The comedian Steven Wright once told a funny joke in his 1980s stand-up routine where he said: I received a postcard from a friend of mine. It was a satellite photo of Earth. On the back he wrote, "Wish you were here". I was reminded of that joke today when I saw that maps.google.com now supports real satellite images down to fine detail.

A tip for the links I created below, you can click the + zoom in button once to get one more level of detail once the page loads, and you can click down the mouse on any map area and drag the mouse around while holding the button down to scroll the map area around.

You can see an incredible view of the Luxor Hotel and Casino pyramid on the edge of the Las Vegas Strip. In that same image, you can also see the Mandalay Bay pools and airplanes on the ground at the airport all in the same up close image.

Here at Microsoft, we have been working on increasing the transparency between the company and customers, and a great example of that is the Channel 9 site on msdn.com. While Channel 9 gives you a look inside Microsoft, the satellite image of the main Microsoft campus in Redmond, WA is a great view of Microsoft from space.

One of my favorite restaurants is Benihana's, and there is one in downtown Seattle as you can see this downtown Seattle satellite view. In a week or two, I plan to meet up with my buddy Rod Paddock (editor of CoDe Magazine) for dinner at Benihana's. Not that I need directions, but to show you how you can see the map route over the satellite view, I simply entered the address from Microsoft and the result was this cool map route from Microsoft to Benihana's.

Every few months, Robert Scoble helps organize a geek dinner at the Crossroads Mall in Bellevue just about a mile south of Microsoft. To help more geeks find it the next time one is scheduled, here is a satellite view of Crossroads Mall. It is just northeast (up and right) of the center of the map image.

More details about this satellite view technology launched yesterday by Google can be found today's CRN article Google Adds Satellite Maps.