Saturday, January 15, 2011

Ski Lakes Online with Google Maps

In 2004, Google bought a company called Keyhole, which had access to a variety of satellite imagery. One thing lead to another and by 2005 there was Google Earth: a program that let you spin the virtual globe, zoom in, tilt, and even fly flight simulations over a digital earth colored with satellite imagery.

Around the same time, Tony Lightfoot had a great idea: start tagging ski lakes in Google Earth and publish the file. And so the many incarnations of the Google Earth KMZ Ski Lakes file were born. Over the years, Tony's found something better to do with his time at - and Shelby Coke has taken over the map file maintenance role. Thanks to both of you for bringing the project this far!

Recently, the folks over at the ball of spray started asking questions about how to keep this file up to date. There are inherent challenges to updating a single static file that lives on one person's hard drive. Every time it's downloaded, you fork your own version. Save a lake to your personal version, download a new copy when it's updated, and you may have lost some lakes in the process.

So I started thinking: "you know, there is an easier way to do this, folks".

And that's brought us to the Water Ski Lakes Map Online. You'll need to use your wetJacket account to access the map - now you can save ski lakes directly through your web browser. You've got to use a log in so we don't jeopardize the integrity of the ski lakes database -- but if you don't have an account (and you're too lazy to get one) then you can just download Scoke's Google Earth file from the page.

Find water ski lakes around the world

This feature in its basic form will remain absolutely free to use. It loads a lot faster and moves a lot smoother than the full fledged Google Earth application, too.

Accessing the Online Water Ski Lakes Map still has some problems if you're using Internet Exploder 8 or lower, but it's been tested successfully in Chrome, Safari and Firefox.

I love creating tools that can help us all as skiers -- and that's what this is. I'm hoping it will help us all make new friends, and maybe get a few more ski sets in this summer.


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