As a follow up to The North Pole – A Virtual Earth Christmas Experience, the boys and I created a Santa Tracker to track Old St. Nick on his trek around the world hosted by MSNBC (direct link to application here in the case you can find it on MSNBC). As Ed Young would say, “we’re gonna take this to a whole ‘notha level.”

Santa, leaving The North Pole

Quite literally, in fact. Because this Santa tracker is updated dynamically and Santa’s sleigh is elevated to illustrate his magical flying capabilities – not to mention the elves worked extra hard to change the pushpin blip on a map into a 3-Dimensional object inclusive with real reindeer (Rudolph leading the pack), Santa himself and a bag full of presents. After all, they are more than just a blip on the map now aren’t they?

 New York City

If you aren’t sure how to navigate the application, some brief instructions are provided for you.

clip_image001To locate Santa along his delivery route in Microsoft Virtual Earth 3D, you will need to install the Virtual Earth 3D plug-in in order to view it.  If you do not have this plug-in, you will be prompted to install it when the page loads.  If your pop-up blocker disables this prompt, you can download the plugin here.

This experience may take up to a minute to load on your screen.  Once Santa has been tracked, you will see the an alert that “Santa has been located!”

clip_image003Click on the “OK” button to zoom in on Santa flying over his current location. Keep an eye on the page load status indicated by the Virtual Earth globe icon in the bottom right corner of the screen. The page is fully loaded when the globe is completely colored.

clip_image005Use the Virtual Earth tool bar to zoom, pan or tilt the page to see Santa, his sleigh and reindeer from different angles in 3D and to explore the location over which he is traveling.

Virtual Earth 3D requires the following to run on your computer:

    • Microsoft Windows XP or Microsoft Windows Vista
    • Microsoft Internet Explorer 6, Windows Internet Explorer 7 or later, or Firefox 2.0 or later
    • 250 MB or more hard disk space
    • A 1 GHz processor (2.8 GHz or faster recommended)
    • 256 MB of system memory (1 GB recommended)
    • 32 MB video card (256 MB recommended) that supports Microsoft DirectX 9
    • A high speed or broadband Internet connection

 

Cruising my home town of San Diego

So, enjoy the holidays. Check on Santa’s progress by frequenting the Santa Tracker hosted by MSNBC. He’ll be at the North Pole until midnight tonight and then begin his journey around the world. Wait! Tonight at midnight??? Yep. Those of you inside the first time zone by the international date line aren’t surprised, are you? Everyone else, see the complexity? Check back to my blog later this week for a detailed look at how I built the Santa tracking application. I’ll explain everything and even give you my code!

CP