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The World Is Your…Desktop

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What’s on your desktop? Pictures of the kids? Your dream car? Maybe one of the stock images Apple provides with every new system?

The way someone organizes and presents their desktop can say a lot about a person – whether they are the cluttered, messy type, or someone who likes cleanliness and order, whether they are fanciful or serious. But one utility, EarthDesk, from Xeric Design, takes you beyond what’s right in front of your face, and presents you with the world, on your desktop.

The program, which installs as a preference pane in your System Preferences, displays the Earth in full, and in near real-time, displays when the sun goes down over one hemisphere and rises in the next. It simulates the lights from the most-densely populated cities, and shows darkness in more sparsely lived-in areas. Also intriguing – real-time cloud patterns and display, taken from NASA, giving you a single birds-eye view of the world and its weather. You can select from a number of display options, including satellite view or political view, equirectangular or globe, and more.

Even if you’re locked in a cubicle in the office, and can’t see a window, you’ll know the sun is going down as darkness covers your city. If you’re staying up too late, you’ll see the sunrise inevitably creep to the West, threatening to catch up with you. But no matter your task, EarthDesk is rendering real-time imagery in the background, giving you a snapshot of the world, on your Mac. You can download the program from the Apple Web site, or directly from the developer. To purchase the program, it’s $23.95.

8 Responses to “The World Is Your…Desktop”

  1. HourWorld was recently updated when the changes to Daylight Savings Time were implemented. Other than that, what updates would you need? It works fine in Leopard.

    BTW, I tried Time Palette but I had trouble getting it to work from my system clock, it was always an hour off from my computer’s clock. Weird.

  2. I see no problem with $23.95 for this… you can’t go out to dinner for that amount of money and it’s a well built application that looks beautiful. Even going to the movies costs this much and lasts only 2 hours… this lasts a long time.

    OSXPlanet does not work with Leopard and the developer (who is a student) seems more focused on school so no real support there. Likewise I don’t think HourWorld has been updated in ages. The guys that do EarthDesk also do Time Palette which is a lot like HourWorld.

  3. I tried Earthdesk once, and I just don’t see the point. For that matter, I don’t see the point in desktop images generally. My desktop is always covered, I always have windows open and groups of folders and files laid out, so all I ever see is the edges of the image. I’d have to close all my windows and keep everything immaculately tidy to see the picture.

    If you want something like Earthdesk, but in a far more useful format, I recommend HourWorld. It started out as a Desk Accessory, but now it’s a quite well-developed application that does just about anything time-related, it shows time zones and world clocks, and can calculate sunrise/sunsets, etc etc. I was surprised once when a photographer friend called me and asked if I knew a way to calculate when the walls of a building would be in shadow, I checked HourWorld and it had a “sundial” feature that gave that exact information. I was impressed. HourWorld also has a desktop version, but I prefer it in a floating application window.