You know how much we love the satellite maps of the world here, but one problem with them is that they tend to be kind of slow to load and sluggish to navigate on somewhat older computers. Web designer Paul Neave has come up with a nifty solution, however, one that has the added attraction of making it simple to switch between Google's satellite maps and those from Microsoft's mapping site. He uses Flash.
Flash Earth works more-or-less like the other satellite map sites: you can navigate my "grabbing and pulling" or with arrow keys, and can use the +/- keys to zoom in and out. It doesn't have any of the directions buttons, but that's okay -- the speed and convenience of popping between Google and Microsoft maps more than makes up for it. You do have to have Flash loaded in your browser for the site to work, but it does seem to work more swiftly than the home sites.
The big surprise is that the Microsoft and Google satellite maps have become very similar in many areas, often relying upon exactly the same satellite images.