The Perfect Holiday Gift: Satellite Imagery

Sometime, when I’ve got a little too much time on my hands, I’ll make up a list of all my bad habits: nail biting, coffee drinking, Oprah on Tivo, typing blog entries at work (no whammies, please, no whammies!). One thing that doesn’t usually get included, but should, is figuring out unusual ways to stalk myself.

Google is useful for digging up dirt on others, but for someone I know as intimately as myself, I need more diabolical tools. Credit reports have somewhat interesting factoids, like how I applied for 10 cards, unsuccessfully, in a two-week period. “People Search” background checks are ok, even if they do whitewash my extensive prison record. And visits to the National Archives always enlighten me about my oversexed ancestors. But the most freaky stalking device that I’ve discovered, hands down, is

You may have already seen the service on NBC or ABC news, in one of those satellite shots where the image zooms in and swoops down for a 3-D view. They’re using them all the time to give on-the-ground perspectives in remote Iraq areas. What’s so fantastic is that this high-tech imaging is free; all you have to do is download the software off the web, enter an address or location, and zoom away. Seeing as how most of you won’t want to install the program or suffer through the interminable buffering of images, I’ve taken the liberty of making a screen capture of my neighborhood (below).

A word of caution: Though this may seem like the perfect way to spy on people in Boston and/or South Carolina, the free trial only lasts for seven days. After that you’ve gotta spend $30 per month — money that I say would be better put towards long-range shotgun microphones and wireless video cameras.