. A worthy read.
  • Sprol – Environmental blog (dedicated to writing about the worst places in the world) has georeferenced their blog entries and made them all available via KML so you can view them in Google Earth.
  • Subsurface – One shortcoming of GE is its ability to render in 3D terrain below sea-level or below the ground. This capability was the most-requested feature understandably at the American Geophysical Union in December. Until GE gets this capability, I have been told that a free software product called GEON IDV offers globe based visualization of many geoscience datasets. It’s not a full virtual globe, but it is reportedly helpful in offering similar renderings.
  • Conferences – Two upcoming conferences in the San Francisco area worth noting (I plan on attending both): 1) Where 2.0 – May 29-30; and 2) the Fifth International Symposium on Digital Earth June 5-9 – registration info
  • has added substantial new features for live tracking from GPS locators or you can create a simulated track just using the mapping tool (if you forgot your GPS). This web-based software has loads of capability – most of the functionality can be tested for free – or full functionality is available for a modest subscription.

About Frank Taylor

Frank Taylor started the Google Earth Blog in July, 2005 shortly after Google Earth was first released. He has worked with 3D computer graphics and VR for many years and was very impressed with this exciting product. Frank completed a 5.5 year circumnavigation of the earth by sailboat in June 2015 which you can read about at Tahina Expedition, and is a licensed pilot, backpacker, diver, and photographer.


  1. Thank you for your notice of the GEON IDV in your news roundup of February 12 ( For people who want a true 3D display of earth-located data, the IDV is a great tool. It can display data on, above, and below the surface, at any vertical scale, in any map projection, including polar projections, from local areas to full world views. Any image can be draped over topography to make a Google Earth – like display. There is full transparency control on any displayed item.
    You say the IDV is “not a full virtual globe” and I wonder in what way is it lacking? Seems to me it is a very complete virtual globe.
    Check out this short movie, made with the IDV, showing the geophysics of Yellowstone Park.
    Stuart Wier

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