Cool Internet site of the day: ZipDecode. A simple map of the United States with yellow dots on a gray background. Click on the map to activate it, then type in the first digit of a zip code. The map lights up in the part of the country covered by that first digit – 1 for the northeast, 9 for the west coast. The map zooms in with each new digit (click on “z” if it’s not zooming), until the city name appears when you type the fifth number. It’s not a big deal but it does shed a little light on the zip code system – and it was created in a few hours by an MIT student. Ain’t the world amazing?

Incidentally, I’ve turned back to Google Earth recently and was reminded how remarkable it is. It’s a free download for anyone with a reasonably powerful computer and a broadband Internet connection. Google has high quality, finely detailed satellite photos of huge swaths of the Earth’s surface, and there are appealing new features in the latest version of Google Earth – user-contributed photos, links to Wikipedia articles, and 3D models of buildings in many cities, including user-designed skins so buildings look like themselves. Don’t miss the control in the upper right that tips the display! Most areas include topographic information to give a 3D display when the map is angled.

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