21 July 2006

Huangyangtan - A GE forum member's first post

Hi, I'm KenGrok, the Google Earth forum member who started the post about that strange, scale-model landscape in the middle of the Chinese desert.

Let me start by saying that I am a geography fanatic. During my college days I spent Saturday evenings in my university library's map and atlas room. Just browsing the Earth. For me Google Earth is a dream come true.

I'm not a Google Earth oldtimer (from Keyhole days). I've been using it since last year sometime. Then the new beta came out last month with lots of new photos, especially of areas outside the U.S. That's when I went into turbo mode. I like landscapes (even at low resolutions), but now there is enough detail to see the human geography; cities, roads, structures, etc.

I've been crawling through western China (from my chair here in Germany) since February, even more so since the release of the new photos. It is such a fascinating place. I've never really been part of any forum until a few weeks ago, when I decided to join the Google Earth community. Why? I want answers. I don't need to post "Hey, wow! Here's where I live". I already know that, my wife has a key, and my parents already have my mailing address. I want to know what things are. I post things mostly to ask what they are (me too stupid), occasionally to point out something that might be of interest to others.

My first post was this scale-model landscape in Huangyangtan

The forum members liked the find and there was a fair amount of discussion. At some point it made it into the press, with screen shots, and then it really took off. Lots of reads in the forum (about 12 a minute, as I write this), though not a lot of answers, unfortunately.

Watching all the action, I decided to start a blog (my first ever) to run parallel to the forum. Why would I do that, too, when I had never been inclined to be part of a forum in the first place? To describe the experience, I guess. So far the find was reported in the UK (The Register) and in Australia (Sydney Morning Herald). Perhaps it will get bigger. I'll document that experience. It would also be interesting to see if something big results from this find (India invades China, or Chinese jets bomb my apartment, for example). If it goes nowhere and just kind of peters out, that's OK, too.

Here's part of the experience: it is really hot in here. 29 C / 84 , 34 C / 93 F outside. No jets in sight, though.

Oh, my wife has obligated me to make the following statement:
"I admit that I spend too much time with Google Earth. The money that I spent to upgrade to 2 GB of RAM to allow for a big cache in GE could have been used to buy food for our daughter. I promise to ask for donations from kind and friendly people who can sympathize with a guy whose wife wants him to get off the computer and do something productive".

Well, she's right. After outsourcing I was laid off, and am in the process of trying to get a business idea or two going, which takes time. And GE takes time away from that.

So, PayPal your donations to
FeedMyGEHabit@yahoo.com. Yes, that's the address I set up to show my wife that the 2 GB upgrade not only made GE nicer to use (so I can get to work faster), but it actually paid for itself in the end (don't forget the donation part of that, dear reader). And that we won't starve to death (especially since she doesn't yet know I upgraded to a passively-cooled graphics card to reduce the noise while I sit here).

OK, I'll publish this now, then figure out the rest of how to run a blog.

Yours truly,


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