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Google is the giant among online search engines — this we all know. But it just keeps getting cooler and cooler; check out possibly one of the greatest "educational" time-wasters ever created on the Web: Google Earth (earth.google.com).

Actually, you've probably already downloaded the 3D program by now, so take a look at some of these sites designed to enhance your GE experience.

The site googleearthhacks.com isn't officially affiliated with Google, but offers a range of files you can download, that either point out fun places to visit via the program, or instructions on how to add more 3D graphics.

Satellite photo imagery isn't new; Mapquest has been doing it for years, but GE's zooming exploration brings it to a whole new level — and perhaps is inadvertently responsible for kick-starting a new trend in advertising for the new millennium: landscape ads. The site gearthblog.com has photos of what appears to be crop-circle-inspired advertising: Apple has created a giant photo of an iPod that can be viewed from GE. Brit blogger Richard Boakes (boakes.org) claims to have been tipped off about the project, which was allegedly created for Apple's upcoming 30th anniversary and can actually be viewed from space. (What, are we selling iPods to aliens now?) The blogger claims the ad "covers 893,240 square metres; roughly equivalent to 80 football pitches." (That's meters and fields, Yanks.)

The message is clear, to space viewers: We come in peace — buy our stuff.

Know of an interesting, bizarre or educational Web site you’d like to see featured here? Send it to backslash@metrotimes.com

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