***Editor’s Note: Below is a transcript of John’s commentary from the weekend of March 9-10, 2013…followed by viewer response:
Most farmers use Microsoft windows, but as more mapping technology utilizes iPads for displays, many are getting introduced to the sometimes strange world of Apple.
One recent quirk in the Apple operating system – IOS – is the recent addition of Apple Maps – software to compete with Google Maps. Apple Maps was so goofy it spawned a family of jokes, like “A man using Apple Maps walks into a bar…or maybe a church…or a school…ba-dump-bump.”
Like others, I simply waited until Google rushed a new version of maps for IOS6. But Aaron pointed out one amazing plus for the much-derided Apple product. If you zoom down in the satellite view, you do not get FSA maps like Google Maps. Instead you get an image that was taken about mid-afternoon during September 2011. The reason I can tell with such accuracy is the image clearly shows our house, farm and combine with amazing detail. Not only can you see the machines in the field, you can tell the combine grain tank is about half-full, and the grain cart has the auger out. The tracks of the grain cart are easily visible. Down corn from a strong wind is obvious, as well as places where dry weather stunted the beans. In fact the whole image is amazingly detailed – especially when you think it’s taken with a camera 22,000 miles away.
Rural America may not be as isolated as it seems any more. And always remember the closest eyes are often straight up.
#1: Dear John, I had to chuckle this morning while watching your comments regarding Apple Maps and the similar Google Maps. I've had no experience with Apple Maps, but was similarly surprised a couple of years ago to see the detail in Google Maps of our farm. In 2011 the photo was taken sometime in late July because you could clearly see which parts of a wheat field had been harvested. The current photo was taken sometime in late September or early October because of the same situation with sugar beet fields. You can even see our lawn mower parked outside!
What has troubled me the most actually occurred several years ago when Google had their Street View van roaming the countryside. Apparently on the day it drove through our neighborhood we were in the process of cleaning some old junk out of the house, including some old furniture, which can clearly be seen sitting on the front lawn. I still find it amusingly embarrassing that our house has (apparently) forever been enshrined by Street View as a "white trash" home. The only thing missing is the pickup truck jacked up on blocks with the hood up! Looking forward to the reports on your Africa trip.
#2: John, you are right on regarding the lack of privacy. You mentioned that the publicly available overhead pictures are from September of 2011. Those pictures are in plan view only. When I went on an AFROTC trip to Forbes Airforce Base in early 1998, we were shown the technicians using successive pictures to make 3D images.
Likewise, that satellite can make a trip around the earth every 90 minutes. just think how many potential 3D images of your activity are not available to you.
Also, when you go to that same website and click over a city street, you can move the little yellow man onto the street and rotate him around.
It is well known that the government records every transmission over the air. While not analyzed, that information is always available for snooping at will at any future date. The word is that a new storage site is under construction in Utah that will have the capacity to hold a century of electronic communication.
I have to laugh at the privacy statements that come with every financial account. What a joke! In the world today, if an investigator wants to determine every fuel stop you made on a two week vacation, I would speculate that he would be able to do so.