ONLINE SEARCH engine leader Google recently unveiled a new feature that will enable its users to access satellite images by address.

Though you won't be able to spy on the neighbors or check your crops with Google, the satellite technology, which is available at maps.google.com, is still somewhat informative. When you log on, a more traditional map is the first choice that appears. You have the option of retrieving a satellite picture by clicking on a button. Just type in your address or the name of your favorite town. Arrows on the screen let you scan across the landscape or zoom in and out.

The Google images are generally six to 12 months old and don't zoom in as tight in rural areas as they do in cities. In fact, you won't be able to learn much from the phtos, except maybe where roads, buildings and the edges of fields are in relation to one another. The free aerial perspective might be most useful for identifying large features such as encroaching urban sprawl or field proximity to bodies of water.