Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Google Earth Plane Game

Today I had some fun.  I grabbed some pictures I had taken last week from my airplane window and thought, "Gee ... I wonder if I can find all of these on Google Earth."  And wouldn't you know it?  Using a little bit of math and a little pattern recognition, I found them all.

Step 1.  Start with a picture that's easy to find, such as a large recognizable land formation.  This one only took a couple of minutes to find.

Once you find that picture, you know which way the airplane window is facing.  And if you have timestamps on your pictures, you can estimate how many miles there are between them.  Just take the difference in minutes and multiply by 10.

For example, the picture above has a timestamp of 1:30:42.  The picture I took before that has 1:24:25.  That's a difference of 6 minutes, 17 seconds.  Take the seconds, divide by 60 and add to the number of minutes to get 6.28.  Then multiply by 10 to get 62.8 miles.

Once you have distance, you can estimate the direction of the airplane.  They like to follow curvy paths (along great circles on the globe).  So, if you start with the location of picture #1 and draw a line toward (or away from if going backwards) the destination point, and draw a line away from (or toward) the departure point, it will narrow down the location of your next picture.  (You can check out my very last picture at the end to see the lines I drew.)

I was surprised how fast I found the next obscure picture ...

Then I used the same technique to quickly find pictures #3 through #14.  Even the cloudy obscure circle-y ones were easy to find.

I challenge you to try the same game should you remember next time you're on a plane.  Can you find your pictures?  Have fun, and good luck!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Poltergeist: The Remake Lives On

Who doesn't love scary clowns?  The remake of Poltergeist has plenty.  It also contains many of the favorite scenes you may remember from the original -- only a little more on the freaky side and with a few plots holes filled in.

Did the original need a remake?  I won't be a complainer, even though I saw the original at least twenty times and used to have many parts memorized.  The cool trailer above gave me hope that the remake would be a good rendition, taking what worked and modernizing it for a newer generation.  The final result did not disappoint me.

I enjoyed seeing everything with a different style and direction.  It's a good story.  The characters are likable and distinct. The acting is decent.  The music is freaky.  The 3-D effects are clear and the depth is exciting.  The depiction of the other side is wonderful.

It's difficult to judge which version I liked better.  It's hard to dethrone the love I have for the original, but I'll admit it was campy and full of plot holes.  (Why again, in the original, did the family decide to stay in the house after the first incident?  Funny!)  The remake is a tighter ship, but lacks much of the magic.  For example, the clown scene in the remake is freakier, but it is nowhere near as scary as it was in the original.

Those who haven't seen the original may not find this movie to be as scary as other recent horror movies, but I suspect that you may find it to be highly imaginative and cool.

And if you've seen the original, I strongly suggest catching this newer version in the theater in 3D.  Enjoy the ride.