Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Discovering (Google) Earth

My father recently upgraded his computer. And his internet service. Now instead of dial-up on a computer that was close to ten years old, he has DSL on a brand new Hewlett Packard.

It's been a learning experience for him. He tried to send an e-mail to me to test his new capabilities. I never got it. Turns out that he was sending the e-mail out some some "mobile" connection. In otherwords, if I had a Blackberry or some cell phone with internet messaging capabilities, I would have got his post. But I don't, so I didn't.

Dad seemed a bit perturbed that his e-mail is floating around in cyberspace somewhere, apparently waiting for me to purchase the right type of mobile equipment to intercept it.

Then my father decided that he wanted to download "Google Earth." This is the program that allows you to virtually fly over any part of the globe, zooming in and out over cities and towns, seeing in most cases very clear satellite images of the landscapes and terrain, even the house where you live. A perfect program for a seventy-something with time on his hands.

Apparently, the first time he tried to download Google Earth, he didn't get the earth. My dad complained to my brother Tim in South Dakota on the phone about it. Tim is a big-time user of Google Earth.

"All I see are stars," dad told Tim.

"And right in the middle of the stars is the earth," Tim responded.

But, no, it wasn't. Tim wondered whether my dad had somehow steered his virtual reality version too far out into space and was now lost in the virtual universe.

Later, I was talking to my dad on the phone and he was still trying to figure out Google Earth. "They're asking me to set up an account," he said. "Should I do it?"

Since the basic version of Google Earth is free and any program that asks you to set up an account doesn't sound free, I said I wouldn't. To me, it sounded like he somehow downloaded the commercial version of Google Earth. Cost, $400. It bills itself as "the ultimate research presentation and collaboration tool for location-specific information" for business and industry.

I don't think my dad is going to be making any fancy research presentations unlcess he wants to wow us at our annual Christmas party.

Dad checked his version of Google Earth. Yep, he did download the $400 version and was now in the seven-day free trial period. "I wonder if I can still use it free if I make out an account," he asked in an e-mail.

Again, I advised against it. I'm paranoid when it comes to putting my credit card number out there in cyberspace. I'm afraid of them billing me regularly until the day I die, and then some.

My sister finally came to the rescue. She stopped by and "uninstalled" (she hopes) the commercial version of Google Earth. And she re-loaded the free version. Now all is well. My father is enjoying the program and even took a virtual reality tour of Prague in the Czech Republic. That's the last stop on my youngest son Scott's semester studying abroad. He returns to Michigan tonight.

"Dad sure can be dangerous on that computer," my sister told me.

Kinda like if grandpa decided to trade his old Buick for a Camaro Z28 in his trek down the information superhighway.


Blogger Matty said...

Thanks Dave for the info. Didn't know a thing about Google Earth. I will check it out.
Glad to hear Scott will be home. Hope he took a lot of great pics. I'm sure he will have a lot of stories to tell you....after his shower!

5:59 PM  
Anonymous jan said...

I think it's great that your dad is adventurous enough to try new technologies. I know so many people that age who are frozen and stubborn about anything new. You should be very proud of him.

6:35 PM  
Blogger Lee said...

Ummm...your post got me thinking, Dave. When I got my this new laptop a few weeks ago, I tried downloading Google Earth, but I managed to do something wrong and it didn't download...I must go back in and see what's going on. Maybe I'm up there on the moon somewhere with your Dad! ;)

6:47 AM  
Blogger Carine said...

Maybe your dad or sister could help me attach links???? I applaud your dad for getting as far as he did!

8:19 AM  
Blogger OldHorsetailSnake said...

It is easy for computer newcomers to get whaled by the "I can sell you something" crowd. I think I am now over it. But, just in case, I won't say I definitely am over it.

3:12 PM  
Blogger Peter said...

Hi Dave, I'm with Hoss on the possible pitfalls of the internet but by the sound of it, with his own ever increasing knowledge and the family support he obviously has he will be OK.
I can still hear the echo in my head of the near panic of my daughter when I told her I had bought my first computer... her main worry was that somebody would be standing under the window that it hurtled through!!!!! She has apologized many times since and is amazed by my progress???

6:22 PM  
Anonymous Deb said...

Your dad is having better luck than I did. I never could get Google Earth to download.

5:27 AM  
Anonymous Gabe said...

I do everything online. All my bills are payed online. In most cases I even enabled an auto pay feature in which the billing party automatically takes the amount due out of my bank account. I am able to check my bank account online too so that I can see if any fraudulent transactions take place. It is better than dealing with paper statements each month and you save money by not having to buy stamps. I doubt Grandpa would be comfortable doing this.

Though one mistake was made with my phone bill. For some reason Alltel Wireless decided to automatically pay my bill but they took it out of my dad the Enforcer's bank account. I guess he payed a bill of mine a while back and they had his bank registered and not mine. Lets just say The Enforcer wasn't too happy with Alltel when they took $50 out of his bank account. I took care of it though, I still pay the bill online but I disabled the auto pay and took The Enforcers account off.

6:06 AM  
Blogger Babette said...

All well and good, but does Grandpa have a blog?

A big SPARTAN welcome home to your smartest son!

10:14 AM  
Blogger LZ Blogger said...

Big Dave ~ I spent so much time with that Google earth software, that I finally had to take it off my PC so I would have time to BLOG! It was fun though! ~ jb///

3:11 PM  
Blogger Spidey said...

When you are first surfing the internet, there are lots of interesting things that pop-up to buy and join. It can be a really expensive hobby, very wise of your family to help out Dad!

6:49 AM  
Blogger Kacey said...

Sheesh Dave! Don't make it sound like we are old when we get to our seventies! I still feel like a kid, except that my body is falling apart. I'm doing what my kids taught me about computers --- look under things and see what the different tabs do. Lucky for me, my grandson showed me how to link in my blog on the 4th --- now, I am good to go until the next question pops up. I'm happy for you and Wendy that Scott is coming home.

3:38 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

I love that Google Earth! One interesting thing I've noticed: in the US most the parking lots are empty and many of the major freeways have only a few dots (cars) on them. Hmmmm.

I stopped by to ask if you know anything about Born Fool. He hasn't posted for a couple of months.

1:27 PM  
Anonymous schnoodlepooh said...

It's a good thing that your dad has his computer savvy kids looking out for him.

4:55 PM  
Anonymous Terri said...

Too funny. Poor dad... and I can sure relate after all the computer problems I've had these past few weeks JUST trying to install the Bellsouth wireless.
At least he's venturing around earth.

5:43 AM  
Anonymous cassie-b said...

I wouldn't put my credit card number out there for a $400 version of anything.

You can get into a lot of trouble doing that.

I hope he has fun with the free version.

9:30 AM  
Anonymous Rhea said...

I am glad he got straightened out on the computer. It must be awfully intimidating if you aren't used to computers. By the way, Google Earth rocks.

5:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


11:05 PM  

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