Good Grief! It turns out that Larry Page, Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt are in cahoots with Steve Jobs in the plot to destroy the Earth!
After reading today’s UF, I did some quick searching and soon found out about the Flight Simulator embedded in Google Earth. That sounded like a pretty cool little easter egg, so I decided to check it out. It turns out that this particular egg requires you to have the most recent version of Google Earth. No worries, I’ve used Google Earth before and think it’s kind of cool.
At the start of the installation process the first thing you have to do (of course) is agree to a software license. Most of it’s the usual stuff about there being no warranty, respecting intellectual property rights, and so on. And then about three-quarters of the way through, right after the bit about the program being export-controlled, I ran across some rather chillingly familiar (and unnecessarily capitalized) text…
NONE OF THE SOFTWARE IS INTENDED FOR USE IN THE OPERATION OF NUCLEAR FACILITIES, LIFE SUPPORT SYSTEMS, EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS, AIRCRAFT NAVIGATION OR COMMUNICATION SYSTEMS, AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL SYSTEMS, OR ANY OTHER SUCH ACTIVITIES IN WHICH CASE THE FAILURE OF THE SOFTWARE COULD LEAD TO DEATH, PERSONAL INJURY, OR SEVERE PHYSICAL OR ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE.
OK, I sort of understand why they don’t want you using it in emergency communications (picture an ambulance crew trying to find their way to a heart attack victim using this stuff and not being able to get the imagery fast enough). I haven’t figured out yet how someone’s going to use a map to control a nuclear reactor, but it can’t be much harder than controlling a reactor via the iTunes software.
Much like the iTunes license, this one is also made hard to read. The bit where you agree not to use Google Earth to control a nuclear reactor is on the 20th screen out of 29. By hiding it this way, Google is assuring that you won’t read that bit and therefore won’t know that you’re not supposed to use the software in that manner. They’re awfully clever like that.
There is one ray of hope though. Google may have outsmarted themselves. In the same paragraph where you agree that you won’t use Google Earth to control a nuclear reactor, you also agree that you won’t use it for “Aircraft Navigation or Communications systems.” And like I said at the beginning, Google Earth includes a flight simulator.