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November 30, 2006

Geekiest Thing EVAR
Posted by Patrick at 08:21 AM * 32 comments

Firefox logo crop circle. Via Google Maps.

That is all. You may return to your homes.

Comments on Geekiest Thing EVAR:
#1 ::: Christopher B. Wright ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2006, 08:37 AM:

I have visions of Mel Gibson locked in a basement while Richard Stallman, Eric Raymond, and Bruce Perens are trying to break in.

#2 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2006, 08:56 AM:

We have obviously been invaded by the Firefoxians. Troops must now be dispatched to invade Iran.

#3 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2006, 09:01 AM:

I dunno - I think building your own Google pointer has got to be pretty close on the list.

Although the crop circle is really well done.

#4 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2006, 09:19 AM:

Is that an... airplane?

Also, see the crowd of people. They must have known when the satellite was coming over for the next round of shots.

#5 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2006, 09:25 AM:

Yeah, I think Alex is on to something. Although...isn't most of the close-in imagery like this done through Aerial photography rather than satellite anyway? I'd imagine it's a lot easier to find out the schedule for that than the other...

#6 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2006, 09:43 AM:

Jeez, I dunno. I'm no expert at this sort of photography, but how do we account for the (almost) complete lack of detail in (most) of the logo? There is a great deal of detail in the surrounding field, but only a few dark spots in the upper right of the logo. It otherwise looks perfectly smooth. Not a clod of dirt high enough to raise a shadow... At least that's the way it looks to me on two different screens, a mac and a windows.

But then I note this is just north of Salem so perhaps Oregonian witchcraft is involved.

#7 ::: Christopher B. Wright ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2006, 10:00 AM:

There are plenty of images of other crop circles that look similarly unblemished.

And heres a photo of a firefox crop circle that is obviously real.

Or one heck of a photoshop job.

#8 ::: Cassie ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2006, 10:02 AM:

And just in time for snow, I have the urge to commit agricultural vandalism.

#9 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2006, 10:10 AM:

Christopher, #7: The obviously-real logo you linked to is the same one as the fake-looking one from Google Maps--look at the lines going through the paw, for instance. Does anybody know why the Google one doesn't look real?

#10 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2006, 10:20 AM:

#7: I didn't inspect every one of those crop circle pics, but the ones I looked at did not appear unblemished to me.

However, the second image, the FF logo close-up clearly seems legit. And, as TexAnne says, it does appear to be the same logo as the Google image.

So, beats me. I'll stick with the Lines of Nazca, thank you very much. Nothing like the imprimatur of Ancient Astronauts to mark your Earth Art as the real deal.

#11 ::: John ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2006, 10:22 AM:

That looks like a Photoshop job; the shadows are on the wrong side of the crop circle, as if the image is raised higher than the crops that were not disturbed.

#12 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2006, 10:28 AM:

#11: But how do you Photoshop a direct link to a image? If such a thing is possible, that's kind of scary...

#13 ::: Pantechnician ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2006, 10:38 AM:

Invaders from Canis Major? This could be sirius.

It isn't unblemished if you look closely, but it does look highly suspicious.

#14 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2006, 10:38 AM:

#12: I haven't played with Google Maps enough to know whether this is normal: the Firefox logo is in a rectangle that's a distinctly different color from the rest of the image.

#15 ::: Tom S. ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2006, 10:42 AM:

John at #11: The shadows look right to me. The sun is fairly high and shining from the bottom edge of the image (look at the shadows cast by the plane and cars below the circle). That's consistent with the thin shadows on the lower edges of the circle, cast by the tall crop stalks onto the edges of the flattened area just above them. The lack of resolution inside of the circle is probably from fairly high light levels being reflected back almost directly at the camera (glare, in effect).

#16 ::: Cassie ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2006, 10:47 AM:

The closer-in version from Christopher at #7 shows the shadows the same way, but it's closer and clearly coming from the taller crops. The lines through the circle look raised in the Google version, too, and they're really down.

#17 ::: Tom S. ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2006, 10:48 AM:

BTW: The Oregon State image of the crop circle led me to a page in which the creators of the circle descrbe how it was done.

One hopes this will dispel any lingering suspicions.

#18 ::: Pantechnician ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2006, 10:53 AM:

Colour variations aren't too uncommon, since the shots they use are taken from many different cameras. The discoloured area is centered on the logo, meaning that whoever took it was specifically concentrating on that area. It's a nicely-composed shot with the crop circle in the center that's been stitched in rather poorly.

#19 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2006, 10:55 AM:

John at #11: It only looks raised if you assume the light's coming from the upper-left corner of the image (which is what I believe people do by default). This time of year in Oregon, though, the sun's going to be fairly far south in the sky even in the middle of the day, and observing it with that assumption leads to it looking properly sunken.

#20 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2006, 11:03 AM:

#18: Thanks, that's what I wanted to know.

#22 ::: Pat Kight ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2006, 12:20 PM:

I work at Oregon State University; this was definitely for real. In the local geekosphere, it's the coolest thing the university has done since the invention of the modern maraschino cherry.

We're so proud.

#23 ::: jeffk ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2006, 12:21 PM:

The Firefox crop circle is the latest Firefox-promoting project by the Oregon State University (OSU) Linux Users Group (LUG). Their first such project was to chalk-paint the Firefox logo on the OSU quad, and the second was to launch a balloon satellite carrying a Firefox banner. The crop circle was project 3, to celebrate 200 million Firefox downloads.

Please see here for details:

Disclaimer: I don't go to OSU. Never have. I'm a Duck (U of O). I'm just stuck working in Corvallis. :-)

#24 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2006, 12:47 PM:

Well, as an ex-University-of-Washington-Husky, I congratulate my fellow Pac-10ers, the Beavs, on this impressive accomplishment. I always suspected they were out there in the oats somewhere trying to raise ET.

#25 ::: Daniel Martin ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2006, 01:02 PM:

See, now what I'm really jealous of is the obvious attention to recent photos that the Pacific Northwest gets from Google Maps. The photos of our area are around three years old.

(I can date local photos because this should be a parking lot for a light rail stop, and the light rail opened in early 2004 - as you can see, in the photo it's on the way towards becoming a parking lot)

#26 ::: Andrew Kanaber ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2006, 01:47 PM:

This is of course the resolution to Firefox bug #347226.

#27 ::: Narayana ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2006, 02:10 PM:

The bit with the logo is the only part of that area Google has photographed at that "zoom". If I try to zoom in on the areas around it, they are blurred or missing at that resolution. So what happens, does someone phone Google and say, "I've got a cool geeky thing for your map, find the high res photos quick so I can be famous," or is it just an accident this area got zoom treatment? (Cynic? Moi?)

#28 ::: Tom S. ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2006, 03:36 PM:

Narayana: It turns out that several Google employees were part of the effort to build the circle. I suspect that might just have something to do with the speed with which the pictures were taken.

#29 ::: Narayana ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2006, 05:01 PM:

Tom #28 - I'm not surprised to hear Google employees were in on it, but the concept is certainly giving the "map is not the territory" part of my brain a work out. (Goes to have a lie down.)

#31 ::: Alan Hamilton ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2006, 09:12 PM:

You can zoom in more with Google Earth by going to 45.123785,-123.113962 . Also note that the plane, cars, and people lying down to the south. I can't tell what they're trying to spell out, though: FX?

#32 ::: paxed ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2006, 03:54 AM:

#31: "Fx" is the preferred abbreviation of "Firefox", or at least that's what their FAQ says. I don't know anyone who actually uses that.

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