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Archive for May 14th, 2008

WorldWide Telescope… nice but slow leh…

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I installed the WorldWide Telescope yesterday and tried it out… filled with excitement and almost to the point of shedding tears like Robert Scoble… 🙂

It is an amazing piece of innovation but the funny thing is that the loading of the images are rather slow… Now I have Starhub 100 mbps plan and still the caching and loading of the images when I zoomed in is not as good as what the Sea Dragon thing from PhotoSynth is supposed to be. And I have played with PhotoSynth and it is great and the images load up as fast as it should be. But am not sure about my WorldWide Telescope install and it seems to lag behind on that.

It is in beta and I can only say that the technology and the application stretches far and wide. I love the guided tour feature that allows for community involvement. I can only hope whatever that is slowing mine will be resolved soon… Now we have astronomy, next should be a massive tour of some great places on earth… Try it out. You will be entertained if the loading is fast enough for you.

Here’s a review from Ars Technica on peeking through the Microsoft WorldWide Telescope:

The view

When I fired up WWT for the first time, I was greeted with an undistorted view of the night sky you would see if you looked up—save for the stick drawings of the constellations. This is in contrast to Google Sky, which uses some form of Mercator projection which distorts space and images at high or low declinations. WWT shows the universe not as though you are looking at a map, but as if you are sitting at the center of a hollow sphere, looking outward toward the edges.

While very convenient, this doesn’t really represent what you would see if you looked up into the night sky—the Earth being in the way and all. To remedy this, the “View” drop down menu has the option to see what would be visible in the night sky from over 550 pre-programmed cities around the world. In addition to being able to select your physical location, you are free to pick your temporal location as well.

To help you find your way around the night sky there are some directional tools provided. In addition to displaying stick figures for each constellation, the right ascension (RA) and declination (dec) are shown in the lower right corner. For those who don’t have a good sense of where an (RA, dec) pair is looking, a small sphere with a rectangular projection of the area of space you are looking at is available in the lower right as well. Moving around is simple and relies on the familiar click and drag interface. Zooming is controlled by the scroll wheel, and even on my “slow” laptop zooming and scrolling motions were smooth.

When first installed, there are 20 or 30 distinct tours available. However, the WWT allows users to create their own tours of the universe and share them with others. In fact, under the “Learning WWT” section is a section that illustrates how to create a tour not only across space but across time, demonstrating how to make a tour of the solar eclipse that will occur this August.

When I covered Google Sky, I called it “a guided tour at the local science museum.” If I were to follow that analogy, WorldWide Telescope would be more akin to a tour of the Hayden Planetarium by Dr. deGrasse Tyson. The greatly expanded catalog of objects to look at, along with the guided tours, makes the WorldWide Telescope much more along the lines of what I was looking for in a Google Earth/Virtual Earth equivalent of the entire universe. Kudos to Microsoft Research for a compelling product.

Written by gooddealz

May 14, 2008 at 4:22 pm

Posted in Great Stuff, News Only