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Comment Stick to Linux folks (Score 3, Informative) 355

I'm just amazed. Reading Slashdot is like speaking with your "know it all" good friend or relative. You like to discuss important topics with them, but at the end of the day, they're really only an expert at one or two things!

Okay - so I'll comment as a ten year Navy veteran (with Sub time) and as an MS Virtual Earth employee.

On the actual propeller, some of the comments above are accurate with respect to design, power, speed and cavitation issues. If it's covered by Wikipedia, then it must be true! There has always been a policy to cover the propeller whenever the boat was pulled out of the water - it's part of the secret sauce behind our submarine stealth. Not showing it in public only makes sense, but this picture from the air could have been taken by anyone flying a private plane. Shame on the Navy for not covering it, but then again, there's more to the engineering behind it than a picture could ever show.

Talk of satellite imagery and Government intervention is an interesting topic of the day, however. For one thing, the image was not taken by satellite, but rather by airplane using a unique capability for oblique imagery. In Virtual Earth, you can view the same area at 2 zoom levels and 4 compass points. The imagery comes from Pictometry, and MS uses the term "Bird's Eye" to depict areas in which it is available. It's pretty incredible imagery, truly raising the quality bar over systems using only satellite imagery.

Note that Microsoft does not manage satellite or aerial providers - we only take the imagery in, enhance it, tile it and then provide it to our customers in the form of an API. The organizations that provide the imagery have been in business for years capturing images of the earth and selling them to commercial and government organizations. If anyone should be on point to discuss the appropriate image capture time and location, these would be the organizations to do so. Since I do not work for one of these organizations, I will abstain from commenting on their data capture policies. Perhaps they have a Slashdot reader who would like to comment!

So what is Microsoft's position on this issue? A quick search (http://search.live.com/results.aspx?q=justin+osme r+submarine+propeller) yields the following statement on Navy Times from Justin Osmer of the MS Virtual Earth product team:

"Our mapping products fully comply with U.S. laws governing the acquisition and publishing of aerial imagery," according to the statement. "The clarity of the images is impressive, but beyond a certain zoom level the images become 'pixilated' and blur. In addition some Virtual Earth imagery can only be viewed from certain distances.
"Additionally, there are other instances where images have been intentionally blurred for security purposes. We review requests to do so on a case-by-case basis. In addition, we do not provide real-time data or live satellite images. All the imagery has been collected at a fixed point in time over a period of the last few years."

At the end of the day, several commenters here and elsewhere have used the term "get used to it", referring to the fact that we're losing our privacy and anonymity every day via cameras in the sky and search engines on earth... Perhaps this is true, but then again, maybe it's exactly what we need at this point in our civilization.

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