May 21st 2010
Being dull notwithstanding, all work and no play can be a real drag. The staffers at our sister site, AccountingWEB.co.uk, channel their innermost Top Gun fantasies with Google Earth.
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If the garden, pub, football or country walks hold no attraction for you this weekend, Google Earth’s flight simulator mode offers the chance to explore far-flung horizons from the comfort of your home PC.
Previously at this time of year IT Zone has celebrated the software industry’s tradition of “Easter Eggs” – credit screens and extraneous goodies tucked away in obscure corners of programs to amuse the programmers and intrepid/nerdy users. The most famous of these is the version of Microsoft Flight Simulator that was accessible via cells X97:L97 of Excel 97.
Sadly, like Bill Gates himself, this proud tradition appears to have taken leave of the Microsoft campus in Redmond, WA, and we were unable to uncover much of interest in the latest versions of Microsoft Office. But our research took us to the home of Google Earth, which has very cleverly turned a flight simulator into a marketing vehicle for its database of global satellite images. (You’ll need to download the Google Earth client application first – a five-minute task – and then activate the simulator by pressing Ctrl+Alt+A).
Back in the old century, Microsoft's Flight Simulator used to be the industry standard for checking the compatibility of a system with MS-DOS and Windows. But as with so many other areas of technology, Google's Web-based alternative presents a symbolic challenge to the old order.
With the UK weather forecast looking damp and miserable, aeronautically minded AccountingWEB members can pass their leisure hours at the controls of a high-powered F-16 jet fighter or a more sedate propeller-driven model.