Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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OCR satellite photos

Scan those need 1/2 meter satellite photos for words visible from space
  [vote for,

It would be fun to set up a distributed number crunching system like SETI @ Home to analyze the satellite photos you can see on http://www.terraserver.com/ or on http://www.mapquest.com/. Search the photos (using optical character recognition algorithms) for words that are spelled out on roofs, etc. This would serve no purpose other than the fun of seeing what weird words are visible from space, and it would make a cool screen saver.

There are lots of problems, including downloading large images, licensing the images, the character recognition, and recognizing characters from multiple alphabets. But it would be a good use for all of those wasted cycles from 1.7GHz desktops running Internet Explorer.

randydarden, Jul 23 2001

If you can read this, you're too far away. http://www.halfbakery.com/idea/Far_20Away
an oldie but a goodie. [beauxeault, Jul 23 2001, last modified Oct 17 2004]

TVGoHome: Nationwide Sketch Book http://www.tvgohome.com/0604-2001.html
Ficticious attempt to draw a comedy penis visible from space by getting people to turn their house lights on or off. (WARNING: TVGoHome is highly offensive but very funny) [st3f, Jul 23 2001, last modified Oct 17 2004]

Readable From Space http://drzeus.best.vwh.net/space/
I started a manual version of this idea, since I couldn't find one already existing. [drzeus, Apr 12 2005]


centauri, Jul 23 2001

       "you just proved that crop circle advertising works!"
mihali, Jul 24 2001

       All you need to accomplish this is a shortwave/low frequency radio hooked into your PC and the right software to decode the satellite data. Believe me, it is indeed possible and the software exists. Mostly all you get is weather data, though. Cool images, nonetheless.
novox, Jul 24 2001

       You can't get high resolution images that way.
egnor, Jul 27 2001

       What if you aggregate multiple passes?
jutta, Jul 27 2001

perossa, Jul 27 2001

       Believe me, it works. I have seen it done and a good friend of mine has this exact setup in his room. You're right, the images are not hi-res but they are still pretty good.   

       [jutta] The setup that I speak of belongs to a friend. As far as multiple passes, I'm not really sure how that works. I would be glad to get the particulars of it from him if anyone is interested.
novox, Jul 27 2001

       Hey novox, how do you plan on getting satellite photos from a short wave radio? Sorry to say this, but that seems somewhat impossible and illogical. Try just getting images through terraserver.   

       Interesting idea randy, but from my experience with my scanner, OCR sucks. Croissant!
JesseOQ, Aug 02 2003


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