Another beautiful winter day (72 degrees) in Austin. It was a nice cruise down to Lady Bird Lake and the Colorado River (the wind was at my back). I drove by the famous Stevie Ray Vaughan statue and then went by the Texas State Capitol, the biggest in the United States. On the trip back, I stopped off at Guero’s for a taco. This should be everyone’s Sunday morning tradition. The final leg home was uphill and into the wind. The ride was about 24 miles with 1,000 feet of climbing. Now I’m set for the rest of my Super Bowl Sunday!
It was a gorgeous day in Austin, so I thought I would put a few miles on the Gary Fisher. The Weather Channel sais the wind was 8 mph, but that was the strongest 8 I have ever felt! A lot of people were out running and biking.
In all it was a 17-mile ride, and I needed to get back to do a little GIS work.
After a few days of camping at South Llano River State Park, I’m trying to get back into the swing of everyday life. I got in about a 30-minute bike ride in south Austin before I had to do fun stuff like taking down all of the Christmas decorations. The wind was blowing about 20 miles per hour from the north and it seemed like it was in my face no matter what direction I rode in.
I wanted to do a loop around the property to see what I was dealing with. It was a heck of a ride. I only came off the bike twice. After the first “crash” I realized that I had left the zipper open on my saddle bag, which was carrying my BlackJack II and some other items. About a mile after I crashed, I realized it and had to go back to find my cell phone. It was lying there among the rocks.
The second time I “crashed” I broke the saddle on my Gary Fisher 29er. There was no way to fix it on the trail, and riding back 8 miles or whatever with a broken seat was brutal. Back at my camp I took a hammer, knife, and vice grips to the saddle and got it back together. I almost gave up 5 times but I wanted to ride again tomorrow. That saddle was tough! It was so tough I wonder how it broke in the first place!
Google obviously got an earful about killing Google Earth Plus and sent me updated email just one day after their original email. After a considerable amount of negative feedback about pulling the import and tracking features from all versions of Google Earth except for the $400 Pro Version, Google will soon provide these features in the free version! Here is the explanation that they provided me:
As mentioned in our previous email, we’ve simplified our product choices for our Google Earth customers and Google Earth Plus is no longer available for purchase. This has caused some concerns from our customers who rely mostly on the GPS features of Plus, so we wanted to address them.
We know that one of the main reasons why people choose Google Earth Plus is GPS import and tracking. We realize that some users are disappointed in the loss of this feature, so we wanted to let you know we’re working on making GPS one of the features of the free version in the near future. In the meantime, we’re happy to extend expiring Plus subscriptions for three months — free of charge — and continue to extend until the GPS feature is available for free. Learn how to extend your current Plus subscription.
These product changes are based on user feedback that with 3 different products — Google Earth, Google Earth Plus, and Google Earth Pro — customers sometimes got confused about what each version offered. Over time, the separation between Plus and the free product has decreased, and by moving GPS features into the free product, we believe that Google Earth will meet the needs of most of our existing Plus users.
I purchased Google Earth Plus so I could utilize my real-time GPS cursor in Google Earth. Along with a combination of other plugins and data, it was almost like I had a full-blown GIS system running. Well, I got an email today from Google stating that they were discontinuing Google Earth Plus. Here are a couple of excerpts:
As a valued Google Earth customer, we want you to be the first to know that Google is phasing out Google Earth Plus. We believe the needs of most Google Earth Plus customers will be met with Google Earth, which is freely available to all our customers. For those customers who require additional capabilities and faster speeds, we would like to offer you a special opportunity to try Google Earth Pro free of charge. If you like it, you can buy it at a special discount available only to Google Earth Plus customers.
If your Google Earth Plus license is about to expire, and you’re hooked on the GPS data import capability, we’re happy to extend your subscription for 3 months, free of charge. Learn more
I guess I’m going to break down and purchase Google Earth Pro.
I still have a lot of spatial data that was created using ESRI ArcView 3.x, and I continue to use 3.x because I have a wealth of extensions that do the things I need to do. One problem with creating shapefiles with 3.x is that projection files (.prj) are not automatically created along with the shapes, so there is no spatial reference. I normally end up with a whole directory full of shapefiles without .prj files. I finally broke down and searched arcscripts.esri.com for an easy way to define the projection of all of those shapefiles in the directories. I ran across Batch Define Projection by Owen Evans, downloaded it, and tried it out. Works wonderfully. It creates a custom toolbox and includes a few different handy scripts, including a batch define projection. Run the script, point to a bunch of shapefiles, choose your coordinate system, and you’re done! Why didn’t I look for this a long time ago? Highly recommended.