[LINK] RIP Google Maps Contour Feature

Richard Chirgwin rchirgwin at ozemail.com.au
Tue May 4 21:51:06 AEST 2010


I haven't compared side-by-side, and it only covers Australia, but:


Includes contours.

If I was being a map geek, which I am, I would then say this:

1. Download the 3-second DEM tiles (90 metres resolution) provided free 
by the Shuttle Radio Topography Mission (SRTM).
2. Import the tiles into a good free GIS program. My favoured is Grass-GIS.
3. Run a raster-to-contour converter. In Grass-GIS, this is r.contour.

And bingo, you have a contour map of your place of interest. 90-metres 
resolution is nearly as good.

BUT. The learning curve is steep, it's nowhere near as easy as getting 
the contours drawn for you.

It's a pity that Australia doesn't offer 1:25,000 data for free. The 
reason is that this is owned by the states, not by GA, and they don't 
want to give up the revenue flowing to the various departments of lands. 
Well, perhaps understandable.

I will disagree that Google isn't as pernicious as Facebook. I think 
it's worse; because it is better at deploying a steady stream of blind 
apologists for whatever Google does. In this respect, it's almost as 
capable as Apple.


Roger Clarke wrote:
> I'm a fairly frequent user of Google Maps (particularly for walking 
> in Australian, Swiss, Austrian and Italian mountains).
> But my time left using Google Maps may be even shorter than my time 
> left doing 1000m walks.  So it looks like I need to go looking for an 
> alternative.
> And I'm a realist:  there aren't any at this stage that are anywhere 
> near as good.  (Even though all they're doing is cleverly processing 
> obscure-looking national data and cleverly displaying the results in 
> accessible formats).
> Why is my time up?
> Because Google has just withdrawn the valuable Contours feature.
> They've replaced it with Earth, sold as '3D'.
> (So we need goggles to go with our Google viewing now??).
> But of course that sucks you in ('bait and switch', as the Yanks say).
> It requires you to download software which does who-knows-what.
> And I'd have to delve deeply into various places to try to work out 
> what the terms and the privacy policies are, and what they mean;  and 
> I'd have to monitor them as well;  and I expect that I wouldn't end 
> up liking what I found.  (I've got all the tools I need at my 
> disposal, so I'm well set up to do the analysis;  but this becomes 
> very boring after a while).
> As demonstrated by recent posts from multiple sources, Facebook has 
> been, well, almost bare-Faced in the trickery it's prepared to use to 
> exploit its users' data.
> To be fair, Google's practices aren't quite as pernicious as Facebook's.
> But there's more than enough evidence to support an extension of 
> Google's own proposition that 'Google knows a lot about you ...' to 
> include '... and Google intends knowing even more'.

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