UGO to California

March 7, 2008 (09:14 CET)


I just moved over to California to work with the talented group of people over at NASA's Ames Research Center (ARC) in getting NASA's web presence up-to-speed and prepared for the future. Sofar, I've been blogging about my experiences over at but I'll probably set up another blog instance in the near future to document my personal experiences over the long run. As far as UGO is concerned, I did make a plan over Christmas to distribute all the code I have sofar, but I'd like it to be at least usable so this will take some time to tick off. Whenever I get a weekend to spare here in sunny California I'll post it, and with that, hopefully get inspired to do more of it. If not, and in the meantime, do check out OgleEarth and GEB for more updates on GE and other virtual worlds and let me know if you have any special comments or requests regarding UGO.

Where is my demo?

November 4, 2007 (02:55 CET)

We're coming up on the 2-month intermittent posting here at UGO. Both me and Jurryt had to go back to work in first life and because of some silly delays in getting a server up and running to at least develop a demo to distribute, we basically put down all our activities on UGO. A couple of days ago we were discussing picking it up again where we left of end of the summer because we both agree it would be a shame not to release at least something after we've come so far into our first demo. We are both strugglin' a bit with the actual use of the tool which also does not seem to help in increasing the priority over other pressing needs but I have good hopes so let me report back again when stuff is (really) happening.

Ending AFUGO (Away From UGO)

September 15, 2007 (12:46 CET)

Its been rather slow on the UGO side down here due to other obligations and a re-orientation of where we'd like things to be going from here. At the same time we've been working on some technical (server) issues and some new code so with a bit of refocus we plan to bring out a test version in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, Barry Hunter over at has just released a technical preview of something quite similar to UGO. He calls it the 'Google Earth Black Box Recorder' (what's in a name ;) Apparently, the update issues with the network link have been resolved in the new Google Earth release as it seems he implemented BBR with a network link to his server to do the conversion and recording as I originally planned back in May. He finishes his blogpost announcement with an interesting statement we have come across as well a couple of times ;)

… technically it could be used to record movement in any mode, however it only records the camera position, which is almost ideal for the flight simulator, but not so useful otherwise.

UGO Video 2

August 15, 2007 (19:44 CET)

A follow-up post with some additional images of UGO-created 3d objects. Below I started playing around with another randomly picked image (this one), creating 3d sculptures while flying around. They have a certain architectural feel to them if you ask me :). Btw, you can see the rudimentary GUI of UGO on the top right of some of the screendumps.









UGO Video

August 15, 2007 (18:40 CET)

Looking at ways to utilise UGO's ability to provide position feedback in Google Earth, I keep returning to a project by Berlin based ART+COM called 'The Invisible Shape of Things Past'. Some 10(!) years ago I saw a presentation of the project by Joachim Sauter. In this self-commissioned work, they developed an exceptionally beautiful way to build 3d representations of video footage in a virtual world. The first image below for example shows how they recreated a 3d video structure from a video clip shot in Berlin (be sure to check out their other images & videos).

Replacing my earlier 3d models with 'flat' 2d images, creating a 3d video object build from individual frames seems to be an interesting possible use of the UGO code. Of course there are several hurdles to overcome in order to get the right position and orientation of each individual frame, but in principle this should be feasible given the right time/attitude correlation within the video footage (not that different from photo geocoding). Below are some screendumps of tests I did a few weeks ago where I more or less picked a random image and started flying around in Google Earth.

As a side note, its at this stage unfortunately not possible to provide a .kmz file to give you a first hand view of these tests in Google Earth because sofar loading a .kmz file with multiple individual positions only loads the corresponding 3d model into the first position. I'll be looking into this.






Wagging the dog

August 15, 2007 (17:25 CET)


That's weird, I just see there have been quite some hits (relatively speaking as they're only in the 10's) on a URL ending with /blog//blog on this domain. I can't seem to figure out what the originating source is in Google Analytics. In fact, it seems the originating source is /blog//blog itself...? Anyway, I've fixed it with a proper referral in my .htaccess file.

2d UGO

August 14, 2007 (18:01 CET)

While doing a search for 'tobedetermined, Amsterdam' in Google maps, I happen to stumble upon a UGO I uploaded back in May. Its one of the first times I experience kml search at work as it was announced some time ago. Good to know how it works...




A day in the life of a UGO

August 11, 2007 (03:53 CET)

While I am figuring out how to get UGO going on the mac, I've also been playing around on the Windows side of things with the new functionality of getting a realtime visualisation of your UGO position in Google Earth (earlier post). Its still hacking away, but the experience of seeing your positions materialise "right here, right now" is quite a powerful one when it comes to the immersiveness of a platform like Google Earth (aka virtual worlds, or better, mirror worlds). Below I have included some screendumps of different configurations, using Sketchup as the tool for 3d modelling. Getting my inspiration more from Photosynth than from Second Life, my initial choice on how to represent myself was for a pyramid with the bottom plane directed towards the viewing direction. The first one shown below is one of the initial tests of the new code set next to an "old style" UGO (orientation was not yet taken into account at that time). The other ones are subsequent stages of just having fun flying around and getting a feel of the new functionality using a SpaceNavigator. And of course I couldn't resist playing around with some of the standard 3d models provided by Sketchup. I wish I could show them all here but I guess you get the picture so I've uploaded all the other stills to my Flickr UGO set. (Update 12Aug-> just noticed the settings of my Flickr account prevented the download of full-res images. I changed it into a CC license so now all sizes are available for download/sharing)
















UGO on OSX: Status Update

August 6, 2007 (14:13 CET)

With summer finally catching on here in the Netherlands, I spent some time figuring out how to get UGO onto OSX. With Jurryt Pietersma now part of development, things have unmistakably become more Python-centric (not to say: Pythonic) so my aim with the Mac port is to use Python where possible.

First off: the Google Earth - Applescript API. Using OgleEarth's announcement as a starting point, it turns out to be fairly straightforward to read out Google Earth coordinates using GetViewInfo. Even better, these Applescript commands can also be called directly in Python without having to write too much Applescript code. Next: the GUI. Where I've used C# sofar to build a GUI on the PC side, Apple comes with XCode, Cocoa, Objective-C and ApplicationKit, so this will take some time to get into. Best thing to note at this point is that the PyObjC bridge will allow me to stay as close as possible to Python, using Xcode mainly as the IDE to develop the UI.

As an appetizer, this .kmz file shows the first UGO made on a Mac (see the difference? ;-)). Its generated with my original python script of 3 months ago, adapted to accommodate the Applescript API to read out the viewer's viewing coordinates. Building a OSX GUI around this script will be up next. Looking ahead, it seems the limited API functionality on the Mac side will be the main hurdle to get UGO running on OSX as we have it on Windows, but more on that later...



UGO Tour Of Amsterdam

July 24, 2007 (20:29 CET)

The city of Amsterdam is offering its Google Earth representation up for improvement. Here is a .kmz file with a UGO vis of the highlights tour they currently offer at Amsterdam3D, including the extruded and non-extruded UGO and the original tour courtesy of Amsterdam Geo en Vastgoedinformatie (I guess...).



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Alexander van Dijk | email me

A blog about the development of User Generated Orbits in Google Earth

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